Today you’re going to get a rare backstage peek into the life of the Mistress of The Mix. An actual backstage story. And then I’m going to ask you for money.
Jefferson Public Radio and the Cascade Theatre presented comedian Dana Carvey onstage last Saturday night in a completely sold out show. I’m sure that anyone who was there will tell you that he was amazingly hilarious. And lucky me, I got to play Mistress of Ceremonies!
Chances are, if you’ve been to a few JPR shows at the Cascade Theatre, you’ve seen me get up and do my shtick. A few minutes before the show starts the lights (hopefully) blink, the audience (hopefully) takes to their seats as the lights dim, and then I come out on stage, thank the sponsors, tease a few upcoming shows, try to say something sort of funny but (hopefully) innocuous that it won’t be misunderstood and elicit an angry letter to the editor the next day (yeah, that happened. And for the record, I did not call the vice president stupid). Then I try to get off that stage as quickly as I can so that the main act (or the opener) can get to work entertaining folks.
Serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre since it re-opened in 2004 has allowed me to have some rare, even priceless experiences. I was invited to sing onstage with Pink Martini (a dream come true). I chatted with Chris Isaak about burial plots, ate dinner with the Manhattan Transfer, and Taj Mahal made me blush so hard that you could see it from the back row when he growled in my ear like the tiger he is. But last Saturday night I had an exchange with Dana Carvey and his little crew backstage that will probably go into my list of Top 10 Cool Cascade moments of all time.
I didn’t actually introduce Dana. My job that night was to introduce his warm up guy, another comedian named Larry. That’s all I knew. Larry. So I was told to go down into the inner sanctum that we call the Green Room and find this Larry person, hopefully extract his last name from him, and see if there was anything else I needed to say. I didn’t know what to expect, but when I walked into the Green Room looking for Larry, I wasn’t really expecting to meet Dana Carvey. And usually, because the Green Room is intended to be a space of privacy and seclusion, I don’t usually try to get an audience with the star of the evening unless they speak to me first. And I don’t ask for autographs. I just try to be cool, collected, and uncommonly professional. Well I try. A lot of the time I end up walking away, slapping my forehead and rolling my eyeballs at myself.
But in this case, when I walked in the room looking for Larry the opener, Dana was just standing there, stuck out his hand, and said hi. We chatted for a few minutes, having a real conversation, just like normal people, except funnier. He’s just so naturally funny (I guess he’s on the right career path, eh). He started mining me for information on the area, and we talked about how he’d lived in Redding (although he says it’s so far south that it’s probably considered Anderson these days) as a little boy. He asked me about Bill Cosby and Brian Regan. He asked if we had packs of guys in spandex on bicycles. I totally misunderstood him, and replied, “Well, I didn’t see any out in the lobby.” It took me a minute to realize that he was asking if Redding was a good town to crack jokes about Lance Armstrong wannabe’s.
Eventually I was able to talk to Larry, a subdued, mild fellow who told me that his name was Larry “Bubbles” Brown, aka Mr. Optimist. He said he couldn’t seem to shake the name “Bubbles” no matter how hard he tried, although he admitted that it might have something to do with the fact that it’s on his business card.
I told him that I was having sort of the same problem lately as I prepare for my upcoming nuptials, going from my former married name of Ing-Miller back to my maiden name of Ing.
“ING?” said Dana Carvey, who stopped what he was doing and walked back over to where I stood with Larry “Bubbles” Brown. “That’s your name?”
“No way! That’s my TM mantra!”
“My mantra for transcendental meditation. When I meditate, you know how some people say OM to clear their mind. I say Ing. IIIIIIING. IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING.”
“Aaaah. Well obviously that’s not going to work for you any more. Now every time you meditate, you’re gonna see my face.”
Yeah, that was a good night. This job definitely has its perks.
So why did I tell you this story? Because I wanted to remind you that for the past 8 years, the organization I work for has been working hard to bring incredible performances to the Cascade Theatre (plus we make some pretty awesome radio). Also, I just plain ran out of time this week and didn’t have time to come up with anything else. Why? Because it’s fund drive time.
Right now Jefferson Pubic Radio is asking our listeners to put their money where their ears are. To think about the value of having a public radio station, how often they listen and the benefits they receive from having a public radio station in their life and in their community. Then we ask our listeners to take some action, and either pick up the phone or go online and make a commitment to help support the radio station financially with whatever kind of contribution they are able to make.
Now perhaps you haven’t become a member because you’re not listening to JPR. Today I’d like to help change that. I’d like to guide you to our station and help you listen to our programming. And if you like what you hear, I hope you’ll decide to throw a little cash our way, and be a part of making public radio happen in your community. Because this little public radio station (really, we started out in a broom closet, no lie) has done some incredible things with the support of its listeners and its communities, like restoring an old, dilapidated theatre that has become the jewel of this fine city.
Today, instead of streaming a playlist, I’m sharing with you the streaming services of JPR. All 3 of them. If you like Americana contemporary singer/songwriter music, jazz, reggae, world, bluegrass and folk, then try the Rhythm & News Service. If Classical is your thing (or if you’re just going down for a nap or studying for finals) then try the Classics & News Service. News Junkies? The News & Information Service of JPR should satiate your needs. Just click on the links below the boxes that correlate to the service you’d like to try out. And if you’re mobile, try our iPhone app below. If you like what you hear, maybe you’ll give us a call this week at 1-888-552-6191 and become a member of JPR. You can also donate right at our website. And hey….thanks.
iTunes / MP3
|With JPR’s free downloadable iPhone application, JPR fans can stream any of JPR’s three program services at the quick touch of a button on an iPhone or iPod Touch. It’s quick to connect, simple to use, and allows you to take JPR with you wherever you go.To download the app, visit the App Store on iTunes here.|
Valerie Ing has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for over a decade, and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She’s the mother of a teenage daughter and an adorable West Highland Terrier, and can’t imagine life without them or music.
She’s often spotted driving around town singing at the top of her lungs to new wave hits from the 80’s, but at work Valerie hosts the afternoon classical show Siskiyou Music Hall (at 90.9 FM in Shasta County or streaming at ijpr.org).