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Eddie and Iggy, the Followspot Guys

Chris Lose • LD at LargeMarch 2019 • March 6, 2019

Illustration by Andrew Au

The best followspot day is the day when no one mentions the followspots at all. —Chris Lose

Thank you, Eddie.

The cascade of calm falls from the top. If my bosses don’t yell at me for missing any cues, my crew won’t get shouted at. If they don’t get pissed at me, they won’t yell at their stewards for me being a prima donna. If they don’t yell at the steward, he won’t yell at my PM, and my PM won’t yell at his kids for being a disappointment. When everybody does their job, we all get to go to our respective homes feeling content, calm and ready to do it all over again.

Every single day that no one mentions the followspots is an astounding success in my book. The best compliment that I have been able to pay to a local crew is that I hardly knew they were there at all. That means that they nailed every cue without hesitation. The spot ops found their correct position without second guessing themselves. The followspots fired up the first time. The iris, boomerang, trombone and douser were all in good functioning condition. The gel frames were numbered correctly and live gel changes fired in a timely manner.

‡‡         A Huge Asset for the Show

The pillar of sustainability is built from the bottom. I want to use my platform in this fine trade magazine to thank “Eddie” the followspot guy. If you don’t know Eddie already, I will describe him to you.

He is the guy who shows up at just the right time during the day to discuss the followspots. His blue collar is clean and rigid. He speaks with authority and experience. He knows his followspots inside, outside, up and down. He has already fixed his followspots more times than I have left USB sticks in the console that went back to the shop.

Eddie knows where his followspots are, how long they have been there, and he has a very good hunch as to where I will need my followspots based on my artist. I run into Eddie in random venues across America and abroad. You would be lucky to have him on your gig.

Eddie usually works for the venue, but sometimes he works for a subcontractor. Either way, he is constantly negotiating with the venue to come in on a down day to fix the followspots.

Eddie is able to argue his case with eloquence and grace. He is able to relay to his superiors that his followspots are worth the investment of maintenance. Eddie was able to negotiate four crew for a four-hour call to maintain the followspots once every six months or so.

Eddie has a shelf in a hidden, yet readily accessible, back room somewhere full of spare parts. Sometimes, he can swap parts even while the followspot is in use. Eddie keeps a maintenance log. It may be on paper or it may be in his head, but it exists. He knows which parts are ten years old and he knows which moving parts still have fresh grease.

Eddie takes pride in his followspots and his followspot operators. Eddie sits behind the rookies and helps them interpret the different types of LD-speak. Eddie allows new kids to shadow the seasoned vets on the difficult shows and then lets them get their feet wet on the easy shows. Eddie keeps track of his spot ops and knows their history, their capabilities and their availability.

If you are an Eddie, thank you.

‡‡         Inspiring One Word: Grrrrrrr

Iggy, on the other hand, is a real disappointment. Iggy makes me want to toss my radio at the steward, pick it up, plunge the antenna into my eye socket and wrap the handset around my throat. Iggy has been working at the venue just as long as Eddie has, but he still doesn’t know where his followspots are or what they are called. He doesn’t know if they are 1K Lycians, 2K Troupers or 3K Glads. He knows that he gets high pay if he runs the fourth one from center, but he can’t remember which handle is the chopper and which one is the douser.

“How many spots are in the building?” “Where are they?” and “Are they in good working order?” Iggy has been asked all of these questions several times. Either he forgets the answers every night when he goes to bed, or he just pretends that he doesn’t know the answers so that he can drag out the process well into his meal break.

Iggy doesn’t test the lights until five minutes before showtime. He can’t find the motivation to climb the 84 stairs to the catwalk before 7 p.m. because the Rangers are playing today. Iggy has known for three weeks that spot four has a douser that falls open. Instead of telling anyone who can fix the problem, he just chooses to be spot three on show nights. Iggy doesn’t know how to replace a Trouper lamp because he heard just how dangerous it can be if one of the lamps explodes. Instead of learning the proper way to change them, he calls for a rookie stagehand to do it after watching a YouTube tutorial.

Iggy’s spot ops are the cheapest in the business. They are the nieces and nephews of his friends. His ex-girlfriend really likes Van Flalen. Instead of buying tickets, she asked Iggy if he would let her three sons run followspot that night. He agreed and paid them less than minimum wage. They had a hard time telling which was the call button and which was the button to talk, but they really enjoyed the show. The LD was pulling his hair out by the third time that someone was spotting the I-Mag on the video wall, thinking that they were spotting the real guitar player. (Note to Iggy: It doesn’t work like that.)

Iggy doesn’t take any responsibility for any of these problems, because he is powerless to do anything about them. He has convinced himself that the venue will not care either way about the followspots. He kind of asked one time for some parts, but he didn’t explain very well what the parts were for. He could not justify why these exotic parts were so expensive. The venue accountant didn’t approve his request, so he never requested the parts again. He was unable to show that the followspots are, quite often, the only front light that the rock stars ever get. Iggy didn’t know how to relay the idea that the followspots are the most important lights in the entire show. They, quite literally, light the money.

Having an Eddie on the case instead of an Iggy can mean the difference between a successful review in the local paper and a post show bolloxing from the artist. I have thanked many Eddies and written several emails complaining about a few Iggys on my recent tour. Feel free to reach out to me if you would like to celebrate a certain Eddie or vent about a lazy Iggy.

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