The Corral Show went great until they physically pulled me off stage.
The house was packed. It was a cool spring evening, and it seemed as if everyone – every man, woman and child in Wyoming – had come to the Civic Center to see this little variety show. Maybe they’d come to see Paul Adam’s magic act, or the senior girls perform the Bunny Hop, or Bob and the band boys perform She’s a Witch! Who knows? But there were hundreds of people there. Standing room only.
Mike Irwin had gotten a Saturday spot opening at the eye. He was the first of us – of the original, core group of comics – to break through that wall. I knew he’d be first. No one deserved to open more than Mike, and I was thrilled for him. We’d become good friends, traded albums, worked on each other’s acts, paced each other. Mike going up was a confirmation for the rest of us. We’d put in the hours. Now, more than ever, I knew it was possible.
“Not ready,” said Roger.
“I am. Really. I really am!”
“Soon. Keep working.”
Day of the Corral Show. At home, in the kitchen.
I was working on a script and Mom was making homemade soup. She had recently discovered the Cusinart food processor – a new cooking tool with rapidly spinning blades – and I thought Mom + Cusinart = blood + hospital visits = new material.
Wednesday night. Corral Show dress rehearsal.
I hadn’t heard from Ann in days, but decided to stay in the Corral Show, anyway.
I was a senior. It would be my last year at Wyoming, and I wanted to give the performance as a going away present to the class, the town, the school, and myself. I would do my act, exposing myself – for better and worse – to the people I’d grown up with for the past ten years. Performing for people who had driven me to do comedy as a matter of survival. It would be a rite of passage.
I had been rehearsing my act for a couple weeks now, and felt good about it. As I came backstage Sara McCloskey, a Prep, former class president, and one of the student producers of the show, trotted over, smiling.
“Hey there,” said Sara. “We’d like you to cut one of the jokes from your act.”
Bob ate lunch with Doug Borges and Charlie Martins. At the entrance to the gym area, a list had been posted. I read the list, and infuriated, tore it off the door, walked over to Bob’s table, and thrust it at him.
“What the hell is this?” I said.
“What?” said Bob.
“She’s a Witch?”
“You signed up to do a Monty Python sketch?”
“Yeah. Is that okay, your highness?”
“No. It’s not okay.”
Mole’s Used Records.
I leafed through the K’s – King Crimson, Kings, Kinks –
“Hey – man – ” said a UC student with afro and a ripped flannel shirt, “I saw you – I saw you – at the eye last night! Plrknib!”
“Good stuff, man! Yer okay!”
He reached past me into the K bin, pulled out a Kings album.
“Oh shit! Amazon Beach! It’s out of print!”
Wyoming High School. Late October. The office of Ken Miller, laconic guidance counselor with a graying Beatle’s haircut.
“I want to get into the WHY program.”
“You missed the cut-off,” said Ken.
“I know – but it hasn’t started yet, right? You’re still picking students?”
“It starts next week – but – ”
He looked through my records, grimaced.
“Wow,” he said. “There’s no way you could do WHY.”
“Because – ?”
“You’ve got a C-minus average.”
Sample Six Pistols sketch
Scene: Generic game show music comes up. WINK MARTINDALE addresses the audience. Nearby, are JOHN DAVIDSON, FRANK W. DIXON, and TED NUGENT. They stand near the Amazon River.
WINK: Hi, I’m Wink Martinjerk, and you’ve tuned in to Celebrity Piranha Kicking! This is South America – the Amazon River! Today, we’ve got John Davidson, famous author Frank W. Dixon and Ted Nugent.
By 5th, 6th and 7th grades I was being bullied by kids of all races, creeds, and genders. Kids who were being bullied by other kids bullied me. Disabled children bullied me. Friends let friends bully me. Bullying me was like a local Rite of Passage. You just weren’t anyone in Wyoming if you didn’t beat me up, first.
This is a story about comedy.
When you write a story about comedy – about anything, really – you form a contract with your reader and certain expectations are created. So if I’d written, say, a book about a dog, you might ask, well, what kind of dog? And I might say a Maltese Shih Tzu. And you might say, oh, oh, great, and start reading.
So, upon hearing that this story is about comedy, you might ask: well, is it funny? And the answer, honestly, is no.