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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.
seen and heard on last comic standing the howard stern show the bob and tom show schedule get tickets

Something About Her

The drunk Thursday night crowd at the Funny Bone in Evansville, Indiana back in March, 2005, was getting chatty, so I decided to wrap it up and segue into the closing bit and call it a night. As I was setting up the big finish with some “lonely guy on the road” patter, I said, “What do I have to do after the show, except go back to the Days Inn, room 203?” (The Days Inn was the sh*thole they put us up at and 203 was my friend, Mike Stankiwiecz’s room—the other comic on the show—not mine.) I finished up on a high note, thanked the crowd for coming and thought nothing about giving out Mike’s real Days Inn room number.
Since I had radio interviews to do the next morning, I left Mike and the local M.C. at the bar, said my goodbyes to the staff, and started to leave. On my way out, an older woman, dressed in too-tight jeans and a hip, black leather jacket that was open and exposing her obvious breast augmentation, blocked the exit. She had one hand on the door and the other was pointing and shaking. At first, I thought her boldness was that she wanted to complain about something I said during the show, but then the playfulness in her eyes led me to believe otherwise. She introduced herself as Tracy, and went on to say how hilarious I was, and would I have please have a drink with her back at the bar. I politely refused her and the drink, muttered something about my radio responsibilities the next morning, and how I needed to get some sleep, blah, blah, blah… and she bought it. Phew, that was a close one. If she had been pretty and not born when Lincoln made speeches, I probably would have gone to those radio interviews dog dead tired.
The next day the radio went well, and I got back to my hotel room to do some pacing, moping, and napping before the 2 shows that night. Just then, someone knocked on the door and I hesitatingly answered it, half-expecting to give an English lesson to a Latino housekeeper regarding the “Do Not Disturb” sign. But it wasn’t Maria with towels, it was Tracy, with more compliments. “I’m sorry to bother you, but you were hilarious last night”, she said as I hid behind the door. She continued, “I knocked on 203 and the other comedian Mike laughed and told me your real room number. He said you’d probably love some company, too.” I said, “Yeah, I never give out my real room number; always the other comedian’s.” She went on to say that she lived in the apartment complex right behind our hotel and just HAD to stop by and tell me once again how great I was. “I haven’t laughed like that in a while, and it really stirred something deep inside me.” she purred. Before I could get her to leave, she said, “All I want is a little hug for making me feel good, since I’ve been so down in the dumps lately, ever since my husband’s been in jail.” I’m not the hugging kind, but I gave her the fastest hug in the history of awkwardness, and when she left, promptly went down to the front desk and changed my room AND my name. I am Biff Dirkwood, now… aging Cougar bait.
At the comedy club later that night I regaled everyone with the tale of the crazy, older biker broad who practically molested me at the Days Inn. As it turns out my stalker, Tracy, wasn’t a biker, but the Funny Bone manager Kim’s hairdresser and a part-time nurse. Kim said she wasn’t crazy at all and really sweet, just going through a tough time with her husband being in jail for selling drugs. “They were separated before he got arrested.” Kim said, “So she’s probably just really lonely and wanted a little attention.” “Well that’s not the way I saw it.” I said. “I think she’s a little crazy.”
After a half hour hang, I walked back to the seedy Days Inn, and at the hotel was Tracy, my Sexagenarian stalker, crying. My earlier instincts were right, this broad is nuts. In the harsh, fluorescent light of the lobby she appeared not only old, but overly altered. I knew she had breast implants, but upon close inspection her face looked like she’d had a number of procedures over the years. Her cheekbones looked like 2 golf balls were shoved under the sides of her face, the eyes widened past the look of surprise, and her chin clefted unnaturally–like one of the Jackson 5 in later years. The tears had wiped away most of the heavy makeup, giving her a Kabuki-like glow as the desk clerked glared at the both of us. “Get her the f**k out of here,” he said. “The crazy bitch has been balling her eyes out all night.” As I ushered her out into the parking lot, she told me that her husband had called from jail and said that they were definitely getting divorced, and that she needed me to make her laugh. I told her she could’ve bought a ticket to the comedy show, and saved me the bizarre soap opera in the lobby. She then changed from a crazy old lady who need to laugh, to a crazy old lady who wanted to *merge*, by saying, “I have something for you… a little present. It’s back at my place. We could walk from here.”
I ended up back at her place against my will after she went totally bonkers in the Days Inn parking lot and threatened to kill herself. The “surprise” she wanted to give me was HER, coming out of the bathroom totally naked, in need of a little pube trim. Her legs were a lot more muscular than I thought they’d be, considering her age and gender. The strangeness of her plastic surgery in clothes, got even more mysterious in the nude. The low light of her efficiency apartment showed strange implants on her ass cheeks as she spun and sashayed before me. She kept saying, “Do you like what you see?” over and over again and a strange chill went up my spine. What was I seeing exactly? It finally dawned on me that this wasn’t some old Cougar, but a former Lion, and the “Something About Her” song is loosely based on that night. (Keep in mind this was 2005 and attitudes have changed since then, but it’s the duplicity involved that made this worthy of a snarky re-telling. Oh, and if you want closure on this chapter, and you’re wondering what my response was, think A Flock Of Seagulls’ only hit.)
Something About Her

There was just something about her
Something odd about her face

She’s gotta be about 60

What am I doing at her place?
Her voice was low and smoky

Like she’d been around the block

She gazed down at my pants

As I stared up at her clock
She asked me if I wanted a drink

I said, “No, I’ve got to go”

She says, “Wait, I got something for you”

But there’s something about her, I don’t know

Something about her, I don’t know
She came out completely naked

In the darkness of her efficiency

Stood there among the cats

And said, “Do you like what you see?”
I tried not to stare

It’s a woman after all

But the bush seemed awful high, though

Between Minneapolis and St. Paul
There’s something about her

Something strange is going on

And I don’t want any surprises

In the light of the crack of dawn
She’s aggressive and ballsy

As she pours me too much wine

She says that I look nice tonight

Funny, that’s my line
I feel her strong grip on my thigh

When it finally dawns on me

Yeah, there’s something about her

Something a lot like me

Something a lot like me
I excuse myself politely

And then bolt back to my hotel

I took a long Silkwood shower

To get rid of that litter box smell
Something’s amiss
When you turn leather into pink chiffon

There’s definitely something about her

I just can’t put my finger on

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Close, But No Guitar. R.I.P, Chuck Barris

Chuck Berry dies, I got a story. Chuck Barris dies, I got a story. Who am I, Forest Gump? Zelig?
The Summer before college, after my parent’s divorce, I hid out in LA for a few months, trying my hand at acting. The plan was to make it big and not have to go to college, but In no time I was broke and washing dishes for my room and board at a place called The Kipling Retirement Home on Wilshire Blvd. This old dump, now long gone, would’ve been used for the interior shots of The Shining, if it weren’t so creepy. When I wasn’t getting dish pan hands, I played piano in the basement, consorted with the comely female vagrants also housed there, and auditioned for the occasional acting job I could walk to, since I didn’t have a car. No one walks in LA, but I didn’t even have bus fare, so I had to hoof it everywhere. I couldn’t get an acting job, the money ran out, time was running out, and I was willing to try anything. I got wind of the open auditions for Chuck Barris’ The Gong Show and dusted off my High School Talent Show Elvis impression—with a twist. My *new* idea was Presley as an impaired old man, “Elvis In The year 2,000”, complete with gray hair, old man makeup, stomach padding, slurred singing and creaky moves. I was inspired by my Assisted Living environment and thought the bit would be perfect for The Gong Show.
The auditions were held at a place called The Old World Restaurant in Hollywood and by the time I walked all the way there, in old man makeup, in the 90 degree heat, from Wilshire to Cahuenga, I felt like an octogenarian Elvis Presley. No acting required. My aged Elvis idea was to do a slightly altered version of “All Shook Up”. I only had to change a few lines and the rest wrote itself. When it was my turn, they introduced me as “Elvis In The Year 2,000” and I hammed it up for all it was worth.
(In my best Elvis “All Shook Up” voice)
“A well a bless my soul
What’s a wrong with me? (moved slowly)

I’m actin’ like a man of a 93

My friends say I’m actin’ slow as a slug

I’m gettin’ old (coughed)

I’m all messed up

Mm mm mm, mm, yay, yay, yay

Well, my hands are shaky and my knees are weak (I wobbled and held my hip in pain)

I can’t seem to stand on my own two feet (almost fell)

Who do you think of when you have such luck? (I looked confused)

I’m gettin’ old (coughed)

I’m all messed up (clutched my heart) 

Mm mm mm, mm, yay, yay, yay (fell to the floor and didn’t move)”

It killed—Chuck LOVED it. He said, “Perfect, kid. It’s the right mixture of funny and mean. You’ll win or get Gonged.” The only problem was I didn’t have any backing tracks and although I did it for Mr. Barris and his staff “A Capella”—and it worked—he thought it needed something. Chuck pointed to his Martin guitar, ever at the ready, and said, “Can you play guitar?” I told him, “No,” and he said, “Neither did Elvis! He pretty much just held the damn thing. I’ll teach you 3 chords and put you on the show. We’ll tape your segment in September, so that’ll give you enough time to practice.” Chuck told me to wait around for them to finish up the auditions and when they were done he gave me a very quick, rudimentary guitar lesson. It was June, I had enough time, so I borrowed a guitar, practiced, practiced, practiced, and by the end of July, I could bang out a pretty good C, F, and G. I’m going to tape my first big national TV show in September! Problem was, Elvis died on August 16th. 
I got a call from the Gong Show shortly thereafter saying that in light of Mr. Presley’s untimely death, me falling to the stage clutching my heart, wouldn’t be appropriate. My bit went from funny speculation to tragic Documentary. Goodbye LA, hello college. I’ll come back to your sunny shores when I’m in my 20s and we’ll explore new ways to fail. (I went back as a songwriter and then back again as a comedian. LA-3, Me-0.)

I kept playing guitar with a passion, thanks to Chuck Barris, and when I saw him years later on a radio show, I brought up my “Old Man Presley ‘Elvis In The Year 2,000’ bit right before Elvis died Gong Show audition”. He smiled wide and said, “So, you’re the guy with the unfortunate timing and bad luck. I tell that story ALL the time.” To which I replied, “Yep, ‘Unfortunate timing and bad luck’, that should go on my tombstone.” R.I.P., Chuck Barris. Thanks for the guitar lesson!

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Adapt, Adopt, Wait Tables, Get Fired!

While hiding out in Tampa, Florida from my girlfriend’s connected family*, nursing a broken wrist, I couldn’t play guitar and was forced to work at a TGI Fridays. Needless to say, I wasn’t a very good waiter. To this day it’s the only other job I’ve ever had since I was 20. 
This is what got me fired after 3 weeks.
Lady: “Waiter, is the de-caf coffee done by the chemical method, or by the reverse osmosis method? I have (she whispers) Cancer, and strict diet guidelines.

Me: “Um, I’m not sure, but either way it’s most-likely a (I whisper) carcinogenic.” 

Lady: “Well, I’m already very sick and I “don’t want to make it worse. Could you find out?

Me: “If you’re already sick, it probably doesn’t matter; have the de-caf and live a little.”

Author’s note*: To this day I’m nervous about telling the story of the Rich Italian Girl and the Poor Irish Troubadour and what happened to the Troubadour’s wrist in the parking lot of the Crackerbox Palace in Kingston, PA after a gig.

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The Accidental Curse

I was doing a squeaky clean Welcome Aboard Show on a cruise ship with an eclectic demographic (infants, kids, teens, adults, couples, Latinos, Germans, Canadians, Smucker’s® birthday mentions, etc… ) and a drunk guy in the back was talking loudly, interrupting, yelling out stuff, and messing with the flow of the show. I had to shut it down pronto, so I just blurted out, “I’m trying to entertain here and I got this guy in the back just yelling out shit.” I immediately realized I had cursed (a big no-no) by saying shit in front of children, church goers, and cruise personnel, so I started singing, “Ship out, ship out, let’s get’s this ship out to the waters so blue”, to cover it up. I was pretty sure I got away with it, paused, was about to move on, and a little kid shouted, “YOU SAID, SHIT!” It got a huge laugh, I smiled—which implied guilt—then said nothing and moved on. So far, I’m still gainfully employed (I may go with “The kid said it, I didn’t say it” defense, if I ever get questioned about the alleged incident).

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Death In The Midwest

We did The Irish Comedy Tour in Iowa at a place called “The Stockade” (an old slaughterhouse, now a nightclub, smelled like death), we didn’t draw many people, and Jim Paquette (he’s French Irish, I guess), our talented MC, had a rough go of it with a new bit. None of us tore the roof off the barn that night, but we got a few chuckles from the 18 Farmers that showed up. In our quiet van back to the Motel Sh*t, Baguette (my nickname for him) and I had this conversation.

Jim: “I don’t know why my Superman joke didn’t get a laugh. (long pause) It was funny, right? I said he landed in a cornfield, out in the middle of nowhere, no one around, just like here, and you even remarked that is was funny, and had potential.”
Me: “Jim, it WAS funny, but we’re in the ‘Laugh Business’, not the ‘Funny Business’.”

Then he punched me. No, I’m kidding, the French don’t fight. We finally laughed and eased the pain with a little (lots of) Jameson and called it a night… a crappy night.

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I Think Daddy Needs A Nap

I asked a bored, snotty saleswoman, at the Lima, OH Macy’s, where the dress shirts were, with my 4 year-old son Jimmy on my shoulders (he LOVES it up there). She lazily points in the direction of the Men’s Section, red lipstick covered mouth pursed, aggravated I even bothered her, and then looks at us disdainfully and says, “Be careful with that little boy on your shoulders; you may fall and hurt him.” I said, “With all due respect, Ma’am, I appreciate the fact that you care, but I am his Father and I know what I’m doing.” I could’ve left it at that, but nooooooo. As I walked away, I said, “Lady, I don’t stop you from putting on way too much make-up, or question your limited social skills, so don’t tell me how to Parent my child.”

Yep, spreading joy wherever I go—that’s what I do.

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A Little Something About My Mother

I brought a pretty gal from Charlotte, North Carolina to meet my Mom, because since this woman and I had just met and we were moving in together, I thought they should get to know each other. I don’t normally run my relationship decisions by my Mother, but I figured, what the hell, my new girlfriend is great, so I might as well show her off. (she never even met my first wife, who I married in Jamaica after knowing her for only 3 weeks. Marriage lasted 8 months.)

My dear, sweet Mom put on quite a spread; all the things I pretend to enjoy, like freezer-burned Chicken and Peppers, gummy rice, crispy, store-bought, stale Asian noodles and a lovely box of chilled red wine. You see, my Mom’s a worker, not a cooker.

My Mother couldn’t have been more gracious or charming to my adorable Southern Belle, telling her cute little “Pat when he was a boy stories”, and asking about her childhood, her job, which was cutting hair, and how we met—you know, light, polite small talk. No question or answer was strange or out of the ordinary. When Shelly Lee (not her real name) excused herself to use the powder room, as she called it, my Mom whispered in my ear, “She’s horrible; definitely not for you—you’re special. Get rid of her.” “What the f*ck?”, I said to myself. She’s Horrible? And get rid of her? That’s a tad harsh; what are we, the Mafia? We’re drunken, dysfunctional Irish, for Christ’s sake. We don’t get rid of people; we make mean jokes and drink too much, so your partner ends up just getting rid of themselves. And how does Mom get horrible out of an hour conversation? A horrible assessment takes time: weeks, months, sometimes many years of marriage.

Now, every parent thinks their children are special, even when we’re not—but give me a break, I’m moving in with her next week. She’s amazing! What the hell is my Mother talking about? Look at her! Check out that peaches & cream complexion—she’s sweet, loving and gorgeous!

Why did my Mother put that damn bug in my ear? What in God’s name could I do about it now? Why didn’t she just keep her opinion to herself? Why? Because she knew something I didn’t and loves me, that’s why.

That’s my Mom in a nut-shell. She’s overbearing, in your business, and prone to overkill. {On the issue of overkill: she used to home school us after we had already gone to a full day’s worth of school. Me, my brothers and sisters are incredible sources of useless information. Ask any one of us who’s the person considered “The Father of Modern Classical Music” and we can tell you. She forced me to learn how to knit, because it was a skill she said might come in handy some day. You know, just in case World War 3 wipes out all the Walmarts in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the village needs extra sweaters, scarves and booties for an unusually cold Winter}

I moved in with the seemingly charming Charlotte Harlot, but we were doomed, thank God. My Mother had worked her Voodoo; planted that seed in my head that made me see her for who she really was. The woman WAS horrible. She was selfish, inconsiderate of others, and… just plain odd (I was so focused on “other things”, I didn’t notice that she ate non-finger foods with her fingers, for example). My Mom saw right through her, and because my eyes were clouded by a sweet face, pouty lips and a darling figure, I wasn’t paying attention to important details. (I cleaned this up, because my Mother will be reading it. I was going to go with “great tits, a luscious mouth and a nice ass”)

You see, I’m a Momma’s boy and proud of it. I had to be, there was no other option.

I love you, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day!

Author’s Note: The only thing that my Mom will disagree with in this story is her bad cooking. In her defense, she has improved over the years. She uses fresh peas now, not the gray ones out of a can, and her Salisbury Steak, that we called Swamp Flats, no longer needs to be dabbed with paper towels to remove the grease. Mom’s also not an abusive drinker, like some of us used to be. Half a glass of wine, that’s it, and she’s telling you about her neighbor, who allegedly had relations with his dog (she lives in Walkerton, Indiana). She will also claim that my new girlfriend was not as pretty as I thought she was, and has photos to prove it.

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The American Pie Guy

In light of the fact that the original manuscript of “American Pie” by Don McLean, along with his notes from the song, were recently sold for $1.2 million, I thought I would share my experience of opening for him, years ago. Spoiler alert, it was not a pleasant one.

During the mid-80s, I performed in my hometown of Wilkes-Barre, PA at a place called The Station, regularly. I guess I was 10 at the time, since I’m only 39 now, and must’ve been quite the child prodigy to be working in gin joints while I was still in Middle School (joke). For the most part, us troubadours (Bill Kelly, Jerry G Hludzik, Lex Romane, Joe Riillo, Gary Cutter, Tom Rogo, etc… ) would sing for our supper in the bar area, but now and then we would warm up for one of the big acts that came to our tiny little mining village.

At The Station, I had the good fortune of performing with Warren Zevon, The Band, Dave Mason, and all of them were incredible people and great to work with. Zevon was hilarious and kind, The Band invited me to tour with them, Rick Danko (The Band’s bass player) was a troubled joy to hang out with, and Dave Mason… well, Dave liked to “party” back then, and the things he imbibed in didn’t seem to affect his performance or his affable personality in the slightest (he ingested copious amounts of unmentionables).

Then Don McLean came to town.

I wasn’t a fan of Mr. McLean, but I recognized the ubiquitous nature of his hugely popular number 1 hit “American Pie”, and the fact that he could still draw a crowd, and I should probably take the gig. I just put out my first record and could use the exposure, I thought. I never liked the length of “American Pie” (8:33), it’s grating sing-a-long chorus, or misguided lyrics, but everyone else LOVED it. I’m sure many of you reading this, like it, and that’s fine, BUT, this song drives me nuts! Many of my acoustic guitar peers, the ones who did cover songs, would sing “American Pie” 2, 3 times a night to the delight of the crowd. I, however, could drive the place apathetic; singing all my own material, and then only grab their attention with the occasional Beatles’ tune. I would refer to these annoyingly effective pub singers who did “American Pie”, as “Pie Guys”. (I’m looking at you, Sergio.) I still hear people play that damn song everywhere I go, and can’t stop myself from shaking my head and rolling my eyes.

Don McLean STILL maintains he doesn’t know what the lyrics to “American Pie” mean; that it’s all ambiguous and objective, and that the song has a different message for everybody who listens to it. Granted, that’s all well and good—he wrote it, and therefore wins any argument about this horrid tune, but I think the truth is much simpler. His not-so-subtle stabs at The Beatles (“While Sergeants played a marching tune”), The Rolling Stones (“Jack Flash danced on a candlestick/’cause fire’s the devil’s only friend”), and Bob Dylan (The jester sang for the King and Queen in a coat he borrowed from James Dean”), were blatant slams at 60s’ Rock ‘n’ Roll stars, and his myopic opinion that they were killing popular music. He released this song in 1971, lamenting the good old days and the music of the 50s, with the obvious Buddy Holly reference, “Singing this’ll be the day that I die.” History, critics, and the 60s music’s popularity proved him wrong, so naturally, he waffles and bristles when he’s asked about the song’s *hidden* meaning. I smell bullsh*t, and always have.
On the night of the show, excited to be performing for a large crowd for a change, I got there early and went to the dressing room, which was a refurbished railroad car by the stage. The whole place was an old train station; had cool little performing areas, and dark places to canoodle with one of the many waitresses dressed up in cute little French maid outfits—but I digress. I entered our “Green Room” and Don McClean’s backup band was there, tuning up and chilling out. They were a great bunch of guys and made me feel like I was a part of the gang by lending me some guitar picks, chatting about music, and small talking about my hometown, the often mispronounced Wilkes-Barre. Us locals say “Wilkes Bear-y, not Bar”, I told them.

Then McLean Walked in.
When One-Hit Wonder strolled into the dressing room, he sucked the life out of the place: the band stiffened, the joy evaporated, he took one long look at me and said, “What are you doing in here?” I calmly replied, “I’m your opening act, my name’s Pat, and it’s great meeting you (I was still in schmooze-mode).” Don says, “Well, Paaaaaaat (stretching out my name like a playground bully) “I don’t want you in here; get out. You don’t belong in our room.” Startled, I explained to him that I worked here a lot, it was my home club, and this was the dressing room that everyone shared. Mr. American Pie took a long beat and said. “Get the f*ck out!” I calmly put my guitar in its case, nodded to his embarrassed band, fixed my gaze on Mr. McLean and said, “Don—you’re a dick!” Clever comeback, eh? What I wanted to say next was, “And by the way, ‘American Pie’ sucks. Would it have killed you to do a little editing, write a bridge perhaps, to break up the monotony? When you sing it tonight, I hope I get in your miserable little head and you mess up the ridiculous lyrics.” Instead, I just stormed out and muttered, “F*cking asshole.” I heard a couple of his band guys chuckle and then Don say to them, “What are you laughing at?”

I told the manager of The Station, Jerry Sisk, what happened with his headliner, Captain America, half-expecting to be fired, and he laughed and said, “Good! He’s been a Jackass all night; asking for sh*t that’s not on the rider, being a total jerk. It’s about time someone put that diva in his place.” Then he paused, and said, “I was looking forward to hearing that song, though.” I felt somewhat justified, tried to put the incident behind me, Jerry introduced me, and I hit the stage.

As I plowed through my repertoire of original songs that no one knew or cared about, I couldn’t get the dressing room altercation out of my head and was having a hard time focusing. My moody Circle City song wasn’t the right choice for this rowdy crowd waiting for Don McC*ck-smooch and his stupid, f*cking tune. Finally, I just stopped mid-song and told the story of what just happened to the fidgety audience, and they listened—intently. Keep in mind, many of my friends, like Frank Conyngham, Tim Cross, and the many waitresses whose names escape me, were in attendance that night and they ate this sh*t up and egged me on. As I regaled the Northeastern Pennsylvania crowd with how much of a rude ass Don McClean was, they got louder and louder, and were enjoying my displeasure with him more and more. What happened next is a blur, but from eye witness accounts, I was feeling empowered and told everybody, “Hey, you know he’s going to close with ‘American Pie’, right? So, what do you say I ruin it for him and we sing a chorus or two now?” I knew the chord changes from hearing it so much and made up a quick, dirty version on the spot. It went something like, “Bye, bye Don McLean is a dick, He’s the rudest motherf*cker, Don McLean is a prick.” Everyone went crazy, singing along, clapping, but as I was belting it out, I noticed a shadowy figure lurking by the left side of the stage.

It was Nasty McLean.

I wrapped it up, waved goodbye, and told the audience to enjoy themselves… that maybe Don was just having a bad day. As I walked off the stage, Pie Face was standing there, just glaring, looking like he was about to hit me. I saddled up to him real close and whispered, “Don’t f*ck with me in my hometown, and try and have a great show, assh*le.” I don’t know how Don did that night, because I didn’t bother to stick around, but I’m guessing, that he may have struggled a little.

Enjoy your $1.2 million dollars, “American Pie” guy, and yes, you can laugh all the way to the bank, but remember, when you get there—you’re still a dick!
Author’s note: Time has not softened my opinion of him that night, and I found out recently, that I wasn’t the only opening act Don McLean treated so rudely. Many guys that worked with him, like Andy Breckman, have a similar story about Don treating them like sh*t.

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Show Business As Usual

It’s December 3, 2014 (Year of the Nasty Divorce), I have just completed two runs doing comedy on a cruise ship and I have one day off before I start the next one. 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 Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

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Conversation at the DMV

Conversation at the DMV…

DMV: “How long have you been at your new address?”
Me: “Almost a year.”
DMV: “The law requires you to inform us of an address change after 15 days.”
Me: “Well, sir… my wife left me, took the kids, so I got rid of the old place, got a tinier place, put all my belongings in storage, spent 2 days in the emergency room, another 28 days in a treatment facility, and then went on the road around the clock to pay for the debt incurred during our short-lived marriage and hospital stays, and when I wasn’t working, I flew or drove to Ohio, lonely, heartbroken, to be with my children, all the time plotting how I was going to succeed in the entertainment business, at my age, what with the current state of show business catering to the youth and ignoring the seasoned, talented deserving veterans. (5 second pause) The address change must’ve slipped my mind.
DMV: (awkward silence as he processes my new license)

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