If you had the opportunity of a lifetime, and it was snatched away from you, what would you do? Some people would give up. Others may switch gears and focus on something practical until a different ”once in a lifetime” chance came along. 

Sophie Sputnik faced this very problem.

Musician. Comedian. Performer. Sophie, and her dog Astro, worked hard to achieve their dreams, and she was going places. 2020 was shaping up to be a great year for her and her fun, rock-n-roll style of music and entertainment. Booking a tour to play at the prestigious South by Southwest (SXSW) festival is a big deal, and can serve as the launch pad for bigger opportunities. Unfortunately, one of the biggest artistic and thought-provoking annual events in America put out  cancellation notices. As COVID-19 made its way around the world, the decision was made to reduce risk, and have everyone stay home. Suddenly the world seemed a lot smaller, as people went into quarantine.

Sophie’s long-time friend and fellow Pennsylvania native Robert Salazar was devastated for her after the news about the SXSW cancellation, so he was surprised when she called him up excited.

“What if we did a variety show tour?”

Just like that, WaltzerTV was born.

WaltzerTV became their new pet project – a virtual tour variety show featuring the best of their home town of Chicago as well as whatever city they were “visiting” that week. They recruited local talent, creative acts who just needed a platform to unleash all the ideas they built up during the pandemic. The unique performances could showcase comedians, musicians, vaudeville clowns, jugglers, poets, and anyone else with that special spark. At the heart of the show would be Sophie, Robert, Astro, and their friend and fellow musician Helen Gilley. WaltzerTV has a three act structure which frames all the guest performances. Episodes have involved turning into cartoon characters, arguing with wizards, and throwing a digital music festival “inside the computer.” In the latest episode, they discover a magical (and sometimes carnivorous) house which will be explored in the next season. 

Because of the unique setting of a virtual venue, Robert and Sophie have a great time scripting and filming their sections, as well as recruiting other acts. While every performance opportunity in America was shut down, WaltzerTV emerged as a way for artists to remain creative and create in a post-COVID-19 world. Even Robert and Sophie have felt the surge of energy, with Sophie becoming a never ending fountain of ideas, and Robert putting them together as a good story in the final edit. Their yin-yang work style not only makes WaltzerTV an entertaining product, but it allows them to flourish as entertainers, while maintaining 9-5 employment.

Many people want to pursue excellence in their chosen creative outlet, but may not want to make it their career. Some want to make it a full-time job eventually, but are not willing to surrender financial stability to do so. WaltzerTV shines as an example of hard work and enthusiasm facilitating both an artistic career and a side-gig without becoming a starving artist stereotype. 

Robert, who works for Family Bridges full-time, recommends getting organized; “I am a hound on the Google calendar.” He schedules everything from work assignments, to personal time, to creative time. Instead of watching television or YouTube after dinner, Robert dedicates that time to getting creative and working on Waltzer TV. By disciplining himself in this manner, he balances his priorities. His job gets most of his time on weekdays, and Saturdays and Sundays are dedicated times for shooting skits. 

Watching the growth of WaltzerTV is exciting. It’s forward-thinking. It is opening figurative doors that remain literally closed. Performance venues can now host themselves as TV channels, a good business strategy that increases reach for both the location, and the performers. For Sophie and Robert, they get to meet great artists who introduce them to other cool acts who they never thought they would get to know while sitting in their house during a pandemic lock down. Robert’s vision for this project has no bounds, with hopes to have one of the most exciting programs on the web.

How will they know when they’ve hit the big time? For Robert, WaltzerTV will have made it big when they have Yoko Ono in the lineup. 

Tune in tonight, October 22nd to the WaltzerTV Youtube channel for episode V which features Portland, Oregon. The show is hosted by local venue Doug Fir Lounge and sponsored by us, the Everyday Owl as well as Masked in America. The show starts at 6pm pacific and will run for about an hour with all sorts of musical performances from around the PDX area and special, spooky skits by Sophie and Robert.

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