jack to open


By late April, 1981, I had performed 40 times.

After the Corral Show I tried to drop Plrknib and DC-10 and Make me a sandwich and toss in newer bits – a VD joke, a Neediest Kids of All joke, more commercials.  But if a show was going south I found myself jumping back into Plrknib, automatically.  

I was playing Scrabble with my identical twin sister

It was still a life raft.  The laughs were too big.  

And meanwhile, Drew had gotten a Saturday opening spot.  And now, on Wednesday night, Roger announced that Jack Previty had gotten one, too.


“He’s got a local following.  There are people – believe it or not – that come just to see Jack on a regular basis.  He’s a favorite.”

“Yeah, but c’mon – !  C’mon!  I mean – what’s the criteria, now?!  Are you telling me my act isn’t as good as his?!”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Well, say it.  Say it to me and I’ll shut up.  I’ll leave you alone!  I’ll shut up about the whole thing.”

“He has a following.  There’s a certain crowd – ”

“Is my act – at least – as good as Jack’s?  Have I not been working on my act?”

“You have been.  Things have been going well.”


“Look – ”

“Tell me my act is as good as Jack’s!  Please!  Give me that little bit – ”

“Your act is as good as Jack’s.”

“Thank you.”

“But he has a following that – ”

“Oh, c’mon!”

“Look – I’ve got Saturday’s booked for a month.  Maybe in a month.”

“A month!?”

“Maybe.  Maybe more than – ”

“Okay – in a month – you’ll give me a Saturday?”

“I’ll see what I can do.”


“It’s a lot more work.”

“I know.”

“You’ve got to fill half an hour!”

“I know.”

“Half an hour!”

“I know!”

“I’m just telling you.  I want to be clear.  I can’t promise you a certain date.  But you should start thinking about it, now.  Half an hour is a long, long time.  A long time.”

“I know.  I know how long half an hour is.”

“Whatever you think it is, it’s longer than that.  I honestly don’t know that I’ve seen half an hour in your act.  I’m being frank with you.”

“Oh, come on.  I was writing a new act every week for the first three months!”

“I know.”

“I promise you – I can fill half an hour.”

“Well, you’ll have to.  That’s how it works.”

“I will.  I can.”


It would’ve been easier to simply not care about Saturdays; to not let it get to me.  In truth, I probably couldn’t put a whole kick-ass half hour together – certainly not without Plrknib and the others.  But I hated the thought of being left behind.


At the bar, with Jack.

“Congratulations on Saturday,” I said.

“Should’ve gotten one weeks ago,” said Jack.  “How y’think I should spend my $25?”

“Well, at least you can say you opened.”

“Yeah, well, that’s somethin’, huh?”

“You’re not excited?”

“I did Saturdays six months ago!  Remember?  We did plenty of Saturdays back then.”

“We didn’t have headliners then.  It was just another ordinary night.”

“Wasn’t ordinary to me.”

“Are you pissed you’re opening?”

“I’m thrilled,” he said, swigging his seltzer.  He hadn’t had a drop of alcohol in three weeks.

I folded a bar napkin into a cootie catcher.

“It’s a day,” said Jack.  “Saturday, Thursday.  Makes fuck-all to me.  Now, I’ve gotta fill 25-30 minutes?  Shit.”

“You don’t have to do it.”

“I’ll do it – but it’s a lotta fuckin’ work for 25 bucks.”


Jack looked at me sideways.

“Hasn’t asked you yet?  What’s he want you to do?  Pay him for the spot?  Jeez.”

“He said he’s workin’ out a night for me.”


“In a month.”


“I dunno,” I said.  “I think I’m ready.”


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