The Tornado of Talent

Friday, July 5th, 2024

CAMP OFFICE circa 12:30pm—Ringing phones, squawking walkie talkies and the frantic bantering of logistical issues fill the small camp office like a sonic clown car, whose engine might be the hypnotic hum of the swamp cooler. My desk is a menagerie of random papers, with bits of scheduling ephemera taped all around the adjoining walls. A repurposed red straw stuck in a random hole serves as a makeshift hat rack. Piles of supposedly important boxes loom in every corner. I take a deep breath and try to focus my caffein-addled brain on the task at hand: blogging.

Today at breakfast I made my rounds to gather reviews of last night’s Tornado of Talent. Wavy Gravy first began putting on Tornado’s in the 1980’s to pass the time while waiting around in makeshift jails with fellow protestors. Here at Camp, it’s our first big stage show of the session where a camper can show off the skill that made them famous in their own living room. Last night’s Tornado was emceed by Wavy himself, ably assisted by Robot Riley.

“The Tornado was kind of a whirlwind,” said lead Techie Momo Calfé-Smith. “The finale was a ballet dance from the Nutcracker, ‘Trepak’, and it was really sweet. I was impressed by the two unicyclers who did a pinwheel, one was on the giraffe uni and the other was riding the tiniest unicycle at camp. They got those levels! Speaking of unicycles, someone solved a Rubik’s Cube while riding one.”

“The tech-ing was kind of wild,” admitted Momo. “There’s a wasp nest that appeared in the ground under the mixing board, right where my feet usually go, so it’s been kind of a battle. Luckily no one has been stung, they’re just menacing. By the time the show started all the wasps were asleep, but they were flying around all afternoon while we were trying to take sign ups. But that’s life in the great outdoors!”

“It was amazing, even glorious!” exclaimed Performance Coordinator José Garcia. “I didn’t have to go looking for performers, everyone was on-time, on-cue, and right where they needed to be. My favorite act was the clowns and their invisible bench, a total classic. When I see these kids perform I know the world is in good hands.”

“It was fun watching different talents because everyone is talented,” said Boon, 12 of the Rainbow Tipi. “I liked all the acts, even the one’s that weren’t technically circus skills.”

“It was funny and people laughed at it,” said Frinkie, 12, also from Rainbow. “My favorite was this girl who sang ‘Stick Season’ by Noah Kahan. I love that song. So cute.”

“I liked the little kid things,” said Mae, 11, also from Rainbow. “They’re so cute and brave, especially this one little girl named Rae did a unicorn skit.”

“My favorite was the girl who was dancing to hiphop music in a leopard shirt,” said Jojo, 12, also from Rainbow. “I think the song was ‘Eye of the Tiger’ or something like that. It was so good. She kept doing the same move over and over but she made it look cool, and she even jumped in the air.”

“The Celebrity Fashion Show was fascinating,” said Ophelia, 11, also from Rainbow. “The would announce like, ‘Here comes Ariana Grande,’ and then a kid dressed as Ariana Grande would come out. A lot of the costumes were really good, but some of them were way too big on the kids. Wavy Gravy would make ridiculous comments and Robot Riley was hilarious. All the acts were put together well, like they had been practicing.”

“The diablo acts are always my favorite,” said Song Leader Natalie Garms. “The art of diablo seems to attract a certain demographic: knuckle-headed, prepubescent boys. The have so much heart and so much belief in themselves. They performed one at a time, each one getting their diablo up to speed and then launching it into the air. I think they had like a 12% catch rate. The problem is that when you don’t catch a diablo, it’s spinning so fast that it will launch itself off the ground and start rolling in a random direction at a high speed. It’s totally ridiculous. The juxtaposition of the unbridled confidence and ineptitude brings a smile to my face.”

“I was stressed out at the beginning but it ended up being super easy and fun,” said Micah, 10, of the Flame Tipi. “I just went up to the microphone and asked for a prompt. Wavy gave me one, he said “shredded wheat and melted butter.” So I used the prompt and told a completely improvised story. People clapped a lot I guess. The whole thing was wonderful.”

“The dancing was the coolest part for me,” said Quinn, 13, of the Purple Tipi. “And when Ollie played a solo on the drum kit, that was radical. I was absolutely losing my mind. 7 out 10 stars.”

“The clowns were my favorite,” said Rose, 10, of the Maroon Tipi. “They were really funny and I liked their noses. They started dancing and got everybody in the audience to dance too. Wavy Gravy and Robot Riley were really funny. I’m gonna make Wavy Gravy a bracelet that says ‘Camp Winnarainbow.'”

“Copy cat!” said Rose’s identical sister Eva, incensed. “Look at my bracelet! What does it say? ‘Camp Winnarainbow.'”

“I sang a song called ‘Stick Season’,” continued Eva. “My sister Mary played guitar for me but they accidentally called her ‘Marty.’ It was good that I couldn’t see the audience; it was too dark and the stage lights were really bright. It was good and silly.”

“Many awesome campers got sucked up into the Tornado of Talent!” exclaimed Wavy Gravy. “The ballet was brilliant, and working with Robot Riley was excellent. I like his company and he is über awesome and amazing!”

“I thought it was spectacular,” said Director Emeritus Jahanara Romney.

“And she’s seen a lot of them!” interjected Wavy. When asked how he and Jah were dealing with the heat, he said, “I’m embarrassed to say we live in air-conditioned splendor. But heck, I’m 88! It’s all gravy to me.”

Stay hydrated,

—J. Payseno, Editor