Know Your Audience

Here’s the joke. It’s not my joke, just a street joke but it has to do with the story. A pedaphile is walking through the woods with a little kid. Kid says “It’s scary out here.” Pedaphile says “You’re scared? I gotta walk outta here alone.”. Now here’s the story. I’m on the road in Portland, Oregon playing Harvey’s Comedy Club by the train station. I’m working with James Inman, one of the finest alcoholics in the business and born to lose but certainly one of the few people I’d put on my short list of true artists in this business. The Portland condo is right next to a bar which is right next to a porno shop so it’s a natural progression for the likes of me and Inman.

After a few cocktails at the Tiger Bar we adjourned to the smut house, made a couple of obligatory remarks on the latex implements of destruction and then immediately, as though we’d been summoned over a loudspeaker, into the back to the jack-off booths. We took adjoining booths so we could heckle over the wall as we went through the different channels of filth. “Hey, chicks with dicks on channel 5!” This went on for a bit until Inman evidently found what he was looking for and all the jokes stopped. Witty commentary doesn’t come easily when your pounding off. I was still breezing through the menu when I came across a channel showing the porn awards from Las Vegas. Hosting the show is none other than comedian Bobby Slayton. I’m in a whackit box watching Bobby Slayton for a token at a time! I yell over to Inman, “Put on channel 28 quick!”. The last thing you ever want to see when you’re lumping it is a comic who’s doing better than you are.

I walked back out to the front with Inman following shortly afterward. As soon as we leave a guy in his sixties goes into our now vacant booths with a mop. I want to save him the trouble and tell him I hadn’t blown a load but figured an extra wipe-down wouldn’t hurt the place. We chat it up for a bit with the clerk, tell him we’re comics from the club, maybe hoping he’d offer up a complimentary rubber vagina in exchange for passes or something. I’ve tried dropping the comic card with hookers before, thinking maybe they’d be impressed and blow me for the prestige of it all, but so far no luck. Anyway, we’re talking to the clerk when the mop guy comes back to the counter. I invite them to the show, wondering if I’d succumb to the temptation of calling them out of the audience should they show, if I’d be so cold to look down at this sixty year old guy from the stage and innocently say “So, what do you do for a living?”. I probably would. I’m a prick like that sometimes.

An hour later I’m back at the Tiger Bar listening to Inman blather on with his conspiracy theories, some of which are probably true but who cares, when the spankhouse janitor sits down beside me and throws out the industry cliche, “So you’re a comedian? I got a joke you can use in your act!” He proceeds to tell a few terrible jokes that a retarded kid couldn’t laugh at if it were told by a fuzzy puppet. Now it’s my turn, so I tell him a joke. I tell him the pedaphile in the woods joke. He got offended and walked away. The mop-jockey from the jizz booth got offended at my joke and walked away from me. And my management says I just have to find the right audience.