Monday, April 24, 2006

Jokes for Geriatrics

When you say "the worst gig ever", it needs to be put into context. "Worst gig ever" seems definitive, but it's too vague. Why was it the worst gig? How was it the worst gig? Well, I wasn;t physically threatened, I did get paid as agreed, there was a little heckling, but nothing to speak of.. but I have experienced less silence in a vacuum.

I definitely hit a milestone Friday night at the Melha Temple in Springfield doing a show for Shriners. I was told ahead of time to "keep it clean" by the booker.

When I arrived at the show, I was somewhat horrifed to find that the show was actually for the shriners themselves and the median age of the crowd was about seventy-five.

Not HA-HA 75, but rather ACTUALLY 75. The youngsters of the group appeared to be in their late 60s, and I instantly knew it was going to be a tough night. I called a buddy with years of road experience, and when he got done laughing, (which took considerably longer than I had hoped it would) he offered me a silver lining involving not having to work for that particular booker again. Hardy-har-har.

The booker was at the show and to his credit, apologized profusely, which I thought was cool of him. Apparently, he had no idea the show was for elderly folks, and he even told me I could end a bit early if it was at brutal as he expected it to be. Of course, a little pre-show re-con would have been preferrable, but I was grateful he was understanding.

He also hosted the show. The guy did about ten minutes up front and got a few scattered laughs, but it was obvious it was going to be a tough night. For one thing, they didn't announce us as comedians, but rather some sort of production company. As I circulated the crowd before the show, hoping for some sort of fodder I could throw out there that they might relate to, I discovered that noone even knew there was going to be comedy. More good news came when it was announced that there would be no alcohol served during the comedy show.

Ouch. A bad situation was somehow worsened.

I played it safe and opened with a little self-deprecating intro that has never failed...until Friday, that is. I got a few nervous chuckles and ZERO on the adored tag line... "gulp, here we go" I thought.

I tried not to betray my utter dread and appeared happy as hell to be there. I remembered an old school legendary comic talking about the importance of likability, especially in situations like this, so I congratulated the knew Potentate (read: Grand Poobah) on his position, after all- this whole weekend was in his honor. In a room of 175 people, I got three claps. Three f&*%ing claps for the potentate. Uh-oh. Then I mentioned what an honor it was to perform for the Shriners, a wonderful group of folks that does so much for kids.

Nothing. Nada. Not a freakin' PEEP out of these people. Each joke was met with stark silence, injlcuding material about the Red Sox that I had yet to fail with. I got a few chuckles during a few of the routines, but in a huge room of almost 200 people, a few chuckles sound like crickets. It was almost quiet enough to hear y tear drops hitting the floor.

When I mentioned that, I got one of the few genuine laughs the crowd ponied up.

The comedy booker was howling in the back of the room throughout my set, more through astonishment at how bad I was bombing than by way of enjoying the material. I had destroyed in two shows for the same guy two weeks before using mostly the same material, though I had definitely homoginized most of it for the occasion, dubbing it "the Methusula set".

All in all, I have never been in front of a crowd that big and got so few laughs. The good news was that a couple of old friends from college got to see me perform for the first time, mentioning aterward that it "looked painful".

Well, I can't wait to get back on stage this coming weekend. After a couple of lame shows, I am pumped to get to do The Comedy Lounge in Hyannis. I have heard nothing but great things about this club, the audiences, and the comedians on the bill. They are known around local comedy cricles for having really strong shows, and I am psyched to be of one of those shows. I think I am also heading down to JImmy Tingle's Off-Broadway tonight to do a spot on Mike Donovan's show again.

The best thing after a debacle like Friday is to get right back on the horse, er stage.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Boonie Boo-bo

I drove my dad to the airport yesterday. He is visiting my sister in Germany. When I picked him up, I sat in our livingroom visited by trickles of memory from decades spent in that room with my dad.

There's something about Massachusetts in that every kid needs, or gets anyway, a nickname. Everybody except people with names like "Korte", which pretty mich renders a nickname whose purpose is to differentiate, useless.

My best friend as a kid (and today) is a guy named Steve Boudrot. His last name rhymes with Woodrow. I believe he got his nickname "Boudy" (rhymes with Woody) the first time he hung out with other little kids his age. The nick is a natural. This comes to mind because I ran into Steve's parents at my favorite diner this morning, "Peg's", of course.

Dad had a terrible time pronouncing Boudy, as he did with most of the names of the Boston Red Sox. Mike Greenwell was a particular challenge for pop, and to this day, I'm not quite sure as to why. My other best bud as a kid was a guy named John Beauchamp, but everybody called him Smooch for some reason I can't recall. This was later changed to Gooch for some of us when there was a TV character of the same name, a bully on a popular sitcom of the time. For reasons unbeknownst to me, dad had no trouble remembering "Smooch".

For some reason reason, he always turned Mike Greenwell into Nick Greenwald. Maybe he was trying to blot out memories of Greenwell's mangling of defense in left field.

Butch Hobson was Hodson. In more recent years Rolando Arrojo was Arroyo and later Bronson Arroyo was Arrojo.

Most puzzling is dad's ability to butcher a simple name, yet have the more difficult name he creates committed to memory for life, etched in stone and never to be corrected. My sister Deb's friend Ursula somehow became Shooshala, which was itself too difficult and was shortened to Shushi. One day he mentioned Shushi (sounds like shoe-she) and got irritated when I had no idea whom he was talking about, ending the conversation with "whatever the hell her name is". Mind you, this woman has been a friend of our family for like twenty years.

But I digress.

That being said, it is not too much of a reach to assume dad was going to have considerable difficulty with "Boudy".

One day I came home and got a message from dad that went something like this:

Dad: Boonie called.
Me: Who?
Dad: Boomie? Boogie?
Me (laughing)

I think my laughing unnerved dad, as he went into some sort of stumbling Tourettes-like attack during which he created every feasible variation of Boudy he could come up with. It went something like this.

Dad: Boonie... Boomie? Boolie?!? Gooby (stated definiteively)
Me: (falling on floor holding stomach) Gooby?!?!?
Dad: Boonie?!? I don't know... some a**hole... why don't you get a friend with a normal name?

This would of course be less funny and less ironic had my father RENSFORTH not named his youngest son KORTE.

To this day, dad asks me how Boonie is doing and always remembers what a nice kid Boonie was. Steve still introduces himself as Boonie to my dad on the phone, and when he leaves me a message always says hello this way, "Korte, it's Boonie...

...and I don't think I have been able to call him Boudy since that day.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Driving age going up?

So there is a new push to raise the age of teen drivers to 17 from 16 1/2.


Let's make it 30, instead, and ban the use of SUVs by anyone under 60.

I read a tragic plea in the Boston Globe by a fifteen year old girl who looked like she spent the bulk of her time in Malls. Seems she was really looking "forward to the freedom" of driving.

Get a clue, honey. Being fifteen and focusing on Britney Spears tickets is as close to free as you're gonna get. It's all down hill from there, cupcake.

There have been a lot of accidents involving youths of late. Firstly, ban ownership of cell phones to any kid with a driver's license. Better yet, make the driving age 21 and lower the drinking age to 16. Sure- let the kids drink. The ones that really want it are going to get it anyway, but they don't have to be sanctioned to drive 2,000 pound weapons around in a drunken stupor. Plus, this move would de-mistify alcohol, take the shine off it.

Yes, I am aware of the damage alcohol does to teenagers whose brains are still developing, but it probably causes a tad less damage than the general teen alternatives to the difficult-to-acquire booze, namely oxy contin, ecstacy and ultimately heroin, because let's face it, Oxys are too damn expensive over the long haul and percocets are so 1990s.

On top of that, a kid full of Colt 45 might smash his room up and play the Black Sabbath a little too loud, but he is much less likely to need to go to the mall constantly looking for weed or get girls pregnant out of boredom.

Just a thought.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Johnny Damon, for the Love of God, shut up

Johnny has gone, 'tis true. And as I wrote a few weeks back, it was a great move for the Red Sox, not signing an aging center fielder with his best days behind him, and now has a balky shoulder to compliment his spaghetti-arm.

Don't get me wrong, I loved Johnny when he was here. We had him for the pinnacle of his career, and said good-bye when the love was gone. But like a partner you met at a keg party during an alcoholic haze and proceeded to have a one-nighter with that lasted anywhere from three months to several years. At some point, you have to realize it's over and go your separate ways. The sex was great sex, the times were good, but no amount of euphoric recall is going to change what's coming... reality.

Johnny Damon never wanted to leave Boston, he was a true icon here. He talked about his willingness to take a "hometown discount". The Sox offered 4 years for $40 million, he took 4 years for an additional $12 million.

He took the money.

That's fine, most of us would probably do the same exact thing.

Oh yes, you would. Stop it.

Bu the thing is, Johnny, once you take the money and move on, you need to shut the ^&%$ up about it. You need to stop blaming your old team for your decision to take more money and go elsewhere, which is your right. However, you don't get to take the money and remain the old home town hero. You sold your cult status in New England for twelve million dollars. I think you got a helluva deal.

So stop it, just stop the whining, the pissing and moaning, and the blaming. Shut your pie hole and play baseball.

You don't like New York, Johnny, do you? They don't kiss your ass in the Bronx like they do on Lansdowne Street until you produce a few world championships.

Welcome to the Yankees, where winning supercedes being "colorful" and booking as many Dunkin' Donut ads as your agent can muster.

Last night, Damon went over the line yet again in castigating the Red Sox for not signing him. It is so obvious that he loathes New York and regrets his decision that it's just silly to watch him continue. At this rate, it won't be long before he is stumbling around Central Park talking to himself, winning arguments with Theo about what his salary should be.

Last night on ESPN Sportscenter, Damon rambled endlessly once again about what a big mistake the Red Sox made in not resigning him.

"Me going to New York hurt a lot of fans."

Yeah...Yankee fans. Johnny, by the end of your contract, you will be a bust. Oh, believe it.

Damons father said "it was as big a mistake as when the Sox let Babe Ruth go". Babe *+^&#%$ Ruth??? Give me a &*^#$%@ break!

I'm not even going to comment on that, that joke writes itself. Dekusion usually only runs that deep in people who introduce themselves with three names and have bodies burieed in their basement.

Lastly Damon said losing him was a big mistake because, When new guys came up, he would say, "hey, ya wanna go do something?"

Now how are they going replace that kind of veteran leadership? They'll just have to find someone else to give the rookies directions to Hooters.

Lastly, the interviewer says, referring to his infamous "we're a bunch of idiots" line, "Last year you were an idiot... what about now?"

"I'm always going to be an idiot... I'm not ashamed of that."

No, but you really should be, Johnny.

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