One of the better circuits for a performer in the 1970’s and 1980’s was The Playboy Club nightclub circuit. Among the ones I worked at were the resort in Great Gorge, New Jersey, along with Los Angeles and New York City.
My booking at the New York Playboy Club happened at the most inopportune time. It was the winter of 1978, and one of the biggest blizzards ever recorded hit the New York area. Somehow I was able to make my way from my parents’ house on Long Island into Manhattan for the show, despite the fact that all rail service and bus service was suspended. But when I got backstage at the club, I was informed that there were only 6 people in the audience. This was in a 1000 seat theatre. And my good fortune included the fact that the 6 were non-English speaking Japanese businessman.
On stage I went, as usual, through snow and sleet and ice and hail or whatever that thing is. And there, in about row 30 in a sea of emptiness, sat my 6 Japanese fans. I figured I was done for, but unexpectedly, they began laughing at every sentence that came out of my mouth. They had no idea what I was saying, but they laughed anyway, perhaps because they understood I was a comedian, and they were supposed to laugh at me. I did my 40 minutes, steady laughs throughout, and walked off to the biggest ovation you’ve ever heard from 6 people in a 1000 seat theatre. I think I even saw a few cameras flash.
To this day I’ll never know how or why, but I do know that I was never a bigger hit. Thank goodness they didn’t understand me.
I remember the joke that made Carson crack up. No better feeling than making The King laugh!
My girlfriend’s 6-year-old grandson is a somewhat hyper and wild little kid, always getting in trouble and pushing the adults to the limits of their tolerance. Recently he was pestering me mercilessly, carrying on and being bad. I turned to him in the sternest adult admonishing voice I could muster, and I said with my finger pointing, “Look, I’m only gonna say this once!” His frozen gaze beseeched me to continue. “Just once,” I repeated. “I am only going to say it ONCE!” There was an awkward moment of silence, and suddenly he replied, “Well, say it!” At that moment I realized I actually had nothing at all to say, no point to make, nothing in reserve, just my empty rhetorical threat. I said, “I’ll say it when I’m ready, because it’s only gonna be one time!” He looked at me pleadingly and said, “Just whisper it in my ear.” As if this was a secret between him and me, to the exclusion of everyone else around, most notably his parents. I held my ground, reminding myself there was nothing to say. But this is the great thing about dealing with a 6-year-old: he has no filter, everything is in black and white, and his brain is not developed to the point where logic could tell him that I was bluffing. The best part of this is that it’s been several weeks since this event and I have used the same line at least a dozen times. Every time he’s acting maniacal and I warn, “I’m only gonna say it once,” he gets more frustrated and he demands, “JUST SAY IT ALREADY!” He still hasn’t caught on. And I’m going to milk this until one day the jig is up, when he realizes it’s all been a bluff. And after that the next time he misbehaves I’ll just say to him, “Do I have to say it again????”
They always say there are only two sure things, death and taxes. But that saying overlooks one other sure, and definitely more frequent nemesis: LAUNDRY. You see, death only occurs once for each person, unless you’re a Cubs fan, and taxes happen once annually, unless you are in the top 1% and don’t pay any. But laundry, ah, yes having to clean our clothes, well, that never ends. It can be once every few days, weekly, or daily. Indeed, the minute you get that stuff out of the dryer and put away, a new batch begins. So why don’t more people complain about laundry? We can’t escape it, avoid it, or get rid of it. Even homeless people with those stolen shopping carts have extra clothes. Where are they doing their laundry? And to make matters more laborious, we now have to strategize on how best to wash our clothes. Gentle cycle, hand wash, or heavy duty? One rinse or two? Fabric softener and/or static sheet for the dryer? Hang dry or machine? Fragrance free no dyes or perfumes detergent or regular? Laundry is clearly a bigger burden than taxes, death, or almost any other part of our daily lives. So what I’ve learned to do is embrace my laundry, cherish it, look forward to it, and plan my day around it. So here’s to laundry. How boring life would be without it!
In 1976 I was still getting my feet wet as a comedian, but I had begun to establish myself on the east coast club circuit and was getting bookings as a headliner. My best friend was Larry David, who although brilliantly funny (at least to all his fellow comics), didn’t translate as well to audiences. He thus didn’t really work the comedy club circuit outside of the New York City area.
I got myself booked at a Philadelphia comedy room called Grandma Minnie’s. Because the owner liked and respected me, I asked if I could bring my friend Larry David with me to open. He said yes and off we went for a week in Philly. The shows were fine and nondescript, but one day we were knocking around the city, sightseeing and hanging around. We decided to go to Constitution Hall, the reverent shrine where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Larry and I walk in, and oddly, we were the only tourists in there that day, or that hour. We went down a hallway and came upon a room…THE room…where the actual Declaration was signed. When we walked in we could see the area was cordoned off with a plush velvet rope; on the other side were about 25 rows of ornate 18th century chairs. There was a raised stage with about 8 more chairs, and a lecturn. This was the lecturn at which our founding fathers gave their speeches and signed the declaration. Larry and I looked at each other and marveled how right there, 30 feet away from where we stood, Franklin, Jefferson, Hancock et al spoke and led their brethren to independence. We were in awe. And then, suddenly without warning, Larry climbed over the velvet ropes, romped up onto the stage and up to the lecturn, and began to bellow in a British accent: “My fellow compatriots, we will not allow the British to refuse us our liberty, we must sign our document of independence…” I was laughing uncontrollably at crazy Larry, incredulous and shocked at his nerve. Suddenly a security guard ran into the room and upon seeing Larry started screaming, “You two get the hell out of here before you are put under arrest!” Larry bolted down from the stage and we ran up a staircase and out a door, laughing hysterically, all the while with the security guard in hot pursuit. When we got outside we kept on running. To this day I can still palpably feel the adrenaline of perhaps the craziest stunt I’ve ever been involved in. All thanks to Larry David. It was such a good idea to get him on the show with me. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished.
Now that the subject of reforming entitlements in the name of Medicare and Social Security is being bandied about in politics and on TV, I have a suggestion for bringing to a close another type of entitlement which has plagued many internet daters for a long time. That is the sense of entitlement that many women — and men — who participate in online dating seem to have in choosing a potential partner. You see, in the real world when a guy and gal meet, it’s the initial chemistry which determines whether they experience that spark that leads to more dating and exploration. It’s generally not a “what can you do for me” mindset that drives the opening dating salvos. But with internet dating, part of the initial process in setting up a profile is to lay out and establish parameters on what you want and expect from that person who wishes to go out with you. For men, there really aren’t a lot of requirements, just that the lady is interesting and attractive to them. There is indeed some sense of physical entitlement for certain men, like at least a long deep kiss at the end of a date. This is especially true if they’ve sprung for dinner as opposed to coffee at Starbucks. But this is a more innate issue which exists even for non-internet daters. For many women online, however, there is a pre-set list of conditions that qualify as life long entitlements. If you want to date me, you have to be fairly wealthy; you have to take me on vacations around the world; you have to like to do the same things as I do; you must be able to support me; and in general you have to court me, wine and dine me, and make me laugh — a lot! There is a sense of entitlement here that dictates what she expects from a man. But then, one question I always ask myself is, what does she bring to the table? It’s very easy, especially in our culture, for a woman to have a list of expectations from a man. But the converse is usually not considered. What would a woman think if a guy online asked her if she was well off enough to take care of him, or if she could assure him she’d watch ESPN with him seven hours a day? If we did away with all entitlement programs for daters it would be an even playing field. More importantly, it would give them a chance to experience their date based solely on the synergy and kinetic chemistry that these two people have. And if we did away with dating entitlements, we’d all have more money saved to spend on ourselves when our real entitlements like Medicare and Social Security are insolvent in the future.
My first post is set to coincide with the release of my new book, “Please Don’t Let This Be Her!” It’s the account of my journey into cyberspace to find my true love. After trying internet dating for a few years and suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous women, I wrote about my experiences in a way that I think will be downright hilarious not to mention informative. You know how they say “You couldn’t write this stuff”? Well, I did, and though it was a frustrating and somewhat painful series of dating horror stories, I’m glad I did it and am better for it. The most insightful thing I learned is that we are all somewhat flawed and eccentric, and to find a partner in life we must accept that and look for someone who shares our disposition and melds with our personalities. On the blog I will not only muse about love, dating, and relationships, but also about the foibles of everyday life that can lead us to laugh at our humanity. I look forward to hearing from you as I put forth my thoughts and insights.