Move Over, Dave Barry, Here Comes the Fun Dude!

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Hi, there, Fun-atics! After one year and sixteen drafts, my first Kindle book is now available for purchase on Amazon.com for $3.99. (Cheaper than an issue of Mad Magazine!) Here’s the link:

The Fun Dude’s Guide to Cruising: A Humorous Handbook for Taking Your First Cruise and Living to Complain about It

If you’re not sure if cruising is for you, then this funny and irreverent romp through the cruise industry surely is. Written by a stand-up comedian and shipboard comedy club manager who has spent the past decade yucking it up on the high seas, The Fun Dude’s Guide to Cruising is the ultimate primer for taking your first cruise. You’ll learn how to book your cruise without the help of a reefer-toking travel agent; how to get stranded in Mexico with no passport and no Pepto-Bismol; how to overpack your suitcase with clothes you’ll be too drunk to iron; how to eat so much free ice cream you’ll slip into a sugar coma; how to imbibe so much alcohol you’ll become a CNN headline; how to get free cabin upgrades by behaving like a spoiled child even “Honey Boo-Boo” would scorn; how to ignore important safety information that could save your life while making your entire country look bad in the process; how to get free stuff by complaining about stupid stuff; how to become a karaoke superstar without hitting a single correct note; and, most important, how to annoy everyone else around you without getting pushed overboard.

Even if you’re a veteran cruiser or, better yet, a cruise line employee, The Fun Dude’s Guide to Cruising contains enough acerbic fun—and funny—for the misanthropic landlubber in everyone. And for less than half the price of a fruity umbrella drink on Lido Deck.

Public Offender

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As both a stand-up comedian and comedy club manager, I often get complaints from audience members who are “offended” by something I or one of our Punchliner headliners have said onstage. But if you ask me, getting offended by stand-up comedy is like getting burned by the sun: both are easily avoidable. All it takes is a little sunscreen and maturity. Before you go to the beach, lather up; before you go to an R-rated comedy show, grow up. (Or at least do a little research about the comedian you’re about to see.) Whether you walk into one of our adults-only comedy shows beet-red from the sun or leave it beet-red from indignation, my response will be the same: “Well, what did you think was going to happen, you freckled @#$% ?” (See? I purposely censored myself so as not to offend you.)

Although I don’t enjoy offending people, I have little empathy for people who claim to be offended by the words, ideas or opinions of others. In my opinion, being offended is not a real thing. It’s an irrational state of mind that people lacking in emotional intelligence create for themselves by interpreting the words and intentions of others through mental filters based on their personal issues, prejudices, fears and, more often than not in comedy clubs, copious shots of Jägermeister. I believe this because I find myself being offended by things people do and say all the time. Fortunately, most of the time I can catch myself immediately and calm myself down by talking myself through my upset until  realizing that I alone own my feelings. So instead of going off on the person whom I’ve allowed to push my buttons, I’ll quietly walk outside and key his car.

Part of being an adult is being able to react maturely and reasonably to ideas and opinions that differ from one’s own.  In my humble—and 100% correct—opinion, comedy club patrons who express their displeasure with a comedian’s routine by  making a big deal about how “offensive” it is are exhibiting a lack of both reason and maturity and should stop going to comedy clubs and join the presidential race instead.

To clarify, I’ve got no problem with guests who express their opinions politely. For these folks, I’ll go out of my away to be a good listener and say whatever I can to make them feel better. I’ll apologize profusely, suggest another show which may be up their alley, and reserve them front-row seats for that show. What I won’t do, however, is throw the comedian in question under the bus by agreeing with the guest’s assessment of his act should I feel otherwise. If I feel a guest’s criticisms are spot-on, I’ll incorporate those comments into the comedian’s end-of-cruise performance evaluation. If I feel the guest is off base, however, I’ll listen politely for as long as he can keep his critique civil. “I don’t find this comedian funny!” is an opinion I can accept and work with. But as soon as some touchy hothead starts drifting over into “This comedian sucks—he’s not funny at all!” territory, it takes all the willpower I can muster not to pull the pin on a snarky-comment grenade and shout,  “What’s that?! You’ll have to speak up! I can’t hear you on account of our being surrounded by five hundred other people laughing their asses of at that hilarious comedian onstage right now!”

So you see, I’ve got no problem with paying (ahem!) customers expressing their honest opinions about any sub-par comedians I have a hand in recruiting and reviewing. In fact, even when the rest of the room is rolling in the aisles, there may be one lone wolf in the crowd who isn’t buying the crap the comedian is selling and who may very well win my respect by identifying that comedian as a headliner wannabe or, as I call such acts, “The Emperor’s Closer.”

No, my beef is with folks who get on their high horse and demand to either have a comic fired or at the very least be forced to drop the “offensive” bit in question. The problem with these folks is not the feelings of anger, disgust, frustration or indignation they experience when hearing a joke or premise they disagree with; the problem is their thinking that those feelings are more valid or important than either the feelings of release and purposefulness experienced by the comedian expressing himself onstage or the feelings of joy and happiness experienced by the other three hundred or so people in the audience who are guffawing their heads off. In other words, when an irate audience member claims to be offended by a joke she is basically saying that, in her opinion, the joke, which is the comedian’s opinion, is invalid, as is the laughter response of the other audience members, which is their opinion, and so in her opinion, the only opinion that matters in this case is her opinion. Well, in my opinion, people who share that opinion should be playing in a sandbox with a bunch of three-year-olds and not taking up seats in a comedy club.

The most ridiculous aspect of such complaints is the offended customer almost always thinks the comedian offended him on purpose. Few comedians derive any joy out of offending people. Stand-ups are by nature very paranoid people and are worried constantly about not being liked and not getting booked. Besides, although a stand-up’s job is to reinterpret everyday experience from an angle the average person would never consider, his ultimate goal is to make people laugh and feel good. And so, because of that and the fact that most comedians are extremely self-centered, we almost always assume that everyone in the audience is going to agree with our point of view. So if we think something is funny, we assume everyone will find it funny. However, every journeyman comedian knows that the audience is the final arbiter of what’s funny and what’s not, so if we try a bit a few times and the majority of the audience rejects it, we’re not going to keep it in the act. Meaning, every time one or two members of an audience are offended by a bit or find it terribly unfunny, hundreds if not thousands of people all around the country—or around the globe, even—have already laughed at it as opposed to being offended by it. (Of course, hate speech is something else altogether. But that’s where the audience comes in. What these “I was so offended” people don’t understand is if a comedian is truly out of line and a joke really is in bad taste, the whole audience will, more often than not, turn on him and let him know immediately. If you don’t believe me, just ask Michael “12 Years an Outcast” Richards.)

In my opinion (the three most important words in this essay), too many cruise-ship passengers, when watching stand-up comedy shows they neither paid for nor were forced to attend, have the mistaken belief that their opinion is more important than that of the artist onstage or the other cruisers in the audience. And, in some cases, some of them may actually come to a comedy show looking for something to be offended by because the feelings of self-righteousness and outrage they experience get the endorphins pumping more than a bucketful of free ice-cream on Lido Deck. Fortunately, these folks are in the minority. Unfortunately, they can multiply like Gremlins whenever the cruise line coddles them like children instead of treating them like the adults they’re supposed to be.

In a perfect world, our ship’s Guests Services associates would be empowered to answer all complaints regarding the content of our clearly advertised “eighteen-and-over, uncensored, anything-goes, adults-only” late-night comedy shows that are “not for the easily offended” with: “Let’s see here: You know you’re someone who is easily offended yet you still opted to see an adults-only, uncensored comedy show which was advertised as not being for the easily offended, and now not only have  you been easily offended, but you also have third-degree burns all over your body from lying out by the pool all day with no sunscreen?

“Well, what did you think was going to happen, you freckled @#$% ?”

# # #

Heckler Skelter

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Repeat after me: Heckling does not help a stand-up comedy show!

To get an idea of how unhelpful hecklers are, imagine if you were forced to read the above sentence while trying to read something else for pleasure. Let’s say, a Dan Brown novel:

“That’s it,” thought Langdon. “The answer was right in front of me the whole time. If one translates Beowulf from the old English into Portuguese using a code key hidden in the original handwritten lyrics of Francis Scott Keyes’ ‘Star Spangled Banner’, then the name ‘Grendel’ changes to ‘Dick Cheney’, which means the murderer has to be…” –Repeat after me: Heckling does not help a comedy show!

See how frustrating that was? Just before you could confirm your hunch that George W. Bush is the scion of Jesus of Nazareth, hell bent on destroying the Catholic Church so that he can paint over Michelangelo’s  work on the Sistine Chapel with a giant portrait of himself dodging a flying shoe thrown at him by a rogue Iraqi assassin as revenge for the time he tried stealing the original Declaration of Independence as an initiation prank for the Skull and Bones Society in an attempt to uncover the conspiracy to murder General Patton, who was actually a high-ranking secret member of the Free Masons, the Druids and the Illuminati—I had to go and ruin it by thinking that what I have to say is more important or entertaining than the carefully written and edited prose of the bestselling author you paid good money to read during your valuable free time.

Why? Because I’m disrespectful and self-centered. And a member of the Illuminati.

Although the average headliner can make crushing a drunken redneck under an avalanche of well-rehearsed stock lines look easy and fun, as well as therapeutic, comedians don’t need hecklers to help them get laughs.

That’s what jokes are for. Jokes: you know, those things comedians write and perform every day for a minimum of five years before becoming a paid professional?

Hecklers always think they’re helping the show. Sometimes, they even feel as if they are the show. Unfortunately, hecklers want to be part of the show without putting in any of the hard work required to prepare, produce or promote the show. Most hecklers are so egotistical they actually think that the interplay between themselves and the comedian is somehow superior to the material the comedian has spent the past decade or so honing.

I don’t spend hours at the computer perfecting a piece of material just so an audience member who shows up five minutes late to a show can interrupt me and force me to make fun of the lime-green tank top he’s wearing on Formal Night just so he can feel like a superstar for the rest of the cruise every time somebody yells, “Hey, look it’s ‘Lime-Green Tank Top Boy’!”

We comics don’t slam hecklers in order to get laughs; we slam hecklers in order to embarrass them into silence so we can get on with our acts. Problem is most hecklers have a simplistic sense of humor. So, when a comedian whips up a witty comeback right off the top of his head, what most comics would consider a run-of-the-mill heckler slam comes across as pure comedy gold to the heckler. Therefore, the heckler reasons that in order for a comedian to drop the boring crap and start with the real jokes you have to heckle—or help—him. This reasoning is illogical because it totally ignores the opinions and preferences of the other three hundred people who paid to see the show. Without having any affiliation with the comedy club other than clipping a free coupon out of the newspaper, the average heckler decides that he knows what’s best for both the comedian onstage and the rest of the audience. The product of a perfect blend of narcissism and Long Island Iced Tea.

If heckling is so integral to an act’s success, then why don’t comedy clubs audition hecklers and book them six months in advance just like comedians? When was the last time you walked into an Improv or a Funny Bone and saw a poster that advertised: “Tonight: Marc Maron! With special guest: ‘Some drunken redneck in a Nickelback T-shirt’ ”?

Once a heckler opens his mouth, the show’s focus transfers from the performer onstage to a member of the audience who may or may not have paid to be there. Most people who pay to see a comedy show do so because they’re either a fan of stand-up comedy in general or a fan of a specific comedian:

“Jim Gaffigan is coming to the Civic Theater next month. I love that guy—let’s go online and buy tickets… (so we can sit in the front row and shout, ‘Hot Pockets’ every five seconds until Jim throws the microphone at us before running offstage to put his head in a microwave oven).”

Nobody who buys a ticket to a comedy show is paying to see the audience:

“Gee, I hope that same drunken redneck in the Nickelback T-shirt who heckled Brian Regan at the Hard Rock Casino last month shows up at the Jim Gaffigan show tonight. His non-sequiturs about Bud Light and bass fishing were way funnier than anything two of the best joke writers in North America who make millions in ticket sales every year have to say. Better yet, I hope there’s a loudmouthed bachelorette party sitting front row center. I pray that, as soon as Jim launches into a hilarious bit about how much money he spends on groceries every month feeding a family of six, some barely coherent bachelorette does one too many shots of tequila and tells Jim straight up how unfunny he his. That way he can abandon the material he’s spent the past year perfecting in order to make some hysterical, off-the-cuff comparisons between plantains and the giant penis hat that demure flower  is wearing.

“Now that’s comedy, cousin!”

# # #

 

 

Shut Up and Laugh!

No Talking

My main duty as a comedy club manager is to monitor table talk and heckling during a show. The reason “policing the room” is so important is because stand-up comedy is a delicate art form. In fact, the only thing more delicate than stand-up comedy is the ego of a tipsy redneck who thinks stand-up comedy is neither delicate nor an art form. That means I constantly have to be on the lookout for potential disturbances that can interfere with a comedian’s performance. A skilled comedian’s punchlines are so precisely timed that distracting him for even a second can cause the funniest joke in his act to become painfully unfunny and then, before you know it, Larry the Cable Guy’s doing it on TV.

They say that dying is hard but comedy is harder. Harder still is trying to get cruise ship passengers to shut the hell up for half an hour. The difference between a well-rehearsed joke killing or dying can be caused by the slightest change in the inflection or pronunciation of a single word in the setup or punchline. Believe it or not, a comic can’t concentrate on the nuances of delivery if his inner technician is being drowned out by a bachelorette party seated ten feet from the stage arguing over who has the classiest tramp stamp.

So it’s my job to go from table to table begging the self-centered and inebriated to act like grown-ups for thirty short minutes. But, on a cruise ship, where guests have paid a pretty penny for the privilege of being obnoxiously drunk in public, getting them to give their respect and attention to a professional entertainer is sometimes a mission even “The Expendables” would turn down.

That’s why the average audience member gets defensive when I shush them. Rarely does anyone ever apologize for getting caught up in the moment and not realizing how loud they’re being. Rarely does anybody say, “Oh, I’m sorry. This is my first time in a comedy club. So when I heard your offstage announcement asking me to keep my table talk to a minimum, I thought you were joking. And so when the comedian onstage told me to pipe down and the entire room erupted into thunderous applause, I thought he was joking. And so when the table of half-deaf blue-hairs in front of me turned around, screamed ‘Shut the @#$% up!’ and started pelting my abnormally sloped forehead with gin-drenched ice cubes, I thought they were a geriatric flash mob. It never occurred to me that I’m not actually supposed to chit-chat at full volume while others are trying to enjoy a professional comedy show. Thank you, sir, for inspiring me to become a better—and quieter—person. I beg you to reach deep within your heart and find the mercy to forgive me for breaking the unwritten social contract of “he talk, me listen” which has existed between a boat act and his audience since time immemorial. Now may I please have a glass of water to take my lithium with?”

Actually, nobody ever says that.

Instead, they say: “What do you mean I can’t talk in a comedy club? Oh, so only the comedian is allowed to talk, is that right? I’ve never heard of that before. What is your name, sir? I’m going to have you hung, drawn and quartered for ruining my cruise and scarring my soul with your unreasonable and unthinkable demand for silence during a live presentation in a theatrical setting! How about crying—is crying OK in a comedy club? Because that’s what I feel like doing now that you’ve embarrassed me in front of my equally drunk and inconsiderate friends by politely and gently reminding me of a policy you clearly mentioned a dozen times in your preshow announcements!”

Although I can understand somebody not knowing how to behave in a comedy club, what I can’t understand is how a grown adult can argue with somebody who works someplace about something only a person who works at that place can possibly know anything about. I was raised Catholic. Not once did I have to take off my shoes or put on a yarmulke upon entering my church. Therefore, it wouldn’t occur to me to take off my shoes before entering a Buddhist temple, just as it wouldn’t occur to me to put on a yarmulke before entering a Jewish synagogue.  But even though I’m not a religious person anymore, I wouldn’t think twice about losing my shoes or wearing a yarmulke upon entering another’s house of worship. I’m a guest on their turf and, therefore, good manners dictate that I respect their traditions and customs without question. You’ll never hear me say to a rabbi, “Sorry, dude, but I put a five-dollar bill in the collection box before entering, so that means I paid to be here, Chuck. And since the customer is always right, I’ll waltz into this dump wearing a Nazi helmet and a Speed-o if I want to. A man wearing a yarmulke in a synagogue? I’ve never heard of that before.”

Policing the room is normally much easier in a land-based comedy club. At my home club, Hilarities 4th Street Comedy Theater @ Pickwick & Frolic, in downtown Cleveland, there’s always a showroom manager and anywhere from two to six ushers in the showroom at any given time. The moment customers start heckling or chatting too loudly, Usher #1 goes over and says something. If the behavior continues, it’s Usher #2’s turn. If that doesn’t work, the showroom manager asks one more time—very politely—for the customers to settle down, sometimes handing them a business-card-sized note explaining the club’s No Talking / No Heckling policy. If that doesn’t work, the showroom manager radios for backup in the form of an off-duty uniformed policeman, who then escorts the guests out of the showroom. The guests then have their choice to continue their conversation out in the martini bar or upstairs in the restaurant. If, however, they give the cop a hard time, they can continue their conversation in the back of a squad car.

In the Punchliner, on the cruise ship I’ve called home for the past five years, it’s just me. What the showroom manager, doorman, ushers and off-duty police officers at Hilarities do in unison, I do all by myself.

The only thing I don’t do is put talkers into the back of a squad car.

Instead, I just throw them overboard.

Getting thrown overboard for talking during a comedy show? I bet you never heard of that before.

Sorry If I Offended You, Jackass!

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There comes a point in every comedian’s career when he has to stop worrying about offending people. Worrying about offending people while performing stand-up comedy is like worrying about getting bugs on your windshield while driving a car. No matter how slowly or carefully you drive, you’re still going to get bugs on your windshield. You don’t want to kill the bugs, you may feel bad about killing the bugs—especially if your kid is watching A Bug’s Life in the backseat—but, unless you want to stay parked in the driveway and get bird poop on your windshield, you’re going to get bugs on your windshield. You can always ride your bike, but then you’re going to get bugs in your teeth. You can always Rollerblade backwards naked, but then you’re going to get a bug up your ass. In which case, you’ll wind up on my cruise ship complaining that I offended you with one of my jokes.

Whenever one of my jokes accidentally hurts somebody’s feelings, my first impulse is to apologize. My second impulse is to duck. Whenever one of my jokes accidentally offends somebody, however, my first impulse is to offend them again—on purpose. My second impulse is to run away like a little girl. (Sorry if I just offended any of you little girls out there.)

What’s the difference between hurting someone’s feelings and offending someone? Well, someone who’s easily hurt is less likely to laugh at the expense of others because she knows how bad it feels to be the butt of a joke. Someone who’s easily offended is more likely to laugh at everyone else but himself because he actually thinks he is more important than everyone else. So hurting somebody’s feelings with comedy is like crashing into the car in front of you because you’re not watching where you’re going, whereas offending somebody with comedy is like crashing into someone who doesn’t stop at intersections because they believe stop signs don’t apply to them.  Either way, the other driver thinks you’re at fault.

Let’s say you’re sitting in the front row of my comedy show and I start making fun of some guy’s shirt. If you’re the sort who’s easily hurt, you might think, “Why are you making fun of that man’s shirt in front of all these people? That’s not nice! I think that’s a lovely shirt he’s wearing—what’s wrong with purple polka dots?!” If, however, you’re the type who’s easily offended, you might think, “Yes, that is one goofy looking shirt—get him, Fun Dude—get him! Make sure he never sets foot in T.J. Maxx ever again! Ha! Ha! Ha!” But then as soon as I move on and start making fun of your tank top, you might think, “Hey, watch it, Buddy! This is America! The Second Amendment gives me the right to ‘bare’ arms! You better start making fun of that fat lady next to me before I kick your Ellen-DeGeneres-looking butt!”

Sometimes, when an audience member takes offense to a comedian’s material, he’ll try to ruin the comedian’s set by heckling. Guests on my ship have asked, “Well, if the First Amendment gives a comedian the right to say whatever he wants on stage, doesn’t it give me the right to heckle him while he’s on stage?”

The short answer is  “No.”

The long answer is “No, Jackass!”

The really long answer is “Your First Amendment rights during a live performance which other have people paid to attend and seem to be enjoying are limited to either laughing or not laughing; remaining in the showroom or getting the hell out. Although the First Amendment does indeed give you the right to your own opinion, decorum still dictates that you express your opinion in the proper forum, using the proper medium, at the proper time.

Such as, waiting until the comedian gets into his car and then crashing into him.

I Kid You Not

I Kid You Not

The coolest thing about being a cruise ship comedian is I get to perform stand-up for children way too young to visit comedy clubs on land. One night, this adorable little Chinese-American girl in the front row raised her hand halfway through my set.

“Do you have a question, Sweetheart?”

“Yes. When does the good part start?”

Needless to say, the audience went nuts.

Feigning outrage, I said, “Hey, Kid—I don’t come down to where you work and knock the iPhone parts out of your hand, do I?”

As the wave of laughter washed over me, I stuck out my tongue and did a victory dance. Apparently, this was the funniest thing her little brother had ever seen. And when he jumped out of his seat to hi-five me, their parents lost it as well.

I thought I had won that round until the unimpressed cutie opened her coloring book, started coloring and shouted—with perfect timing, “Boring!”

Point. Set. Match.

The difference between a ship’s youth counselor and a ship’s comedian is one entertains immature crybabies and the other entertains their children. That’s why I love having kids at my shows. They save me the trouble of dumbing my act down by explaining my jokes to their parents.

Why are little kids such a joy to perform for? Well, for one thing, little kids don’t drink. Or, if they do, it’s usually just a beer or two to take the edge off of all that free ice cream. Because they’re sober, little kids pay attention. And, for boat acts such as myself, getting the audience to pay attention is half the battle. When your typical adults-only, midnight-show crowd consists of inebriated NASCAR fans whose idea of whispering during a live performance is talking with their mouths full, a front row filled with enchanted third-graders staring up at you in wide-eyed fascination is like a breath of fresh, non-rum-and-tequila-scented air.

Because my family show contains inoffensive yet mature material aimed at adult fans of clean comedy, most of my punchlines sail right over the munchkins’ heads. But most kids don’t seem to care. They seem perfectly happy just to be there witnessing my show, if not participating in it. I can almost see the wheels in their tiny noggins spinning as they struggle to wrap their hungry brains around the novel concept of stand-up comedy: “Who is this real-life wizard up on the stage magically making grown-ups laugh with nothing other than the words coming out of his mouth? Can I become a comedian when I grow up or are my grades too good?”

Don’t get me wrong. Performing stand-up for children can be daunting, especially for newer acts. The way our cruise line bills our family-friendly shows can sometimes make the comic’s job more challenging than it needs to be. Parents hear the phrase “family-friendly” and mistakenly assume that our family-friendly shows are for kids. They’re not. They’re for adults. Adults who want to enjoy a professional comedy show without entrusting overworked and sleep-deprived youth counselors to keep Junior from following a bouncy ball over the bow of the ship. Unfortunately, some parents bring their too-young-to-understand toddlers to the comedy club expecting to find an on-board Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Time Theater. Although enthralled grade-schoolers can energize a front row, do you have any idea how hard it is to deliver perfectly timed punchlines with an exhausted rug rat screeching, crying and climbing on his seat—three feet from the stage? It’s enough to make a comic wish he were  at Chuck E. Cheese so he could play a nerve-soothing game of “Whack a Two Year Old.”

Even though entertaining adults and kids at the same time with the same jokes is the stand-up comedy equivalent to skiing a black-diamond run, the sense of accomplishment I feel at the bottom of the hill is exhilarating. Nothing makes my day like stepping off an elevator onto Lido Deck and watching a star-struck little boy point up to me and say, “Look, Mommy, it’s that funny lady from the comedy show!”

Nothing, that is, except watching his big sister grin from ear to ear and shout, “Boring!”

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.