Several months ago, we were asked to be a part of this year’s Fringe Fest. I was quite excited at the prospect of being a part of one of Rochester’s biggest art and performance festivals. We were going to hold two shows, both taking place at the MuCCC on Atlantic Ave. The first was our Animal Expo, an interactive forum, of sorts, in which our animal wranglers explain everything about the various species they were displaying. I originally was to cover the intermission with a howling demo as our wolf, Howler while set up started for the animal improve comedy, “Cletus’s Critter Corner.”
Plans shifted slightly by the time I arrived this morning. They scrapped the intermission and put me into the Expo, right between the segment on the various birds and before Bu, the serval cat. It was also decided that the Expo would be done in sort of an interview format, with Matt, our emcee, bringing us out on stage and asking us questions and engaging the audience.
With that in mind, I wandered into the front of the house and into the lobby, mingling with guests as they waited for gates to open. Howler was a hit; the prospect of a talking wolf posing with people for photos was too good to pass up. I did a quick stop out front of the building to wave in folks who were making their way over. And, just before 11am, I darted back to the green room and warmed up my vocal chords as the reptiles took the stage.
The crowd was thrilled, especially when the talkative exotic birds showed off their stuff during their segment. Once they were finished squawking, Matt announced, “Right, so our next animal is one that used to roam most of the United Sates but not so much now, and he’s one of the biggest carnivores around. So let’s bring out the wolf!” And out I dashed, sliding a bit on the smooth stage surface. The crowd was alive with gasps of surprise, cheers and shrieks of excitement from the kids.
Matt and I hit it off well. He rattled off questions and I gave in depth yet digestible answers, trying to keep myself peppy and making use of the stage. It felt good to use my improv skills again, something I haven’t done on stage since college. This was especially good because none of this was rehearsed.
Finally, matt asked the question he had been asking all of the other animal presenters. “Would you make a good pet?”
I glanced about my audience, wondering if anyone was actually going to say ‘yes.’ I responded with a solid, “No. First of all, we STINK. Secondly, it’s illegal. Thirdly, we make terrible guard dogs because we’re terrified of people.”
“What about getting a hybrid wolf-dog from breeders?”
“That’s not a good idea,” I replied. “You have two instincts in a hybrid’s head. The wild side and the domestic side, and they don’t mix well. So sometimes, that can make them terribly aggressive.”
The crowd took some time to digest that in. so Matt took the opportunity to ask, “What does the wolf say?”
I demonstrated the Lonesome Howl, one of the easiest ones for me to do. Katie managed to get this on video, so I’ll let that speak for itself.
We will be returning to the MuCCC in December for another show and next year, we will be returning to the Fringe Fest. I really cannot wait.