So in this very occasional feature, the idea for which was stolen from writer extraordinaire Mark Evanier’s terrific blog, I will recount some thrilling tales of yesteryear from my days as a theme park caricature artist, which I did full time every summer for over 20 years. This first story is a gag I pulled more than a few times at the parks that I was reminded about from a comment that was made on my Facebook wall where the commenter said he “wished I wouldn’t draw people drooling.”
This incident happened when I was managing the caricature art concession for Fasen Arts at Six Flags Atlanta, probably in 1990 or 1991. I was working one very busy day—those are the ones where you have a large group of onlookers all the time and you have plenty of opportunities to play to the crowd—when a rather overbearing young man in a wife-beater tank and a belt buckle the size of a serving platter sat his girlfriend down in front of me to get drawn. She’s a little embarrassed and kind of quiet, while he’s a real loudmouth.
“I want you to draw her naked!” he proclaims quite loudly. Actually I think he said “nekkid” but it was close enough to understand. She sort of squirmed in the seat as a several in the crowd turned our way and laughed.
“You want me to do what?” I said equally loudly with a shocked look on my face.
“I want you to draw her naked!” he said again, getting more laughs and seeing people flocking over to watch.
“You want me to draw her NAKED?” I said incredulously, turning to give the crowd a wide eyed scan.
“Yep, draw her NAKED?” he said again.
“Are you sure you want me to draw her NAKED??” I said again.
‘Yep”, says he.
“Well,” I said resignedly. “I don’t usually do that, but if you are sure… Okay.”
I stood up and started to unbuckle my belt and take off my shirt.
It took him a few seconds to get it, during which the look on his face was priceless. The crowd went crazy.
That’s a dangerous gag to pull because some people might just be too dumb to get the joke, and you might end up getting pretty close to naked before they stop you. The theme park management folks don’t like it either, I can tell you.
By the way, my response to the Facebook person who told me how wished I wouldn’t “draw people drooling” was: “I have a condition where I drool when I draw… I can’t help it.” I don’t think he got the joke but at least I didn’t have to start drooling to deliver the punchline.