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Last night was the episode of Master Of Champions that I’ve been waiting for, no surprise that they crazy edited it for drama and stuff.
I had a watching party with some friends last night and was able to give a little commentary during commercial breaks, here’s a bit of what you didn’t see on ABC.
When I first signed on for the show, the main priority for the producers was music. Oh my god we can’t have copyrighted tracks on the show. So they had us send in stuff that we liked and they would create a similar song. I was actually happy with what they chose for us, but Dave hated his song. I think he called it disco on a casio.
So we got our songs taken care of, then they came down to film each of us for a day. It was an entire day, we filmed some of my friends and I hanging out at Zeitgiest, then went to the Golden Gate Bridge (which was actually the first time I’d ever walked on it). Drove around a bunch and got some really cool stuff. So they pretty much allow me to say and do whatever I want, but they did ask me to say “I am the best yo-yoer in the world”. Like I would ever say something that stupid, I told them I wouldn’t do it, eventually they twisted my arm to say “I would say my innovation is what makes me one of the best yo-yoers in the world”, I hated saying something like that, but I could see why they would want something like that for the show to make it more interesting to folks. So I said it.
I tried to sneak as many of my friends and their art in as possible, they interviewed my buddies Nick and Phil, but only Phil made it in the final cut. Phil and I are building yo-yos together now as Yes, Absolutely. (our new yo-yo “The End” is now available for pre-sale, only 17 for sale, blah blah blah).
So I got 8bit bEtty’s 1” button on the show, and my Fony Hat, plus a shirt that I sewed all up with my heart on my sleeve (a theme that pops up later in the show), but they would never let me be on camera with my LoveLife Bag because of the tag on it. We filmed in my girlfriends apartment and got some of her Frida shrine (and subsequently some of her friends paintings) on there too.
The next thing they wanted was a name, originally I think that Dave and his crew where going to be Team Buzzon (an obvious selection since they are of course all core members of Buzzon), but for whatever reason the name was changed to Texas Crew. It was probably because ABC wanted to avoid specifically promoting any brand. Matter of fact, I don’t think they ever even mentioned that Bazan owns a yo-yo company do they?
Our team name was puzzling, the producers wanted to call it Team Doctor Popular, which I flat out told them I wouldn’t do. Augie, Paul, and I aren’t on the same team or anything, and they definetly don’t work for me or get paid by me, so I wouldn’t want to make them associate themselves with my site or anything. So I played around with a bunch of names that I tried to get the producers to accept, especially “Sleeper Cell” which I guess was just a little too edgy for the producers given the current political climate. Eventually the would allow me to promote The College for the Easily Amused ( http://www.easily-amused.org ). The CFTEA is a group I started with a friend a long long time ago in Minneapolis. It is purely a non-profit that I’m really no longer associated with, there are chapters everywhere, each one is run in it’s own way by the locals there. So none of us where really capitalizing by the name, it just sort of helps out these other groups.
So, we never were able to rehearse before the show, Paul lives way south, Augie lives hella north, so we didn’t actually try our routine out until we all went to LA.
There was going to be tons of practice time with the harness and lighting and stunts, but all that fell through and we only got a few runs in the harness on Thursday and none on the day of filming.
The crew watched us like babysitters, we couldn’t even pee without crew members coming along, they were always rushing us around just to end up waiting. All the rehearsals fell through and we spend most of our time in our trailer. Hurry up and wait.
During this time I got to hang out with Rick and throw cards together. I’m okay at card throwing, I think I’ve got some distance and accuracy, but not the strength this guy had, he was amazing.
So the day of the filming they kept us in a little area and wouldn’t let us watch the other acts for some reason. But Augie found a little whole in the set that we could watch some of Joe Eigo’s set. We got in trouble for that. I heard the director on his bullhorn “The ******ing yo-yo guys are in the shot!”. Way to go Augie.
Ivan was a trip, a really nice, but really out there individual. I don’t think I’ll ever meet anybody else in my life who just seemed so cool as Ivan. He is on his own planet, but he’s just so cool about it. I mean, he gave us his promo dvds and stuff, and he misspelled his own website. I assume you just gotta know that by working with Ivan you just can’t control him. So check this out, in the very middle of his set, right after the backflip off the platform, Ivan just took off. He left the building. Cameras and crew everywhere and somehow Ivan just vanished. They came pounding on all of our trailers “Have you guys seen Ivan?!”, which is hilarious ‘cause I’m thinking how could you guys lose him in the MIDDLE of his routine. You can’t go anywhere without crew people on the set, and you guys lost him?
He went to the restroom. He did a backflip, pumped up the crowd, then went to pee… came back five to ten minutes later, and went right back into his routine. Ivan hijacked the show, it was great!
The car guys were nice of course, but I didn’t get to see their routine, I just remember coming out onto the stage and thinking “wtf is this flipped car doing here?”. So last night I got to see how it got there. I think the producers were actually surprised by that, but I’m not sure.
The card throwers routine, I’m going to be honest here, it was not his night. I did get to watch his routine take place and it was just one of those nights, and all you performers out there know what I’m talking about, where you are watching someone just crash on stage. Nothing was going right for Rick. I don’t know if there was a weird draft or something because I know he could easily nail all of these tricks, but it just wasn’t happening right then. He had them reset the stage a couple of times and take way more attempts than we thought he would. There was an entire extra section with an assistant in a red dress, The first take with her didn’t go swell at all. Just lots of misses. So they took the cards of the foam board behind her and tried again, this time went even worse, he accidentally cut her with 3 throws in a row.
The funny part about all of this is that he nailed the finale on the first try. He just looked at it, and BAM! Right in there. So they edited all of his routine to make it look snazzier, except for the only trick he nailed on the first try, which they added misses to make it more dramatic I guess. The producers couldn’t just let the show be, all the real drama was deleted and all this b.s. drama was added, crazy.
So I guess that leaves the Texas Crew and Easily Amused performances.
All of our costumed rehearsals were cancelled for the day, which meant two things, the cameramen had NEVER seen our performances, and we never got a stage rehearsal with lights and everything.
So they didn’t let us watch Dave’s routine, which I didn’t mind at the time because I figured I’d see it on the TV… Now I really regret it because it looked like a bunch of stuff was missing, and they were using redundant footage, so we only saw a teeny tiny bit of their routine. I know they did offstring in the routine but they never showed it.
The harness looks like fun right? It was! A bit uncomfortable, but fun as heck. I loved practicing my Hong Kong fight scene style moves in it. Chun Li ain’t got nothing on my bicycle kick now. It doesn’t really look like it, but my jump movements where supposed to be imitating Super Mario. Imagine a gold brick above me as I jump.
There were certain uh.. costume requirements for the harness.
Oh, our costumes looked great, right?
I was really happy with our routine for the most part, since we didn’t have any practice that day, I think it helped the routine seem more spontaneous. We really did have fun while doing it, and our energy was high. After it was done, they asked if we wanted another run and I said no, because I thought it may take away from the energy, but I kinda regret that now because I don’t think they got all the good stuff on tape. The camera guys were watching it for the first time and I think they missed some of the cool things, for instance the routine ended with me being 20 feet up in the air and using a 12 long string on a viper, with Paul doing tricks with it below me. They also messed up the lighting for both acts, we invested about $125 dollars on light up yo-yos and they never even turned the lights off. The routine was supposed to begin in the dark and stay dark until halfway through, so that was pretty messed up. All of Dave’s routine was supposed to be in black light, they had dayglow string, neon yo-yos, etc, and it never even happened.
Add to that the biggest insult, they didn’t use any of the music! The routines were all cut up weird and they didn’t use the music, so all that practice of the routines and choreography was sort of thrown out the window. We could have come out to Master of Puppets, it wouldn’t have mattered.
So, I mentioned how they made Rick hit the tricks he missed and miss the tricks he hit… They totally butchered our stuff in the weirdest ways… Did you notice they kept re-using the same close ups of Dave and I? Just to add these emotions that weren’t there. Man what was up with the part where they introduced us and they said “Gentlemen, great your opponent.” Then they took out his shaking hands and added this footage from us waiting to be miked. Those shots were from us standing around when they weren’t supposedly filming. So weird, so they took out any real drama, and added this totally fake looking drama. Basically, you could tell they had an agenda from the very start of thee show, how they were going to make people look, and all that. We were hanging out with Dave’s team the whole week, Dave and I have done business together for years, and yet there are writers or cameramen coming up to us all the time saying “So, what is up with the rivalry?” WHAT?! Stop asking that.
There was probably more rivalry between Ivan and Eigo. I think the shows biggest flaw could be that reluctance to go with unfolds naturally, and stick to a preconceived idea. The talent is high, but they twist whatever happens into something else. Make a good performer look bad, create false emotions using stock footage, ignore the amazing things that happen right in front of the camera.
Blah blah blah. I’m not bitching, seriously, I’m just giving extra info for those who care about the process of the show, and the performers involved. Of course I’m bias and stuff, but I think it’s a pretty interesting story. The end result is that all of us involved are so grateful to be a part of this. It was a huge thing for our sport and for each of us to have a chance to come out there. I felt personally that we did the best we could do, we had an awesome time filming it and hanging out, and hopefully everyone will see extra performances out of this. I’m sure Dave will have some cool new kids come to his club, I’m hoping to meet more yoers in the area, and maybe more folks will check out some of my comics and music and stuff.
added: And just to show how yo-yoing can enter the pop culture vocabulary for a day or two, check this vid out