Weird things: I skated with the munchkins, yes the real munchkins from the Wizard of OZ; wrestled for intramural championship at Stanford, and took third place (more on that later); rode with the Hells Angels; toked with Willie in his bus; and I could go on. But yesterday was terrifying.
I decided yesterday morning I was going to go to a club on Open Mike night and do stand up. There actually was an ulterior motive….more on that later.
I had been around comedy all my life; my father had Red Skelton and Lord Buckley as MCs for the Walkathon; I was at Roller Derby at the Pan Pacific in Los Angeles when Jack Benny, Mary Livingston, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Joe E. Brown, and Mickey Rooney were there; and of course saw most comedians in person later, from Bob Hope to Mort Sahl to Robin, Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, Richard Pryor, and on and on. I became friends with Tom and Dick Smothers.
And lately have become comedy enthused again after seeing Torio Van Grol and the great comedy acts he has brought to Sonoma (tickets at Brown Paper tickets of course). And along the way have established friendships with Kevin Pollak (the best impressions of Jack Nicholson, Alan Arkin and more) and Bobby (pitbull comedy) Slayton.
So I figured if I could get a decent opening and closing and didn’t screw up too badly, I might get away with it (sample later). So I wrote it out, put a bunch of things on a small cheat sheet and went over it a few times.
There are three great clubs that have opened in Marin and Sonoma County the past five years called Hopmonk. Really good food, great bars and outside areas, good music….and I was hoping to add them as clients for my employer, Brown Paper Tickets. So I came up with his idea of why not go and perform at open mike night…..I can’t sing or play an instrument worth a damn.
And I figured if I did it in Sonoma a lot of my friends would show up and kindly laugh at anything……wrong.
I tweeted both Kevin Pollak (you know him from “The Usual Suspects” the other attorney with Tom Cruise in “A Few Good Men”, Daryl Hannah’s boyfriend in “Grumpy old men” and many more movies) and Bobby Slayton (he has been in a number of films, played the Casino manager in “Pulp Fiction”) asking for advice.
Kevin tweeted “Record it”…..sorry Kevin, not a chance.
Bobby was a little more down to earth: ”Since you are a senior citizen, the audience will be more tolerant when you fuck up”……gee, Bobby, why would you assume I would not be perfect.
So I went to the Hopmonk in Sonoma and signed up. There were about 6 other music acts and one other comedian (I cringed at the name “comedian”).
It turned out the manager of Hopmonk was BJ, an old friend, and we chatted and I guzzled down a merlot. And then Allison Coats, the daughter of PR friend Michael Coats, came over…..I was feeling better already.
After two really good singers and guitarists performed, the MC called my name….I don’t really recall walking to the stage. I looked out and saw none of my friends had come to support me, but the twenty-somethings and others looked okay so I grabbed the mike and started in:
“Hi, my name is Jerry……I am a sex addict…….oh shit, is tonight Thursday?”
“When I was born, Hoover was President…..took me years to realize that a vacuum cleaner didn’t cause the Great Depression”
“But Americans are tough and resilient…look how well we have managed to exist without Hostess cup cakes, Ding Dongs, and Twinkies”
“As you may or may not know, James Gondolfini died today….what a a tragedy….and Boehner is already blaming it on Obamacare”
“Sorry for the cheat sheet (actually, I hadn’t looked at it!), I usually write the notes on my hand but Sarah Palin still has the Sharpie”
Good response, happy faces, chuckles, laughs, and I am wondering how much of what Bobby had said was true…. it was not great stuff but it all came from my brain.
I then did a bit of family history, a couple of funny stories from Roller Derby times, some from my ticketing days, and explained I was now working for the best ticketing company in the world, not just for profit and community oriented as penance for being part of raising the service charges with BASS and Ticketmaster.
I then closed with “people ask me why you are able to function so well at your age; well I don’t smoke and rarely drink, exercise, take vitamins and I never eat anything that Michael Douglas does” Huge laugh, leave the stage. Whew.
So Torio asks if I will pursue this career. Of course, right after I swim the Everest.
Oh, there were only two other wrestlers in my weight class (110 pounds). I lost badly to both, but still got third place for valuable points for Encina West…we ended up being intramural champs….who was our best athlete in our wing? Bob Mathias, Olympic decathlon champion. Don’t tell me I didn’t have friends in high places.