Stories through the years with “The Great Jasper” (AKA Jay Marshall)
As experienced by Pete Biro
Probably the funniest story was with Jay and our mutual pal Mike Caldwell. We were going to meet for lunch at a convention in Milwaukee some years ago. Jay and I started to go and Mike said, “I’ll follow you in just a few minutes.” So, Jay and I went into the coffee shop and sat down.
A waitress coming by dropped a plate of spaghetti on the floor, making a slippery mess.
Just moments after Caldwell came in, he saw the spaghetti on the floor. (To those of you thank knew Mike and what he was famous for… a complete forward flip, landing on his back)… and you knew it… Mike, who weighted 320 lbs. does the flip. The waitress sees this and screams, thinking he’s slipped on the spaghetti and is definitely going to lose her job. But, Mike “recovers” and acts as if nothing has happened and sits down with us to have lunch.
Jay and I practically wet ourselves with laughter.
Jay and I were in Las Vegas, and heard Shecky was in a show. We decided to go see him. As we got there Jay said, “I’ll take care of the tip.” The Maitre‘d took us to our seat, way in the back corner. I said to Jay, “These are awful, didn’t you take care of the guy?” Jay said, “Yah, I gave him five bucks!”
Another time we went to a one-ring circus in Europe and had pretty bad seats. Jay took off and went over to talk to a roust-a-bout. Two minutes later we were in the front row.
At and I.B.M. Convention in Miami, John McKinven brought a trick he’d built and decided to show it. He found a spot in the mezzanine of the hotel and set it up.
He showed it, a one-square-foot cube. He set it down and it started to quiver and shake, and it grew to about 3-feet by 3-feet. He then picked it up and under it was Jay Marshall.
This fooled the crap out of all of us big time. Until Jay left. He turned around and walked back and out a slit in the screen standing behind the setup.
At a Three Sheeter’s Roast, with Jay at the head table, Don Rickles was the Roaster and he started on the head table. Throwing a line about each guy. Jay was at the far end and he was wearing one of those white caps with a black bill, like guys with yachts might wear. When he got to Jay, he said, “It’s nice to see the Jew at the end of the table has a boat.”
At one of Fran’s celebration, I think it was her 50th Anniversary in magic, I was booked to perform, as were a number of other friends of Fran and Jay.
Accommodations were scattered all over various rooms at Magic Inc. and I wound up on a cot in the upper workroom just outside the restroom door and a few yards from the “Charlie Miller Suite.” The CM Suite was a legit room with a door. It was occupied by Jay’s Mother and Father.
Just behind me was a 3-fold screen and behind that was Pat Page.
In the middle of the night, Mrs. Marshall came out of the CM Suite and went into the bathroom. Pat Page hearing someone though that it was ME getting up and going to the bathroom. So, he thinks it would be funny to sneak into my bed. Here he comes around from behind the screen, STARK NAKED. Just as he appears… the door opens and Mrs. Marshall exits to see this naked magician standing their frozen in his tracks.
Super Olga Show:
As one of the perks for being on the Board of Directors of Joe Stevens’ Desert Magic Seminar, Joe invited all of us to a weekend in Puerta Vallarta Mexico, with a side trip to a magic convention in Mexico City. Jay and I were to perform at the convention as well.
One night we all decided to go see a local review show, the Super Olga Show. This starred Olga, a Charro Clone, a big, busty, knockout and a terrific performer.
Olga needed a volunteer from the audience, and pointed our way, at Jay.
To say that Jay stole the show would be putting it mildly. Everything from his teeth coming out to sight gags, lines, you name it, it was Jay at his best.
Near Disaster in Paris.
At the FISM Convention in Paris (I don’t know the date) Jay was booked to MC one of the big Gala Shows in a huge theater.
At that convention, the organizers had struck a deal with an American film production company to tape all the events for use in a TV Series back in the U.S.A.
This is where the problem started. The show Jay was Mc-ing was in trouble as the French local stage crew and the American TV crews were fighting backstage. They argued as to who’s job it was to open the curtain, work the sound and light, etc. etc.
Jay went on and introduced the first act. The curtain didn’t open. It didn’t open… more delay, it didn’t open. Then finally it opened.
When the first act finished, Jay came out, led the applause and introduced the next act.
Again, the curtain didn’t open… Jay mentioned the act again, the curtain didn’t open. The audience began to WHISTLE… this is the French equivalent of BOOING.
They whistled and whistled. Finally the curtain opened.
I was in the audience and figured something was going on backstage that Jay, being in front of the curtain didn’t know about and couldn’t control. So I left my seat and worked my way backstage. I found out what was going on, but just then it was time for Jay to go back out, I yelled at him, “Do the Glove… do the Glove..” He didn’t and again he was literally whistled off the stage.
The curtain finally opened and Jay came backstage.. I told Jay, “You gotta do Lefty… Do Lefty.”
The act finishes and Jay goes back out… He does Lefty. He KILLS… he owns the room. It’s all over… the Whistling… they love Jay… his pal Lefty, saves the show for him.
At that convention, Jay, Ricky Jay and I wind up sharing a hotel room three of us in one small Parisian hotel room. That’s OK, it worked out, but something really funny happened. Jay and Ricky send out some shirts to the hotel laundry.
Next day, when the laundry comes back, they open it and NONE of the shirts are theirs, but they all have a monogram on them, the letter “J”. They were really nice blue button down shirts and none fit Jay or Ricky. But they fit me. I think I still have one of them.
The best Jay Story I can tell you.
Jay and I were booked to appear in Leicester, England for friend Roy Johnson’s Magic Society. I won’t mention how I died on the show and Jay killed (that’s not the story).
On the way back from England to the U.S. Jay and I spent a few days in London. We stayed at Billy McComb’s house in Tuffnell Park.
The day were to fly home we stopped off at Davenport’s famous magic shop on Great Russell Street, right across from the British Museum
When we got there, Betty Davenport’s Uncle, Wally Davenport said to Jay, “I found that old Punch and Judy Poster you’ve been looking for.” He brought it our and we looked at it. It was beautiful and in mint condition. It was a perfect litho about 18x24-inches.
Pat Page was working behind the counter and we were doing all the usual bits and chatting away, when we realized it was getting close to the time we should be heading to the airport.
We began saying our goodbyes and Wally said, “Oh, Jay let me wrap the poster so you can take it home safely.” He headed into the backroom with it. Shortly after he came out with a “Foolscap” size envelope (that’s about 9x12 in U.S. size). This meant he had to have FOLDED IT UP to fit it into the envelope. Jay didn’t know what to say, he was openly upset to say the least but he didn’t want to upset the elder Mr. Davenport.
As we started out the door, Wally said, “Jay, wait…” He ducked into the back room for a brief second or two and cam out with a mailing tube. H had ROLLED the poster and it was in the tube, “Here’s the poster.”
Wally had nailed Jay with a great practical joke. Providing Jay and I with a story we’ve told countless time.
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
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