Oh yeah? Well the cool thing about holding onto all of my notebooks for the past 10 years is that every once in a while I find something that I’d forgotten. Some tidbit. In this case, while rummaging about my bookshelf one rare night home, I fumbled upon a small spiral-bound notebook that held in it the only remaining recorded history (written or otherwise) of the first solo performance piece I’d ever tried in New York City. It’s a piece I only performed 3 or 4 times total, and these particular notes I’m referring to were for the…second time I performed it? Maybe? Anyway, here I am home alone with baseball on in the background and said notebook at my side, so why not transcribe and imbibe? Old Speckled Hen Ale if you’re curious. I shall try to transcribe it exactly, with my notes from the here and now in italics:
THE HOSPITAL ROOM
1. Jacqui introduces me “a NYC comic”
Jacqui Malouf hosted a show in the basement of the Cornelia Street Cafe
2. I come running down the aisle, hooting and hollering.
3. I demand and get “high fives” from my table and maybe one other.
I’m not sure why I felt the need to put high fives in quotes, since I really did want audience members to give me actual high fives.
4. I bound onto the stage, get mic, greet the audience and wish them a happy holidays, Merry X-Mas, etc. Oh, THOSE holidays. Okay. “I feel like I’m so happy it’s holiday season. It’s my job tonight to put you in the holiday mood! Are you ready for some comedy? I said are you ready for some comedy? Okay, I’m gonna give you some comedy right now, my gift to you, this one of my favorite bits, it’s called the Hospital Room! Kick it, name!” [cue tape]
Okay, first of all, I’m not sure any of the above set-up is necessary at all, other than to achieve the meager humor of BIG ENERGY SET-UP followed by SAD HOSPITAL ROOM SCENE. Eh. I could’ve started with the scene itself. Second of all, how awesome is my notation for the sound guy? The word ‘name’ underlined. Thirdly, CUE TAPE! A TAPE! Holy shit I’m old. FYI, the tape in question is of an odd hospital life support beep / breathing apparatus noise I’d made with some crappy sound editing program on an old Mac. So old and new technology at work here. A cassette tape playing a sound I’d edited on a laptop. Odd. Anyway, this beeping/breathing goes on throughout the bit.
5. I stand on far upstage looking contemplative with microphone. I wait approx. 30-40 seconds (really!)
Holy shit really!??!
as audience sits and wonders what the hell is going to happen. (begin scene)
I’m a blue collar type guy. I guess kinda like my current Frankie No-Pants character. A little New Jersey slababeef.
6. “Is this the room? Okay thank you nurse. Oh, and nurse? Thank you for the microphone. [I am holding an imaginary bag in non-mic hand]
“Thank you for the microphone” is the best part of this whole piece
7. I enter, looking around me, I see my buddy lying there, I cringe. I place bag down.
As you can see, I used to be so nervous about performing that I needed to itemize EVERY SINGLE THING THAT I WAS GOING TO DO ON STAGE. Otherwise, chaos.
8. Hey there buddy. Hey Ralph, Merry Christmas. Ah, what am I saying, I bet you don’t think this has been a very Merry Christmas at all, do ya? I mean – ah look at me, Ralph, I ain’t no good leaving messages on answering machines much less talking to guys in a coma. Ah shit. What do I say. Well, you look good. By which I mean, you look like you. I mean, when [all props invisible) they carried you off the factory floor, it was like
Wait. All props invisible? WTF?
what's that pile of stuff, you know, but now it's like I take on look and it's (!POP!) Ralph, you know. Well, maybe two looks. Hey, I brought you a present. You are gonna love this (get present from bag). Ta-Da! We found it. Yeah, it was behind the flange-press. It musta rolled under there when you had your accident. Mr. Fluff 'n' Puff, the factory cat, he was playing with it when we found it. You know, batting it around and stuff, Tom had to trade him a piece of his hot dog to get it. I guess Mr. Fluff 'n' Puff couldn't really tell the difference right? Hey look, on behalf of all the boys at the factory YES WE GET IT I WORK IN A FACTORY WITH RALPH I wanna apologize for not finding it sooner. I suppose we coulda put it on ice or something, and they could have...ah, well, here it is in a har of formaldahyde, for posterity's sake. No pun intended. Ah wait no pun achieved.
10. I don't know why I felt the need to start a new # here Oh hey, we all signed a card for you. It's a Far-Side card. This cow here, see, he's got this duck on his head, and it says "Why cows don't play chess." I don't get it. Okay, here you go [Read Card until tape falters)
card: Many get well soons and Merry X-Mases.
One mistaken Happy Birthday, etc.
gag - one not signed
gag - Happy B-Day
gag - repeats (diff people same thing)
gag - I signed this card twice ha, ha no really get well
Okay here's where the notes are not very helpful. Basically, at this point in the bit, I'm reading what a bunch of Ralph's co-workers wrote on his get well card. There are a lot of little messages, and the utter mundaneness (mundanity? (oh the mundanity!)) and repetition becomes amusing. Slightly. Also, I threw in a few gags such as someone mistakenly writes Happy Birthday, etc. Then the tape falters and it becomes an audio of me talking to some chick as she's giving me a BJ. LOL! So alternative!
11. [tape falters] – Hey name, could you stop the tape, I guess [talk during wheat thins and prince) name isn't listening (oh it's stuck!") I didn't put enough hosp sound effects on it. I think it goes back to the hospital stuff if we just wait it out.
Wait through tape stuff
12. - Okay Ralph, I guess I should go now. You have a Merry X-Mas buddy, okay? And remember, everybody down at the plant YES WE GET IT is pulling rooting is crossed out for you.
13. Hey nurse, I was thinking, you and I could maybe go grab a drink. What? No, I don't know how to end this bit, do you?
14. Ah - Ha! That's the Hospital Room Bit, ladies and gentlemen, I hope you have a great Holiday Season GoodNight!
And lo and behold, here are the various messages I put in the get well card!
Dear Jack UM, NO...RALPH, REMEMBER?!?!? -
Get well soon and have a Merry Christmas
Dear Jack -
Get well soon.
P.S. Merry Christmas
Dear Jack -
I hope you are not un-conscious for much longer. We miss you!
- Sheila from the secreterial pool. In a factory.
Get well soon.
[no name on that one]
For Christmas, I hope you get a swift recovery.
P.S. And also Merry Christmas
Jack – Get well soon and Happy Holidays
P.S. I signed this card twice, Ha-Ha.
We all hope you get well soon. Best of luck from all of us here in Flange-Shaft Operators Section B.
[those guys are a bunch of sweeties]
Dear Tony –
Happy Birthday You Lousy Drunk! Just kidding asshole! Seeya at your party -
[must've signed the wrong card]
Jack get well soon
I made a bet with the guys in Rivet-Press Operators Section C that you’d be awake before New Years! Don’t let me down!
Merry Christmas Buddy – Ralph
Oh wait. I’m Ralph.
Jack – get better fast.
Jack, I wish you a spee
dy recovery and a fabulous holiday season –
[Damn, I told Toby not to sign the card, he knows you hate his kind]
Jack – Hey big guy, when you’re 100% lets get together for some pool.
Andres, can you leave me a check for rent sometime this week?
- Tim [hey Tim, this is a prop!]
Jack – Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Get well soon!
Well there ya go, that’s all that’s in the notebook. Ah, 1997. OK Computer by Radiohead came out. We had a nicer skyline. And name was on sound.