Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Violence Fetish

This is transcribed as it originally was published in Panache #17. (Published 9/27/02)

"Scotland Yard and security officials are becoming increasingly embarrassed and annoyed by the activities of the Angry Brigade, who cannot now be dismissed as a group of cranks." -- The Times January 29, 1971

Stand-up comedians are supposed to be funny, but what happens when they can't make us laugh? What do we do when jokes about large vaginas rub us the wrong way? How do we react when observational humor isn't very observational or humorous? And perhaps an even bigger question: If you're black and an albino, are you still black?

These questions and more haunted me after watching the documentary Hacks, which should be available at the local Fig's video store. I had to find out more about the people in this film, so with plane tickets in and an a meager Panache budget, I set out to find the Diamond and Hutz Talent Agency, which was the focus of the movie. I wish I could say I found it, but like those three foul-mouthed twentysomethings in The Blair Witch Project, I just became helplessly lost.

Within hours of my arrival I was wandering the streets of New York trying to get Michelle on the phone because I had already run out of money. (Don't buy gold from guys on the street.) When I did finally reach her, she wouldn't advance me any cash. "Turn tricks," she told me before hanging up.

That's when I headed for the shelter (I needed a place to sleep for the night) and saw a bald man in a wheelchair. He was handing out fliers, and I tried to avoid him, but there was something about his face that made me want to approach him.

"Comedian for hire," the flier read.

"I work with my sister," he told me as I scanned the flier.

Skully. I recognized him from the movie! I grabbed his U.S. Comedy Corps t-shirt and shook him. (Luckily, his sister was getting burritos down the block and didn't see this or she would've kicked my ass.)

"Where is Diamond and Hutz?" I blurted out.

"Hey! I don't know. After the Montreal thing went under, we were left in the cold. I hate bad pizza! What's the deal with old people? They're old. What's so great about Legos? You build things. Big deal. Build a house."

It was obvious that his dealings with the talent agency had left him a shell of his former self. My spirit had returned, though. At least one of the comics was still alive. This was a good sign.

Michelle still didn't front me any money. After begging enough change for a cup of coffee, I wandered into a Starbucks and placed my order. The man behind the counter looked vaguely familiar. He listened to me for a second, stared at me, and then fell to the floor shaking. An older man, who had been tinkering with the espresso machine, came rushing over to us. "Don't worry about him," he explained. "He does that from time to time."

It was Dhru and Roachy. I couldn't believe my luck. First the bald guy who hates bad pizza, and now the alternative comic and the old guy who had some issues when it came to underage girls. God was smiling upon me, and I asked about Diamond and Hutz. Roachy took me to a table and explained to me what had happened as I wrote it all down in my reporter's notebook.

"Yeah, Montreal didn't go so good," he said, lighting a cigar. "The a-holes running the thing were prejudiced against Lucius and Baxter from the start. They made the hotel lose our reservations, and then the spots that were promised to use were given to Cedric the Entertainer."

"Bummer," I sympathized.

"Well, you know Lucius. He's a sensitive soul. It crushed him. They tried to keep the agency going, but the only one who could afford to stay on was Otis. He was getting SSI 'cause he convinced them that his albinoism was a disability. He really helped Baxter and Lucius out for a while. I heard they were doing some Michael Jackson impersonation thing for parties. I tried to get on board with my Elvis, but it didn't seem to fit. I was thinking 'Ebony and Ivory," but they were pushing 'Ivory and Ivory.' I didn't get it."

I couldn't write fast enough. This was gold. I had so many questions for them. "Where are they now?" I asked.

Roachy just shrugged and puffed on his foul smelling cigar. "Couldn't tell you. But Dhru says he saw an infomercial with Lucius in it. At least that's what I think he said. He's like my retarded son sometimes. Can't figure him out. Hell, he could've been asking me to order pizza for all I know."

"What kind of infomercial?" I pressed. This could be the clue to solving the mystery of the Sith ... or something like that.

Roachy laughed. "That's the funny thing," he told me. "Apparently it's like those 'Girls Gone Wild' tapes. Only this is 'Comedians Gone Wild.' Isn't that right, Dhru?" he called out to his friend.

Dhru licked a spoon and then pretended he was bowling.

"That bit kills me every time," Roachy said fondly. "Yeah, Dhru said I'm right. It's got comedians like lifting their shirts up and shit. Strangest thing."

"When did he see this?"

"Four months ago."

Four months ago? That's almost half a year in show biz time. The trail was dead. There was no way I could find Diamond and Hutz now. They were probably living the caviar dreams lifestyle they were destined for. Who wouldn't want to buy a tape of Slappy Bernstein-Mangioli's husband taking off his shirt? Even if I found them, they wouldn't have time for a two-bit like me. I needed to get back home.

"Michelle," I said when she answered her phone at three a.m. her time. "If you don't Western Union me plane ticket money, I'm telling the authorities about your German porn collection."

I was heading back to California that evening. Soon after take-off, a soothing voice sounded from the front of the section I sat in. "I'm your flight attendant for the evening," the man announced. "If you need anything, just ask for me, Arty Hittle. You know, I've seen a lot of passengers, and I have to say, you are the calmest crowd I've ever dealt with. You, sir, in the back with the notebook ..."

He was talking to me! "Yes?" Where did I know this guy from?

"If maybe you could listen instead of writing while I'm talking ... yes, that's good. If you listen, maybe you'd know what to do if there were an emergency. You know, and forgive me for saying this, but in my three months of doing this job, I've never seen a man as angry as you look. Now, I don't know people, but I know faces, and yours is a face of ... insane rage. Just a little advice for the flight: maybe look nicer."

Go get a copy of Hacks. It is the funniest fucking movie of the year. You can read my review of it on Filmthreat.com (just enter Hacks in the search box). Remember, folks, it's just a ride. Just a ride ...

No comments:

Post a Comment