Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Nerdling and the Pogo Stick

I've had more than a few people ask me how I ever learned learn my jump rope on a pogo stick schtick. Here's my story, and I'm schticking to it.

It all started with the Gong show, a 1970's show that was an incredibly odd mutation of a talent show and a freak show. Acts ranged from outrageously bad jugglers to contortion artists. And who could forget the twins that sat on towels on stage eating pop sickles in a sexually-suggestive manner?

I loved the Gong show. I was mesmerized by the bad talent. And when I read that there was a community Gong show at a local school, I decided to go for it. But I needed a bad act.

I settled on the pogo stick pretty quickly. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I had what you call "pogo perseverance". I could bounce forever... at least until I got hungry or had to go to the bathroom.  And I could do it with no hands. Great start, but I needed something to make it memorably bad. I decided to add a jump rope to the mix.

Perfect Gong show material.

But alas, the local Gong show was canceled. I thought my unique talent would never be showcased.

Fast forward to 1993. My daughter Kimmy was student of the week in her kindergarten class. As part of this honor, the parent(s) would come in and read a book, or talk about their career in an attempt to make the student of the week the envy of the other 5-year-olds.

When Kimmy told me that it was her turn I got very excited! "I know what we can do!" I said. "I'll do a survey of the kids....maybe ask them their favorite color! Then we can analyze their data and make a pie chart! We can color the pie slices the colors that they like." I was going on and on about this fabulous idea when I noticed that Kimmy was not on-board with my plan.

She rolled her 5-year old eyes and looked at me pleadingly. "Mom! That would be SOOOOOOOOOOOO boring! Can't you do anything else?"

I thought about it for a minute and offered, "I can pogo stick and jump rope at the same time...."

Her eyes lit up. "Are you kidding, Mom?" The rest is history. I showcased my unorthodox talent for Mrs. Hiller's morning kindergarten class. The class was completely blown away. And Kimmy has never been prouder.

Fast forward another 17 years. When Jamie,  the director of Gypsy told me she was casting actors to play worn out strippers who have gimmicks, I mentioned that I could jump rope and pogo stick simultaneously. I auditioned and got the part of Electra, whose gimmick is lighting up various parts of her anatomy while dancing.

At the script read-through we got to page 47 and Jamie said, "Lou, this is where you will be jumping rope on your pogo stick".

I believe I responded something like "Yay!", but inside my head was spinning. Crap! She really wants me to do that? Can I still do that? Where did I put that pogo stick? Do we still have a jump rope? What's my health care deductible?

But it's kind of like that saying about getting back on the horse... or is it the bicycle? You can lead a jump rope to a pogo stick but you can't make it hop.  

But in my case, it all came back to me.  And the rest is history.

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