Thursday, November 14, 2013

Red Light Sucka

Back in the day I did a lot of shows in the Village. I lived around that area so it was easy. McDougal Street was literally Comedy Country. Yes, there were a lot of clubs in Midtown but those were tourist traps. McDougal on the other hand, it was where the heart and soul of the comedy world hung out. It was sort of a comedy utopia, where national headliners who had been HBO and mere fledglings like myself rubbed elbows. While they usually bumped me, which was okay because I was a mere mortal earning my angel wings, I always learned a lot by watching them. Sometimes they would encourage me and have a helpful word of advice. Sometimes they would just tell me to hang in there. The beautiful thing was, because so many of us ran alongside each other anything could happen.

One evening such a thing did. I was at a club called Mo's Comedy Mad House. Located at the back of what was formerly the Thai Hut, a Thai eatery (duh), we had our regulars. Some were open micers like myself, others were national headliners as I said, some were regular drunks like Leo. Mo was always good to me. I always was fed and ate for free. When my set didn't go so hot he always got up to the mic and said, "Lets hear it for April. It's New York and you can see anything here." Sometimes he even threw me a guest spot. However, Mo had his moments where he could administer justice in the way no other club owner could.

It was rumored amongst the comedians Mo had mob ties. No one knew where he got his money to keep his small club standing, plus he lived in a nice flat. I didn't care. The olive skinned, mustached, screamer comedian was always a friend to me. One evening it was an open mic night. It had been an up and down night. I had done a decent set with a few nice laugh breaks and a dead spot or two. Barry Lawrence, my buddy, got up and did well as always. After our sets, Barry and I were at the bar where Barry was helping me clean up a joke that had some promise. Sue Costello had stopped in and was onstage, and Dean Edwards had given us the big hello. Lena Oslo had motioned for us to move over at the bar. She had a great set that night. The dimpled degenerate ordered her usual, and I was ready for a Jack and Coke. Mo fronted the bill despite me being underaged, twenty.

Just after Sue Costello departed the newbies resumed the night. The audience was thankful someone knew what the hell they were doing behind the mic. Just then, this guy got up in this tragic looking suit. He looked as if Upchuck from Daria picked out his clothing. Just then he began his big wet abortion of an act. It was unfunny hack jokes about hitting his girlfriend. The audience listened politely and gave him a pity laugh or two. Barry Lawrence looked at me, held his beer up and said, "This is why I drink." And then downed his beer.

"Damn straight." Lena Oslo said as she engaged in her alcoholism as well.

I joined in. The man continued to groans. This was terrible. Finally Mo was flashing the light after five minutes. There was relief. Somehow, this would be comedic genius didn't see it. He kept going. The light kept flashing. This man kept going. The audience started laughing as Mo's light was doing sort of a fancy light show as she was flashing it, at the point where it was sort of a strobe. The genius wasn't getting it. He thought he was killing!!! So then the audience started clapping for him to get the message. Meanwhile this reality detached numskull was in comedic bliss. Finally Mo gets on the loudspeaker and says, "Yo, I am flashing the light because it means your turn is done man.!" Then the audience began laughing.

"Holy shit." Lena Oslo said as she, Barry, and I burst out laughing. This whole thing was real. I was laughing so hard I fell off the bar stool. I was wearing a dress and fell down accidentally showing the bar my undies.

Barry and Lena picked me up preserving my dignity. The ventriloquist had escaped her turn without bombing. The freakshow onstage was eating it, and we only wanted more. Finally, the idiot said goodnight ant Mo returned to the mic. Dean Edwards took the stage. Talent, punchlines, and show quality were restored. The moron left the stage and joined his girlfriend. They left. As soon as they were out the door, Lena, Barry, and I laughed again. Then we got drunk some more.

You don't want to kill in the wrong way and die a horrible death. You don't want to be the punchline for all the wrong reasons. Hell, you don't want people to keep laughing as soon as you leave the stage cause they really don't want more.

That is why you always obey the red light, sucka!

I Came, I Saw, I Sang:Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl

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