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One of the most clever songwriters and quick-witted live comedians in the business... with his high speed, low-drag act that constantly changes and evolves, Pat has such strong material and improv skills, no two shows are ever the same... not even close.
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What, And Quit Show Business?

IMG_4304It’s December 3, 2014 (Year of the Nasty Divorce), and I have just completed 16 comedy shows on a cruise ship and I have one day off before I start the next 16 shows. I’m burned out, and I could use a night to recharge. The cruise line flies me from Roatán, Honduras to Miami and then gets me on a shuttle to the delightful Doubletree Inn, where they’re putting me up for the night. As soon as I get there, I’m informed that it’s sold out, so I take a taxi to the Comfort Inn where the overflow gets stashed—and rumor has it—it’s not so delightful. The hotel has changed its name to the Clarion, which understandably confuses the cabbie, resulting in a drive that cost one hour and $65 bucks. Adding to the fun is the fact that the cruise line was also oblivious to the name change and had yet to contact the Clarion. An hour and a half later, I still didn’t have a reservation. It’s midnight, so instead of waiting any longer for the hotel to contact the cruise line for verification, I pay for a room, knowing that I’ll be reimbursed. I try to nap a little, which has been nearly impossible since the wife and I broke up. I miss my kids too, so unfortunately, I sleep like a shark.

At 5:55 a.m. the next day, I fly to Cozumel, Mexico red-eyed and saggy tailed. I arrive and spend an hour shuffling through the customs line, which is annoyingly typical. It’s only about 1:30 p.m. and the ships leave around 5 or 6 p.m., so I’m good time-wise. This lovely cattle-drive customs experience leads to a thirty minute cab ride in a packed van with no air conditioning, just a pine tree air freshener long past its due date. Pedro the Aromatic drops me off last. I got to the port at 2 p.m., just in time to find out that my ship left forty minutes ago.

SON. OF. A. BITCH!

Obviously, someone in the cruise line travel office had made a mistake and since it was a private charter the departure time wasn’t posted online, something I always check in case of any travel discrepancies. These things happen, so I go borrow the free Wifi at Señor Frog’s so I can email the person in charge of Travel Emergencies. They reply quickly and tell me that now I have to meet the ship I missed in Roatán, Honduras. I immediately think of Alan Arkin’s alarmed response to being tricked into flying to this dangerous country by Peter Falk in The In-Laws: “Honduras?”, as he bolts for the plane’s door. (Anyone under 40, Netflix it.) “I just got out of Roatán alive yesterday,” I say to myself. I’m told by the cruise line to check my e-mail, keep my phone on (I have no International plan), stay put (Where am I going?) and a port agent will drive me to the first leg of my journey to get me to the ship. (Great.) The port agent arrives, races through traffic and gets me on a rickety ferry that takes me to Playa del Carmen in the 90-degree heat and blazing sun. From there, another port agent (straight out of Central Casting: Mexican Villains Division) in a hot van all out of Freon rushes me to the surprisingly nice Cancun Airport. From there, I fly to the unsurprisingly scary Mexico City Airport, landing at 11:30 p.m., drained of my patience, moisture and will to live. My emergency contact tells me that it’s a six hour layover, and I should just stay at the airport, so I sleep on the floor with my guitar, luggage, and European-style computer bag tied to various parts of my body for safekeeping. I put my genuine fake Rolex, St. Christopher’s medal (some help he’s been) and passport in my underwear, because no one’s been rooting around in there for a while. Ba dum cha!

The next morning, I feel like an arthritic octogenarian after crashing on the hard marble floor. I slowly creak toward the ATM to get some cash for “whatever the f*ck may happen next” and my debit card gets swallowed by the machine. Apparently if you push too many of the wrong Spanish commands, it takes your card. I’m going through a divorce, my credit’s shot and I only have one piece of plastic, so now I’m penniless. SH*T!

The airport security guard, dressed head-to-toe in camouflage and donning a stylish AK-47, shoots me a look. I nod as if to say “I’ll keep it down, Sir.” Despite his terrifying accessories, he looks like he’s about 14. I head to the ticket counter to check my luggage and get my boarding passes, wait in line for 40 minutes only to find out that my Aeromexico flight has changed terminals and the new ticket counter is a cab drive away. “F*CK!” This vulgarity, familiar to all cultures, and loud as all f*ck, can be heard in Chile. Security boy shoots me another look. I hold his gaze for a full five seconds and then mime for him to please shoot me, shoot me now, por favor.

I have no cab fare, so I hoof it approximately a mile with my guitar, large bag and man purse to my new Aeromexico ticket counter. Soaking wet from the 99% humidity and badly in need of a knee replacement and a heart shunt, I make it to my gate with ten minutes to spare. Flight 397 to San Salvador, with an on time departure of 5:30 a.m., is a turbulent one and normally would scare the food court fajitas out of me, but I’m unusually calm. I’m reading over my divorce papers—I welcome death. When I arrive and get to the next gate for my flight to Honduras, I sit, sigh, and close my eyes for just a second since I have another hour before the next leg of my never-ending commute. “Ahh… just relax,” I plead with myself.

When I open my eyes, I come to the unfortunate realization that everyone waiting for my flight has gone. Now I fall asleep? Are you kidding me? NOOOOOO! This can actually be heard in hell, which from what I hear, is the majority of El Salvador. I rush to the agent at my gate who, thankfully, says that if I run to the plane on the tarmac, I just might make it (she says this in Spanish of course, but I figure it out from all of the exaggerated gesturing, like a Telemundo comedy sketch). I take off as fast as my 50 year-old legs will take me, with all of my items flopping clumsily beside me. I must look like an older, white, out-of-shape, overly accessorized cartoon caricature of Usain Bolt. They open the hatch door and let me in. I thank the El Salvadorian gods, whomever or whatever they may be. (I’m going to assume their higher power is a chicken, coconut shell with Jesus-like markings, or a cell phone taken from a dead tourist.)

When I get to Roatán at 11:00 a.m., I am picked up by yet another grizzled, dandruffy port agent who escorts me to immigration, which, as it turns out, is a hut in the hills manned by a woman with one arm and what appears to be chocolate around her mouth. God, I hope it’s chocolate and not some sort of voodoo sh*t. Her name-tag is heavy on the consonants. She looks me up and down with her cataract-clouded eyes, grunts, checks my passport and then looks at her computer. She asks me in her native tongue why I was in Roatán a day and a half ago and I’m back today. The port agent translates, I explain, he tells her, she doesn’t understand, and I spend the next hour in a small room being searched, prodded and probed by a man with large hands. He finds nada, so I’m free to go and walk to our van like an aging, bow-legged Blues singer.

We proceed to the ship, and on the way, my Honduran driver tells me that his country is the world leader in homicides, “Ees almos two to one,” he says. He seems proud of this fact. I ask him, as politely as I can, to drive a little faster because I have children and would very much like to see them again. We stop for a public execution—just kidding, but at this point, it wouldn’t have surprised me. I finally get to the ship and am informed that it’s a gay charter and it gets pretty wild, especially in the hot tubs and pool areas, so I may want to stay in my cabin between shows if that sort of thing offends me. Oh and by the way, I have three shows the first night. Now, I’ve been traveling for two and a half days and I’m afraid that doing three shows on very little sleep and a lot of aggravation might make me a tad cranky on stage. (Did I mention that I’m going through a divorce?) Heaven help the Mojito-addled, hapless, homosexual heckler.

Now, any sane person reading this may question my career choices, to which I can only reply, “What, and quit show business? Being a comedian, or any other kind of entertainer, is about the journey, the experience, the stories, and some of the best trips, times and tales are the ones that occur on the outskirts of rich, the fringes of famous: the guns drawn at hell gigs in country bars, the long drives in the blinding snow when you don’t know where the ramp starts and the highway begins and the shows on chartered cruise ships with flamboyant drag queens, regular queens and a naked guy on a skateboard being led around like a pull toy. That’s my job and this is the career I chose. As the saying goes, “they pay us to travel, not to perform” and I can’t stop now, I’m just starting to get the hang of it. If you’ll excuse me, I have to go, I have a show for a boatload of gay people to prepare for—right after I take a nap. (I better set 2 alarms.)”

Editors note: the only part of this story that uses the “Godwin Exaggeration Factor” (sometimes as high as 12%) is the implied cavity search at the Honduran immigration hut. It was actually just a thorough pat down and luggage check. If you doubt the “guns drawn at hell gigs in country bars” line, ask Lee Loren (Carrot Top’s sound and light guy) about the time he and Pat had a shotgun pointed at them while trying to get paid in

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The Happiness Life

1B34B9F9-D51C-463D-8ADA-C68007B45371Jimmy was asking me what it was like when his Mom and I were together. I told him we had a lot of fun taking him and his big Sister to dinner, going to the movies, walking in the park, playing in the snow, and we had a great time. He got quiet and said, “Why don’t you get back together with Mom so I could have ‘the happiness life’. I said, “Jimmy, I know divorce isn’t easy at your age, but I promise, I’ll give you the best ‘happiness life’ I can.”

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The Great Irish Potato Fire of ’86

IMG_2114I’m lucky to be alive for a number of reasons, but the fact I survived “The Potato Fire of ’86” is a miracle.

I had been kicked to the curb by the first of many Kims, so I was staying at a friend’s apartment in Kingston, PA. He was shacking up at his girlfriend’s place, but kept his crappy, barely furnished apartment, just in case things soured in paradise. I had been nursing my broken heart by staying out late and having a few beers, so after getting back to my new digs, I was tipsy and starving.

What’s there to eat? It’s 3 a.m., everything’s closed within safe drunk driving distance, and the frig is bare, except for some butter and soon to curdled chocolate milk. I’m no cook, but what the hell, what’s in the cupboard? I found a bottle of soy sauce, rice, ketchup packets, sugar, salt and pepper shakers, couscous, Fleishmann’s vodka, and 3 old potatoes with the eyes hanging out like a Tim Burton puppet. I know what will work, I can cook these potatoes. Yeah, I got butter and salt and pepper, that’ll do. But first, since we’re improvising, the chef needs a little libation, so I’m going to make myself a Chodka, which is 3/4 of a glass of old chocolate milk and 2 shots of cheap vodka. You know it’s not bad, much better than the Gatorum I had, last week.

Ok, let’s do this. I can’t bake these spuds, because that’ll take too long, but I know, I’ll boil them. I’ll make mashed potatoes, or rather, since the cook is impaired, smashed potatoes. Ha! I kill me. Where’s a pot? There’s a pot. Is it clean? No. Who cares. Put it on the stove, fill it with water, turn the burner to high, take a sip of Chodka, trim the potatoes, shave the potatoes, get a bandaid, put it on the wound, more Chodka, put potatoes in the pot, and wait.

It dawns on me, that while I’m waiting for the potatoes to boil, playing my guitar, drunk, I’m quite the Irish stereotype. Just put a shillelagh in my hand and I’m ready for the St. Paddy’s Day Parade. I’m also very tired, but there’s no couch or even a chair. There’s a mattress on the floor, a yellowed pillow, and a Spider-Man blanket. That’s it. I miss my girlfriend; she could have comforted me in my time of need, whipped me up something. Maybe I shouldn’t have kissed Shelly, her office mate, at the New Year’s Eve party a week ago, but that’s another story. Well, I’m going to lay down for a couple of minutes while my McTaters are cooking. Ahh, this sucks… zzz.

I woke up to thick smoke and two Kingston fireman dragging me out of the apartment complex, asking me why I didn’t hear the smoke alarm, with all of the scowl-faced residents in bathrobes on the street shivering in the January cold. I told them I was cooking and fell asleep, which is, for the most part true, but they were looking at me like a junky with a lit cigarette. Holy shite, I could’ve killed someone with my little home cooking show, “PlasteredChef”.

Apparently, after I passed out, the water had cooked off, leaving the 3 potatoes in a bare pot, red from the heat and shaking violently. The vibration had ironically caused an old cookbook on the back of the stove to fall in to the pot, causing the fire. All that was left of the cookbook was a recipe for mashed potatoes (kidding).

Thankfully, no one was hurt and the firefighters got there in time. “The Potatoe Fire of ’86” was the reason I stopped cooking and turned to microwaving for all my late-night hunger pangs, till “The Egg Explosion of ’91”. (Don’t ask, but when microwaving something for 3 minutes, make sure it’s not mistakenly set for 30 minutes)

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Boobies & Stuff

How old am I? We used to ride our bikes down Oak Drive in Carverton Heights, PA, past the County Down, an out of the way fishing hole, take that windy dirt road that narrowed at the end, lay our bikes down, walk the rest of what now is a path, to an Oak tree, and by that tree was a large rock, with a tell-tale scratch on it, and under that rock was a moldy old 1967 Playboy some boys from the neighborhood left for us, and in that Playboy was boobies and stuff, and that’s how we saw our first naked ladies. That’s how old I am.

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Fireworks

IMG_1014I was looking forward to watching the 4th of July fireworks with my son, Jimmy, but when they started, he asked if he could watch them on top of the slides with some older boys he just met on the playground. I was a little disappointed, but said, “Sure… stay close where I can see you, though.” I thought to myself, “Geez, he’s only 6 years-old and I lost him, already.” As I glumly watched the first 5 minutes of the fireworks, feeling sorry for myself, not enjoying them alone, I felt someone give me a big hug from behind. It was Jimmy. I said, “You came back to watch the fireworks with me. Thank you!” He said, “That’s what friendship is all about.” I said, “The boys were mean to you, right?” Jimmy replied, “Pretty much.”

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I Smell Burnt Toast

IMG_5421As the opening band was mauling a Bruno Mars song, last night, I went outside to tune my guitar and accidentally locked myself out of the back of theater. SH*T! I’m on right after this song mercifully ends. I ran around to the front of the place as fast as my 50 year-old legs would take me and heard, “Put your hands together for PAT GOODWIN.” I had the length of the theater before I reached the mike, so I just started talking loud and acting like the dramatic, sprinting entrance was just part of my “act”. It took me a good 10 minutes to recover, and I’m still experiencing shortness of breath, a tingling on my left side, and I smell burnt toast. Is that normal?

Author’s note: This is the 2nd time I locked myself out of this particular theater and the 11,459th time I was introduced as Pat Goodwin.

 

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I’m A Widower

IMG_0211Hotel Clerk: “Are you married? Because, if you are, you should bring your wife next time, this is a great couples resort.”
Me: “I’m a widower, or at least I should be, if everything goes according to plan. I’m waiting on a phone call.”
Hotel Clerk: (nothing) “Ok, here’s your room keys.”

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Sock It To Me

IMG_0501Comedians brag about ‘Killing’ and the ‘Standing Os’ they get, and they’re usually lying, but I just killed at my dry cleaners, I swear.

An older lady brings my Martinized, sanitized, clean pressed shirts out to me and there’s a lone, dirty white sock stapled to the bag. She said, “We never throw anything out, in case it’s of value.” I was embarrassed at first, but then thought I’d have fun with it. (There were 2 High School kids working behind her, and that’s who I played to) “I’m glad you kept that filthy sock,” I said. “That was my grandma’s, and we were going to bury her with it, but we couldn’t find the darn thing. The whole family’s been going crazy looking for her sock.” I took a beat and said, “We lost her over the Memorial Day weekend in a bizarre accident during a game of ‘Jarts’.” (the kids are stifling laughs, so I continue) “Mema Godwin wore that one sock while she worked in the garden, bless her soul. It was kinda like a Michael Jackson one glove thing. She said it gave her better footing to plant the tomatoes. You didn’t happen to find her fishing knickers, did ya?” (On the word “knickers”, the one girl spit out her soda) My work is done here.

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Octopussy

IMG_0456In honor of Roger Moore, here’s a little story from the mid-eighties.

I had just started dating an attractive DJ from Rock 107 in Scranton, PA named Suzie “Something Italian” (name withheld on account of I don’t want to piss her off) and it was time to meet her parents. They lived in Kingston, PA and I found out their next door neighbor was Russel Bufalino, former head of an Italian crime family. I was hoping there wasn’t any connection.

I walked in their lovely home, was greeted by Suzie, and her Father was seated at the far end of the dinner table, stirring his coffee. The Mom was nowhere to be found. He says, “Sit down.” That was it. I sat down and the kitchen light splashed on me like an interrogation lamp and the Dad was in the dark, just staring at his coffee cup, still stirring. He never looks up. “I hear you’ve been dating my daughter and I wanted to meet you. (long pause) Godwin is an Irish name, right?” That’s correct, sir,” I said. (Strike one) And you’re a singer?” he continued, saying the word “singer” like it was a crime. “Yes”, I said, (strike two). He took a long, dramatic Marlon Brando-like pause and said, “What are you two doing, tonight?” (lingering on the word “doing” like it was a forkful of pasta) I said, “We’re going to see Octopussy,” without thinking how dirty it sounded. (strike three)

He looked up, slowly, like I was a hit man from an opposing family and said, “Octo… pussy? Oc… to… pussy? You’re taking my daughter to a pornographic film?” I said, “No sir, it’s the latest James Bond movie, ‘Octopussy’, and that’s the name of it, I swear. They had a character in one of their other films called, ‘Pussy Galore’. They use the word ‘pussy’ a lot, as a joke, sir.” (every time I say “pussy,” I make it worse) Suzie’s large, intimidating, Italian-American Father is standing now; staring a bullet hole right through me and says, “You mean to tell me the James Bond producers, in their infinite wisdom, decided to name their new movie “Octo… pussy?” Yes, sir,” I said, “The censors missed the boat on that one, eh?”

Luckily, there was a newspaper on the table and I was able to prove it was a Bond film, not a porno, and save myself from being “fish food”. As Suzie and I were leaving, her Father took me aside, gave me $20 and said, “Take her to see anything besides ‘Octo… pussy’.” We rented “The Godfather”.

Author’s note: Never judge a book by it’s Mario Puzo cover. Suzie’s Dad, as it turned out, was a sweetheart, owned a respectable silk flower business and a restaurant. The Mother, on the other hand, was the one who had it in for me; threw a drink in my face at The Crackerbox Palace in Kingston, PA and threatened worse. Long story short, I moved to Tampa.

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Bond, James Bond

IMG_0415Sean Connery was arguably the best James Bond, but Roger Moore’s dapper, smooth, and haughty take on him was more in line with Ian Flemming’s books. I never met Mr. Moore, may he rest In peace, but I did bond with Mr. Connery.

I was on WMMR’s Morning Zoo in Philly and we were doing a week of live radio shows at Bill Wyman’s Sticky Fingers in London, in July of 1990. The radio station put us up at the Grosvenor House Hotel, a place famous for being one of the Beatles’ last gigs, right before taking over America. When we were checking in, we noticed a well-dressed Sean Connery sitting in a comfy lobby chair, reading a newspaper, smoking a pipe, and drinking something brown. “This place must be great,” I said. “James Bond’s staying here.”

We asked the ole chap manning the front desk why Sean Connery was in their lobby and he says, “Leave him alone and don’t try to interview him for your radio show, because he doesn’t like being bothered. Oh, and don’t call him ‘James Bond’, unless you want to incur his wrath. He hates that.” The guy goes on to say that the very private Mr. Connery takes a month off from his work, wife and family every year and stays at the hotel to be by himself. Just then, Sean chortled at something he read. He looks happy in his solitude.

After our 1st live London radio show, we headed back to our hotel and met up at the bar. We were loud, laughing, and discussing the day’s show (we had Roger Waters on and he cursed a lot). I even played piano while La Toya Jackson sang (she was staying at the hotel and dressed like her brother, Michael, during his epaulets on the shoulders phase). It was going to be a crazy week. This was not a typical workday in Philadelphia. Sean Connery was there, too, but we never talked to him, as promised. He was quietly reading a newspaper, smoking a pipe, and drinking something brown. He never looked up and seemed content.

The whole week was nuts like that, with James Bond in a corner, by himself, oblivious to his surroundings, and us carrying on like ugly Americans. We’d do our show, interview stars like Pete Townsend, Sir Bob Geldof, and Peter Gabriel, run around town doing touristy things, go back to the hotel bar, grab something to eat, have a drink, crack wise, and there he’d be… all alone… every night… Sean Connery. It was surreal, and as much as we wanted to, we never talked to him, never invited him to be on our little show, and never called him James Bond.

One morning, after a few days of eating and imbibing too much, I figured I’d go down to the hotel gym and get a workout in. It was empty, except for myself and Sean Connery, who was on an exercise bike, reading the paper, sans the smoke and drink. I paced around for a little bit, trying to look manly, made eye contact with him, nodded, but he didn’t return my gesture. I went over to the bench press and looked at the weights on the bar. Hmm, it wasn’t labeled in pounds, it was in kilograms, the English measurement of weight, and I didn’t have a clue how much it was, but it looked do-able.

I got the loaded barbel up off the bench, shook violently, and then BOOM, it slammed down on my chest. I was trapped. It was so heavy, I couldn’t slide it down my body and the bar was choking me. It’s like I was having my own International fight to the death with a Bond villain at my throat. I closed my eyes and with all my might tried to lift it. Nothing. I’m going to die. All of sudden, the barbell was pulled off me and I breathed a sigh of relief. I opened my eyes and found myself staring face-to-face with my rescuer, former British spy, Goldfinger’s nemesis, the man who got Pussy Galore… Sean F*cking Connery. I said, “Thank you, 007, you saved my life.” He smiled and said, “Shonny boy, you may want to try a shmaller amount. Perhapsh, a weight more shuited to your body type. And the name’sh Bond, Jamesh Bond.” I laughed hard (his desired response), did some light lifting, and went back to my room.

I never told the Morning Zoo crew about my encounter with Mr. Connery, because I didn’t think they’d believe me. As we were leaving the Grosvenor House Hotel to go to the airport, Sean Connery was in the lobby, and I said, “Nice to meet you, Mr. Bond, and thank you for saving my life,” to which Mr. Connery replied, “You’re welcome, Shonny boy, and you may want to pick a fight with a tiny dumbbell, next time.” I looked at my Morning Zoo co-workers, their mouths agape, and said, “I’ll tell you on the plane.”

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Big Fat Head Dot Com

IMG_0354I was at an outdoor musical festival in Reno and some lady tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Sir, excuse me. Do you have trouble finding baseball caps that fit?” I said, “What are you talking about? This one fits just fine. Is this some kind of joke?” (truth is, it did not fit properly, none do, and was perched on my noggin precariously like an organ monkey grinder’s hat)

She handed me a business card and continued her pitch, “No, I’m not kidding. I noticed you have a HUGE head and I have a company that caters to your kind.” I said, “My kind? What kind? You mean, the cranially deformed kind? Who put you up to this?” I turned to my buddy, Gary Raffanelli, and said, “Dude, is this your dirty work?” Gary was bent over, slapping his thighs, laughing at my discomfort and says, “No, I swear. This lady’s on her own. It wasn’t me.” (Gary was our piano player at Catch A Rising Star comedy club, a rapscallion, and I wouldn’t put it past him)

I looked at the lady’s card, and if this was a prank, it was a good one. The card was well done, expensive looking and had their website www.bigfathead.com printed on it. I said to the woman, “Big Fat Head dot com. Seriously? You solicit people in public, insult them with the horrible name of your company and expect that to work.” She said, “No, not usually, but I was hanging out, enjoying the band, and I couldn’t stop staring at the size of your head in comparison to your hat, and since my husband and I just started the business, I thought I’d reach out. You’re our target customer.” I handed her back the card like it was a hot turd and said, “No, thank you. I’m good.”

When I got back home a week later, still bummed out over the Big Fat Head lady and my moon dome, I went on line, checked out their website and discreetly ordered two baseball caps. I still have them, and no, they didn’t come in separate UPS trucks, smart asses.

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