Posted by Steven Alan Green
So, what’s with all the shootings? It’s becoming a regular thing; a new randomly scheduled reality show. Instead of The Apprentice, it’s The Assassin. Six contestants are hired at six companies. Then, a co-worker stabs them in the back somehow. The psycho who commits the most creative public massacre (as voted by Simon Cow-elle, as well as the home audience) and achieves the highest kill count wins. Their prize? Execution by firing squad. I mean WTF!! Maybe when companies hire, or universities accept, shouldn’t there be a little box you have to tick, indicating that, “In the event of a life-crisis, you promise not to return and shoot everyone up”? I lived in England for nearly 20 years (a land where “madness” is an accepted form of socialism and where there are comparatively few privately owned fire-arms); and in all that time, there was only one major shoot-up I can remember, in Dunblane, Scotland, when in 1996, 43-year old Thomas Hamilton, entered a school, shooting and killing sixteen children and one adult before committing suicide. Why can’t these guys just commit suicide
Gun violence and horrific massacres are not funny. Don’t email me. I’m talking about logic. More specifically, illogic. We have to treat everyone better from the get-go. In 2004, at the Edinburgh Fringe, I debuted my one-man show, “Service Not Included,” about how rudeness and cultural confusion led to 9-11. The point was that what really matters the most is how we are with each other on a day to day basis. England – a very small island - has the built-in manners system. You can’t just go up to a stranger on the street and say, “Got the time?” He’ll look at you as if you are incredibly rude and potentially dangerous, then go running looking for a Bobbie. Instead, you have to say, “Oh, sorry….” (Then the man will look up from his paper) “Is it possible – I mean if it’s not too much trouble; and I know this is quite an awkward situation – but is there a likelihood that – and again, I could be completely mistaken, so please forgive me up front – but, do you think you might possess a watch (no, that didn’t sound right) and then assuming that watch is running on time (oh, dear), do you think you might be able to impart to me – a complete stranger, who has obviously accosted you, interrupted the flow of your day and even perhaps put you in mind of a little potential random street danger – do you happen to know what time it is?” By the time you’ve asked your question, both time and the man have moved on. And, you can’t really be direct with anyone either in regards to their honesty. In America, we’d say, “Bob, you’re full a shit!” You can’t do that in England. There, you have to say, “You know, Bob. If one didn’t know you any better, one might think you were playing with the truth.” Much more icy. Leaves Bob with a stiff whiff of paranoia, not mention a potential “stiffy” (an English term; don’t worry about it now).
For many years, I carried with me, and passed through airport security all over these United States and Canada with a fake handgun. A theatrical prop I purchased at Joe Berg’s, the old magic and prop store on Hollywood Blvd, which by the way, both prop-gun and store have since mysteriously vanished. I initially wanted one of those guns that shoots out a flag with the writing, “BANG!” on it, the one that Ernie Kovac’s used? But, the ones they have these days are designed not to look real on purpose, and I wanted an emotional effect of my audience. I wanted them to “feel it”. I wanted the audience to believe I was serious. I wanted to be taken seriously. The reason for the gun prop was that in October ’86, after five years of making the audiences at The Comedy Store laugh their guts out, I was fed up. I was broke, sleeping in my car and just plain frustrated. So, I went up one night and told the audience as casually as possible, “Tonight is my last show, I’m leaving the business.” I was completely and totally sincere. I just had to share that with the only true friend I had, the audience. I was done with the game. I was Spartacus. But, to my complete surprise, two magical things happened; things I didn’t expect in a million years. One, the audience paid attention. (You can imagine.) But, more importantly, suddenly, I didn’t care anymore. I was no longer worried about Mitzi walking into the showroom, seeing me have a 5 second lapse of laughter and fire me. I was tired of all the politicking, which often boiled down to if you did coke with Sam Kinison or not. I was tired of making some rich club owner’s audience laugh for little or no pay. I was tired of not being famous. So, I quit. Plain and simple. But, by performing my farewell performance, I unwittingly magically lifted all the heavy, but invisible pressures off me. And because the pressures weren’t there anymore, I had fun, resulting in one of the funniest and most risk-taking comedy sets of my life. At the end, the audience was cheering, “More!!” I found my niche. An act which completely was the mirror opposite of the reputation I had easily built for myself 25 years ago in this town; that of a desperate crazy comedian. Though some called it a safety net, my farewell performance literally became my creative therapy; and thank god for people like Beth Lapides and Greg Miller, by the way. Go back later and read my review of Uncabaret. That show didn’t just happen by accident. Uncabaret is exactly the kind of creative camaraderie nurturing I want to see more of on the Island of Los Angeles, scratch that; I mean Hollywood, the evil incestuous rapist of young and innocent LA.
At the end of my comedy set that fateful night at The Comedy Store, I told the audience that I had such a great time, that, “If it’s okay with them, I will be performing another farewell performance tomorrow night, thank you and goodnight!” They gave me a standing ovation. I made the audience save me. After a few weeks of this mad Kabuki farewell performance, audience members started to shout out during my set (when I’d announce it was my last show), things like, “You said you were gonna quit last week!” or “Why are you quitting?” All of these public inquiries forced me to create a paradigm. I, the comedian, was the “addict”. I was literally “addicted to the laughter” and had to quit. The audience was the co-dependent and the club owners, the pushers of the drug I so desperately needed:Stage Time
. I wrote a book, Confessions of a Show-Biz Junkie, in which I interviewed comedians, asking them to seriously compare their getting high on cocaine, alcohol and heroin, with “getting high on stage.” All of them, from Steve Kravitz to Alan King to the great namesake of mine, Steve Allen: all of them agreed there was no difference in “the high”. King personally telling me the reason he carried Bourbon on the rocks on stage was, “I never drink alone.” I used to watch Richard Pryor greeted by his gaggle of insider-followers with a newly cut line of the finest cocaine Hollywood has to offer, just so he can “not come down” from the stage high. But, it was when I met and interviewed Norman Cousins, that I knew I was onto something. Cousins was Editor-In-Chief of the Saturday Review for 30 years and also served as Adjunct Professor of Medical Humanities for the School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he did research on the biochemistry of human emotions, which he long believed were the key to human beings’ success in fighting illness. In his seminal book, Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived By the Patient, Cousins told of how he healed himself back from a crippling arthritic condition with what he called, “Laughter Therapy” (watching Marx Brothers films) coupled with “large doses of Vitamin C”, the combination increasing the levels of the body’s natural healing pharmaceuticals: serotonin and encephalin, both of which have a funny side-affect. They make you deliriously happier. Cousins was also a man of great humor, and his biggest and most appreciative joke was his answer to my question: “If a person does anything that makes them happy, be it eating chocolate cake, running, having sex, doing stand-up comedy; and as you postulate in your book, all those activities make us ‘naturally high’; is it possible that those same brain hormones serotonin and encephalin, can also become addictive; thus making my postulated addiction to stand-up comedy a potential actual malady?” His answer? Like Curly from The Three Stooges: “SOY-ten-ly!” He then poked me in the eye.
Steve Allen (the creator and first host of The Tonight Show) was a known skeptic, but he wasn’t a conspiratorialist. In fact, Allen was as skeptical of those guys. I was born in 1956, the year NBC offered Allen a new prime-time Sunday night variety hour, The Steve Allen Show, aimed at dethroning CBS’s top-rated Ed Sullivan Show. My parents (both secretly frustrated comedy actor-comedians) named me, not after the established King “Ed”; no, they named me after an innovative rebel. Good thing there are no known time machines (trust me, I checked Craigslist) or you can call me Conan O’Green. The Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood is situated in the back of The Center for Inquiry, the Los Angeles branch of CFI-Transnational, an educational nonprofit organization that explores and advances critical thinking, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values through education, outreach, and social services. Comedian Ron Lynch’s mad scientific comedy science experiment, “TOMORROW!”, a comedy and music cabaret review, replete with séanced Vaudevillian Tradition, tempered by cutting-edge humor technology, and populated by omni-creatives: comedians, musicians and actors, whose main goal seems to be: “To chop down the forest of comedy convention right before your very eyes – be careful, there may be blood,” happens every Saturday night, starting at midnight at The Steve Allen Theatre. A perfect evening? Grab some cheap and delicious traditional Italian at Palermo (the cops dine there; it’s good), do a nice walk up and down Vermont quietly sneering at all the Faux-Hipsters, grab an after dinner cappuccino at Figaro Café to keep your ass up, then breeze over to The Steve Allen Theatre – get there by 11:30 (@ only $8, it often sells out) and treat yourself to the most memorable and original comedy show in town, second only to the shitty Los Angeles public transportation system.
At exactly 12:05, Ron Lynch, who is the luckiest man in Hollywood (“Mr. Lynch” in basically every role he’s played – from Home Movies to The Sarah Silverman Show to Bob’s Burgers) enters the stage to authentic (not perfunctory) applause. You can tell straight away, we’re at midnight comedy mass. “TOMORROW!” was created in 2003 by Lynch, Brendon Small and Craig Anton, debuting the same year at the same theatre. A handlebar mustache magically holds up the silent film star’s marionetted corpse, as we zoom into extreme close-up of Lynch’s mysterious peepers. If ever there was a real show going on tonight, it was behind those eyes. Lynch is up to something. Always. And like a master travelling carnival showman, he immediately welcomes us to his world, directing stage right to a completely unexpected treat, in the form of Ketchup Soup, an Americana-Punk-Brechtian musical trio, including not one, but a pair of accordionists, backing up one of the most enchanting and sultry singers since Madeleine Peyroux. As much as I’ve been whining about missing London, suddenly I felt like I was back home, travelling on the Eurostar, sleep-heading to the smarter cultural edge of Europe, down in Le St. Germaine, staying at the Odeon Hotel and slurping a very expensive café latte at the Café de Flores. I was blissfully swept away by Ketchup Soup’s opening gambit, an original, “Brothers and Sisters, this is not real. Love is what’s real.” “Mrs. Hobbs,” as she’s known, sung her next number, a sexy 1920’s Vamp, “Don’t Care to be Misunderstood” through a megaphone, the instrumental through a drinking straw, as accompanied by tambourine. “Magic 8-Ball” (“This song is not about drugs- you’ll probably figure out what it is”) was a Mississippi Blues on two accordions and guitar; followed by classic Bessie Smith, “I Need a Little Sugar in my Bowl” whiplashingly culture-counter-pointed by kazoo solo. “I Met the Devil” was next, as Lynch himself returned to stage, accompanying on drums (I almost typed: “accompanying on drugs”) and closing out this substantial upfront set with “Rising Sun Blues”, a Porgy and Bess soliloquy and dialog, banked off the House of the Rising Sun, with Hobbs speaking all French, sad and sexy. I came to realize, the idea of having an extended musical set as a comedy show’s opener was reverse traditionalism, when a comedian would normally open for a musical act.
Then, from an off-stage mic, “And now, please welcome the guy who’s talking now…Ron Lynch!”
Ron returns, spawning a Southern white evening jacket, like Fitzgerald after a 3 day binge, yet much tidier. (I’m sorry. I just can’t help but stare at Lynch.) Ron introduces to thunderous applause his co-host for the evening, the one and only Emo Philips, whose standup comedy stems from the use of paraprosdokians and garden path sentences spoken in a wandering falsetto tone of voice and a confused, childlike delivery of his material to produce the intended comic timing in a manner invoking the ‘wisdom of children’ or the idiot savant (at least that what Wikipedia says and incidentally, I called Bradley Cooper, who also confirmed this, then asked me how I got his number and why I was calling him in the first place). The audience cheered seeing not one, but two of their favourite comedy geniuses, one specializing in mental gymnastics, the other having the advantage of extraneous funny facial hair. “Speech separates us from the animals, and amplified speech separates us from the Amish…or the audience”. Thank you, Emo. I needed that. And the Glimmer Twins are off on a sort of random Waiting for Godot Comedy Land Travel Guide, as they appetize in semi-cruel onstage banter about blind people. “Harpocracy”, Emo explains, “is when you have to change your seat at a Marx Brothers film because a homeless person sits next to you.” He then introduces his “acting coach,” Kipley Brown (a non-Jamaican actress/comedienne pretending to be a Jamaican), who then “reveals” she isn’t, staying in character as the imperious snobby acting teacher, launching into a virtual infomercial for how you can fool a traffic cop “in real life” (remember, we’re already at least two “real life” layers up) by making believe you have a child in the back seat. Emo gives her “scriptures” to read, Brown demonstrates to Lynch “how” to do sarcasm, finally winding up with a brilliantly physical 3-varient demo on “How to Bow”: 1) the “I don’t deserve it” bow, 2) the “I’m exhausted” bow, and the, 3) “I’m Done” bow; exiting the stage to thunderous farting. I mean applause. Lynch and Emo back up on stage at the near 50-minute mark, so it must’ve been ironically, when Ron says, “Are you guys ready for the show?” Up next was comedian Matty Goldberg.
Set against the chaotic otherworld we’re already travelling through, Matty is a nerdy New Yorker and stand-up who immediately breaks our sour hearts as the conductor of the Too Much Information Train. The Goldberg variable was specificity: “I never put lotion on a girl’s back. But, I did get a hand-job on a Greyhound bus,” makes us all cringe, were it not for the quick save, the reconfirming obvious admission, “Yeah, I’m a weird guy.” Revealing he feels “like I arrived,” he writes and reads a love-letter to a random girl in the audience. In spite of lack of restraining order, it was brilliantly funny and I was terminally relieved when it was over and lotion-free. Ron & Emo come back. (No, I mean, Ron and Emo returned to the stage, not, “Ron and Emo, please come back!”) Emo expounds on the personal annoyance of having the same name as the eponymous musical genre, “Emo”, and that his father, Be-Bop Philips, had a very similar problem; then Ron-Emo stage-reminisced where they met eons ago at Detroit’s Comedy Castle. Next act was Sean Conroy, a big bearded guy (big guy, not big beard) football jersey-wearin’ UCB grad (Upright Citizen’s Brigade), who takes his time with words…. and… other …words. His routine about getting carded, thus forcing him to use the voice of a Civil War General to explain what he really looks like is anything but (routine). Conroy’s rhyming “Drinking Rules” are unparalleled in their ability to mix monotony with the mundane: “Whiskey, then beer; all is clear. Beer before whiskey, you’re getting frisky” is the well-known template for drinking slogans gone so wild, I can’t repeat them here. Confronting the illogic of a billboard spouting a photograph of two very attractive young men with their arms around each other, the caption reading “We didn’t come out just to die of lung cancer”, caused Conroy to speculate about other billboards expressing two completely different ideas (like the Romney/Ryan ticket) such as “I didn’t join the Klan just so you could leave empty bottles lying around”; and wishing doctors, upon examination, would stop saying the word “YIKES!,” Conroy was clearly the audience favourite—at this point. Ahmed Bharoocha was next, and I don’t mean kazoontite.
Ahmed (of the current Comedy Store crop) opened with how we eat veal (the babies of cows) as well as putting our missing children on milk cartons of baby food, i.e. milk. Frankly, I don’t think we do that anymore, but I get it; Mobius strip logic. “Killing Goliath” - putting giants on the endangered species list; how in war, the disparity of distance between the strangers we kill and the presidents who want us to kill for them; were all thoroughly thought out comedy paradigms, doing what all comedians should be doing: creating and demonstrating our own “Comedy Logic”, more commonly known as comedy style. This guy’s good. Keep a veal eye out for him. Ron-Emo return, but then some asshole in the audience answers his phone! This jerk actually continues in growing conversation, shouting out, “I can’t hear you; there’s a guy on stage!” In the meantime, ignoring this incredible lapse in manners, Emo brings out his clarinet, but the guy’s phone rings again! Soon enough, a second guy enters the theatre, he too on his cell phone, the other half of the conversation, the lost guy looking for the theatre. Rather than hang up and shut up, the two of them carry on, maybe 15 feet apart, continuing to annoy us as they talk cell phone to cell phone in the same friggin’ room! In spite of this incredibly rude show interruption, it’s now time for the Emo Philips Film Festival part of the evening. Projection screen down (or theatre up) Emo narrates two short films, starring none other than Emo Philips; but he narrates them, not with his voice, but with his clarinet. Film one was Emo grabbing a fake leg in a bar, accidentally knocking the leg’s former owner into a cake and all the random hilarity which ensued. Film two was “Can Man”, a guy on the street (Emo), riffling through a garbage can, dealing with a kid, a juggler and an assortment of characters, coincidences and hilarious physical and ironical outcomes. Both films are exactly what Buster Keaton would make, had he still been alive, and not murdered by Edward G. Robinson on the set of Paint Your Wagon (at least that’s what I heard).
At the end of the film, the two “Cell Phone Guys” were now on stage, revealing them to be – all along (I had a hunch) the brilliant Walsh Brothers, of UCB and “The Walsh Brothers Show” (How’d they get that gig?!) Next up was Marianne Sierk of “World’s Dumbest Criminals,” who was a breath of fresh air from all this comedy. The 36-year old perky actress was the perfect poison for an evening of great entertainment. Other than her imminent need for motherhood, for my money (okay, I got in free), big positive energy Marianne might’ve been served better going up a bit earlier on the show. By the 1:45am point, it was hard, not just for me, but I think for many in the crowd, a bit late for by the book (albeit very good) stand-up. And to be fair to Marianne, my weak bladder was beckoning me to the loo, and once unstrapped from my seat, I went and had a smoke. So, in personal flagellation, I hereby invite Marianne to invite me when she’s performing again, and hopefully in an easier and earlier spot. Maybe if she smokes and has a urinary infection, it’s meant to be. This particular late night is really a psycho boys club and even though Marianne’s a funny chick and all, oh, I don’t know what I’m saying. Letters, I’m gonna get letters…. I fucked up.
At this point, Lynch not only opens the barn door completely, but unhinges it, as The Walsh Brothers return, portraying smart retards, half-finishing and interrupting one another, talking like one brain, rambling as if they were on Judge Judy Judy starring Jim Carrey Grant. While all that was going on, big Sean randomly comes back out, launching into a piece on going on a haunted house ride; and before I knew it, Ron-Emo returned to their job as Frick ‘n Frack of Bizzaro-World, navigating this powerful psychedelic jumbo in for a soft-landing. I made it. Whew! What a ride. You gotta give it to Ron Lynch. He not only knows how to create a mad house, he creates a whole new one every single week, Saturday night, midnight at the Steve Allen Theatre, and unlike the next public shooting, I don’t recommend you miss the next one.
I give Ron Lynch’s “TOMORROW!” show 8 outta 8 menorahs!
Enjoy the Veal,
Steven Alan Green
FACEBOOK TWEETS OF THE WEEK:
Now they’re saying Neil Armstrong was on dope when he went to Mars.
Thanks and have a mediocre day. That way, if its a GREAT day, you won’t be disappointed! (always trying to help)
Does anyone have God’s email address? I have a question.
Call me overly optimistic, but I think Tony Scott is gonna bounce back.
Phyllis Diller was to Fashion what Ralph Lauren is to Comedy.
Well, I guess we won’t be seeing that long anticipated Tony Scott/Phyllis Diller action-packed blockbuster any time soon.
This week’s What To Joke About: The Mars Rover, Mitt Romney and those hilarious fires.
THIS WEEK’S GUEST FACEBOOK TWEETER: The Daily Show and Air America writer Jim Earl
Lance Armstrong cheats at racing, raises millions for cancer research, and is banned from his profession. Mitt Romney cheats on his taxes, raises millions for a campaign urging cuts to cancer care, and is given the Republican presidential nomination.
Who wants to bet hurricane Isaac hits the GOP Convention just in time for Mike Huckabee’s “Loving Tribute to Climate-Change Deniers?
I remember back in the old days when “Pussy Riot” called themselves “Uncontrolled Vaginal Revelry.”
THIS WEEK’S COMEDY RECOMMENDATIONS:
ETV WEEKLY COMEDY VIDEO RECOMMENDATION:
SPECIAL FEATURE: TRIBUTES TO PHYLLIS DILLER:
ODDZ ‘N ENZ:
Next week’s Enjoy the Veal features an interview with British comedy impresario Peter Grahame, who will enlighten and entertain us all with his wit and wisdom regarding American comedians playing the London Comedy Scene.
Coming Soon: My exclusive interview with the legendary Vegas Headliner Tony Clifton, whom I’m told, doesn’t like interviews, but has granted me one because he hates me.
To hire your humble comedy writer (Steven Alan Green Writing Services: Writing Wrongs for Over 50 Years!) or to complain about anything: email@example.com
To submit a piece on comedy or show listings, same email. Thanks, Sag
10.11.13 at 1:51 pm | Steven Alan Green back from the comedy dead.. . .
5.23.13 at 2:31 pm | On the occasion of my old pal and nemesis Jerry. . .
5.16.13 at 12:22 pm | A great new opportunity for our favourite. . .
4.7.13 at 5:32 pm | It seemed like an impossibility before, but I am. . .
2.20.13 at 1:09 pm | My long-awaited review of Nato Green @ The. . .
1.15.13 at 9:49 am | My public appeal to the director of Duel, 1941. . .
10.11.13 at 1:51 pm | Steven Alan Green back from the comedy dead.. . . (21)
9.26.12 at 3:32 pm | I hereby call upon the powers that be in. . . (18)
1.15.13 at 9:49 am | My public appeal to the director of Duel, 1941. . . (5)
August 20, 2012 | 12:28 am
Posted by Steven Alan Green
The Roman Senator Gaius Cassius Longinus is best known for being the lead investigator into the assassination of Julius Caesar. The fact that Ole Cash was also one of the main plotting assassins bears no relevance. It’s like Washington trying to clean itself up. Or Jefferson, trying not to look smug on the two dollar bill. At the end of the day, what makes good comedy is the conflict between expectation and result. America is a Branding-Led Society. Maybe if we simply got a corporate sponsor for the Recession, we could solve all our problems at once. “The Recession….Brought to you by your good friends at Wall Street! Wall Street, When greed just isn’t enough….” A lot of people are still suffering quite badly; that’s right: I’m talkin’ about an audience having to sit through a horrible comedian, the bang opposite of the subject of this review. Believe me, there’s nothing like it; unless, of course you count being tied to a chair Clockwork Orange style, your eyes clipped open, as you’re forced to watch hour upon hour of QVC starring Joan Rivers. If that’s your situation, you have my complete sympathy. Where I don’t carry much sympathy is for the awful comedian who is in complete stage denial. Lissen, it’s hard to be a comedian. Trust me, I know. You have great shows where you’re a god carried out on the shoulders of the audience; or, cut-to: you are reading your own eulogy to the creepy sound of organ music. It happens to the best of us, especially when we’re starting out, literally embryonically forming on stage, trying things out, seeing what works, what doesn’t, and basically keeping the one mantra ahead down the road at all times: “Gee, I hope the audience likes me!”
Jongleurs was the largest comedy chain in the UK. Large in amount of clubs, large in audience size, large in attitude. If you were a comedian working Jongleurs, it was enough of a credit to get you booked at almost all of the other comedy clubs in the UK. It’s all about the huge Christmas office party comedy show every night of the year. It’s not a place known for its subtle thought provoking comedians, but it’s also not a circus house. It’s somewhere in the middle. Imagine Jerry Seinfeld meets Bob Hoskins with Steve Martin on banjo thrown in. It’s your working-class meat ‘n potatoes comedy. Your, “Come on mate, we’re ‘ere for a good time!” comedy. It’s also the true testing ground to see if you’re really tough. When I lived in London, I played Jongleurs quite regularly for a short while. (I’m going to tell my complete personal Jongleurs saga in future blogs.) I always “stormed it” (the British version of “Killed”), brought the house down, had them begging for more. Though, to be perfectly honest, upon reflection, there was one time, the third Saturday night show, I ate it big time. I think that’s because I hadn’t known up and to that point, there were actually two Jongleurs’ audiences: The “Nice Respectable Office Worker Not Too Drunk Out for a Good Time Jongleurs” and the “Downright Evil after Midnight on a Saturday Night in Drunken London Camden Town Yobbish Kill the American” late show.” I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing both, so who am I to judge. Having said that, the late Eric Douglas was a whole other kettle of comedy fish entirely.
The youngest son of the great Kirk Douglas (and Michael’s younger brother), Eric had personal problems. Mental illness, drugs. The perfect qualifications to be a professional stand-up comedian I would’ve thought. I witnessed Eric’s show once at the Original Improv in New York ages ago, but I left before the police arrived asking me for a statement. Having built quite a reputation for myself in LA as the village idiot at one of the two important comedy clubs, I not only had crazy-man empathy for Eric, but drew a very sharp line in my head with the mantra of the non-fabulous, “Well, at least I’m not that guy!” Regardless of judgment, there is an apocryphal story of when Eric Douglas played Jongleurs, or at least, tried to.
“And now…please welcome….all the way over from America, Eric Douglas!” The South London Lavender Hill audience applauds with marched enthusiasm. After all, they didn’t know who Eric Douglas was, perhaps he was a big comedy star in America. Let’s give him a chance and we hope he gives us a chance. So, Eric comes out on stage and immediately dies. He just doesn’t connect and has quickly morphed into a self-babbling segue artist. The London audience simply didn’t know what to make of it. Where there were, just moments earlier, laughs and frivolity at one of the coolest south of the river comedy clubs, were now the uncomfortable sounds of glasses clinking and mild discussion groups on football and darts. The audience, perhaps second guessing themselves, thinking that maybe they didn’t get the American sense of humor, gave Douglas a chance to find his footing. After all, perhaps he’s jetlagged. Oh-uh. Wot’s that? A heckler? Oh dear. Things are about to get very London.
“Tell us a joke!” arrives in the form of a “Souf London” accent (think Michael Caine with a sock in his mouth) like a welcomed grenade lob into an already hostaged crowd. Not since 1939, when Hitler bombed “The East End” (the Jewish working-class section of London) has a London neighborhood rallied so well around each other in the face of immediate misery.
“Yeah, tell us a joke, mate!” comes from another anonymous source from the other side of the cavernous comedy room. And pretty soon, like a gaggle of startled drinking geese, the entire room of 500 “punters” (paying customers) starts chirping up a cacophony of heckles, ranging from, “Next!” to (my all-time favorite) “Go back to America!” At some point, Eric cracks. Attempting to seize control, he grabs the mic, leans in and delivers with similar bravado (but none of the wit Father Kirk sported in “Paths of Glory” when he told Adolphe Menjou, “You can go to HELL!”) Eric says challengingly, “Do you know who I am?”
“No, mate, Who are you?” says one lone heckler with the disinterest of a nail-filing gangster.
“I’m Kirk Douglas’s son! That’s who I am! I’m Kirk Douglas’s son!”
Well, just to show you that the Jongleurs audiences aren’t as dumb as some of the London comedians think, a man in the crowd stands up, puts his hand over his heart and recites solemnly, “I’m Kirk Douglas’s son!” Then another man stands up: “I’m Kirk Douglas’s son!” Then another and another, until the entire male population in the audience is on their feet, reciting, “I’m Kirk Douglas’s son!,” reenacting that iconic scene at the end of Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus, when the Romans confront Spartacus and his fellow slaves, asking “Who is this Spartacus?” with the sole intention of imprisoning and executing. Each fellow slave, believing in their hero, stands forth, pronouncing that it is indeed they who are Spartacus, creating solidarity not seen since the entire cast of Happy Days sued somebody. Eric Douglas retreated backstage and a great time was had by one and all, all except for poor Eric of course. Sadly, years later, in July 2004, Eric Douglas was found by his housekeeper, lying on the floor of his Manhattan apartment dead from acute intoxication from drugs and alcohol. Eric, for all the great cultural heroes in his family, just wasn’t a survivor. But, like the rebellious fighter against the status quo, Spartacus; and the split-morality plotter/investigator Cassius, comedian Rick Overton stands atop the radioactive rubble of modern America like Charlton Heston at the end of Planet of the Apes; our last hope for well thought out deep comedic truth and its twin cousins: spiritual & intellectual freedom; and Rick does it with all the acuity of a RADA trained Shakespearian actor, the kaleidoscoping mad mondo-vision of a post-modernist underground apocalyptic philosopher, and the satirical smirk of a cast unto Hell Comedia del Arte street clown.
The “Lab” is the annex of The Improv on Melrose. A small to medium-ish size showroom with red velvet proscenium canopy and a professional soundboard in the back. Its street address is one digit off from its next door parental neighbor, the legendary Improv itself, but since they couldn’t extend their liquor license, the Lab remains as dry as its comedy. A room that filled up pretty quickly as a few notable and catchy tunes (including Cocker’s “You Can Leave Your Hat On”) played in the background of a show that started relatively on time; I was impressed from the git-go. Rick Overton and Friends is just that. Rick Overton and some of his friends. Kicking off the night was our inimitable host Chris Pina, a comedian, comedy actor and one of the most prolific independent alternative comedy producers working the boards. Chris has been responsible for some of the best “smart comedy shows” both in LA and San Francisco; and yet, ironically, Chris himself seems to value the silly over the intellect. Lip-syncing Bobby Darren’s “Beyond the Sea” was an interesting way to open what was I assumed was a political comedy show. Pina is a deep-throated, rubber-faced cross between Jerry Lewis and Mort Sahl. His frenetic “welcome to the island” Dennis Hopper’s photographer to Overton’s Col. Kurtz. It’s always fascinating to see great comedy minds crumble and Pina did a great impersonation of one as he attempted, fumbled and self-aborts an apparently respectable Paul Ryan joke set-up, turning it around with an endorsement of the show itself, “I don’t want to talk about it anyway, because these guys on the show are a lot better and funnier than me,”which isn’t true: Chris is hilarious unto himself, proving it again and again with Kim Jong-un looking like a cigarette smoking man-child who needs shoulder belching or standing on a chair like Jack Black, impersonating over six foot King Rick Over-Kong. (Special note to all comedians out there: I am the critic. I’ll tell you when you’re not funny. Stop doing my job. Thank you.)
Time to bring on the first act.
Frank Conniff is about as good as you get. This Mystery Science Theatre 3,000 “TV’s Frank”, “Cinematic Titanic” and KPFK’s The David Feldman Show contributing regular looks like a beleaguered Philip Seymour Hoffman playing a 1970’s cheap cop show detective, who drinks too much ‘cause he knows too much and is one payday away from retirement or a bullet between the eyes. Explaining to us that he “loves doing this” (live performance) and that he was just pulled over by a cop and given a warning: “Don’t see Total Recall,” Conniff lets us know he’s not above a good gag. “The Valley has a great film community, the Criterion Collection of Porn”; “Paul Ryan Fever: He wants to make sick and poor people pay for the Bush Debt….(it was funnier when I Tweeted it)” and “The South should get rape whistles for farm animals; the highest grade they ever got was Hepatitis C”, were just three warm-up samplers to one of the most brilliant comedy routines ever written and performed and witnessed by this critic: Conniff’s Letters to his younger self. Frank Conniff’s “Dear Young Frank” routine is something so intellectually mind-bendingly original, intricately crafted and just downright funny, I thought, why the hell is this brilliant mind wasting his time with comedy? I mean to actually have your “older self” challenging your “younger self” to just commit suicide is not only Einsteinian impossible, but self-esteem deprivation at its extreme. Conniff should be employed by a death panel. Lighten things up a little.
Following Frank, like a western posse looking for the point of it all, was modern legendary cowboy singer and songwriter, the one and only Will Ryan (“The Official Singing Cowboy of Hollywood”) who was here to save the day, even though it didn’t need being saved. (Isn’t it just like a country singer? There’s never one when you need one.) Ryan, front man for contemporary pop-country swing band, “Will Ryan and the Cactus County Cowboys,” is as affable as Tigger, the Winnie the Pooh character Ryan most notably voiced. Ryan’s original tunes are slick, clever and remind one of Steve Allen, Dan Hicks and Victor Borge by way of Gene Autry and Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. He’s Tom Lehrer meets Hank Williams, by way of country charm school. Abandoned by the Cactus County Cowboys, who were abound the territories in other temporal musical employment, Ryan rounded up four originals solo, including “Two Thousand Head of Cattle,” and the infectious sing-along, protest song “Barbed Wire”. Ryan (Will, not Paul) was a welcome antidote to “too much thinkin’,” as was guaranteed for the evening; though for my money, it would’ve been much better to have him do two songs here, two there, instead of the extended set of four songs and then another two later on. Having said that, Will Ryan is an immensely talented cowboy and if I were tied to the tracks, I’d want him to rescue me, ‘cause I know he’d write a song about it.
Next up was comedian Scott LaRose, a single dad from Rhode Island, who seemed completely miscast on this night. From his truly clever one-liners (“I’m colorblind – I saw Blue Man Group – not funny”) to his physical routine of Spiderman building his “ass web”; Scott is one of the best comedians out there. But, tonight, the money was on Wilson. Scott just never seemed to really connect with this particular audience, who seemed focused on their expected political ideas, not Seinfeldian sophistry. An enthusiastic talented observant comedian, talking about anything but politics (and in Scott’s case: being a single dad with a kid) seemed completely out of place for this supreme evening. I think, frankly, this is where the audience maybe got a bit snotty, not wanting to lower themselves, simply because it required switching to their other brain hemisphere. This is what I have to say to all live comedy audiences: Drop expectations and have a good time. We all eat it every once in a while and LaRose, with all the heavy lifting he had to do, kept a smile and kept it pro and for that alone, my toupee is off to him. And, now….The moment you’ve all been waiting for. The man of the hour. The man who once made God himself laugh so much, volcano lava came outta his nose, the one, the only….
Okay, I admit it. I’m a Rick Overton fan, and have been for nearly three decades. But, so are many people in this town. Rick Overton has become that new cheap Thai restaurant that cooks great Pad Thai, is incredibly affordable, open all hours, and was always there. Here’s a man who has done it all and yet, beyond the current comedy cognoscenti, has received relatively little notice of late from the established Hollywood stand-up media. Forget the fact that Rick’s ingenious comedy produced two of the finest HBO comedy specials of all time; and that Rick has maintained what everybody wants out here: a respectable film acting career, Overton is our Time Travelling Master Comedy Shaman. Combining the scary truth with the imaginary mundane is Overton’s métier, as exampled in his comment on the recent heat, “like someone dropping a wet futon on you” and coupling it with a quick reality check, “Is there anyone still denying global warming?” “I don’t want to say Romney is stiff, but compared to him, Siri sounds robotic” grabs us like a fish hook as we’re involuntarily glided along to considering Paul Ryan as assassination insurance, finally dumping his idea collective with the absurdly practical paragon of all of us being part of “the Demographic Party”.
But then, he switches up and gets real. “I don’t always agree with everything Obama does, but I hate everyone who hates him, so the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” opening the door to Fox News digital vote rigging and “assholes with money” being the real problem, which turns out to be set-up for his real point: the narrowing gap between church and state, “which you could barely throw a Frisbee through.” Overton’s Mafioso Jesus killers (“Dis is Rome, muddah-fuckah!”) is safely offset by incredible zoom out self-commentary, “I don’t think God who created the universe gives a shit what the bald guy is saying on Melrose.” Hilarious “Drunken Step-God”, the Religious Right against Gay Marriage (“because it stops the production line”), the Republican Party clown car jammed with closeted gay guys, America’s ancestral fashion heritage of Puritans wearing a buckle on their closed-minded hats, to dead on impressions of what Nick Nolte’s dog hears, Morgan Freeman bragging about his voice-over career and Overton’s classic, Sean Connery, this time the Scottish hero enjoying a dog’s chew toy, imploding his guttural grunts like Bowser grabbing a gym sock in your hand. Overton’s mantra seems to be quite apocalyptically inspired: “Never get out of the boat.” Rick Overton is the Comedian of Our Age. There is none better and there never could be. He’s that good. Wake up, America and anoint this Prince of Comedic Enlightenment, whom every successful comedian or Hollywood director with a brain (from Robin Williams to Steven Soderbergh) already recognizes as just plain great. Rick Overton’s time as Industry Secret must end now.
Returning to great sentimental applause was Will Ryan, who after experiencing omni-leveled Rick Overton, seemed like soothing Sam Elliot’s cowboy at the bowling alley bar in the Coen Brother’s classic, “The Big Lebowski”, as Ryan sang and led the delightful classic sing-a-long, “Happy Days Are Here Again”. Closing the evening was Jimmy Dore, star of several Comedy Central specials, a writer performer for the Off-Broadway hit “The Marijuana-Logues”, and the host of his own weekly radio show in Los Angeles on KPFK. Dore represents the 99% of comedians. He’s a guy who speaks for the everyman, but as an intellectual. A story of meeting swingers at a comedy gig whom he partook with, “after all; they bought a CD”; compounding logic arguing with a near car accident victim who took exception to Dore’s “Sorry” with the classically stupid, “Yeah, you’re sorry now!”; getting high and watching Christian television, being qualified on advising parents because he doesn’t have kids, food trucks as restaurants on wheels, his dog having a cardiologist (but not dental), Dore charms us with homespun regular guy super funny stuff.
But then he gets serious. “Obama is the luckiest politician; nobody good ever runs against him,” “They gave Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, then he ups the war in Afghanistan and kills Osama Bin Laden,” and the explains it all, “Mitt Romney gave a speech at the NAACP, gets booed and his wife taught a horse to dance…I’m so confident, I’m not voting” are Dore’s road signs there’s a tight curve ahead, as he fishtails to downright sarcastic outrage: “Where did our money go?....Teachers! They
took it!”, Jimmy Dore isn’t a peanut gallery comedian commentator; He’s a full-fledged knowledgeable pundit with actual new ideas and solutions, and who instinctively knows and boldly states, “Americans vote against their own interests” and yet, Dore himself knows how it all acquiescently sadly ends, sold-out like “the African American owned cloth and sheet manufacture who supplies the KKK with sheets because it’s good business.”
Recalling the soothing sweet smelling desert wind, Cowboy Will Ryan’s “Barbed Wire”, codifies the beginning of the end; the ruthless, inhumane fencing in of the West, the subdivision of holy Home on the Range: “Whatever happened to our freedom? Where did it ever up an go? What are we lookin’ at tomorrow? An’ do we really wanna know? Whoa!” What a great evening out. This could’ve been Rick Overton and Relatives, or…Rick Overton and Strangers, it was all the same. Overton’s entire point is that it’s all random anyway. We just think we have an influence. Just like our dear friend Spartacus, sometimes that’s all you need in these very confusing times:
I give Rick Overton & Friends @ The Lab eight out of eight menorahs!
Enjoy the veal,
Steven Alan Green
FACEBOOK TWEETS OF THE WEEK:
The Jewish version of dumb whitey is matzoh.
Ordering coffee in LA is like proposing to a woman. You have to know exactly what you’re gonna say and if you get it wrong, the deal’s off.
Stalking is the sincerest form of flattery.
I just purchased a balloon online. Now I have monthly balloon payments. Enjoy the veal.
My post is your post.
Vice President Joe Biden said Romney wants to put us in chains. If that’s true, Romney’s assured the Castro district, West Hollywood and Christopher Street.
What do you call a boozy lounge singer from another planet?
Every time I see Mitt Romney on TV I wish it said, “You can skip this video in 5,4,3,2,1…”
I love an accept my penis for what it is. Warts and all.
THIS WEEK’S COMEDY RECOMMENDATIONS:
Beth Lapides’ Uncabaret upcoming shows: Sunday Aug 19: Casey Wilson, The Sklars, Rory Scovel, Selene Luna, Sunday Aug 26: Mary Birsong, Michelle Lee, Carlos Kotkin
Crazee Cindy’s Comedy Show in The Belly Room @ The Comedy Store, Tuesday August 21, 7:45pm start.
Comedy Store LIVE Saturday Night - Weekly Saturday Night Show 8pm Belly Room. This week: Tamara Garfield, Mary Patterson Broome, Marco Assante, Michael Lenoci, Erin Hart, Tammy Jo Dearen, Adam Barnhardt
ODDZ ‘N ENZ:
Next week is my review of Ron Lynch’s Tomorrow Show at The Steve Allen Theatre and the week after that is my interview with British comedy maven Peter Grahame. Peter runs the oldest comedy club in London, was co-founder of the Cat’s Laugh Comedy Festival in Kilkenny, Ireland and was twice voted Time Out Comedy Promoter of the Year.
It’s been a busy week for this writer. Enjoy the Veal is becoming rather popular and I wrote a political speech for Roseanne, which she really liked.
Also, my foundation, The Laughter Foundation is planning something very special for Caleb Medley, the Aurora, Colorado comedian severely injured in the so-called “Batman Massacre”. Please, if you can, the Medley family has a huge hospital bill. Donate directly to the Caleb Medley fund set up by his family. Thank you.
Help Caleb Medley
To hire a comedy writer or to complain about anything: firstname.lastname@example.org
August 12, 2012 | 2:34 pm
Posted by Steven Alan Green
A lot has been said about my life-changing experience in working with Jerry Lewis; and primarily by yours truly. Truth is, actions speak much louder than words. And no action speaks louder than sex. It was a lovely London Sunday morning. The last of the drunks had waddled home from the pub and were neatly tucked away into their own warm blankets of vomit hours earlier. A horse-drawn hearse clip-clopped across the cobble-stone by my Notting Hill multi-level flat, taking some lucky English soul to that big pub in the sky. The electric milk truck quietly spun its rounds, dropping off fresh milk and cream to my new neighbours, Madonna and her Brit-Gangster flick director husband, Guy Richie. My lovely girlfriend of five years, Emma, had just given me the greatest “wind-employment” since Hurricane Katrina herself, as a prelude for some foreboding news she was about to impart my way. Sitting down on the couch next to me, as if she was about to announce she was secretly pregnant with Prince Harry’s child, Emma let me know, in no uncertain terms, she was leaving me. The reason was Jerry Lewis. Emma was sick of hearing my Jerry Lewis story. She was sick of my talking about it, writing about it, performing a one-man show about it, and most of all: Emma was sick to death of hearing of a “film I was developing with an Oscar winning producer based on my historical life-changing misadventure with Jerry Lewis.” She could care less and thought my obsession with Jerry Lewis was well beyond the pale of normal comedian madness and suggested I immediately seek psychiatric help, which I did, but my psychiatrist then left me for the same reason (he was a Dean Martin fan), but there was no “wind-employment” there, and why should there be, that would be just wrong, let me continue. You see, for me it was all business. Jerry Lewis was the biggest thing to ever happen to my career. When Jerry Lewis collapsed at the London Palladium, September 8, 2002, it made international news. Go ahead, Google it. We’ll wait. Ladies and Gentlemen, while the skeptics can’t wait, let me thank you, my loyal readers, who will politely wait until I’m done. Oh, they’re back. Was I right? ‘Nuff said. When Jerry Lewis collapsed at the London Palladium it created a flurry of questions hurled at me from all ends of the comedy industries in London, New York and LA; all repeating the same mysterious and annoying mantra, as if I, a “still-trying-to-figure-it-all-out-comedian” had somehow possessed the answer to the meaning of life itself:
“Did Jerry Lewis fake his collapse?”
1a Mortimer Square was a multi-level “maisonette” with a loft office under a skylight, a very high open gallery living room, and an indoor BBQ in the kitchen. I loved my home. It was the first bit of property I ever owned. But, I got carried away (or should have been!). Notting Hill had been a very low-rent district for 30 years. But, in the ‘90’s (much like New York’s Soho district in the 80’s) it became hip and prices went through the roof. There are two modern historical periods for Notting Hill, the former home and subject matter of George Orwell, Thomas Hardy and G.K.Chesterton. Before and after the eponymous film starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. Lissen up Hollywood moguls: One. Buy as much property as you can in the worst section of LA. Two. Package a romantic comedy set in that section of town. Three. Collect your money. I had bankers coming round my flat every six to eight months offering me 100,000 Pounds just to live there. Of course I stupidly signed on the dotted line. After losing my home in London three years ago, I came back to LA to take care of my sick mother, to resume dating a woman I was newly in love with (in other words: she really didn’t know me that well yet) and to try and co-produce the film based on my experience with Jerry Lewis, alongside and under the mentor-ship of a very well respected and accomplished Oscar winning producer who looked like Danny DeVito and talked like Joe Pesci. Steven Alan Green and Julian Krainin’s “How I Nearly Killed Jerry Lewis” or “Why Dean Drank” had the buzz of top Hollywood actors and directors; as it was/is a great story of Shakespearian proportions. A very dysfunctional comedian is saved by his childhood hero, who ultimately befriends him, then lets him down, nearly dying in his arms, causing the comedian to reconcile with his dead father. Hilarious right? In real life: Jerry Lewis was both my best friend and worst enemy. And, thus that became the pervasive narrative in my head: Was Jerry Lewis ever really my friend? And in the end, who in Hollywood is EVER our “friend”? And, I thought I had it all categorized and sorted. But, when I started to lose my mind…Scratch that. I don’t think you ever can notice when you “start” to lose your mind. I think its more like suddenly noticing the cat licking itself. Maybe I better not talk too much about my own sometimes questionable mental health. The best way people can get to know me, and to trust me, is to simply be me for one day. Be the man who nearly and accidentally killed Jerry Lewis.
Lisa Coburn, a great lady, good friend and daughter of the late great James Coburn, called me up, inviting me to her Christmas party. Lisa says to me, “Steven, I would love to have you come to my Christmas party…..but you have to promise me you will leave Jerry Lewis at home.” What on earth was she talking about? I don’t live with Jerry Lewis? Lisa explained to me that apparently (I have no proof of this unfathomable fantasy one way or the other) I had gained a reputation of constantly talking to anyone and everyone about what Jerry Lewis did to me, my life, my show, my business, etc, etc and that I had been boring her friends to tears, almost as badly as if I were indeed Jerry Lewis himself showing up uninvited for breakfast, fast-talking about film theory, when you’re just trying to chew, swallow and transport. Once I realized Lisa was right, that I must have engendered said reputation, I fessed up and said, “You know what, Lisa…I can do that. No problem!” So, I gets (not a typo) to Lisa Coburn’s and it’s a full party. John Barrymore, Mellissa Torme March, Stephen Hawking: all sorts of interesting showbiz and literary people and plenty of traif. What more could a nice non-practicing Jew want. (oy, I’m gonna get emails!) I sit down on the couch, biting my lip until it nearly bleeds, thinking of Willie Mays, as I repeat over and over in my head: “Do not say the words: Jerry Lewis”. Rick Overton sits down next to me and talks with another comedian. “Did you see that comedian on HBO last night? I’m telling you, man, he was amazing! His physical movements…just like Jerry Lewis!” I slowly get up and zombie walk (continuing to repeat my mantra) to the other side of the living room where there was the entrance to the video lounge. I went in for shelter. They were playing blues videos. Guess who was on. Jerry Lee Lewis. I about faced it like Bilko getting busted and who should coming running after me, but none other than Lisa Glucksman, daughter of the late Ernie Glucksman, who directed Jerry on the ground-breaking Colgate Comedy Hour. “Steven! Let me tell you what Jerry did to my father! You know my father blah, blah, blah, and Jerry blah blah blah blah” I picked up my coat, left Lisa’s party very quietly and proud that I fulfilled Lisa’s wishes of my not mentioning Jerry Lewis to anyone. I didn’t have to; everyone else did it for me. And that would continue to happen again and again and again and in more bizarre ways.
In 2009, The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences was honoring Jerry Lewis with the Jean Hersholtz Award for Philanthropy, for all the great things Jerry Lewis has done to help bring awareness, and most importantly money (which buys invaluable life-saving and life-improving research) to his life-long pet cause, that of finding a cure for Muscular Dystrophy. Jerry Lewis has saved and bettered tens of thousands of lives; make no mistake about that. I’m sure Jerry was fully appreciative and humbled of receiving recognition for his massive philanthropic achievement, but I betcha, inside, Jerry was secretly a little miffed, as I know I would be. The Academy has never honored him artistically for his incredible worthy life’s body of film work. I mean, the comedian who broke the modern forth wall? Or the comedian who appealed to all ages at once? The comedian who has run the gauntlet of the critics, whom he all proved wrong? The comedian who succeeded in all areas of ShowBiz?
. Or the irrefutable fact that Jerry Lewis remains the only person to ever dominate both movies and television at the same time. Jim Carrey never did that. He was one, then the other. Jerry Lewis was number one in television and movies
at the same time
. Forget the Video-Assist. Jerry invented the Comedy-Assist. Jerry Lewis, for all his faults; for all his flaws: Vanity, compulsiveness, erratic and condescending behavior, are really only minor blips (if not indicators of) of one of the greatest comedic science minds of all time. If the Oscars had a comedy category, Jerry would dominate, but they don’t and Jerry would agree with me that the reason they don’t is that they don’t understand comedy and how it works. I got news for you all. Nobody does. Pure Comedy as a value unto itself sometimes gets lost in Hollywood, in the very same odd way the MDA spookily erased the patron saint of sick children Jerry Lewis from their future branding. What numbskulls. That’s just dumb business. The Tonight Show With Jay Leno is a completely different show than The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Johnny was the star. Jay is just “with”. Maybe that’s ‘cause Jay is more of a regular guy than Johnny and Jay’s tip of the hat to his hero. Be that as it may, beyond a doubt, Jerry Lewis is living proof, that just like nuclear power, you have to accept the bad with the good with everybody. Jerry just happens to be better at both than most. That’s his sin. My sin was yet to be revealed. As my friend and oft personal guru, Beano says, “I like people. It’s their behavior I sometimes have trouble with.” And Hitler was an excellent dancer.
Here I was, in the third balcony of the Kodak Theatre, peering down upon the man who was both the greatest and worst thing to ever happen to me. The man who helped me create a disaster. The man who broke my dream in two. The man, whom I seriously thought was the bestest friend I ever had. Imagine being a kid getting drunk with Santa Claus. That’s what being friends with Jerry Lewis was like. A nobody comedian of no time, connecting on a very deep level with the greatest comedian of all times. As I watched Robert DeNiro extol his appreciation for and to Sean Penn, I flashed back seven years ago, to when I was happy and hopeful and frankly, building a business. Like all the horrible events in life (war, funerals, marriage) things usually begin with a formal invitation. My misadventure with self-proclaimed “Super Jew” himself, a former skinny kid from Jersey not known as Joseph Levitch, the man who brought laughter and salvation to the once tear-stained cheeks of a little boy lost in the middle of an horrific divorce, the great Jerry Lewis was no different than a Christmas party, and too required a formal invitation.
……and so in closing, in honor of your great accomplishments in Comedy and Charity, I hereby invite you to come to London (First Class travel and accommodations) to perform at The London Palladium and receive the first ever High On Laughter Award. I thank you for your kind consideration and very much look forward to hearing from you.
Steven Alan Green
As I drove down to meet my childhood hero, little did I know, I would be drafted and braced to go down in Show Biz History, as the man who inadvertently nearly killed Jerry Lewis.
September 8th, 2002
Sunday night at the London Palladium
The audience had been enthralled by twelve great comedians from the US and the UK, including Zach Galifiniakis, Bobcat Goldthwait, Emo Philips, Paul Provenza, Rick Overton, Boothby Graffoe, Earl Okin, Rick Right, Jim Gaffigan, Shelagh Martin, and the pretty-great yours truly. All of us went up on that great plank of wood still scuffed by the shoe tattoos of Laurel & Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Judy Garland; and of course, Martin & Lewis. This was my show now, not Budd Friedman’s or Mitzi Shore’s. I was the producer. The man in charge. Over eight months of prep-work, investing my life savings by re-mortgaging my Notting Hill multi-level flat along with the hardened experience of two previous years’ High On Laughter shows, made this show the biggest of my career. Career? Who was I kidding. I was a mid-forties comedy refuge and this was just another pathetic —albeit, very expensive—showcase. High on Laughter is a comedy-charity show I created that benefits Turning Point Scotland, a drug and alcohol charity launched by Princess Diana. I had gained a small buzz, doing my infamous “farewell performances only” stand-up act, where I told every audience I was “addicted to the laughter and had to quit” and every show was my last. I performed over 5,000 “farewell performances” in 16 years, and now I wanted to help real addicts as a poetic gesture of goodwill. Plus, the charity endorsed me. Peter Grahame, one of my best mates, who runs the oldest and best comedy club in London (Downstairs at The Kings Head) slowly makes his way over to me backstage that Sunday night of “The Palladium Incident.” I could see the look in his face. It wasn’t good.
“Steven, Jerry won’t come out of his dressing room until you leave the theatre.” I looked Peter in the eye; he was dead serious. One of the most jovial and trusted movers and shakers on the British Comedy Scene was now telling me something I just couldn’t believe I was hearing. My star (and one-time childhood idol) the one and only Jerry Lewis, the man whom I was giving a lifetime achievement award to for all his contributions to Comedy and Charity, had told my show-runner, that before he’d come out of his dressing room to accept the award I was giving him, I, the producer of this show, the financier of this show, the creator of the show, would have to immediately leave my own theatre. I can still feel my own eyeballs popping out of my head like a Tex Avery cartoon character. This was my baby, my pride and joy! Not his! This one I was filming for television. But after three months of working with Jerry Lewis I was at the end of my rope. Jerry had pulled out of the show one too many times. He would call me up daily, either in tears over the state of his career (“What am I gonna do, sell men’s shoes?”) OR frothing at the mouth angry with me for what reason I never knew (“I eat people like you for breakfast!... or lunch!…depending on when I wake up!”) OR as the most gentle, professional and courteous collaborator I ever worked with (“Steven, you and I stand on the same part of the stage.”). But, I managed to survive the inconsistencies in Mr. Lewis’s personality. I finessed my way around; I cajoled Jerry by reminding him how “They’re gonna love you in London!” or by laughing at his truly funny banter. He was a handful, for sure. But, I think that’s exactly what he liked about me. I too was a handful. A handful of piss and vinegar and for once in his lifetime and career-time, he was not dealing with the usual types: sycophants that stars – legendary stars – surround themselves with. The biggest, most obnoxious ShowBiz ego of all time had finally met his match. A short-tempered, unappreciated in his own country comedy loser, who found respectability, fame, and a fleeting fortune in a European country. Jerry Lewis was dealing with Steven Alan Green. God save his clownish soul. I camouflaged myself amongst the bizarre Tim Burton-like sets and props from the West End production of “Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang,” and what I was about to see was one of the saddest things I’d ever witness in my entire life.
Driving down to San Diego to meet Jerry three months earlier, I was starving. Jerry had told me to “Bring a big appetite!,” and so I inhaled a muffin, washed it down with some instant and got on the 405. My heart was doing 90 in the slow lane. Time was beginning to change all around me. I’m going to meet the great Jerry Lewis! On his yacht! Wow, Steven, how far you’ve come! (Oh, no. I haven’t even passed through Irvine.) I get to the big hotel, I ask for “Jerry Lewis’s yacht” and was pointed where to go. I went to a gate where I was met by Jack, one of Jerry’s assistants, who walked me to a beautiful classically appointed boat, representing the world-class accomplishments of a great man. I go on board, down the stairs to the cabin. And, right there, sitting at his computer, was Jerry Lewis. Now bloated beyond belief like some surreal Thanksgiving Day parade balloon (the result of him taking Prednisone, a steroid that saved his life), Jerry pointed a camera at me and shouted, “Say cheese!” A flash went off and I was now, and forever, in Jerry’s World.
The first story Jerry told me was about Steven Spielberg. How after E.T. premiered in Cannes, the Jaws-dropping director got an incredible standing-O, which just wouldn’t stop. Spielberg, as if he were merely an actor who had just performed Richard III for The Queen, directs the audience to a royal box and elegantly bows. King Jerry stands up and waves graciously to his loyal subjects. I snap out of it. Where’s this flippin’ lunch? Jerry asks me if I’d like another Popsicle. A what? Two-and-a-half hours of Jerry telling me this story and that story. How he got drunk with Peter Sellers, partied hard with Jack & Bobby Kennedy, Peter Lawford and, of course, Marilyn. He was handing me loose chapters of his upcoming book, “Dean and Me,” assistants were giving me more and more popsicles, so much so, that I had to excuse myself several times to pish, and once in his bathroom, I couldn’t help but notice the multitudes of antibacterial hand sanitizers. When I came back to the main cabin, Jerry does what Jerry does best. He takes over. Jerry Lewis listed – as if I was his Errand Boy – what he needed from me. Seven people traveling with him, First Class, Five-Star accommodations, 24-hour limo & security, a giant video screen, plus a 36-piece orchestra. On exit, I told him I was filming the entire thing. He said, “Fine! But I charge $150,000 for 12-month worldwide rights!” I was okay with that. I had Jerry Lewis. What was I worried about? I left in search of a burger and drove back to LA. The next morning, he calls me up, his voice all nasty-like.
“Steven Alan Green? This is Jerry Lewis.I’m not doing your show!
And without missing a beat, I said, “Good! Who the hell needsyou
Jerry laughed and we became instant friends. Scratch that…we became partners. Scratch that too. He became my boss. He’d be calling me up every day. I was going on Buffy auditions, the phone was ringing off the hook, I was praying it wasn’t Jerry Lewis. The High On Laughter Award? Jerry wanted me to call it The Charlie Chaplin Award, but when I checked with The Chaplin Estate in Paris, and they said “No way, nes pas?” Jerry harrumphed and said, “That’s Okay. We’ll call it The Jerry Lewis Award!” (“And the nominees are: Jerry Lewis…Jerry Lewis….Jerry Lewis…Jerry Lewis….and Myron Pickleman.”) I was actually giving Jerry Lewis, the first ever Jerry Lewis Award. (Can you see why my last psychiatrist actually fired me as a patient?) Meanwhile, my publicist in London never even heard of Jerry Lewis and thought I was bringing over Jerry LEE Lewis! And it turns out most of modern day Britain never heard of him either. After all, England is another world; they never even heard of Jay Leno or Dennis Miller. Why? They don’t get HBO or NBC over in England. I needed a film star. A legend. And because Jerry had reneged on his very important promise to give me two weeks for press interviews, to be there for me, even though he said: “Steven, nobody knows what it’s like to produce a big show like I do, I’m gonna be there every step of the way,” on the word of our publicist, just for insurance, I booked a gifted British comedian sight unseen, who had just won the prestigious Perrier Award up at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Daniel Kitson’s opening line, as Jerry had locked himself in the dressing room with my wife Tamsin, telling her he was upset with me for making the advertising say: “Starring Jerry Lewis” but he wanted “Honoring Jerry Lewis” (which he never told me) the two bodyguards in my employ were now telling me, “We work for Mr. Lewis now” and not allowing me access to my star…The British dysfunctional comedic genius Daniel Kitson’s opening line was: “It’s always been a dream of mine to play a third-full Palladium to people who’ve come to see a dying man
.” And indeed, it seemed as if that little joke was all about to sadly come true…
The stage was set. The 18-piece orchestra sat in front of a giant projected “High On Laughter” logo, instruments in their laps, no musical charts because someone in Jerry’s crew forgot them and when I asked Jerry about them at rehearsal, he screamed at me again, but this time in front of the entire crew: “I’ve been in Show Business for 50 years! I’ll give you a show and you’ll like it!” Bobcat Goldthwait (whose earlier set stole the show) returned to the stage to the mass approval of the audience. You could just feel the anticipation. Showing sincere appreciation for his chaotic comedic soul-mate, Bobcat introduced the clips, explaining that, “Jerry Lewis didn’t just pave the comedy road we’ve all conveniently travelled on; he pretty much invented it.” The giant video screen descends and my heart literally stopped, as I realized that this was a huge moment, not just for me, but for my friend Jerry. Black and White Buster Keaton Jerry, Vegas Nightclub Jerry, Telethon Jerry, Errand Boy Jerry, Cinderfella Jerry; all of them, sparkling like comedic Rushmore moments in time; Dean Martin mysteriously absent from them all. The live audience at the Palladium laughed alongside the relatively ancient audiences recorded in some of the video. I was seeing my dream come true. That I, Steven Alan Green, once considered the worst thing you could call a comedian: unfunny; having discovered the ugly duckling truth that another country – a much smarter and older country’s culture, would appreciate even a lowly wretch like me for what they saw as, “Brilliant!”—was now sharing my archeological find (the great British comedians and audiences) with the world. I believed that, indeed I was in fact resuscitating the fallen career of my childhood hero. Looking back at it now, I must’ve been crazy, and if you can add all that up and hold it in your mind’s breath for just a moment, then let the reality of the following situation become your exhale.
As I hid in the wings, watching the comedy genius who turned my childhood tears to laughter, stand on the opposite end of the Palladium stage, staring up at the video clips on the giant screen, of himself fifty years previous, thin, young and at the top of his game…then watching The King of Comedy wistfully look out at the less than sold-out house, and then…and then….heCOLLAPSES! Boom
! To the floor! I literally said out loud to myself: “I’ve just killed Jerry Lewis.” Oxygen (which he conveniently had demanded last minute before he’d get on the plane from Vegas) was rushed to his side. I had to go out on stage and announce that “Unfortunately, Jerry Lewis was taken ill and taken to hospital…pray for Jerry,” that announcement getting on the AP and reported worldwide. Jerry was stretchered out to an ambulance, briefly smiling while removing the oxygen mask, simply to whisper to his filmmaking friend Pierre Etaix (whom I flew in from Paris at Jerry’s request) “I’m okay, Pierre!” But, I wasn’t so sure my friend was okay.
The bodyguards (still on my payroll and yet mysteriously now in Jerry’s control) were now guarding the ambulance at the back of the Palladium as if it was a mobile Rat Pack wet-bar and I was Jack Carter. They wouldn’t let me near King Tut. The ambulance screeched off down Oxford Circus, slowly strobed by a pathetically small flutter of paparazzi flash, which magically seemed like Medieval fireflies as seen through the prism of light English drizzle. The official report from the London Ambulance service was, “a man whom we cannot name, was picked up at the stage door at the London Palladium on or about 11pm on the 8th of September, 2002, was treated on site for minor exhaustion and taken directly back to the Dorchester Hotel.” I can’t prove it, but my guess is that passenger was probably Jerry Lewis. My announcement made international news as The King of the Pratfalls flew back across the pond home the next day on my dime, without so much as a “would you like my autograph?” I later heard he told Gareth Valentine, the orchestra leader, moments before, “If I fall, just leave me there.” And the endless repeating question began, as every comedian, every comedy agent, and every club owner asked me the same exact goddam question. A question, which, to this day – nearly 10 years later – I still cannot begin to answer. “Did Jerry Lewis – the King of the Pratfalls – fake his collapse
?” My answer to everyone was always, “Jerry Lewis is the greatest comedian to have ever lived. Jerry Lewis is my friend,” and then I’d walk away wondering if they bought any of it. After all, although every contemporary comedian is completely fascinated with Jerry Lewis himself, few of them will ever admit he indeed is their secret comedy pleasure.
Tamsin and I sent the award to Jerry’s address in Vegas, but we never heard from our friend again. As I stood on Chelsea Bridge, watching the London sunset vaguely illuminate Big Ben in eerie orange, I thought to myself: “Now I know why Dean drank.” I smiled and laughed to myself then walked down to the nearest pub for a nice cold glass of Guinness and a Cuban cigar. Little did I know that my future would so be forged of these events. But, that’s Life, isn’t it. Just when you think you’re on top…You’re reminded, that just like the rest of us schmucks, you’re always gonna be somebody’s patsy, sometime.
Enjoy the Veal,
Steven Alan Green
Part Two of “Jerry Lewis: The Devil’s Genius” to be published next month.
FACEBOOK TWEETS OF THE WEEK:
It’s Barton Fink hot!
Until this country accepts mental illness as a real illness and offers unabashed treatment for those who think they might be mentally ill, there will continue to be crazy public massacres, as well as Romney supporters.
Gun violence, over-medication, mental illness, financial strife, bitter politics…America. The greatest country on the planet! Well, at least we have Montel Williams. And some Olympic gold. And Betty White. And Burning Man. And Taco Bell. As I was saying, This is the greatest country on the planet!
I’m tired of all these so-called “Hate Groups” here in America. From the KKK to the Tea Party. How ‘bout a “Love Group”? We can organize and we can….You know what? Let’s just have Group Love.
Everything’s like midget porn out here in LA. Nobody wants to give an inch.
LATE BREAKING NEWS: The Mars Rover Curiosity has discovered Mitt Romney’s tax returns!
One of the primary missions of the Mars Observer is to see how dim Mitt Romney is from outer space.
THIS WEEK’S COMEDY RECOMMENDATIONS:
Beth Lapides’ Uncabaret upcoming shows:Sunday Aug 12: Mary Lynn Rajskub, Rick Overton, Christian Shirm, Karen Kilgariff, We Govern We, Sunday Aug 19: Casey Wilson, The Sklars, Rory Scovel, Selene Luna, Sunday Aug 26
: Mary Birsong, Michelle Lee, Carlos Kotkin
Perry Kurtz @ The LA Comedy Awards @ The Hard Rock Cafe,This Friday, August 17
. The Hard Rock Cafe, 6801 Hollywood Blvd #105, Hollywood. Red Carpet at 7pm. Showtime 10pm. No Cover. Parking: You’re on your own.
Read the ETV Interview with Perry Kurtz
ODDZ ‘N ENZ:
Regarding Caleb Medley, the local Aurora, Colorado stand-up who was severely wounded in the so-called “Batman Massacre,” I’ve spoken with some of his friends and he’s hanging in there. Please, if you can, the Medley family has a huge hospital bill. Donate directly to the Caleb Medley fund set up by his family. Thank you.
Help Caleb Medley
To hire a comedy writer or to complain about anything: email@example.com
August 4, 2012 | 4:08 pm
Posted by Steven Alan Green
Contemporary nomenclature in the Show-Biz Arts can be misleading. We all hear about “porn star,” but never about “porn ingénue”. We’re all impressed when someone is “a producer,” but the average citizen doesn’t really know what a producer actually does. Hell, I don’t, and, I’ve been a film and TV producer. Perhaps the greatest misunderstanding amongst the parlance of our “chosen profession” is that of “the extra”. Extra what? If I’m an extra, then why do you need me? A little over a year ago, I had the good fortune to be employed for a day as an extra on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. It wasn’t my first time as an extra. In 1987, when answering phones at The Comedy Store, director Larry Cohen (writer of Phone Booth starring Colin Ferrell) called up on a Sunday, desperately looking for a stand-up comedian to “be an extra” in his second sequel to the infamous horror series, “It’s Alive”. Putting him on hold, I quickly called up George Bennett, the then talent coordinator at “The Store”. George told me to go ahead and take the gig. I soon found myself down at Santa Monica Pier, doing a scene in a nightclub, playing a comedian with another real comedian William Randolph. And, so while the two of us jokesters stood on the little stage, telling jokes to en empty house (save for the entire film crew) Michael Moriarty had a scene in the foreground with Karen Black. Michael walks past my stage and I’m supposed to insult him. “Say, you got an act to go with that suit?” Then I cackled like a jerk, as he walked over to Karen to discuss what to do with “their child”. Everything went well and at the end of shooting day, Larry asks if I’d come into the studio and do some looping, record some dialog, my comedy routine. I ask Larry about the fact that since I technically spoke on camera, didn’t that qualify me to get Taft-Hartley’ed, enabling me to join the Screen Actors Guild and would he be kind enough to sign the necessary paperwork? Larry agreed. So, they roll the scene, I’m at a mic and I’m just making shit up. Just me and the mic. No audience, but I rattled out as many “joke jokes” I could remember, as I wasn’t gonna give up any original material without a struggle. At one point I ran out of material, so I started improvising. When the film screened, I could clearly hear in the background of the scene where Michael Moriarity is talking with his wife/girlfriend Karen Black about what they are going to do about their cannibalistic mutated baby, “So, Steven Alan Green walks into a bar….”
We shot Curb Your Enthusiasm in Westwood and it was a lovely sunny day with delicious food and plenty of green to take in from the surrounding Veterans Hospital grounds. I was playing a Jew. In the plotline, Larry David has found the greatest chicken he’s ever tasted. He’s literally orgasmic about it. Unfortunately, the roasted bird in question happens to be exclusively served at a Palestinian owned restaurant. Larry, who was caught in the middle of an argument between Bob Einstein and Suzie Essman, used the chicken situation brilliantly, amping it up as a simple metaphor for ethnic cuisine versus complex geopolitics. The scene was this. Larry goes into the restaurant and enjoys some unbelievably delicious roasted chicken at the Palestinian restaurant. When he’s finished, he hides his face, fearing someone might recognize him as this Arnold Benedict of American Zionism. To his shock, he finds two large groups of shouting protestors lining the driveway to the restaurant. On one side, Arab dressed extras holding placards saying simple things like, “Chicken is good!”; on the opposite side, “The Jews,” smartly dressed yarmulke wearin’ men and wig-wearing women; their placards shouting, “Chicken is bad!” I suppose the metaphor for avian occupation was not just Islamic fanaticism, but Judaism fanaticism as well: food. Generously embedded in each respected protesting mob were Einstein and Essmen who argued with one another on a personal matter, shouting over the protestors to make their respective emotional points, as Larry is supposed to run the gauntlet between each opposing poultry philosophical side.
The AD (assistant director) tells all of us extras (I was playing a Jew, by the way) to yell out “anti-chicken” things. That’s all he said. He couldn’t give us any specific lines, because then we wouldn’t be extras then; SAG-AFTRA projects employ union and non-union extra’s (as long as they don’t have “lines”), which makes productions less expensive to produce. So, “and….AC-tion!” Everyone in my group and everyone in the other group start shaking their signs and shouting the most boring pro and anti-chicken things I’ve ever heard in all my days as strictly an anti-chicken protestor. Just then, Larry David exits the Palestinian restaurant and starts walking towards us. With a “I can’t believe this” jaw-dropping look on his face, he slowly glided between the two warring factions like a ghost on a slow moving skateboard. “Chicken bad!” or “Chicken good!” is apparently the extent of creativity in the LA Extra’s Community, but I wasn’t gonna be outdone by anyone else’s creative limitations! I cup my hands around my mouth and, “PLUCK YOU!” “PLUCK YOU!” “PLUCK YOU!” shouted at the top of my lungs as Larry David’s open-gob came into my frame. He kept walking slowly through the cacophony of mayhem, but his face was affixed on mine, causing him to slowly crane his neck back to me as he slowly passed me by. “I made a connection!” I thought. I knew I wasn’t supposed to be ‘an extra’, Hell! I’m Steven Alan GREEN!” We do another take from another angle and once again, Larry walks by me, face affixed on mine, mouth agape, as I repeatedly shouted, ““PLUCK YOU!” “PLUCK YOU!” “PLUCK YOU!” at the HBO star and co-creator of Seinfeld. “and….CUT!” said the director. Chatting with a few of my co-workers, I look around and Larry David is walking directly to me! Wow! He’s gonna offer me a speaking part! Larry looked at me like I was standing on his mother’s grave and said, “Don’t do that.”
Perry Kurtz is the most famous stand-up extra on the LA Stand-Up Comedy Scene. Perry is everywhere. Perry never stops. Perry gets there, does his job, is nice to everyone and leaves the audience begging for more, the women often wet between their thighs, but that’s because Perry drools. Entering the Business of Show as a 10-year-old Cub Scout (by throwing his voice into a sock puppet) and leaving a successful graphic design career in the dust, Perry suit-cased it from Philly to Frisco, making his mark as the greatest emcee ever at the Off Broadway Male Burlesque Club in San Francisco’s North Beach, giving birth to his infamous “Comic Strip Routine”. Perry’s multiple appearances with Chuck Woolery on Love Connection became the stuff of salacious Daytime TV legend. And, all that’s just because Perry is such a comedy whore. He’ll perform at the drop of the bomb. This national working headliner (I’m not saying which country) can be seen at the important mainstream comedy clubs (Comedy Store, Ice House, etc.), but on the same night ventures out to Karaoke clubs where he woos an unsuspecting audience with raunchy made up on the spot comedy lyrics, then jumping back in his car, driving across town and just making it on time to pick up his guitar and jam the blues with the best of ‘em at The Roxy. I’m telling you. Perry Kurtz is the hardest working comedian in ShowBiz and why he’s not super-duper famous is as big a mystery as to what IS Kim Kardashian’s actual talent. I recently had the opportunity of sitting down with Perry as we both waited in line at the Unemployment Office.
SAG: Perry, what gives you the greatest pleasure in performing?
PK: Knowing that I have made people happy, even for a short time, makes me feel like I DO make a difference in the world. I want to make everyone in the world laugh at least once. I know I’ve got over a million so far.
SAG: Has the “age factor” affected your work in any way?
PK: Actually, I relate to younger folk quite well, I love modern music. And women under 40.
SAG: How do Karaoke audiences compare to comedy club audiences?
PK: They are very forgiving and do not expect to see quality talent. But when they do, they go crazy. I have a very large Karaoke following.
SAG: Where would you like to see yourself one year from now?
PK: Hosting a national talk show or as a lead in movies. Or getting another hip replaced.
SAG: Who were your comedy influences?
PK: Cosby, Belle Barth, Winters, Berle, Carlin, Carson.
SAG: What was the funniest thing to ever happen during one of your shows?
PK: During an improv piece where a woman from the audience acts like my arms, she unzipped my pants, reached in and grabbed me. We dated for about 3 months.
SAG: Wow. Give me a minute while I shake that image out of my head forever.
PK: That’s okay, take your time. I have that affect on people.
SAG: Yes. Okay, where was I…Oh yes. Switching gears completely, I understand your daughter Bella sometimes performs with you.
PK: I was taking her to open mics and when I’d tell a story about her, she’d run off stage, pretending to be embarrassed. It always got a laugh and she knew it. Before I knew it, she was writing half the act and having her name up there on the marquee with me, her dad.
SAG: You mean, Bella has showbiz ambitions like her daddy?
PK: She doesn’t want to be a comedian really. She does it because she knows how happy it makes me. The 1st time she decided to “wing it” and not use her joke list, I cried openly.
SAG: Speaking of emotion, you recently received a very big honour!
PK: Yes, I did as a matter of fact.
SAG: Well, tell us! Tell us!
PK: If you give me a chance, Jesus Kee-Riste! I had my name (along with 11 other very worthy stand-ups) painted on the wall of The Comedy Store.
SAG: Wow! That is an honor. That’s like a movie star getting their footprints at a theatre in China. Congratulations; I’m very filled with nachos.
PK: It felt good to have my name finally on the wall after 20 years. And I have gotten a lot of Congrats from everyone. But I don’t think anything will change in my career. There are people’s names up there that are already out of the business. But, at least it shows that I DID work there.
“Perry Kurtz, window 5, Perry Kurtz, window 5” said the anonymous woman on the PA at the Employment Office.
PK: Well, I’d love to stay, but my public demands me. Thanks for the interview!
SAG: Thank YOU and good luck!
Perry grabs his electric guitar and goes to Window 5 and begins to make up one of his favourite comedy blues, wooing it to the blonde woman on the other side of the window.
“There’s a pretty lady, sitting in the window. I wonder where she gonna be. I wonder where she’ll go. I thought I’d try to hit on her. But, I knew so little chance. There’s absolutely no way I’m getting in her pants.”
I slowly back out of there, edging my way to the exit, getting into an awaiting open door to my imaginary limousine and drive back to my suite at the Chateau Marmont. I’ve got Johnny and Keith over for tea in about an hour. I have to say I really admire Perry Kurtz. He’s like the Energizer Bunny; he won’t ever stop; and god knows I’ve tried. As Hyman Roth in The Godfather: Part II said, “This is the business we’ve chosen.” Not me; I was drafted.
Enjoy the Veal!
Steven Alan Green
Perry’s Hit Comedy Video: Beer & Cigarettes
FACEBOOK TWEETS OF THE WEEK:
Mitt Romney wins the Gold in the 400 Meter Position Flip-Flop.
KFC Supports Shotgun Marriages.
Amidst the controversy of South African runner and double-amputee Oscar Pistorius having “an unfair advantage” due to his leg blades giving him extra spring and his body-weight being less than average, the Chinese have vowed to amputate some of their runners until an even playing field is achieved.
The music of today all sounds like the same crap. When I was a kid, it all sounded like different crap.
Micheal Phelps wins one more gold medal and he gets the next one free.
I believe if Romney gets elected, he’ll make us all billionaires in the first 30 days of office.
Don’t expect me to keep up with your narrative; I can barely remember my own.
THIS WEEK’S COMEDY RECOMMENDATIONS:
The wonderful Keith Blaney performs in ‘Tell It,” tonight (Saturday Aug 4) at 11pm at The Lex Theater in Hollywood. More info:www.theprodco.com
Beth Lapides’s Uncabaret - next week - Aug 12, guests include Mart Lynn Rajskub. http://uncabaret.com
ODDZ ‘N ENZ:
I promised some of my “Jerry Lewis story”; that’s still in the works, bear with me. In the mean time, sending my best wishes to my old friend, Jerry Lewis, and his soon to open Broadway production of The Nutty Professor.
Regarding Caleb Medley, the local Aurora, Colorado stand-up who was severely wounded in the so-called “Batman Massacre,” I’ve spoken with some of his friends and he’s hanging in there. Please, if you can, the Medley family has a huge hospital bill. Donate directly to the Caleb Medley fund set up by his family. Thank you. Help Comedian Caleb Medley
To hire a comedy writer or to complain about anything: firstname.lastname@example.org