The eye.  Wednesday night.  

Comics had to show up every Wednesday to get a number.  Shows were Saturdays, at first, then Fridays, then after a few weeks, Thursdays and Sundays, too.  Comics got $5 and a free drink for performing.      

Jack Previty hung out at the bar, a glassy, elfin smirk on his face, a bottomless mug of beer in his hand.  

“So, you what?  Yer in school?  Roger Bacon?  What?”


“Wyoming?  Out west?”

“By Tri-County.  Near Hartwell.”

“Huh.  I thought you were comin’ from like California – now, that’s a commute!  An yer in what – seventh grade?”

“12th.  I’m a senior.”

“Senior!  So, how you – yer mom drop you off?”  He grinned at Ervin, the bartender.  “Mom drops him off!”

“I drove.  I’ve got a car around the corner.”

“A car?  Sure.  Your car?”

“I – no.”

“Dad’s car?”


“S’okay.  S’okay.  I drove my Dad’s car once.  Got it back before he noticed.  Now, me – I got my own piece-a-shit in the back.  Parking sucks, huh?  So, whadda you drinkin’, anyway?  C’mon – ”

“Coke.  Just Cokes.”

“Just Cokes.  Okay.  I’ll buy you a just Coke.  Ervin – a just Coke for my pal – Senior – ?”

“Bernstein.  Alex Bernstein.”

“Senior Bernstein.  Jack Previty.  Pleased to meetcha.”


Jack Previty was not quite human.  A chain smoker in short-sleeve, button-down Oxford shirts, a manic, Cheshire grin plastered on his face whether he was onstage or off, and a black, pomaded Elvis do that made him look like Carmine Ragusa’s coked up, giggling half-brother.  Jack was a favorite at the eye, the comfort food of local comedy.  He had no aspirations of becoming the next Carlin or Pryor.  He was the guy who liked to get a little toasted onstage, tell old jokes and see smiles.  And sometimes, if he was a little too hammered, he’d steal bits right from the other comics in the room.  

Yeah – that’s one of Mike’s!  Mike Irwin, Ladeez and gennlemen!  My pal!  Man, those fat jokes don’t work for me, boy!

Mike:  “Oh shit.”  

But you couldn’t hate him.  He was Jack Previty.  


“And listen,” said Jack, “if y’ever want to buy me a beer – that’s okay, too.”  To Ervin:  “Right?  If he buys me a beer – or two – right?  That’s okay – as long as he don’t touch anything?”

Ervin shrugged.

“See?” Jack went on.  “That’s okay, then.  Don’t touch.  But paying – that’s no problem!”

“Give him another on me,” I said.  

Ervin smirked.

Senior Bernstein!” said Jack, “Class!  I like that!  Listen – y’ever want me to buy you a six pack – y’know – not here – you tell me.  We’re good that way, see?  You ’n me.”


“I mean it!”

“Thanks.  I don’t really drink beer.  But – ”

”Everyone likes beer!  What – ?  You a whisky man?”

“Uh – ”

“A Doers Man?”


“Doers?  Forget it.  The fuck should I know!  So, Senior – who writes yer bits?”

“My bits?”

“Yer bits.  Yer stuff.”

“I write it.”

“All of it?!”

“Yeah – I – ”

“No shit!?”

“No shit.”

“That’s incredible!  The verb thing?”


“Wrote that yourself?”


“Premature shit?”


“Trigger?”  He stuck his arms in the air, a dead horse.

“I – no – ”


“That was a – my friend gave me that one.”

“Really?  Gave it to ya?  Mighty generous!”


“Stays up late?”


“Must stay up late.  ‘Cause it was on Carson two weeks ago.”

I stared at him, stunned.

“Oh my God!”

“Yeah.  How ‘bout that!”

“Oh shit – I didn’t – you think they knew?!

“I sure as shit did!”

“Oh man – they must think I’m a – ”

“Joke thief?”


“Pfft!  See – you are funny!”

“I didn’t see it on TV – !  I swear!”

“Pal – honestly – nobody fuckin’ cares.”

“I care!”

“You ask yer friend where he got it?”

“No – ”

“Thought he wrote it himself?”

“No.  No.  I thought his brother told him – or – I dunno – ”

“Well, then his brother’s watching Carson.  Shit, it worked, man!  Got a laugh!  That’s what counts!”

“I just – ”

“Bernstein!” Roger called from the main room.

“Yer up, Trigger” said Jack.  “Go getcher number!”


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