When I mentioned in a previous post that I once performed a stand-up comedy routine, many of you asked for details. Being willing
to whore myself out for attention a friendly and responsive blogger, today I’m going to tell you about it. And, if you are willing to send me a VCR and a device that transfers VHS tapes to DVD, I would even be willing to put the performance up on my blog. (Yes … the whole debacle is on the ancient recording device known as a VHS tape. Remember those clunky things? No? God, you’re young! However, I’m fairly confident no one will send me this equipment, which is why I can so blithely make this offer.) So, anyway, on with the post.
How This Came About
I was in my early 20s—brash and overconfident as only 20-year-olds can be. I saw a blurb in an adult education brochure for a stand-up comedy class. I’d always believed I had the makings of a stand-up comic, so I signed up. In retrospect, I realize I should have dropped out the first day of class when the instructor told us his comedy idol was Andrew Dice Clay. I should have known right then I wasn’t going to learn too much about the comedy I was interested in (which would be funny comedy).
The class was a nightmare. We were essentially left to our own devices to write a 5-minute comedy routine. At the end of the 6-week class, we would perform our comedy routine at a local bar, which sponsored a comedy night once a week. It was like never having swum in your life and being thrown in the deep end of the pool. Only stubbornness and my misguided belief that I was a comedy star just waiting to be discovered kept me in the class.
Each week, the instructor reviewed our routines and offered “advice.” Let me tell you: Coming up with a comedy routine from scratch is freaking hard. All those stand-ups on TV make it look easy, but I’m here to tell you it isn’t. I spent the first three weeks of the six week class struggling to find a topic I could talk about for five minutes that was even marginally funny. Finally, I reached deep into
my boundless imagination an old shoebox and found a paper that my friends and I had created in our freshman year of high school about “never before seen” Brady Bunch episodes. Stealing shamelessly from my old friends without permission Using this as a starting point, I managed to cobble together a routine that was intended to play off my All-American girl image (i.e., the fact that I looked like I was 12).
I actually unearthed my note cards that I used on stage that night so I’m actually able to recreate almost the entire routine word for word. All that is missing is my shaky delivery, the smell of beer and cigarettes, and the complete absence of laughter. So here it is—my ground-breaking, barrier-smashing comedy routine. I’ve inserted my own commentary in italics.
When I was younger, I belonged to a really tough Girl Scout troop …
(Here the audience yelled out “How tough was it?” and threw me off my carefully calibrated timing. An awkward pause followed while I attempted to recover from this unanticipated audience participation.)
(Because nothing makes people laugh like invoking Satan!)
While other girls learned to cook, sew and camp, we learned:
- How to survive solitary imprisonment when wrongly imprisoned
- Painless amputation with a Girl Scout pocket knife
- How to disarm muggers with DoSiDo cookies.
While other girls played with dolls, we learned to use nunchucks and practiced hand to hand combat.
Yeah…we were tough.
(This time I’m ready for it but the audience remains mute. I continue on.)
We were so tough, we didn’t wear beanies, we had green berets.
We were so tough, whiles other girls roasted marshmallows, we gave each other tattoos with cattle prods.
We were so tough, the Rolling Stones hired us bodyguards at the Altamont concert.
(Way to include an outdated cultural reference that most audience members probably won’t understand! Consider that this was the early 1990s; it wasn’t the early 1970s when an Altamont reference would have been relevant or understood. I’ll wait while you Google it.)
It may not surprise you that we sold more cookies than other troops. Perhaps it was our unique selling methods: blackmail, extortion, torture.
A typical cookie-selling encounter went like this: “We have nude photos of your wife. Wanna buy some cookies?”
We used the profits to buy assault rifles to keep the Boy Scouts off our back.
We had some unique badges: Alligator Wrestling, Big Game Hunting, Counterinsurgency.
It may not surprise you that David Lynch, director of Blue Velvet, Eraserhead, Wild at Heart and Twin Peaks was a fan of our troop.
(Yet another off-beat reference! I’m sure most of the bar patrons were big fans of this cult director. I CANNOT believe I didn’t break out into mainstream comedy. <—–sarcasm.)
This got me to thinking, what if David Lynch directed the Brady Bunch?
(Talk about an awkward and nonsensical segue! But I only had about 2 minutes of “original” material and had to fill another three minutes.)
Mike and Carol go out believing Cindy has a slight case of the sniffles and she falls into a PCP coma.
Marsha’s job selling ladies underwear is threatened when Greg applies for the same job.
12-year-old American-Asian triplets show up at the house and call Mr. Brady “Dad.”
Bobby and Peter sneak into Sam’s meat locker and find dozens of frozen 13-year-olds.
A local newspaper exposes Mr. Brady as a leader of a Satanic cult … and …
(Wait for it … wait for my killer last line to bring it all home…)
…the killer of Laura Palmer.
(Oh My God! I somehow manage to tie the David Lynch and Brady Bunch themes together by referencing a somewhat popular cult TV show at the time. Is this genius or what? And, not content to leave them with with this classic line, I throw in a joke my dad told me that does not apply in any way at all to any of the material I delivered before.)
I heard there is a new radio station in town – WPMS. It plays three weeks of the blues and then a week of ragtime.
The End. Thank goodness.
A Final Analysis
Can you believe I actually got up in front of people and performed this routine? Can you believe that I invited all my co-workers to see my performance that night … including my boss … knowing what kind of routine I was going to deliver? Can you believe that pretty much all my co-workers came to the performance?
Actually, that last one is pretty easy to believe. I know I wouldn’t pass up a chance to see a coworker
commit social suicide perform stand-up.
In working on this post, I am agog that I actually did this. What the hell was I thinking? And for an extra little treat for making it through this whole post, a photo of me performing my routine on stage in my one and only night as a stand-up comic.
I wore contacts back then. And was thinner.
I thought the outfit was “sexy.”
Notice the fake little handkerchief in the blazer pocket.
Nothing says sexy like a fake hanky in a blazer.