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Follically Challenged Productions Presents:






ANYTHING GOES: CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE SPROCKETMAN

This is all Steven Grant’s fault.

You see, Steven writes a great column called “Permanent Damage” over at Comic Book Resources. One of the features of this column is a sort of “what’s the link” game involving obscure comic book covers. In the June 18th edition, Steven posted this little gem:

 

The very sight of Sprocketman was enough to fill me with terror and regret.

You see, I was Sprocketman. Once.

I was supposed to be an actor. No one ever doubted this. The acting bug bit me at a very early age; it started at Miss Anne’s Preschool in Colorado Springs, to be exact. My fellow 5-year-olds and I were tasked with performing an outdoor play for our parents at the end of our school year. We spent weeks preparing for this, rehearsing and making costumes, learning lines and songs.

The day of the performance came, and dozens (maybe hundreds?) of parents and family members were gathered on the front lawn of our preschool. We stepped out on to the grass, dressed in our costumes and carrying our props. Miss Anne gave us the cue to begin…

…and nothing happened.

The kid with the first line froze up. The kid with the second line went into a panic and started crying. I was about tenth in line, and I watched with fear as the entire production began to feel the domino effect of epic failure. What would I do? What COULD I do?

What I did was step forward and start talking. I knew the first kid’s lines. I knew the second kid’s lines. In fact, I knew the whole damn play, word-for-word. I didn’t realize it until I opened my mouth, but I knew this entire production, step by step and verbatim as per the “script.”

Wait, it gets better: these little turds didn’t even pick up after I started dropping the cues! They actually stood there and watched me carrying the whole show on my tiny little shoulders! Can you imagine the nerve?

So, I did the whole play. Beginning to end, playing each part and even leading the song. They joined in on that one, thankfully. Oh, and did I mention that I even calmed down one crying little girl while I was reciting her lines?

This is all true, so help me. At age five, my destiny was set. I was going to be an actor. I did some elementary school work, even a summer theater workshop at age 8. But my career wouldn’t truly blossom until high school.

I auditioned for the first play of my freshman year at R.A. Long High School in Longview, Washington. The show was Guys n’ Dolls, and I was cast as Big Jule, a major casting coup for a first-timer. I went on to appear in a slew of other plays, ranging from Barefoot in the Park to Twelfth Night.

During my sophomore year, the theater was approached by an outside agency looking for actors. My director, the late, great Dana Brown, recommended me for the audition and I stepped forward with some of my fellow Thespians to endure the scrutiny of these strange new visitors.

Out of all those who auditioned, I alone was chosen to be SPROCKETMAN, the Bicycle Safety Super Hero. I represented the Bicycle Safety Association of Washington and went around to elementary schools teaching the kids how to ride and maintain their bikes properly. Honorable work, but you can imagine the metric tons of crap I used to take from my "friends.”

One time, in fact, my science teacher (the late Burt Thompson, father of character actor Brian Thompson of “The X-Files” and countless films) took umbrage at the idea that I would have to miss class for my acting job, and thus brokered a deal with the principal: on any day that I was required to leave school to play Sprocketman, I would have to wear the costume.

All day.

Sprocketman was a franchise deal, with several different people playing the part around the country. The comic book was something they tried at one point before my reign, but they provided me with a few leftover copies to hand out during my lessons. You can see the primary components of my costume below, minus the superhero mask and bright red tennis shoes.

 

Come and get it, ladies!

Anyway, I held the Sprocketman job for two years, and it was certainly a respectable gig. I was teaching kids, I got to wear yellow tights and they paid me fairly well to do it. Eventually, theater would go by the wayside and music would take over…and then music went by the wayside and comics took over…

…but for one long, embarrassing moment…

…I was a super hero.

Brandon Jerwa

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