Thursday, December 21, 2006

So You Want to Be a Standup Comedian?

And this is just how Dwight travels during the Holidays. When he goes to Afghanistan it looks more like this:

Here's to my friend Dwight Slade, although he'd cringe if I called him that. Ever since I used to phone into the old Dave and Dwight show, the schtick has been that I'm the psycho shut-in loner and he's the big-time international comedian. Our conversations always feature a few sentences about how he regrets taking the call, and hopes it wraps up before things get too awkward. Along the way, we've become buddies of sorts, and I enjoy writing the occasional joke for him.

Incidentally, Dwight had one of the better takes in the anxious moments before the Presidential Elections of 2004. I was freaking out over the notion that the Bush years would continue, and though Dwight shared my concerns politically, he sprinkled the comedy dust on it. He pronounced the 2004 Elections a Win-Win Situation. That still makes me laugh.

This has been quite a year for Dwight. He did a tour for the troops in Afghanistan and one month over in Scotland. Last week he emailed me about an upcoming appearance on Bob and Tom, a national radio show. I've written some stuff for this particular effort before, and they were having him back which is always a good sign. When I called Dwight he was in Los Angeles. We did the usual two minutes about how little interest he had in talking with me, and how he only took the call because he thought it was somebody else.

The one thing I did ask him was to please email me a reminder if he didn't hear from me a couple of days before the show. The bit was called, "I wonder why..." or "I wonder what..." I just knew it was a few days too soon to write the topical stuff, and a week was the outer limits of my long-term memory. Why couldn't he call or write at the last minute so these things wouldn't hang over my head?

Take the Lars Larson show, if you can. The most recent time on that, Dwight called around a half hour before airtime. I got right on it, called him back, and then got to watch him tell Lars a couple of my jokes which was fun. Incidentally, Comcast broadcasts the radio show, including right through the breaks, so after Dwight delivered my suggested line about the War on Christmas, I saw that Lars went on talking about it after they went off the air. That was a win in my world.

Unfortunately, I almost spaced out this last radio performance. I was just about to go out to dinner with my wife when I remembered it. This was Tuesday night and he went on Wednesday morning. Whoops! "Ahh, honey, I have to go write some comedy now." She was very understanding. The last thing I need to do is let down someone who visited our troops in Afghanistan this year. That would almost make me a terrorist appeaser, wouldn't it?

This is a busy time. I don't know about you, but in my area the natives are in the middle of some primitive and demanding celebration. Actually, forget the War on Christmas - this is all part of Christmas's War on Me.

Anyway I called and this time Dwight was in Indianapolis where the show is located. I guess he was beginning to think I had forgotten because he said he was working on a bit called, "I wonder why friends let you down and betray you?"

Thank goodness I remembered. Who needs an extra helping of guilt during this nightmare? Especially involving an authentic American comedy hero? Of course, Dwight's way too cool to remind me - even though I knew I might space this out with all the holiday hubbub. There's your Christmas Carol for you right there - Holiday Hubbub: "My nerves are all shattered, they're worn to the nub, I suppose it must be, that old Holiday Hubbub."

Along the way, I also got a sense of what a winter standup gig for a national comedian is like. My nightmarish jaunts to the post office, etc...didn't seem that bad, after hearing about Dwight's 11-hour trip to Indianapolis. And then the fun was really scheduled to start with a gig in Lexington, Kentucky. Finally on the 24th, he flies home to Portland, assuming the weather in Denver, etc...gets a lot better. So you want to be a standup comedian? Take my advice: Be a writer instead, but for God's sake, get an appointment calendar.


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