Thursday, November 29, 2007

On Fire at the Purple Onion

If an audience member catches on fire, as one did last night at the Purple Onion, you might want to stop the raffle at the end of the show and at least acknowledge it. Just a thought.

I had just finished my set and was walking to the back of the room. Another comic was speaking in my ear when out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash. When we both turned, we saw the flame from a candle shoot up the back of a girls head. Her long black hair was like a fuse. The people closest to her started patting her head. In seconds, everyone was around her hitting the back of her head with their open palms. I got there a heart beat after everyone else did. The girl, Ell seemed confused as to why a group of people spontaneously began hitting her. All I could think to do was just say, "Your heads on fire."
You know, to explain. Wouldn't you wonder why at the end of a comedy show complete strangers went all Ike Turner on you? I thought I was being helpful.
I am the guy you want in an emergency folks. The guy who can show up just a bit too late to be of any real use but will then plainly state a fact you are probably painfully aware of already. You know, like CNN.
For my comment, "Your heads on fire" I was rewarded with the greatest no shit look ever! Heres the thing I find second funniest in all this.
While a group of 5 or more people composed of comics, door man and assorted other patrons rushing over to the table to help, our host kept on plugging future shows and doing a raffle oblivious to what was happening. How that is possible is beyond me, but it happened!
A chours of, "are you alright?" was drowned out by the sound of a comic handing out prizes for the person who drank the most. How about a prize for the person got the best jokes? WTF!
Do we really need to encourage the idea that stand-up comedy can best be enjoyed while drunk?
It only came to his attention that an audience member had recently been on fire when he went silent and then asked the crowd,
"What is that smell? "
What is that smell? Dude, it's the chic whose head was JUST on fire!
less than 10 feet directly in front of you!
The crowd all pointed in the direction of the now very drunk and pissed off woman who was just on fire a second ago. His response, "Oh. Thats why I smell burning hair."
Now I could give the no shit look.
After confirming that she was now indeed, put out, he then resumed the sales pitch much to the astonishment of the crowd.
It was awesome!
He had prizes to give damn it, and nothing was going to stop him! OK, you lost a crowd before, but never to fire!
It was like watching some mad general march on to battle in the face of grim odds. Could be a brave man adhering to his own code of conduct, or a fool.
But it was damn funny!
There are very few rules to comedy. That is it's eternal curse and astonishing beauty. But I do know this; When a member of the crowd is burning, the shows over.

Here is what I think is the funniest thing.
As we all patted her head and offered condolences, the cocktail waitress quietly walked over to all this commotion and nonchalantly blew the candle out before walking away without a word.
Oh yeah! That might be a good idea too!
That made me laugh. You have to love that though. The host is going on at the mic hawking his CD and telling everyone about up coming shows, "...Your alright then? Well then, Mark Pita will be here next week followed by..."
In the middle of all this the waitress just blows it out and walks away as if this happens all the time. The group that had gathered around her all just sorta looked at each other as if to say, I was about to do that.
Sure you were.
At least I was attempting to be informative with out providing any real help.
Like FEMA.

Shes fine by the way. A bit pissed of course and more than a little drunk, but OK. She was drunk. In fact she won the contest for having the most drinks that night.
I don't know about you, but if a person in your show catches on fire, chances are they were the one who drank the most. There is our lesson in this latest adventure friends, if you are ever handing out prizes for the audience member who drank the most and a girls head suddenly goes up in flames, just give the prize to that person.
Trust me. It's her.
Oh and the show, it was OK. I have to be honest though, I was pretty depressed at the small turn out. It was an Onion sponsored event! I had my own add in the paper to promote the show along with the Booker's separate add and we still only had 20 people. It is so discouraging. When I complained to the crowd about this a woman said, "Maybe people don't think it's a real add."
Oh my God! That is the most logical heckle ever!
It makes sense too. The Onion is fake news so it stands to reason that people might see any add and think it was fake too.
Like statistics on FOX News.
I don't know about you, but that was worth the $15.00 cover and two and a half hours of show on a Wednesday night!
"How was the show last night?"
"A ladies fuckin' head caught on fire! It was pretty awesome. Oh, the comics were OK I guess, I don't know."


Chris said...

Wow. The host was clueless. Is it dark in the P.O? I've never been? You

I've seen you set audiences on fire before but it was usually with your clever wit and well placed mugging.

Dean said...

OK, head-on cow collisions and burning audience members? In about 10 more years, write your memoirs. You don't have to publish them. I'll drive on up to the City, buy the manuscript from you, then read it over and over and over...

Joe said...

Okay, on the bright side, the Purple Onion's reopened.

Funny and surreal. Glad everyone's okay.

And now for some overshare...

I saw a friend catch fire about a year ago. They got out without a scratch but it was terrifying.

For starters like your audience member, they were pretty unaware. The other thing that freaked us all out was how fast it covers the person.

It went up his back in less than a second. Even though we were all aware of "what you're supposed to do to put out a fire" everyone kinda went blank.

Very glad it was a joking matter and not a more serious one in both cases. Also, I hope the Purple Onion has an extinguisher. I'd be willing to buy 'em one if they don't.

Joe said...

Erm ... Correction.

Not a joking matter in either case. That's what I get for typing this from a cell phone.

Lynn said...

The same kind of thing happened to me the night after my father's funeral. When someone dies, Jews traditionally burn a huge candle that kind of looks like one of those Mexican Jesus candles you see at Safeway, only it doesn't have a picture of Jesus or Mary on it.

Anyhow, I had REALLY long hair (down to my elbows) at the time. I wasn't at ALL drunk, but I was VERY fatigued from a red-eye flight, followed by a sudden immersion course in funeral planning and entertaining family friends and relatives, many of whom I hadn't seen in years. The aforementioned candle was sitting on the kitchen table.

My brother and I were talking, and I was leaning backwards on the table. A few seconds later I smelled something burning. My mother and brother both started yelling, "You're burning! Your HAIR's on fire!!!" While they panicked, I did the logical thing, dropping to the floor and rolling to put it out (I was a Girl Scout way-back-when, and that's what we were told to do if we ever caught fire). It worked. I then tried to calm them both down by telling them I was going to get brulage treatments anyway (that's where they burn off your split ends).

My point? It can happen to anyone.

mermaidintherudder said...

Chris,... in a dark room, fire is usually noticeable. Maybe more so. I've never been on fire, but I went to the Police and Fire Academy for a job and learned a lil' firefighting.
The host is unbelievable! except I've seen him and I'm not too surprised. Maybe it's the 2nd Bush (3rd?) term and I'm not impressed by that type anymore.
The type to muscle thru with their agenda regardless of everything their senses are telling them, and what everyone else is saying or doing.

As the host announced the name of the Most Trashed audience member the winner's head lit up like home run fireworks? Really?
That's great timing.

I'm glad she's ok.
Lynn's hella tough. I think I want her in an emergency.