A few Tuesday nights ago I performed stand up for the first time at the Off the Wall Comedy Basement in Jerusalem. One of the biggest challenges I encountered when performing there was the fact that David Kilimnick, the owner and proprietor of the club and a comedian himself, gave clear instructions that my act could not include expletives or sexual innuendo. (“But what is sexual innuendo?” I’d ask David innocently after my performance, during which I inadvertently told a joke comparing hot-dogs and boyfriends.)
It was great sitting and laughing with the other performers, but after a while I realized that, compared to the other comedians, I had a very funny niche: The only thing I am good at is the storytelling part of the joke. I’m a pro at building up the suspense and the tension as the joke develops and then, when it comes time for the big orgasmic clincher — all of that anticipation for what’s to follow… well, what happens next? Meh, forget it. I just don’t see the point in finishing a joke. Truthfully, I have always laughed more at the windup of a joke than at the punchline itself.
This is the main reason why I decided to create a whole form of comedy based on the leads instead of the endings. Maybe it’s a form of ADD, or maybe it’s just because what really matters the most to me is the method to my madness — not the madness itself. Here are some of my ideas, most I havn’t been able to try out yet, but I wanted to share them anyway — just for the halibut (one of the words I’m integrating into my G-rated act).
So this police officer goes into a bank and waits in line for a long time in the Executive Accounts line. When he finally gets to the front of the line he goes up to the teller and slaps two quarters on the counter. The teller looks at him and says, “Excuse me, sir, are you aware that this is the line for Executive clients only?” So the police officer looks up at her and says…
Which leads me to:
Hey, that reminds me of this time that I bought this joke book, which I kept reading and laughing at hysterically until I realized that all of the punch-lines were at the back of the book. Come to think of it, it might not have even been a joke book after all. (I think it was actually a book about dating.)
How about this one:
Did I tell you about the time I went to the swimming pool and forgot my bathing suit? So the lifeguard says to me…
THANK YOU ALL FOR COMING! HAVE A GOOD NIGHT!
Oh wait! Don’t leave. (I take a sip from my drink.)
Let me play you a little song.
I pick up my guitar, a cigarette dangling from my lip, and start to strum away, sounding more god-awful than anything you have ever heard in your life. Everyone is sitting around, staring, waiting for the song to start, but it never does.
The build-up continues:
It don’t know if I ever told you about the time I had a meeting with a commodities investment adviser to see if he could give me any tips for my portfolio. When we met he sat me down and said to me straight out, “I just want you to know, I only deal with pork shares of pig farms, pork products and pig lard etc.”
So I look at him and say, “Don’t you know I’m Jewish? And besides, what’s your obsession with pigs anyway? They’re stinky disgusting animals. Are they really that profitable?”
And so he turns to me and says…
“What? What’s that?” I say to someone in the audience who starts to heckle me.
“Oh great going, man! You just gave away the punch-line to my next joke! Now I can’t tell it.” (Always blame the audience even if there never was a punchline.)
I start to get into the groove:
Did I ever tell you all about the time I decided to take revenge on the dog that bit me? So, one night I go outside and wait in the bushes along the path where the dog frequently walks. I take with me a plastic bag and a wooden bat for the ambush. As I sit there, waiting in the bushes for the dog to come out on his nightly walk, I notice that next to me in the bushes is another man who is sweating like crazy and carrying a length of rope and a knife. I immediately forget about my revenge plans and start to wonder if I will even live to tell the tale. The man looks over at me and, noticing my wide-eyed terror, says, “Don’t worry, I’m a religious man.” So I look at the knife and the rope, I look back up at him and I say, “How exactly do your religious beliefs help me? I’m going to die!” So he says to me, “This is true but…”
No point finishing this joke. My job is done.
“Let me play you a little song.”
I pick up my guitar and start strumming again without any direction or tune.
Strum , strum, strum….
“Can I get some volunteers from the audience please?”
I call up three people and start to hug them close without letting go. They look around uncomfortably.
I stop hugging them and ask them if they are all over the age of 21. They all nod so I give two of them my guitar and water bottle to hold. The third one I ask to bend down and lift his leg. While they’re busy I walk back to my place on stage.
Now, as I get closer to the end:
Oh! Did I mention I went to the pharmacy today and tried to buy a new color nail polish? So I was trying to decide on a color, and the saleslady comes over and tells me that if I buy two colors I get the second one at half price. So I tell her I wouldn’t mind buying two colors but I can only wear one at a time. So then she tells me I have ten fingers, that I could actually wear ten colors at once. I take ten bottles of the same color off the shelf and she looks at me and says…
I look at the three people still standing onstage and ask them, “Why are you here? I’m in the middle of an act. Can I please have that guitar — it appears to be mine. Don’t you know? This is stand up-comedy; now please sit down!”
I take the guitar and the water bottle and wander off the stage.