The Big “O”

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Whenever a comedian’s flight gets canceled, I get paid extra to cover his shows as the fill-in headliner. It’s happened three times in the past two months. I’m not sure if it’s due to the current shortage of air traffic controllers or my voodoo doll shaped like a Delta jet.

The last time I covered for a headliner, I received a standing ovation. This means one of two things:

  1. The audience wanted me to know how much they loved my show.
  2. The audience wanted me to know how happy they were it was over.

Standing O’s aren’t easy to get. For a comedy club audience to rise to their feet, one of two things has to happen:

  1. The audience has to become so lost in the world the comic has created onstage that they experience an epiphany about the human experience that bonds them to the comic on a spiritual level.
  2. The comic has to close his show with an impression of Tom Petty getting a prostate exam.

I got my standing O the old-fashioned way: by not sucking as much as expected.  Guests never expect me to be as funny as our headliners so I play to these low expectations big time:

We’ve got a great show for you tonight, folks. It’s right after mine.

One of our comics missed the ship so I’m headlining tonight. I’d like to open with a message from the Captain: “No refunds!”

Don’t think of me as a replacement comedian, think of me as slightly less annoying alternative to karaoke.

Although it was a proud moment for me, my lone standing O seemed rather sad compared to the Nolan Ryan moment comedian Rob Little enjoyed earlier in the cruise. Rob received an unprecedented six consecutive standing O’s. All three adults-only shows for that cruise and all three adults-only shows for the previous cruise. If three standing O’s for one cruise is a no-hitter, then six standing O’s for two cruises is a perfect game. And one standing O for one cruise is Not Sucking as Much as Expected.

The following cruise, when the comic I replaced finally showed up, I made the mistake of bragging to him about Rob’s achievement. I might as well have been telling my fiancée I had done my own laundry.  She doesn’t believe in miracles either.

I should have known better. Most comics will choose jealousy over inspiration any day of the week. Dane Cook sells out Madison Square Garden, most comics are like, “Aw, he papered the room!”

I’m different: I see another comic succeed, I think, “If he can do it I can do it.” And I did. I got my own standing ovation right after watching Rob get six. I did not, however, get six standing O’s. On the other hand, my standing O was given to me by six people, so we’re even.

In the three weeks since Rob’s record-setting feat, no comedian I have regaled around the campfire with “The Legend of the Six” seemed the least bit impressed. The consensus was: “No way those standing O’s were legitimate!”

It didn’t occur to these comics that calling Rob’s six standing ovations illegitimate made them look all the lamer for not getting one. I would much rather admit that I’m not worthy enough to get six standing O’s than admit I couldn’t get any from guests who were apparently giving them away like tax breaks to oil companies.

I said to one of my comedy buddies, “If fooling or manipulating a crowd into giving you the ultimate seal of approval is so easy, why aren’t you getting a standing O after every set?”

He said, “Because I have integrity.”

I said, “Would this be the same integrity you displayed while disparaging the remarkable triumph of a fellow performer?”

Just then he jumped to his feet like he was ready to punch me.

Of course, I didn’t take it that way. In my mind, he was giving me a standing O.

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Be My Guest, Too

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Difficult cruise ship guests can be put into four categories. You can try putting them into five, but they’re not going to cooperate.

You’ll recognize the four types of difficult guests by their mantras:

1)     “I Paid a Lot to Be Here!”

2)    “Nobody Told Me!”

3)    “That Doesn’t Make Any Sense!”

4)    “I’m Never Cruising on This Ship Again!”

 “I Paid a Lot to Be Here!”

These cruisers believe that spending time and money to go someplace gives them the right to do whatever they want once they get there. Gee, I wonder where they got that from:

NATIVE AMERICAN:

“Pale Face no can own our land—it belong to ‘Big Chief in Sky’!”

WHITE MAN:

“I sailed across the Atlantic, paddled a canoe down the Allegheny, and swam across the Ohio. So get off my lawn, Tonto—I paid a lot to be here!”

How do you think “Whitey” would have liked that logic in reverse?

PLANTATION OWNER:

“Get to work, boy!”

SLAVE:

“All the way from Africa in a rat-infested cargo ship? Pick your own cotton, Cracker—I paid a lot to be here!”

If paying taxes doesn’t give you the right to break the laws of the land then why should paying for a cruise give you the right to break the rules of the ship?

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“Sorry, sir, but I’ll have to ask you to put a shirt on, please.”

DIFFICULT GUEST:

“You telling me I can’t walk around shirtless on a cruise ship?”

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“No, sir, you may—just not on formal night.”

DIFFICULT GUEST:

“But I paid a lot to be here! Who the hell cares if I’m not wearing a stupid shirt?!”

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“All these other guests, who not only paid as much as you did, but also paid extra for their tuxedos and evening gowns, sir.”

DIFFICULT GUEST:

“If these stiffs are supposed to be so classy, why are they puking everywhere?”

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“Because of the dead seagull caught in your back hair, sir.”

“Nobody Told Me!”

The problem with this group is that they continue to cry, “Nobody told me!” even after you’ve just told them:

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“Sorry, ma’am, but this lounge is closed for a private function.”

DIFFICULT GUEST:

“Yeah, well, nobody told me!”

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but there’s a big sign right out front.”

DIFFICULT GUEST:

“I know, I walked right past it.”

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“Well, ma’am, if you saw the sign, then you should have known the lounge was closed.”

DIFFICULT GUEST:

“I didn’t say I read the sign, I said I walked past it. I didn’t know I was supposed to read the sign. Nobody told me I was supposed to read the sign. If the lounge is closed, then you should have someone standing in front of the sign telling people to read the sign that’s telling people that the lounge is closed. Where else am I supposed to sit and read my book now?”

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“How about the lounge next door, ma’am? Or the lounge across from it? Or the one below it? Or the one above it? This ship has six dozen lounges, ma’am, but this particular lounge will be closed for the next hour.”

DIFFICULT GUEST:

“Yeah, well, how am I supposed to know that—nobody told me!”

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“Ma’am. I am right here right now telling you that the lounge is closed.”

DIFFICULT GUEST:

“Well, I’m not leaving!”

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“Why not, ma’am?”

DIFFICULT GUEST:

“You should have told me the lounge was closed before I came in. I’m already inside, so now it’s too late.”

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“Ma’am, you’re three feet beyond the doorway. I stopped you two seconds after you entered the lounge.”

DIFFICULT GUEST:

“Well, you shouldn’t do that to people. We’re here to relax. We pay to fly to the ship, we pay to board the ship, and now you’re saying we’re not allowed to read a book? A book we paid for? How can you treat people like this? If a lounge is closed then somebody should tell people these things.”

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“Sorry, ma’am, but we have a sign right outside the lounge that says, ‘Lounge Closed for Private Function’, and I’m standing here right inside the doorway with the sole purpose of telling guests who missed the sign that the lounge is temporarily—for one single hour of this 168-hour cruise, after which it will remain open to the public ad infinitum—closed.”

DIFFICULT GUEST:

“Well, you should have told me sooner. If I had known this lounge was closed, I never would have booked this damn cruise to begin with.”

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“Ma’am, are you saying somebody should have told you that this particular lounge would be closed for one hour for a private function six months ago when you booked your cruise?”

DIFFICULT GUEST:

“Yes, the travel agency should have told me.”

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“But, ma’am, how is a travel agency supposed to know about a random one-hour function?”

DIFFICULT GUEST:

“Well, somebody should have told them.”

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“I’ll tell you what, ma’am. As soon as this function is over, I can reserve you a quiet table by the window so you can read your book while sipping on a complimentary glass of champagne.”

DIFFICULT GUEST: “Great—now you tell me!”

“That Doesn’t Make Any Sense!”

This is the battle cry of choice for the difficult guests who frequent our comedy club. There’s something about laughing, smiling and having a good time that brings out the worst in some people. Therefore, we have several rules and policies intended to keep disruptions and distractions to a minimum:

  • “No-Seat-Saving” Policy: To prevent guests from pissing off other guests by reserving huge blocks of seats for friends or family members who are too busy breaking even at the nickel slots to actually come to the comedy show.

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“Sorry, sir, but I gave you an extra twenty minutes for your party to arrive despite our no-seat-saving policy. Now I’m afraid I’ll have to give these seats to guests who are here.”

DIFFICULT GUEST:

“That doesn’t make any sense! If those people wanted seats they should have gotten here early.”

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“You mean just like the seven people in you party who haven’t arrived yet?”

DIFFICULT GUEST (THROWING DRINK IN JTFD’S FACE):

“If you want to take my seats away, you might as well take my drink, too!)

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE (WIPING DRINK FROM FACE):

“That doesn’t make any sense—that drink cost you nine dollars!”

  • “Clearing the Showroom between Shows” Policy: So our staff can clean up quickly and guests waiting in line can pick their favorite seats.

 JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“Sorry, ma’am, but I’ll have to ask you to kindly exit the showroom and join the line for the next show, please.”

 DIFFICULT GUEST:

“That doesn’t make any sense! I just walked in during the last 10 minutes of the previous show.”

 JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“In that case, it makes perfect sense, ma’am: you made a conscious decision to come to the show late, thereby missing the announcement of our policy at the beginning of the show. Fortunately, I announced our policy again at the end of the show and, as you watched 650 other compliant guests file past you,  you heard me repeat our policy announcement 10 more times over five minutes. Since you’ve chosen to challenge our policy in full view of hundreds of other guests who were kind enough to cooperate, I have no choice but to confront you personally and ask you to leave. Any discomfort or embarrassment you are feeling right now is a result of your personal choice not to respect your fellow guests by heeding my announcements. Now, if you’d like, ma’am, I can reserve you this seat for the next show. Meaning, if you were to help me keep up appearances by exiting the lounge just like everyone else, I’d put down a “Reserved” sign for you. Then, instead of waiting in line, you can arrive a few minutes before show time and your seat will be waiting for you. But, for the time being, I’ll need you to kindly shut the @#$% up and get the @#$% out!”

 DIFFICULT GUEST:

“That doesn’t make any sense! What the @#$% does @#$% mean? @#$% ain’t even a @#$%-ing word, @#$%-er!”

  •  “No-Talking-During-the-Show” Policy: To make sure our comedians don’t get distracted and our guests don’t miss any punchlines.

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“Sorry, ma’am, but would you be so kind to keep your table talk down to a whisper for me, please?”

DIFFICULT GUEST: “That doesn’t make any sense! This guy ain’t funny!”

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but could you repeat that? Your words were drowned out by the sound of 600 people laughing.”

DIFFICULT GUEST:

“That doesn’t make any sense! If I’m talking too loudly, then how come you couldn’t hear me?”

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“It’s called a joke, ma’am. I was just trying to be as unfunny as our headliner.”

  • “No One under the Age of 18 Admitted to the Adults-Only Shows” Policy: We think that every once in a while a cruise ship should be fun for the people who paid for the cruise…Grandma and Grandpa.

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“I’m sorry, sir, but your son is too young to come in—this is an ’18-and -over’ show.”

DIFFICULT GUEST:

“You mean to tell me that my 15-year-old smokes, drinks and has unprotected sex, but a few dirty jokes are going to upset his delicate teenage sensibilities?”

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“First of all sir, congratulations on being a lousy parent. Secondly, we don’t care what your kid listens to, we’d just rather you send him to the casino for 40 minutes so we can take all his dope peddling money at the blackjack table.”

“I’m Never Cruising on This Ship Again!”

Difficult guests in this group love me. Anytime I ask them to respect one of our rules or policies, they let me have it: “I’m never cruising on this ship again!”

Folks, if you want to get revenge for my enforcing rules designed to make our comedy shows more enjoyable for all our guests, the last thing you want to tell me is that you aren’t coming back to my ship. You know what I‘ll think? “Thank you, Baby Jesus!”

If you want to get even with me for not letting you ruin the show for others, don’t threaten to not come back. Threaten to come back next month:

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“Sorry, sir, but these people have been standing in line for the past 30 minutes. I apologize but I can’t allow you to cut the line, sir.”

DIFFICULT GUEST:

“Oh, yeah—well, how about I just call my travel agent and book up all of October?”

JEFF THE FUN DOUCHE:

“You know what, sir, screw those people—come right on in!”