Thursday, October 16, 2008

Apples and Crumbs

My night ended with a drive by.

As I was getting out of my car I heard a loud thump against the door. Two cars were passing me. I felt a quick sharp sting above my knee. Before I could start to freak I saw the apple core that someone had thrown at me from one of the passing cars.
It was the perfect end to a strange night.

I got asked to fill in for one of San Francisco’s best-known political comics, Will Durst. The gig was in Santa Rosa, promised little pay and it was on the same night as the last Presidential debate. Of course I said yes. I drove up with another comic, W. Kamau Bell and listened to the debate on the radio. Who ever you are Joe the plumber, you ruined a lot of drinking games across America when you became the most used expression of the night. A lot of Joe six-packs' must of been pissed.

Some where in the debate a joke occurred to me.
John McCain has already lost. The only reason why he doesn’t know? It was E-mailed to him.
We kind of do need a guy comfortable with 21st century communication technology. Not a guy who has never used a computer and is proud of it.

The show was being held in a high school theater. If this high school theater was any indication then our schools truly are in need of money. Its not that it was run down or looked like a room in the mansion from Great Expectations, it was the technical issues.
Our host, Nato Green was a few jokes into his set when the spot light just shut off. They got it back on only to have go out again. To Nato’s credit, he rolled with it. The most unintentionally funny thing occurred because of it though. Just as Nato was hitting a punch line, the spotlight randomly came back on. Here’s the thing; the punch line was “Jews.” Just as he said it the spotlight switched on and for a second it looked like something from a WW2 movie. Like the SS just kicked in the door, someone pointed at Nato bathed in a searchlight and yelled, “Jews!”

Did I also mention Tommy Smothers was in the audience?

Apparently he lives in the Napa valley and decided to take a few of his friends to this political show he was told about.
Its one thing to do a poorly lit sparsely attended show in front of a few people, but to find out right before the show started that Tommy Smothers was there added an extra layer of surreal to the evening. This is a guy who got kicked off CBS in the late 60’s with his brother for doing jokes and sketches critical of the Vietnam War. What comedic social political insights do we have to offer this dude?

I followed a comedian whose closing joke is to do an impression of a squirrel eating a cracker in the park. It is very very funny. The problem is if you’re the next comic you get to stand in the crumbs left on stage.
So imagine this folks. I am in a school theater that looks every bit like the under funded public building it is. The house lights are on completely destroying the vibe of a “show.” Tommy Smothers is sitting in the front row looking at me and now I am standing in a pile of crumbs.

The universe doesn’t mess around when it wants to humble you.

The first thing I said was, “Can you guys hear me alright?” I asked because it was hard to hear the other comics.
Tommy Smothers said, “Turn it up.” I smiled at this and just thought he meant, turn up your attitude and bring it! Nope. He meant the volume on the little speaker set at the edge of the stage. I know this is what he meant because a second later he said, “It’s the volume knob.”
Nato rushed over to turn it up as I replied, “I’m being technically heckled.”
Not only do I have a drab theater with no spot light, 12 people in the crowd and a pile of crumbs at my feet, I am now being heckled by Tommy Smothers!
If someone would just throw some discarded fruit at me late at night after I finally get home that would be perfect!

He said it with a smile on his face and after the awkwardness dissipated I followed the example of the other comics on the show and just got to it.
You know what? They were a pretty nice little crowd and afterwards Tommy Smothers wanted to get high with me.
He was about 10 years too late though.
He complimented all of us, shook are hands and told us how cool he thought it was that we were doing this kind of comedy.
That’s pretty cool.
Oh, then it took us another 20 minuets to find our way to the highway due to detour signs leading to no where and on ramps closed for construction.
Then I got hit with an apple core.

Comedy. It is a glamorous life style indeed!

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