The Last LaughSeptember 17, 2015
It was a classic sort of a club. A real hole in the wall. You know the place. Bad food, bad beer, and terrible patrons. Type of people you wouldn’t mind seeing in the obituaries.
So why’d anyone ever go to that dump? I’ll tell you why. Cause of me. Cause of Jimmy Orlean. I made those yokels hack up their chili dogs and watered-down liqueur with every punchline. I was the man.
This ain’t me bragging, this is the truth. My truth. No difference between the two, either. They’re one and the same. Cause I’m a straight shooter.
I’d been doing my thing there for 41 years. Seen legends come and go. Seen ’em get lured away to go be on the idiot box. Got some offers myself. Turned ’em down. It’s called integrity. Course you don’t know what that means, no one does these days.
‘Specially not that hack Nick Stock. What kinda name is that, huh? He thought he was shit so hot it would melt the sun. Guy worked out everyday and had a tan in December.
Normally those guys make my day. The delusion about who and what they are makes me giddy. But this guy, this guy wanted to be a comedian. This 25 year-old bodybuilder wanted to tell jokes.
Fit ain’t funny. Don’t care who you are or where you from. Success ain’t funny. You don’t get funny by fucking the cheerleader and her twin sister. You get funny by getting your teeth knocked out by the one who did.
The audience didn’t know this. Within three weeks of his debut he was getting more laughs than me. He was getting belly laughs. Faces got red, people had trouble breathing, and they’d be slapping their paws together between every joke.
It irked me, sure. But I’d been upstaged before. It never lasted long. Soon the newbies gimmicks would get old. They never had the work ethic to keep it up and grow with the times.
With Nick it never got old. He was batting 1000 every night. When the owner realized that, the changes came. First my time got shaved. Just a minute or two in the beginning. But by the end of it I was lucky to have a minute or two on stage at all.
I’d always been a drinker. But during that time I drank as much as I had in the last 60 years combined.
After I began to shit blood on a daily basis, I went to the doctor. Thought maybe I had a problem, I don’t know, it was a hunch. He told me I was done for. No beating around the bush. No possible solutions. I was a dead man walking.
So, day after hearing that, I did one last set. Didn’t tell anyone about my health. Just took the five minutes I had on stage and made the audience laugh. Felt exactly like when I was just starting out. When all I had was my wit and my charisma, no fancy rep to get the audience riled up. It was a good crowd, no hecklers or frat boys that night.
Afterwards I sat at the bar. Waiting for Nick’s set. I wasn’t even his opener. As he worked I wrote down what he was saying. Word for word, fart noise for fart noise. I put it down on paper. I got this this thing where if I write something down I never forget it, don’t matter if I read it again or not, the stuff just sticks with me.
When he was done he came over to the bar. I bought him a drink and gave him a talk. I complimented his shtick and played with his ego. I pandered to him. He listened and laughed. I bought him another drink, and kept on doing so until he was drunk. When the club closed I brought him over to my place.
I showed him some photos of me back in the day. I looked so young in those photos, I had a full head of black hair and was actually pretty trim. Standing in that apartment I was a balding old man with a pot belly.
Nick ended up telling me he’d always been a fan. So I offered him something special. A once in a lifetime chance to see my original 30 minute set live. A re-enactment of sorts. He said he had to hear it.
I got my prop bag I used for parties from under my bed, then came back and started. Telling those jokes was like slipping on a perfect pair of slippers. Nick laughed his ass off.
But halfway through, I stopped telling my jokes. I started telling his instead. That’s when he stopped laughing. Not because he realized what I was doing, he was too wasted for that. Nope, the jokes just weren’t funny. He knew it. He gave polite chuckles, but he knew it wasn’t good comedy.
After I had enough of the horseshit run around, I decided I’d do some physical jokes. I was never much into those, thought they were kiddy shit, but I felt they were right for Nick. I pulled out the big dildo, that got a laugh. Pulled out Alan the Anti-semitic Puppet and did some cheesy German accent, even that shit got a laugh.
Finally I had enough. I told him to wait one second while I got the best prop I had. It was in my bedroom, in the top dresser drawer hidden under some socks and inside a wooden box. I brought it out to show him. It looked just like a real life revolver. I told him I used to psych out the audience by acting real depressed and saying I was gonna kill myself. Then once I got them to convince me not to, I’d turn it on them and pull the trigger. They’d nearly have a heart attack, then they’d laugh their guts out. I showed him the inside of the chamber where I put “blanks.” He told me they were very realistic looking. I pointed it at his handsome face and smiled, he smiled back. Then I pulled the trigger.
That prop blew his brains out.
I told my final joke, suppose it was more of a gag. The police didn’t find it too funny, though. Neither did the judge.
But I think once I kick the bucket in their custody they will. After all, who wouldn’t laugh at a dead man on death row?