friday

mad-magician1
The eye.  

I was third, as usual, and pumped.  Jack, of course, wasn’t there.  And I tried not to feel guilty about getting the opening spot at his expense.  Would Roger really have put me up in another month?  Was he just throwing me a bone for all of my begging?  It didn’t matter.  The fact was if he didn’t think I was ready he wouldn’t have given me the spot.  

My ten minutes that night went fine.  Three-and-a-half stars, maybe three-and-three-quarters, even.  I was excited for Saturday, and playing to Roger as much as anyone else.  My bits were tight and I was full of energy.  He wanted my A-game, and here was ten pure minutes of it.  And, of course, all of the New York bits were in there:  CETA, DC-10, Make Me a Sandwich, and Plrknib.  Now, I needed to be as tight and strong as possible.  Ethical or not, it was no time to back off of bits that worked.

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mike

please

Saturday night.  

I walked into the eye and Mike Irwin made a bee line towards me.  Christ, now what?

“Hey,” said Mike.

“Hey,” I said, and started towards the basement.

“Wait!  Wait!” said Mike holding up his hands.  “I know – look – look – I know what you’re thinking – what I said to you the other night – that was messed up – about being a kid and hanging out and everything.  That was wrong.  Way out of line.”

“It’s fine.  No big deal.”

“Yeah.  Yes it is.  It is a big deal.  It was stupid.  Fucked-up.  I mean, who am I?  Who am I saying that kind of bullshit?  Who the fuck do I think I am?”

“It’s really – it’s not – ”

“I’m an asshole.  I mean it.  And I’m sorry.  I formally apologize.  That’s what this is – a complete, formal apology.”

“That’s okay.  Really.”

“Listen – you only go around once, y’know?  You need all the friends you can get.”

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the bible

carter_reagan_ap_605

Late October, 1980.  Governor Reagan and President Carter appeared on TV in their final presidential debate of the election season.  Carter, exhausted from a year-long recession and an unending Iranian hostage crisis, looked like one of those pink, rubber-alien dolls whose eyes pop out when you squeeze it, and he blinked constantly.  My parents were die-hard democrats, but Reagan, at 69, was attractive, chipper, and enthusiastically republican in all his shaky, Grecian-formulaed glory.  

 

At WAIF, John Zeh, a talk show host, was temporarily suspended for using lewd references including Vaseline and vibrating melons on his alternative lifestyle show Gay Dreams.  It had been a slow news week, so Cincinnati District Attorney Simon Leis decided to prosecute Zeh to the full extent of the law, whatever that meant.  A few years earlier, Leis, a backwoods good ‘ole boy, had become notorious for driving Hustler publisher Larry Flynt out of Cincinnati.  Leis had made it his personal mission to clean up the city, removing any inkling of pornographic or prurient behavior.  Over the next year, he would become the primary target for comics at the eye.  

Reacting to the sudden, unwanted media attention, and fearing possible FCC fines, Tom Knox, WAIF’s general manager, told all of us DJs to scrub our shows clean or we’d be off the air, too.  Up until then, the Six Pistol shows had been comprised of our own recorded sketches, cuts from comedy albums and the six of us goofing on each other – which included a fair amount of profanity.

“Can we say damn?”

“Can we say shit?”

“This is public radio!! What about freedom of speech?!  Fuckin’ First Amendment?!”

“So, cocksucker’s out, then?”

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