I have performed two of my three shows in the state of Arizona. Friday night, an estimated 125 people filled the folding chairs of the Coyote Trail Elementary School cafetorium for my Arizona debut. Last night, the audience comprised about 10% of the 599 seat Vail Theatre of the Arts Fortunately, they were herded toward the front.
I had not performed the show since Boulder on September 27th. Listening to it on my earbuds while riding has been helpful in the memorization process, but each show had its share of screw ups that the audience never noticed. I’m fortunate in that Will Rogers always improvised his performances and told the same jokes but in different a order each night as they came to him, so if I skip a paragraph or fuse a poem together differently or make up something on the spot, the audience is none of the wiser because none of them has a script in front of them. However, when I get to the closing song and see how much time I have left, I start wondering what I left out.
Nevertheless, I am confident that each audience got at least 88% of what I was supposed to say.
And then they got the big reveal.
After Will’s final words, I enjoy my applause, take my bow, take off my hat, remove my hair tie, and let my hair fall to my shoulders. The audience is amazed! And then I tell them my story.
I tell them about how I was cast as Will Rogers on my birthday 5 years ago and the evolution of the show they have just watched. I tell them about the current tour, the places I visited, and the miles I have ridden on my motorcycle. I say I am a lifestyle stuntman, and while I prefer the term Renaissance Man, there are some who just think me a nut job.
I tell them that 20 years ago I hitchhiked across the United States visiting various communities, buying a motorcycle in Reno and touring up and down the West Coast before ending up in Los Angeles. On this tour, I have had the opportunity to revisit the very places that were part of that journey, from the tent in the woods I lived in for 7 weeks to the studio apartment on Sunset Boulevard where I lived the dream of the artist for 16 months. And then I direct their attention to the merch table, where there is an array of cards from the shows I’ve produced to the books I’ve published, a stack of CDs and a bucket with a sign that says “pay what you want”, a collection of books about Will Rogers, and my 1959 Olympia typewriter, on which they are invited to leave notes on a sheet of paper which reads “what did you think of the show?”
The first night I played a few more songs that I selected, and last night I picked an 8-year-old to pick songs from the deck. I even had a few people singing along.
Last night, I told them about my year without money, my 10 years as a bicyclist, and the joy of being a motorcyclist again after my economic stimulus checks bought me greater mobility. I told them that after my year without money, I ran as a write in candidate for the Sarasota county commission, and though I had no pipe dreams about actually winning in a county that has been solidly Republican for 48 years, I was at least able to get on the dais and bring ideas like permaculture, community gardens, and composting into the conversation. Just imagine what I could bring to the conversation as an Anti-Bunk Party presidential candidate.
Then I told them I wasn’t declaring my candidacy or anything because that would mean I’d have to actually start keeping track of my money, but a run for me is not outside the realm of possibilities. I have great doubt I’d be able to win, and like Will, I would probably resign if I did, but it would be a really interesting run. After all, the majority of people who run in the New York Marathon do not think they can win it, but they run it anyway because they can.
I think it’s a much better method of introducing ABC Squared Economics into greater discussion than the ways I have attempted in the past. It would allow me to partner with those interested in election reform policies like ranked choice voting and revoking Citizens United. And as the Anti-Bunk candidate, I could introduce some new ideas into the fray as well.
For instance, to find greater balance in our power as people, I think we would benefit from a fourth branch of government comprised of the actual populace with the power to veto poor judgments made by the other three branches and collaborate to better give marching orders to those elected to be public servants. I also think that the Democratic and Republican parties should both be annihilated, with at least four major parties regrouping in order to address election reform and a more perfect union as the experiment of democracy continues. Oh yeah, and we should also do away with the IRS and replace it with an ABC Squared Economics platform in which we can channel the currency we create through our time and resources to address the Artistry of our lives, the service of our Businesses, the engagement of our Citizenry, and the development of our Community.
Yep. I think Will may have inspired me to run for president.