One of the twisted joys of this trip is watching Pete and Torio grow accustomed to comedy on the road. A lot of people think comedy is non-stop fun when in reality it's a lot of blank stares and deep thought until that one brief, yet glorious moment when you've figured out how to end a skit, a joke, or a conversation with that woman you've just mugged. I derive pleasure from watching the guys' hearts sink as they watch hours of comedy at these clubs -- they are learning how tough and cruel and strange it can often be.
Bookers, for example, are hilarious. They're often a mix of deadbeat dad and 13-year old girl. As you may or may not know, about two weeks before we arrive somewhere, I call and set-up guest spots at clubs. Yesterday I received a call from Larry* from space*.
He said, "Is this funnyman Joe Piccirillo?" He sounded like Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog.
"Yes," I replied.
"I want you to come in for a guest spot on Wednesday,' he continued.
"Great. Of course. Who is this again?" I asked. I had made about 8 calls to clubs in the area and didn't have my spreadsheet of booker names in front of me.
Larry replied,"If you don't know who I am, then forget it!"
Then, he hung up. This actually happened. I called back the club and some woman intercepted the call. She told me that Larry can be hurt and offended easily and that I should try to "reconnect" with him later. I pictured him stretched out on the bed on his stomach with his feet in the air reading Cosmo.
After 2 more calls that day, I finally got him on the line. I told him that of course I knew who he was -- the problem was my phone connection.
"I run the top club in space* three years in a row!" he yelled.
"Larry*, I know. That's why I called you," I replied.
It was still a strained relatioship. Then, a few hours later I received four(4) calls from the guy. Apparently, our press agent had gotten us in the local paper. Suddenly, everything was fine.
"Funnyman Joe Piccirillo, you must come to my club!"
As soon as I arrived, he welcomed us and offered me a great selection of tap waters from behind the bar and toilet from which to choose.
Then, he introduced me to his kids.
"Hey! Kids! This guy's from Boston!" he yelled. The kids ingnored him and continued talking.
"You kids shutcha heads!"
He handed me a pen and asked me to sign my name on the big board behind the stage. I've never seen a room filled with signatures of comics I've never heard of... even accidentally. I would be joining the ranks of Roger Millford and Agnes Sigler. Finally.
So what did I write?
I printed my name. Printed it. The last time I printed my name was in 7th grade. Don't worry. I used quick thinking: I signed my name over the printed name so it looked like I was retarded. To make matters worse, I wrote just above my name: "I'm funny."
it's good when you have to convince a wall and the people looking at it that you're funny.
Luckily, I used it during my set. When a joke fell flat, I simply pointed at my quote to reassure the audience.
The show was successful and so we celebrated... by ordering Domino's pizza and watching reruns of the Golden Girls on Lifetime. Good times in Cleveland.
*booker and club names changed to protect my future bookings.