It’s not necessarily war, but comedy certainly ain’t easy. Veteran TV scribes-standups Ritch Shydner and Mark Schiff have done their time in the trenches and lived to write down some of the stories in “I Killed: True Stories of the Road From America’s Top Comics” (Crown Publishers; 264 pgs.; $23.95).
Told among these ribald tales from leading funnymen is a Carlos Mencia yarn about dodging a bullet, literally, during a performance at L.A.’s Comedy Store after his material took aim at rappers Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and the D.O.C.
In another vignette, Jerry Seinfeld relays a close call he had performing at New York’s Catch a Rising Star back in ’79 — a bar glass came flying at him, just missing his head and shattering on the wall behind him. Management escorted Seinfeld out because the heckler was a mob guy who, a couple months later, broke Joe Piscopo’s nose during his set.
But let’s not forget the waitresses. If comedy is a dangerous business, then the real victims of comedy seem to be the unwitting female servers working at these clubs. If they’re not being bartered by unscrupulous club owners in lieu of the performer’s pay, they’re being dragged into some comic’s dressing room (at the better clubs), but more often, parked cars, back alleys or seedy motels.
Perhaps aspiring comics should follow Bob Hope’s advice to Dan Bradley: “You see, kid, there are two kinds of comics. There’s the kind who work on their act and the kind who work on the waitresses. The kind who work on the waitresses are never going to be comics. But the kind who work on their act, at some point, get to fuck all the waitresses they want.”