Sep 242016


Showfolks of Sarasota

Showfolks of Sarasota

Well I’m a couple of weeks behind, but I want you all to know about a wonderful evening I spent at the Showfolks Club of Sarasota in Sarasota, Florida. First of all, let me say that the club is a very special place. (I am a lifetime member, although I think they didn’t expect me to live this long.) The walls are covered in photos of circus performers, dating back to the 1930’s, many signed by the artists. It is a haven for many of us who worked in the circus business.

For the second year in a row, I offered to do a benefit cabaret performance for the club, so I wanted to share some of the highlights.

I partnered with the wonderful musical comedienne Dana Mierlak, and we called our show Big and Little. I’m six feet tall, Dana’s five (in heels). Also, she’s half my age. It made for fun banter, i.e.:

PAUL: I’m Paul, the tall one.

DANA: Dana. … Average in stature.


DANA: We were both seven years old when we saw our first Broadway show. But of course his was in 1949, and mine was in 1989.


“So if baby, I’m the bottom, you’re the top!”

We had a ball, and it was a great success. Here are some photographs.

I’d love to make it an annual event.


"So, nooo?"

“So, nooo?”


Big & Little


I’m doing a version of the same cabaret with Dana at the METROPOLITAN ROOM in New York City on DECEMBER 2nd AND 6th, at 7pm. SAVE THE DATE in your calendar!

Jul 112014

4th of July - cartoon 4

It’s not quite the 4th of July if there isn’t BBQ’d food and something exploding with light in the summer night to the grand strains of John Philip Sousa. But having a BBQ and fireworks in a New York City apartment? That can be a tricky endeavor. Luckily we didn’t have to resort to any illegal grilling out on the fire escape.

I had some loved ones visit me in the last couple weeks, which made the time around the holiday even more special. My son Max came in from the West Coast, and I also got to see my daughter Katherine and her two little ones, my grandchildren Sonya and Leo, who flew north from Florida.

We attempted a preview of some of the 4th of July fare with the grandkids, and Leo impressed us all when he took a bite out of a vegan (unbeknownst to him) hot dog and his face immediately turned to disgust. He explained, “Yecchhh! It tastes like beans.” He got it right. Not only did he know that it didn’t taste like the hot dogs that he was used to, but he also identified the unusual hot dog flavor. That’s quite a pallet for a four year old!

Truth is, I only bought the vegan dogs in case one of our guests was on a health kick — none were. On the actual holiday, we offered up the bean-tasting vegan hot dogs to the local wildlife (don’t ask!) and enjoyed some meat-loaded hamburgers and hotdogs. To cook we used a BBQ grill with which we were very familiar: the good ol’ kitchen range. We served the food on china plates with mountains of cole slaw and potato salad.

4th of July - Sonya and Leo

Leo and Sonya

It wouldn’t be Independence Day in New York City without the Macy’s Fireworks Spectacular. This was the first time in five years that the Macy’s fireworks show was set off on the East River, which was good news for most New Yorkers who could now see the bright lights from downtown Manhattan and areas of Brooklyn and Queens. This was also the first year that I’ve lived in an apartment with a beautiful view of the Hudson River. The timing just wasn’t meant to be. But hey, maybe next year we’ll travel to Manhattan’s east coast.

I’m delighted that I got to spend some time with family, and I hope all of you had a wonderful 4th of July as well.

4th of July - Katherine and Max

Katherine and Max (a few years back)

Nov 272013

This week, many of us will be heading into the kitchen to prepare a meal for our families and friends. I myself am no great chef, but every year around Thanksgiving I’m reminded of the time I worked for one.  The following excerpt is from my book Never Quote The Weather to A Sea Lion… (available for purchase here).

In 1963, barely out of Dartmouth College, I’d been hired as floor manager for a little cooking show aired by Boston education channel WGBH. The show was called The French Chef, and the chef, of course, was Julia Child. Julia was an imposing figure. At six feet two inches, she was taller than I was, but it was her passion that wowed me. She loved the food that she’d discovered in Europe and wanted all of America to share her discovery.

On my first day I was naturally nervous but resolved not to let her see it. That was no easy task, as I was positioned twelve feet in front of her. During that first taping, I heard the voice of Russ Morash, our director, loudly through my headset: “Tell her she’s sweating, Paul.” I quickly thought about the various ways of putting this tricky, personal, potentially embarrassing matter to her; then I wrote one word on a large paper pad and held it up for her to see: PERS-PIR-A-TION. A moment later she casually mopped her brow with a dishcloth, and I thought to myself, Whew, I got that right.

As the show ended, I counted her down with my fingers: 5 …4 …3 …2 …out. She was laughing and happy. The show worked; the food looked great. She walked up to me, engulfed me in that large frame with a hug, and said with a laugh in her voice. “Paul, where I come from, they call it a sweat!”


 Folks, when you’re in the kitchen tomorrow, and you’re afraid the turkey’s too well done, or Grandma won’t be impressed with your take on her famous sweet potato casserole, my advice is: don’t sweat it! Just be grateful for the opportunity to be surrounded by loved ones. And remember, if you find yourself acting a little stir-crazy, you could always gather up all your visiting relatives and bring them to the circus! Happy Thanksgiving!