As a comic, I’m constantly searching for ways to mine new material. I don’t know how other comics write, but my method is very random – something funny happens in life and I think, “How can I make this a bit?” Or someone says something that strikes me as usable. Usually, I’m lying in bed and in the moments before I fall asleep a hilarious idea strikes which I’m certain I’ll remember in the morning because it’s pure genius! comedy gold!, so I don’t write it down, and predictably it’s gone by morning.
So in an effort to be more productive (especially after the loss of my thick, well thumbed comedy book – clearly, I’m still mourning the loss…) – I’ve started making a list of anecdotes/crazy/memorable stories from my past. And frankly, I’m impressed by the amount of stuff I’ve come up with. The trick now, is turning them into viable jokes; always the trick, really.
Which brings us here – I thought I’d write out some of my stories over then next few weeks which would a) help me in the development process (you may see these on stage someday…lucky, lucky you!), and b) fill column space (again, lucky, lucky you!)
The following is going to be the first story because I’ve actually tried it out on stage twice – once very poorly and once with more success. We’ll see if it actually becomes something. But for now, it becomes a column!
Two things you need to know about my father before we begin. One, that earlier in his career, he was a defence attorney who had a small practice with my Godfather and two, he’s a story-repeater – i.e. he’ll tell the same story over and over and over again. Maybe he was a comic in another life.
For years, Dad would say “Did I ever tell you about the time I defended Bob Gibson?” I know, I know, my reaction was the same… who?! And for years I’d pretend I hadn’t heard the story before. “Who’s Bob Gibson, Dad?” “Well, he was a famous folk singer!” “He discovered Joan Baez!” Who is, in fact, interesting and famous, unfortunately, though, not Bob Gibson. Bob gave Dad all his albums, though I don’t think the plastic was ever cracked on any of them. “Well, gee, Dad, that’s cool”. And thus would end the story…‘til the next time. “Did I ever tell you about the time I defended Bob Gibson?”…. Sigh.
Finally, about 10 years ago, I cracked. I’d heard the (unbelievably unimpressive) story so many times I just couldn’t take it anymore. When Dad started his “Did I ever tell you…”, I said – “Did you ever meet anyone else famous in all those years, Dad?” And to my utter amazement, he said “Well, there was the time that Archie (my Godfather) defended Jimi Hendrix…” JIMI HENDRIX, kids! My reaction was predictable – along the lines of “holy-crap-that’s-cool” and “you’ve been sitting on THIS story for the last 20 years?!? He said “well, I didn’t defend him, I only met him briefly in the waiting room of the office, you know, made small talk”.
I said, dump the Bob Gibson story and immediately replace it with this. He said, but, I didn’t defend him… I said, “Dad, if you only saw the imprint of Jimi Hendrix’s butt cheeks on your reception sofa, it’s still a better story.”
I may have hurt his feelings a bit, but I’m certain my intervention has upped his status amongst those of us who listen to the stories over, and over, and over again.
And God bless you, Bob Gibson, wherever (and whoever) you are.
Next week: “James Brown, the Clown Band and Me”.