Window Laughing

Window Laughing

(Shaking Off Some Rust)


I recently did the strangest show I’ve ever done in all of my years in comedy. Since that would be over the span of 38 years, you know it’s got to be very strange. Then again, these are strange times.

The last real show I’ve done in front of an audience was March 14, 2020. I’ve done a few minutes hosting shows for my graduating classes. I also did a short set in October at one of my students open mikes. That did not go well.

I was rusty as hell, it was the first time I was doing my act in ten months. I would do a line and forget what came next. What came naturally wasn’t coming. I was on top of my game when everything came to a halt. Here I was like I was starting all over again.

My point is, if you’re not doing it, you get stale. I need to do it a few times to get back into a groove. Hey, The Rolling Stones always rent a rehearsal space for a month or so to practice before they go out on tour. This despite the fact they’ve been doing this for almost sixty years.

Sixty years, seriously? Man, those guys are old.

Anyway, let’s get to the strange show. It was a drive in show but, not at a drive in. It’s January, in Pittsburgh. To do an actual show at a drive in, we’d have to stand outside, In January, in Pittsburgh.

What we did was stand in the window of the office of “Slapsticks Productions.” I should mention the office shares a building with an Aamco. As the cars pulled in we didn’t know if they were coming for the show or transmission work…maybe both.

As I was leaving the house, my wife Chrissie asked,

“So what do you do? Stand in the window and start doing your act and hope somebody will stop?”

No, things are not that desperate yet. Not that we may not get there. People actually had to reserve a spot, ten car or truck capacity.

So there I was, standing in a window telling my jokes. I felt like a live holiday display. I’m showing my age here. They used to have holiday displays in the windows of downtown department stores. That’s when there were department stores downtown Pittsburgh.

Kaufman’s was always the best…again I show my age. Kaufman’s was Macy’s before Macy’s went out of business. In between it was briefly something else. I think it was Joe’s Department Store.

The problem with Joe’s was too much name branding. Everything was Joe’s. It made it sound used. I mean, who wants to try on a pair of Joe’s pants? Or wear Joe’s shoes or socks?

It was the day I accidentally walked through the lingerie department when it was finally enough. That’s when I saw Joe’s panties…that sick bastard deserved to go out of business.

Anyway, back to the window show. We were in the window, they were in the car. No way to hear the laughs. What we got were flashing headlights and honking horns. If that was the response you could have expect from comedy, I would’ve quit long ago.

I just was looking to say my act out loud. The things I screwed up the first show, I fixed for the second. I actually did better with the second show, even though it was a smaller audience (Less Cars). I got more honks.

The only thing that kept it from being completely weird is the other two comics were laughing behind the backdrop I was performing in front of.

Wow, appreciating laughter from two people. Doing comedy in front of a live audience can really suck it there are only two people. How do I know this? Because, I’ve done it.

Most places will cancel a show unless at least they get ten people minimum. It makes it better for everyone. That’s if they know what they’re doing.

A few years ago I was working a badly run place in Oregon where they really didn’t know what they were doing. It paid really well, so you put up with it. Anyway, the Saturday night late show was about to start in about three minutes and there wasn’t a single customer in the audience. Surely the show would be canceled and we’d get paid anyway.

Right at show time, the girl running the room walked into the sound both that served as a green room and said,

“Lady and gentleman…and I do mean lady and gentleman. A couple just came in so we can do the show.”

Two people! We’re going to do a show for two people. I was furious but, I didn’t say anything. That’s because at that moment I realized my friend Nick, whose last name I won’t mention…Everyone know it’s you Gaza!

Turns out, a couple weeks before, Nick had made this girl cry for having him do a show in front of four people. I just kept my mouth shut and plowed through. It was bad enough trying to perform to two people. It would have been worse if I had to listen to her sobbing at the same time.

Hopefully, things will start getting back to normal soon. I miss the laughs. For now, I’ll just have to settle for flashing headlights and honking horns…Hey, at least I enjoy “Big Honkers.”

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