art, Comedy, Madness, Stand Up

A Comedian (A Short Story)

“When I twist my nipples it makes me feel emotional, often sad. That’s why I wear nipple clamps when I go to church with my grandmother…That way she thinks I’m really weeping when they are talking about Christ being whipped.” Audience laughs sporadically and more than a few boo and hiss. The comedian is unfazed. “I know! That’s what I thought! Fucking thing! Funny thing is there are people today who would pay good money for what Jesus went through that day.” The Comedian falls to his knees, and throws his hands together in the air as though tied to a stake. He moans and gesticulates in way that makes him seem like he is enormously aroused. “Oooh, oh you dirty Roman…Whip me harder…Oh! Make me your savior…Make me your savior!” The Comedian throws his arms wide in a pantomime of the savior of mankind on the cross, and a soundtrack over the loudspeakers makes an exaggerated *boing!* sound, suggesting a humorously vigorous erection. “Oh, looks like Lazarus is rising from the dead! Being the son of God is better than having a tub-full of Viagra!”

One man in the back row of the club barks out laughing for a moment before the universal silence of the rest of the audience shames him into shutting up. The Comedian can not miss this opportunity to ridicule the audience. “What! You’re right…Don’t listen to that idiot. He’s my plant! Next I’m gonna have him come on stage and throw 30 pieces of silver at me hey-ooooooooo!” The Comedian executes a rather remarkable high kick that knocks his mike stand over and sends the deafening sound of reverb screeching through the sound system. A child who someone made the foolish decision of bringing to this show starts crying and a few of the audience members get up and leave the building. The Comedian seems unfazed. “You ever get that feeling late at night that something really bad is gonna happen to you and so you sit up in your bed weeping and masturbating uncontrollably? No? Am I really the only one? No one gonna laugh at that one? Ok…You ever had GOOD airplane food? No? Hey! Hey! Why you leaving? Wassuuuup?”

Even more people start to leave, and one heckler screams at the stage “Really? A “wassup” joke? Did I somehow get transported to 2002?” The Comedian smiles and laughs at the foolishness of this man who does not understand the understated genius of his humor. “It’s ironic. Jeez! Dontcha get it? Irony!”

The heckler becomes bold. “Now you are completely messing up what the concept of irony means. I would leave at this point, but it is just too much fun to watch you continue to fail.”

The Comedian chuckled good naturedly. “Uh-oh, we’ve got a critic in the crowd! Just promise not to tell your friends how much I suck! Hey-oooo!” The Comedian pantomimes a rim shot and laughs heartily at his clever little rejoinder. “Remember folks, no refunds! And there’s a two drink minimum here at “Knee Slappers”. Try out the Japanese-Teriyaki shrimp over at the buffet: It’s like an A-bomb went off on your taste buds!” Someone let’s out an audible gasp and the heckler in the front row looks genuinely stunned as he intones “Oh my god…” under his breath.

The Comedian laughed and laughed, and he went right on to his “A” material without skipping a beat. “Hey, speaking of cataclysmic tragedies, why did the Democrats loose the homophobe vote in ’88? Because they “Do cock kiss”! Get it! Dukakis! He was the nominee! Remember that helmet on that little head?”

Most of the audience leaves at this point leaving just a few people who either want to continue heckling the Comedian or who are comedic masochists. The Comedian, primed and ready to believe the best about any terrible situation, takes these departures as a sign that his jokes have culled out all but the most sophisticated and intelligent fans. He was proud and glad to act as a cynosure on their collective journey to seek out enlightenment through humor. “Who wants to hear a limerick I wrote? No one? Ok, I’ll read it anyway!” He takes a folded yellow piece of paper out of his left breast pocket and clears his throat. This is what he read:

 

“There once was a lady from Spain

Who liked to get drunk in the rain

She danced like a clown

All about the town

And her drink of choice was Champaign”

 

The crowd is stunned into silence by this inane and pathetic display of “talent”. They really do not know how to respond. They are rubber-necking at a stand-up performance: unable to stop looking but disgusted and horrified by what they see. The Comedian is struggling to ignore the discomfort he is bringing to the crowd, and the humiliation he is inflicting upon himself, and failing badly at both. Sweat stars to pour from his forehead onto his face, beat red from the emotional and creative exertion. He grabs ahold of the mike stand like a drunk grabs a hold of a streetlamp. He starts breathing heavily and his pulse quickens, his throat and mouth go dry and his chest gets tight with panic and anxiety. All the while his face is frozen in a grotesque and simpering grin which has the effect of making him look like a terrifying and vaguely aroused clown.

“Wow, tough crowd tonight. Guess you guys were expecting Gallagher or something. Guess you weren’t expecting someone who actually has pride in their material and in their profession. Hmm. I suppose you guys would probably respond better to some more avant garde type of performance eh?”

The heckler in the front row snorts. “Yeah, maybe we are just too snobbish for you…” Some of the others chuckle at this remark. The Comedian smiles and giggles along with them. “Maybe I can elevate the proceedings with a little something from my wide assortment of props?” He reaches into the inner pocket of his blazer and pulls out an enormous handgun. “This is the Smith and Wesson .500 revolver. It is rated to take down all big game animals in North America, and is capable of killing a black bear at full charge. It takes a semi-rimmed jacketed hollow point cartridge, and when fired has a muzzle velocity of 602 meters per second. It can go through a police issued Kevlar vest like a piece of tissue paper, and is guaranteed to take the head off of a full grown man at 50 yards. Firing one round out of this gun costs as much as buying $5 lottery ticket, but I like to think that the bullet gives me more bang for my buck. And it leaves a lot less to chance.”

The crowd is deathly silent, and no one dares move from his seat. Every pair of eyes in the club is focused firmly on the weapon of mass destruction in the hand of the man they paid $15.25 + drinks to laugh at for an hour. The Comedian reaches back into his blazer pocket and pulls out a handful of ridiculously large bullets. He calmly, almost mechanically, begins to load the chambers of the revolver one by one. “Yeah, I guess my prop isn’t that funny on its own. But you see, it is not what a prop is but what you do with it that makes it funny.” The Comedian falls into a crouch position at the edge of the stage and smiles at the man who has been heckling him all night. Then he hits him full force in the face with the side of the Smith and Wesson. Blood shoots out of his temple like water from a fire hydrant wrenched open on a hot summer day, and four teeth go flying out of his mouth. Two of those teeth land with a tinkling sound in the mojito of a nearby woman. She promptly fainted dead away, sharing the floor with the heckler who is now jerking around on the floor like a gutted fish.

The Comedian stands back up, and wipes his bloody knuckles and gun on the front of his faded blue jeans. He pulls back the hammer on the pistol and braces himself as if he were about to fire. Instead he screams “BANG!” and smiles dumbly at the audience as they all jump and some of them scream. “Guess I got a response out of that little gag! Aww…I can see how a-scared you guys are so I’ll tell you what: we are going to play a game. I am going to take all but one of the bullets out of this gun, and then I am going to tell you a joke at a time while playing Russian roulette! If I get through 5 jokes then I’ll take the gun and shoot the first motherfucking person who jeered at me in this place. Oh, believe me I know who it was, and I am not gonna let you know who that person is until/unless I put a bullet in their mother fucking brain. So, let’s get started! Oh, and if any of  you so much as fucking think about calling for help or running I will shoot that motherfucker in the back of the head. Understand? I said DO YOU FUCKING UNDERSTAND?!?”

The audience all scream out “yes” as loud as they can. They are terrified, and just want this all to be over with…but now they have the prospect of getting a bullet in their head if the Comedian survives his little game. No one is going to be a hero tonight at “Knee Slapper’s”. The Comedian grins. He feels great that he had finally gotten the audience right where he wanted them. They are in the palm of his hand! “Ok! Let’s get started! And remember, you have 5 on 6 chance of getting out of here without a scratch! Alright…We’ll start with a good knock-knock joke. Everyone loves those. They are FUCKING IDIOTPROOF!” He screams at the crowd, rage and joy pulses through him in equal proportions. He is on top of the world. He has never had a more rapt audience. Somewhere in the back a woman starts to weep quietly.

The Comedian takes his place at the mike and pushes his hair back over his scalp. He adjusts the mike and shifts his weight from one leg to another, affecting a jaunty and fun loving persona. “Knock knock?”

The audience knows without being told to respond with an emphatic “who’s there?” The Comedian, with a look of pure bliss and pride on his sweaty face, placed the barrel of his gun to his right temple and put his finger on the trigger. “Kook!”

“Kook who?”

The comedian can barely contain his glee. As he finishes the joke he begins to pull the trigger. “What are you, a cloc-“ BANG!

The gun goes off. The Audience screams. The Comedian falls to the ground dead. What is left of his face is frozen in the world’s most exuberantly macabre grin.

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3 thoughts on “A Comedian (A Short Story)

  1. Gruesome story. I almost stopped reading with the religious jokes. Then I fond out audience don’t care for the jokes either. You did an excellent job drawing me in a kept me engrossed in the story. I kind of felt he planned to kill himself in the end. Bravo to you.

    • nme16 says:

      Thank you! I wanted to capture the type of anxiety someone can feel about a person who is obviously trying to anger and provoke people…and in this case provoke himself to suicide. I tend to see comedy as the truest form of contemporary philosophy, and a real connection to what we all feel deeply inside

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