In 1975 in the Mission Gardens at Santa Clara University the season’s final show with the Royal Lichtenstein Quarter-Ring Sidewalk Circus ended my year long stint with the foundational experience of my new variety arts path in life.
By 1977 I had a new show and played dates for the next three years with the talented and beautiful Mari Dempsey. This was a big show, lots of equipment. We were doing sketch comedy, and the irrepressible Dana Smith was if you can believe it was doing sketch comedy in iambic pentameter! That was heavy on the sketch and light on the comedy.
Between 1974 and 1980 there was one 18 month gap where I was not on the road touring full time and year round nationwide. Our material ranged from acrobatics to mindreading, puppetry to performing dog tricks.
We got good notices as these things go and they were vital to keeping a show like this on the road. There still wasn’t any videotape yet and so bookings were all done by press clippings, letters of recommendation, and the dates you played.
Yes, the road didn’t disappoint. Mari and I got ourselves into more than a few tight spots. While in Washington D.C. our luck ran out. After a weekend of less than successful shows we were down to our last ten bucks. We found a discarded copy of The Grapes of Wrath in Georgetown. We walked to a liquor store took our last ten spot and bought a bottle of Lambrusco. We went back to the truck climbed into the back drank the wine, and shared the book. It was the end of our money but it wasn’t the end of the world. It was our life. We were doing what we wanted to do.
BANKRUPT HEART THE SECOND NOVEL
Finn looked at Ry’s face. He seemed more relaxed. The harbor oozed tranquility and
coaxed an unhurried demeanor from the people who lived there. Seagulls sat
resting on the metal boat shed roof, mallards explored afloat on the water,
while crows hopped about the docks, there was always a chance something to eat
would turn up. The harbor was juxtaposed next to the rush hour freeway where
traffic was headed north at a crawl bumper to bumper. There was a treasured
serenity as the boatyard emptied of the men and the women who had finished up
their work for the day.
Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith