This weekend I emceed a fund-raiser for an actor here who was in an accident and, being an actor, has no insurance. My initial plan for today’s post was to simply post the video of my opening “warm up the crowd” routine. This proved problematic when there was no crowd except the benefit organizers and a few people who were there for other reasons. On the “warmed up” scale, the room would have to be measured in Kelvin.
People did eventually come, (and it, of course, made sense that people weren’t punctual for a 6-hour festival of entertainers) but by then my routine made no sense. I thought as people came in, I’d litter my bits throughout the evening, but things were very fluid and the evening kept mutating until finally I had nothing to do.
It was intended to be an evening of performers telling stories and bands playing, but once a bar band has Nigel Tufnel’ed their way through “Chain Of Fools” you’d feel silly getting up and talking about how, say, you decided to change careers after a soulful crisis of conscience. So the story-tellers, one by one, came and said they’d reaaaally rather not go on.
It’s worth noting that the venue the actor had chosen – for some reason – was a well-known dive bar. I think it fits the persona he has going for himself, but It’s literally 100 yards from the theater the actor’s mother helped found. But who needs that; he went with dive bar. So it was fine, but not a welcoming location. As a friend said, “Do you get the sense that if a parole officer came in for a drink, he’d know half the people here?”
And I hope the evening helped him, but it’s hard to imagine how – at a suggested $3 donation at the door, unless there were about 12,000 people there I didn’t notice, it’s hard to imagine it was more than a drop in the bucket for covering a long hospital stay. The actor was even selling muffins (because who doesn’t want a muffin when they’re out drinking and dancing), and I thought, “So, 20 muffins at a buck a piece, that’s not even cab fare home from the hospital…)
I went up to each band in turn and asked what they wanted me to include in their intro. And none of them knew what I meant. I thought that was strange. That’s basic self-promotion: “What gross exaggerations and flat-out lies do you want me to tell about you in order to get the crowd fired up about you?” But I think most of the earlier acts were used to walking up, plugging in, saying, “Hey. We’re the band. You guys ready to party?” to a room full of drunks who are not listening, and then launching in to “Mustang Sally” for the billionth time. One band did just that, even though they knew I was supposed to introduce them up with my hilarious banter.
So finally, after conferring with the organizers, I just stopped introducing anyone and hung out in the back.
Bummer, though, that I’d really worked on my opening routine – and it included one of my favorite jokes I’ve written in a long, long time. And I never even got to say it! So, here are some highlights, for your non-video, context-free enjoyment, of my routine:
(the actor was on his bike when he was in the accident) As you know, we’re here to support a really great cause. We’re here to raise money for… I don’t know… I think it’s for a little boy who wants to buy a bicycle? Or something? I wasn’t really paying attention.
So (actor’s) medical bills are pretty massive. And, I know, a lot of people complain about the cost of medical bills, but I say you get what you pay for. And American health care happens to be 500 times better than any other health care in the world! It’s that simple! Oh sure, people go on about the French system and how good it is. But, you know what? I was in France once, and got sick. And my so-called “doctor”? Didn’t even speak English.
And don’t even get me started on the Canadian system. Please. I knew a guy who had to go the hospital in Canada and his doctor was a horse. That’s a 100% true story, except for the part about the horse. And Canada. But I did know a guy who went to the hospital. Oh, yeah, it’s (actor)! He’s right over there, you all know him!
So as the evening goes along, anything you can give will help. 20, 10, even 5 thousand dollars will make a difference. You won’t even notice it’s gone.
Ah, thank you, thank you. You’ve been a great crowd. And by you, I mean you, the readers…