As the only comedian in history from Greenville, Mississippi….I jumped at the chance to go back home and perform two INCREDIBLY DIFFERENT SHOWS. A $50-ticket, Blacktie-and-Cocktail dress event in which I performed at a podium, did family-friendly material and wore the same suit I got married in…..and a kickass, rowdy sports bar where I was contracted to do my craziest, R-rated, ultra-physical, Adult Routines. Oddly enough, I loved every minute of both shows. Even though one had humongous potential for some serious disaster….
On Friday night, I hosted the prestigious, annual “Greenville Honors Its Own” awards ceremony.* This is a yearly extravaganza that honors Greenville area artists, educators and volunteers for their achievements and contributions to the arts in the community. It’s The Oscars of Greenville, baby. Sure, our paparazzi was a drunk guy with a Polaroid; and the host was me; but it’s a big deal, dammit!
At a hundred bucks per couple, Greenville Honors Its Own is no casual night out. I performed in a black, Brooks Brothers suit; I never took the mic out of the stand; and the most profane word I used was “hell”. I did 10-15 minutes up front of stand-up; briefly explained the event, then introduced the award presenters. This is quite anomalous, compared to most of my professional shows….but it was awesome! I really enjoyed the challenge of doing completely clean and non-physical comedy, as well as creating jokes from the script they gave me and specifically for the hometown audience. Here’s some quick highlights by Yours Truly:
(When I first walked to the podium; I pulled out a notecard and said,) “I’d like to thank The Academy….oh, sorry; that’s the wrong speech.”
“It’s just like The Oscars….except, everyone already knows the winners.” (The winners were printed on the programs for the audience; there were no fellow nominees.)
“I’ve always been in love with The Arts. As a kid, I was always performing in a play or a talent show; or much to my teachers’ dismay, a classroom.”
“Presenters, please be brief. Remember, the bar is closed. The longer you talk, the longer we all have to wait to start drinking again.”
“When I was a teenager, I was 5-11 and 115 pounds. Those are Supermodel Statistics. All the girls in my class wanted my body, just not the same way I wanted theirs.”
“I know a lot of you are wondering what I put in my hair. The answer is simple: Viagra.”
“The Greenville Harmony Chorus is very talented; they’re much better than the Cleveland Tone-Deaf Quartet. They are God-Aweful. One time, the Cleveland Tone-Deaf Quartet was performing on an airplane, and people walked out.”
“There’s a Red Cadillac Coup Deville in the parking lot across the street with its lights off. There’s also an ’82 Purple Gremlin. Your lights aren’t off; it’s just an embarrassing vehicle.”
“The Artist Award is given to someone who only appears in black and white, never talks and has a French moustache…….I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be making Hollywood movie references in a town where the Walmart is bigger than the airport.”
(After Hugh McCormick gave his acceptance speech for The Lifetime Contribution to the Arts; in which he cantankerously berated the crowd for choosing him and gruffly ranted about his complete lack of patience):
“Hugh McCormick will be outside after the show, teaching his Anger Management Seminar.”
(I previously quipped, “18 bucks for one drink? For that much money, it should come with a Roofie.” I later imitated my Mom, who was in the crowd and has no idea what that joke means:)
“I want one of those 18-dollar Roofie drinks!”
Afterwards, I was socializing with the audience and selling my dvds (I chose not to sell my clothing merchandise; if I’m doing a squeaky-clean show, I assume it’s inappropriate for me to hoc “Sweetnuts” boxers and panties that read “Stop Poking Me”.) I caught up with so many relatives, friends’ parents and ex-teachers; it was awesome! Even my orthodontist was one of the presenters; so it was cool to write jokes just about him….most of them were really about my teeth, though.
When all was said and done, I gotta give mad props to my parents and their crowd. ‘Cause my wife and I were supposed to go drinking with my buddies; but the show ended late and they all had to rush home to relieve their babysitters…..so we just went partying with my folks, my aunt and uncle, and their buddies. The 60-somethings out-lasted the 30-somethings!
*One of my pothead buddies kept calling me as I was preparing for this event; I quickly texted him, “Call you later, gotta prep 4 G.H.I.O.” He spent all night, trying to solve this abbreviated riddle. My favorite response from him was “Ok, does ‘G.H.I.O.’ stand 4 George Harrison Is Omnipotent, George Hamilton is Orange, or Green Hornet’s In the Ocean?”
On Saturday night, I did a special engagement performance at Rival’s Sports Bar. This venue wasn’t around when I was growing up; but I partied there once after playing my Highschool Reunion. My ‘ole classmates and I had a killer time; so I set up a show there. Any place that lets me jump onstage and sing “Pour Some Sugar On Me” with the band is cool in my book.
I did TV and radio interviews to promote the show; and I was the first Hollywood performer to grace the stage; so we had a sweet, packed crowd. People were excited and drinking; the stage setup was an acoustic dream; my wife was taking money at the door and counting heads; what could go wrong?
Well….while I’m preparing for the show, a woman and her pre-teen daughter run over and tell me how excited they are to see my performance. The problem? The owners of Rivals promoted my show as and specifically requested it to be EXTREMELY R-RATED. What to do? Well, here’s my theory on the situation: It’s better to offend one family and rock a full crowd than please just the family and disappoint everyone else. I didn’t censor myself, I didn’t hold back, I went for the jugular on my jokes and fuckin’ connected! (Plus, the family won tickets on the radio; so it’s not like they’d be demanding their money back.)
Here’s the lesson I learned: Any family who takes their kids to an R-rated comedy show is not easily offended. They loved it! The parents and their two daughters were clapping and screaming to the dick jokes. (I kept telling myself the kids didn’t really understand the material; they were just laughing at my physicality. Let’s hope that’s the case.) I made them part of the show; they took pictures with me and bought my merchandise – I ain’t complaining! I will no longer judge an out-of-place dysfunctional family book by its wildly inappropriate cover.
As the only comedian on the show, I only had to do an hour-long act. But people started buying shots, sending me drinks, and the party escalated….at this point – the longer the show, the more money for the bar. Plus, I’m an incredible stage whore who makes Reverand Al Sharpton look like Raif Finnes. I did 94 minutes, and it was a blast! I got to do some rare Mississippi gems and even worked some local celebrities into bits. And by “celebrities”, I mean Greenville dudes who got more white puntang than Tiger.
94 minutes is longer than some feature films; but the audience was too damn electric to stop short. At least a fourth of the crowd was there from G.H.I.O.; so they were pleasantly shocked at my diametric opposite material from Friday night. I had to be extra careful on stage, too: I could almost break a ceiling light with my David Lee Roth-esque highkicks; if I moved too far back, I’d trip over a homicidal extension cord; and if I shimmied too far to the middle, I’d be humping the DJ table! My solution? I planted myself mostly on front & center stage and avoided the giant booby trap.
Anyone who’s seen me live knows I dish out more nicknames than the Drill Seargant in Full Metal Jacket, but they’re not always as sweet. The Rivals crowd were all really excited about their nicknames. It’s a great job where you can call someone “The Town Drunk” or “The Friendly Date Rapist”, and everyone cheers. After the show, table of fans ran over to me and ecstatically declared, “I’m The Gay Pimp, and I’m married to The Ho! This is The Cock-Blocker and The Black Guy!”
My favorite nickname of the evening was “Layton Lipton The Tea-Bagger”. One of the venue owner’s brother, Layton, was celebrating his birthday. He’s a huge, muscular football player being currently scouted by the NFL; so the jokes wrote themselves. I started with him being so muscular, he has a 6-pack on his balls….that turned into “Getting tea-bagged by him is like getting tea-bagged by 3 people”….and Layton Lipton The Tea-Bagger was born.
And I gotta love the guy who insisted on my wife and I partying with him at his house. He must have been in sales, ‘cause this dude didn’t understand the word “no”. We told him we were tired, he said “I got coffee!” We told him we were hungry, he said “I’ll cook you breakfast!” We told him we wanted to go have sex; he said “Use my room! Then I’ll make you coffee and breakfast.” We ended up escaping back to our room and having some breakfast….and bourbon.
All in all, the two shows in Greenville were totally worth it. The audience was beyond appreciative; I got to see relatives and childhood friends; and I didn’t break anything on stage, and nothing on stage broke anything on me. A lot of my Mississippi fans have been emailing me, asking when I’m returning. SOON. You know that inappropriate, Dickjoke-Loving family? I’m playing their reunion this summer.
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