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Captain's Log Episode 3 : The Downside of Up

**This blog entry was written while Tinderbox Circus Sideshow was neck deep in its Summer/Fall tour, and offers a glimpse into a day in the life of a traveling sideshow. Now that the off season is coming to a close, we thought it’d be fun to dig this up and finally share it.**

Everything looks easier, and prettier, and a lot more fun, when you’re on the outside. Being a traveling performer is no different. As an audience member, you only ever see us at our best (mostly). You see the rhinestones, the glitz, the glam, the upbeat and positive attitudes, the (mostly) funny jokes and the amazing skills, but there’s a whole lot more to getting us out there and on the road, and it’s not nearly as pretty. In this blog post, I’m going to do something different. I’m going to walk you, dear reader, through a typical day in the life of one of the last traveling 10-in-1 sideshows in the world.

  • 0-hours: Morning. We wake up, much too early, at wherever we’ve been sleeping. Sometimes it’s pretty nice, like a decently clean couch. Sometimes it’s not so nice, like the car’s back seat, crammed in with all of our gear, tangled in phone charging cords, in a Walmart parking lot. Either way, it’s much, MUCH, too early (9:00 am as a late start early) to be awake. Average time spent asleep, 6 hours.

  • +0.5-hours: Trashique is pissed. Not at anyone or anything in particular, she’s just one of those people that hates everything and everyone and every word spoken for the first few hours of consciousness. Captain Darron is still not fully awake and he thinks it’s his fault. What is his fault, we may never know. The search for coffee begins.

  • +1-hours: Coffee is found. It’s not good coffee. Both Trashique and Captain Darron remember they’re still wearing last night’s show makeup. Neither one of them cares enough to take it off.

  • +1.5-hours: Trashique is on her second cup of the horrible brown trash water that this place calls coffee, and her mood is much better. Captain Darron almost shits himself after his first cup, and is currently in the bathroom playing games on his phone. Why does it burn so badly? Trashique is checking load in times for tonight’s show and figuring out our daily schedule.

  • +2.5-hours: Captain Darron has returned from the bathroom and we are on our way. The first few hours are in silence. No radio, no music, just seething resentment for the a.m. sun.

  • +5-hours: We’ve stopped to catch a few pictures of a Muffler Man. Neat. Captain Darron’s wallet is painfully digging into his right butt cheek, but he keeps forgetting to take it out of his pocket.

  • +5.5-hours: Driving. More driving. Trashique is flipping between NPR channels, trying to find the best signal. We’ve heard the start of this show 3 times.

  • +7-hours: We arrive at whatever town we’re supposed to perform in. Trashique has told Captain Darron no less than 6 times what the town is, but he keeps forgetting. He still thinks we’re in Iowa.

  • +7.5-hours: Time to eat. We pick something not-fast-food, and it sucks most of the time. We still have time to kill, so it’s more coffee and staring at a computer screen.

  • +8-hours: Coffee shop. This time the coffee is good. Trashique picked up a couple 5-hour Energy bottles on the way. More coffee. More staring at computer screens. Captain Darron spends most of the time at the coffee shop sending text messages and chain smoking. Trashique is on her computer, doing administrative work, making sure our finances are all updated, answering emails. Captain Darron comes up with a new joke to try on stage tonight.

  • +10-hours: Load in isn’t supposed to be until an hour from now, but we head to the venue early because we’re bored with the coffee shop. We sit in the car and chain smoke until someone shows up to let us load in.

  • +11-hours: Captain Darron thinks to go look in the window of the venue and it turns out someone actually is there. The doors are opened. It takes 4 trips each to get everything inside. Damn that prop box gets heavier every time we carry it. Did we grab the microphone that works? What did we forget in the car?

  • +11.5-hours: Banners are hung, props are in order, merch is set up, setlist is written, and Captain Darron is doing a sound check. Trashique is getting her makeup on. The headset mics keep feeding back, regardless of what the sound engineer does.

  • +12-hours: The doors are open to the general public. Captain Darron and Trashique have their traditional pre-show shot, beer, and 5 Hour Energy. Captain Darron is reminding himself of that joke he came up with earlier. At some point, both get into costume.

  • +13-hours: The show was scheduled to start here, but the show has been pushed an additional 15 minutes, to allow for the time difference between show-time and real-world-time..

  • +13.5-hours: After a second 15 minute push, the audience is here and ready to start the show. The (mostly proverbial) curtain rises, and it’s SHOW TIME!

  • +14.5-hours: Intermission. Smoke break. Beer break. Captain Darron and Trashique run back in from our cigarettes to sell some merch, causing the intermission to run longer than intended.

  • +15-hours: The second half of the show. The audience is even bigger now. The audience members that got here on time are drunk and having a great time.

  • +16-hours: The show is over and a rousing success. Captain Darron and Trashique de-staple and clean themselves up, pose for pictures with the audience members, sell merchandise, and start packing down the show.

  • +17-hours: Show is packed up, the venue has settled up, and we’re back in the car on our way to sleep.

  • +17.5-hours: We arrive at our host’s house, lay claim to our respective horizontal spaces, and spend some time talking with our host, being good and respectful and gracious guests. Or we find the nearest Walmart parking lot.

  • +18 hours: Before we head to bed, we each give ourselves a good sniff, and determine that we smell bad, but not bad enough to think about showering until morning. We finally lay down to sleep. Right before dozing off, Captain Darron realizes that he forgot to tell his new joke. Dammit.

#driving #sideshow #touring #malibu #traveling

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