Reid Belstock came to the Disney Entertainment Arts program fresh out of Ringling Brothers Clown College. Before that he had cut his teeth performing juggling shows on Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado. I saw that Reid had raw talent when we first met, but he was clearly a diamond in the rough with a hard edge
Reid wanted to juggle fire in his act, which alarmed Disney’s management. I remember standing in the parking lot outside our rehearsal hall surrounded by a half-dozen men and women with clipboards. Disney’s thought was that outside was the safest place to witness Reid’s fire juggling. The first thing Reid did was light a double headed devil stick on fire and kick it across the asphalt yelling, “Back to the Future!” The gasoline soaked devil stick rolled across the parking lot leaving behind two flaming tracks, before coming to rest under the gas tank of a parked car. I instantly heard the click of a half-dozen ballpoint pens, as the Disney brass began scribbling on their clipboards.
I was a teacher, director, and mentor all rolled into one. To soften Reid’s hardened streetwise edge I gave him a pair of horn-rimmed eyeglasses with the lenses popped out. At first Reid resisted my attempt to develop a more sympathetic comic character. With coaxing he put on those glasses and transformed before my eyes. Reid named his new character, Tommy Loon, and for the rest of that summer he had me, and the audiences at Disney in stitches.
Afterwards the comic glasses became Reid’s signature, and he built his career on the character he developed at Disney, under my direction. Twenty-years later Reid contacted me, and asked if I would direct him in a new show called, SMIRK, that he was developing with his partner, Warren Hammond.
But that’s another story…