Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Mundane & The Magnificent

Haven't had much of anything new to write about since Friday. Over the weekend, I spent most of the time working on sorting my collectibles (Disney figures and plush characters, commemorative or signed baseballs, Pez Dispensers, and, of course, Lego sets, among other things).

My objective was to get rid of some of those things and to make space in the room that will eventually be my "man cave".

Also, part of Saturday, Paula and I spent an hour or so in the the room we cleared out last weekend. We're scraping off the dark green paint that's currently coating the wood work that runs around the floor. At this point we are about halfway done. 

Both of those things are part of the process of our home improvement project that I've written about before. But I want to write something new for you.

So today, I'm going to write about a pair of entertainment programs that have come across my TV screen over the last couple of days. One is very mundane and the other is absolutely magnificent. Both of them involve puppets. 

The sequel to the successful Muppets return to the big screen a couple of years ago arrived in theaters back in March. It wasn't very successful, It made less than $28 million worldwide. Unimpressive by today's standards.  

I am not surprised that it didn't do well. I did not like this movie at all. You can read my review in the March 22, 2014 post. 

As I speculated in that post, I only bought the blu-ray edition of this movie to keep my Muppet film collection intact. 

I wrote about my lifelong fascination with and effort to emulate the Muppets in my July 27 post. The Muppets as a group have been a great creative influence on me. I have come to expect so much from them. It's really disappointing when they fall short. Nevertheless I'm going to give "Muppets Most Wanted" another try.  

I will probably find something new to enjoy or laugh about but at the very best I can only seeing myself changing from calling it "awful" to "mundane" at best. 

The "Marvelous" portion of this post is a show I've wanted to see ever since I heard about it winning a Tony Award 7 years ago. What's best about it is that it stars a ventriloquist. 

Ventriloquist Jay Johnson (best known since his role as "Chuck & Bob" on the 70's sitcom "Soap) has been performing this show since 2006.

After his Broadway run, Johnson took his show on a national tour. I watched the tour's website four a couple of years but the show never came close enough for me to go see it. 

 That's why I was very excited when I found about the show's most recent incarnation: a recorded live performance was now available for digital download, or pay-per-view rental. The latter is the way I experienced it last week.

Watching this 2 hour show was fun and entertaining. After not seeing him perform for a long long time I had forgotten what a top notch ventriloquist Jay Johnson is. 

Actually, in the show he did things I had never seen him do before. He even used two of the Axtell Expressions gimmicks I actually own: the bird arm and the magic drawing board. Through his performance, technique, and biographical story he reminded me why I love the art of ventriloquism. 

"The Two and Only" has as it's foundation the true essence of ventriloquism. With a little hard work and practice the average every day ventriloquist can emulate the style and learn the skills Jay Johnson utilizes in his show.

The biographical story Johnson tells throughout the show about his experience and friendship with ventriloquist and puppet maker, Art Selving, is inspiring. All though it happened in the America of the 50s & 60s; it is a timeless testimony to being dedicated to pursuing your dreams and importance of finding a mentor.  

The use of such a wide variety of puppets, from simple to complex, served as an example to me that use of multiple characters is important to show that last's more than just a few minutes. The introduction of each puppet helps reset the audience's curiosity and excitement keeping their attention longer. 

As I stated earlier I thought this show was magnificent. Anyone who is not familiar the history of ventriloquism will be educated as well as entertained. If you are a vent, like me, you will be in awe of Jay Johnson's talent. 

I was fortunate enough to discover how to record this PPV to my DVR. So as of this post I have watched the show twice. 

I will watch it again a third and even a fourth time. The reason for this is that the first two times as I watched it, my mind was flooded with ideas for my own act. 

No, I will not be copying Jay's jokes, that's called "stealing." But I will use his performance methods and joke formulas. I believe that's called "inspiration."

I can safely say that, if I had managed to go see this show live when it was touring I would have absolutely lost my mind. While it's not your typical Broadway style show, I consider it the perfect ventriloquist show. I'll say it a third time: It's MAGNIFICENT.

The DVD comes out in December. I will absolutely own it when it does.

There you have what I call "The Mundane and the Magnificent". Guess which one I recommend? Check out "The Two And Only" on PPV. I guarantee you'll enjoy it. 

No comments: