Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Hitler's MySpace Page

Bio: Chancellor of Germany from 1933-1945, after which he escaped to Brazil and resurfaced on Broadway, where he is currently starring in “The Producers.”

Name: Hitler

Gender: Male

Occupation: Fuhrer

Interested in Meeting People for: blind worship, invasion of Poland, Final Solution.

Music: Wagner, oom-pah bands.

Books I Wouldn’t Burn: Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Movies: Triumph of the Will, Olympiad.

TV: Vot’s dat?

Hobbies and interests: Restoring Fatherland, world conquest, Jew-hating.

Friends: Hess, Goebbels, Goering, the rest of the Nazi High Command. (See
Testimonials.) My ideal friend is someone who is cool, enjoys life and looks
good in a Prussian army helmet. And when I ask him how I am doing, tells
me we are winning the war and that the German people are totally behind

Enemies: Jews, Bolsheviks...Did I say Jews?

Sympathizers: 20 million Germans and tons of other people around the

Turn-ons: Torch-lit mass rallies, blitzkriegs, SS, animals.

Turn-offs: Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, Catholics, blacks, and all other
miscelaneous people who aren’t Aryans.

About Me: My name is Adolf. I’m impulsiv but I have a long term plan. I love Germany but I’m not in love with it. I’m an Aries. I’m pasionate about what I love and what I hate. Most people think Im prety intenz but my favorite thing to do is chill and hang out wit my homies. At least that’s what I tole neville chamberlain. lol! im just lookin out for number 1. U will call me ur leader.

Who I’d Like to Meet: Mel Gibson, Judith Regan (hey, maybe she could get me a book deal: The Holocaust – If I Did It.)

Who I’m Looking For: Jew-hating vegan.

Hitler’s Details

Status: Single

Here for: Keeping Tabs, Spreading Propaganda, Meeting Valkyries.

Orientation: Aryan.

Hometown: Vienna.

Body type: Sausage.

Ethnicity: German. Wot? Why, to even ask such a question – Have this MySpace dummkumpf taken away!

Zodiac Sign: Aries

Smoke/Drink: Nein.

Children: All the German people are my children…except for the Jews.

Hitler’s Schools:

Vienna Institute of Art
Vienna, Austria
Graduated: N/A
Student status: 4F
Degree: Honorary
Major: Finger-painting

Otto von Bismarck Pre-School
Vienna, Austria
Graduated: N/A
Student status: Left back; did not play well with others. In fact, put others
into “concentration tree house”

Hitler’s Companies

National Socialist Party 1924-1945
Income: None of your bizness.*

Adolf’s comments: I just want to give a shout-out to MySpace. It has kept
me in touch with a lot people who I used to know but whom I had to have
assassinated or put away as political prisoners.

Favorite inspirational quote: What luck for rulers that men do not think.


Eva –Adolf is duh man. He’s n awesome, sexy dude ‘n the
world’s numero uno dictator. Hi, hi, heil Hitler!

Joseph G. –I have non my peeps Adolf for long time and this bro can realy bring it. I saw him at the Nuremberg stadium and he, like, had the crowd, like, dey went like dey was lookin’ at a god. U no wat I mean?

Rudolf—ur probly the biggest Party person I know who is alive.

Herman--What can I say about one and only Fuhrer I know in my entire lifetime? He is an awesome guy, always laughing and smiling and ordering Jews to be round up! In fact no one can ever get Bored if they are with him, he can enjoy and not take life too seriously. If not for him then our Germany is way too boring.

Cool things to do:

Vote for me for best fascist dictator (dat Mussolini is a dummkumpf)
Volunteer for Wehrmacht
Snitch on Anne Frank
Block user and send him to forced labor camp on Eastern front


National Socialist Party

Jews for Hitler

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Nazis

Ventriloquists for the Third Reich

Nazi Procrastinators (“Ah, we’ll kill the dirty Jews tomorrow”)


Mein Kampf on DVD

WWII (the Fuhrer’s director’s cut)

Hitler’s Blog

April 20, 1939: Hey, today’s my birthday! Please bring me something nice and shiny, like the Sudetenland.

April 21:

Current mood: Wagnerian (Note: This should be conveyed with an emoticon, such as, say, a bust of Wagner or an image of Wotan.)

YES THATS RIGHT! Hans, my most favorite SS officer, asked Ursula to marry him, i have been asked to be the man of honor! sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo excited! this means i get to plan and throw a kick ass batchelor party with All-U-Can-Eat vienerschnitzel, kegs a plenty and plotting the war against the dirty Reds!

April 22:

Had to put Blondi to sleep. I found out she used to be owned by a Jewish family. Bormann said he got her at the animal shelter, but he is a lyer.

April 23:

Beer Pong tournament the 21st
Current mood: bouncy
Tommorow if U are playing in the National Socialist Beer Pong tournament, U need to be at 5201 Potsdamerplatz no later than 10pm. We will start playing at 1030, U will need to bring 5 deutschmarks and a 12 pack of Lowenbrau to play. If U do not bring those 2 things U will not be aloud to play, U will not even get to drink. We will also have Wop punch (as Mussolini calls it) available also for 5 dollers. If U have any other questions give me a call. Se U tommorow Night!!!!!!!!!

April 24:

I lost big-time in the Beer Pong Tournament and at one point, the ReichChancellor was not me, but Fritzi Mueller, dat funny-looking guy who delivers the bratwurst to our Headquarters. Yes, I had bet my Fuhrership and lost to a short, funny-looking loser with a moustache! Thankfully, Herman G. convinzed Fritzi to give up being Fuhrer by taking him for a ride, especially since Fritzi’s one and only decree while in power was to put a bratwurst on the German flag. We are talking major dummkupf! Can U imagine if he was the real Fuhrer? Germany would be doomed.

May 10, 1940:

Current mood: accomplished
We rolled into France today and those frogz jes rolled over and practikaly begged us to liberate them from their stupid selves.
It’s celebration time, uh-huh! Tonight, at Reichsmusikkammer, it’s battle of the bands. Richard Strauss and His Straussafarians vs. Bert Kaempfert and His “Music to Heil By” Orchestra. The winner gets the Hitler Medal. The loser is sent to the Russian front.

April 30, 1945

The Bunker
Current mood: Bleek

It’s bad enuf that we are loosing the war and Berlin is in ruble, that my dream of a thousand-year Reich has gone down in flames and that I won’t get to see proud German tanks roll into New York…but when I asked Himmler “Am I fat?” he jes looked away and I knew that meant “Yes.”

*Adolf Hitler spent years evading taxes and owed German authorities 405,000 Reich marks – equivalent to $8 million today – by the time his tax debts were forgiven soon after he took power, claimed researcher Klaus-Dieter Dubon, a retired Bavarian notary and tax expert. (Reuters, December 17, 2004)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Frankenstein's MySpace Page

Name: Frankenstein

Gender: Not sure

Occupation: Scaring people

Interested in Meeting People: For organ transplants

Current mood: Confused

Bio: Made in a lab by a demented Brit. Troubled youth.

Status: Undead

About Me: Like the ladies … 6’9” of nuts-and-bolts pimp juice.

Friends: Wolfman, Invisible Man, Dracula

Enemies: Townspeople

Smoke/drink: Tobacco, wine – GOOD

Hobbies and interests: Grunting, lurching

What I’m Looking For: Bride

Music: Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major, K. 216

Movies/TV: “Nip/Tuck”

What I’m Here For: To become fully human

Orientation: Grrrrrr!!!!

Body type: Hulking, lurching

Children: Killed one once

Things to Buy: Digital neck bolt

Inspirational quote: “When the going gets tough, the tough go on a rampage.”


Popoca, the Aztec Mummy—“Frank” is one awesome dude. He realy helped me out when the Robot was beeting the hell out of me because … well, I’m still not sure, somethin’ to do with his evil master and I tried to put an Aztec Mummy curse on him but I guess it don’t work on robots. This was after Bat the masked wrestler tried to screw me out of my ancient tresure, because he worked for an evil Mexican mob who also wanted the tresure … Anyway, about Frank… him and me, we just … simpatico, you know? Even tho he doesn’t habla the espanol, I mean, he doesn’t really say much in any langwich, but then agen Im a man of few words myselv.

Im-ho-tep, the real (Egypshun) Mummy—First of all I wood lik to say that I hav been a mumy way longer than that cheap Mexican raghead, Popoca. Him and his kine are taking jobs away from real mumys becuz they will work for hav what we charge. They come to this country illegal and jes lie around and get mumy benefits. And sekondlee I have nown Frankenstein way longer than that wetback mumy Popoca. Frank you are alright in my book. But jes make sur you now hoo is a reel mumy from hoo is a fak mumy.

Creature from the Black Lagoon: lol .. what are u doin.. AND THANKS



Jaycees, Friar’s Club.

Comments: You jes got to love yourself, even if your skin is green and your

scalp is stapled to your hed.

I want to go on the rekerd on something: I did not “meet” the Wolf Man. We

were at the same party, but he was wit his people and I was wit mine.

Friend…ster – Goood!

Frankenstein’s Blog:

(Undated): People r always hasslin’ me in my face they all want a peas a me. Deze freeks wanna challenge me to a monster duel or dey scream and light their torches and chase me through the woods with guns. Its hard for me even to go to the supermarket! Like today, I dezided to go to the mall and see if I culd get me some new boots at and no sooner than I go into the store than mall security gards surround me with chains and shit. I had to kill about six of them by punching them on the top of their head reel hard and one I grabbed by the throat and picked him up and shook him till he dropped. And Timberland didn’t even have my size – 35GGGGG.

(Undated) My hed herts. Today some kid comes up to me and asks are u Frankinstein the Monster? And I had to stop and think about it. You know I am having a hard time thinking mus be all doze elecctrik volts shooting into my brane. I dunno who I’m am anymore. Am I’m Frankinstein the Monster? Am I’m Frankenstein the Sensitive Guy who likes violin muzik? Or am I’m Frankenstein the Accountant? I no I’m am not Dr. Frankenstein, cuz I never went to medical school and besides that’s the name of that demented lunatic who made me. … Anyway, I punched the kid on the top of his hed and he ded now.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Spoiler: Part 10 -- Clark

The second person responsible for me becoming a spoiler was Clark, the guy Katlyn left me for. Clark was a VP at ConRon, a Texas-based energy company that had offices on Wall Street. He was a friend of her family, and we met a few times for dinner in the city.

He was one of these corporate types who somehow pull down six-figure salaries while acting like frat-house meatheads.

Tall, what my mother would call “husky” – now there’s a word you don’t hear much anymore – with a block-like head, light blonde hair and a choppy, chest-thrust-out, awkward walk – like a six-foot bantam rooster.

Clark had started out as a trader and worked his way up to hedge-fund manager. Whenever I would see him – at Katlyn’s folks’ place at holidays or when he’d join us for drinks – he’d yap on about being “in the trenches,” tell “war stories” about the pressures of trading, and gush about hedge funds like they were the Holy Grail.

And the personal growth tapes. Every few months, Clark had glommed onto a new guru. The lantern-jawed guy who hawked “Personal Empowerment” from his castle on Fiji. An ex-minister turned “people-treneur” – his shtick was about marketing “your personal brand” and “turning your life into a growth stock!” A foxy Asian-American woman – she was the best – who ran a seminar based on “exploiting inefficiencies in the dating market.”

That was the only kind of book in Clark’s apartment – a penthouse in the East 60s – and the only tapes, besides his “hidden cache” of porn, most of which featured women receiving “facials.” The only Japanese word he knew besides sushi was bukkake.

At first, I hated Clark for … well, not exactly stealing Katlyn. For picking her off on the rebound. Let’s call it an air ball. However, he made it up by showing me the benefits of spoiling.

“Hey, you’re a comedian,” Clark said to me one day at some lounge on Elizabeth Street, where people like him would go to pretend they were rebels who were subverting bourgeois society from within by working 80-hour weeks and shopping on weekends. “You ever do any corporate pranks?”

“You mean like cook the books?”

“Funny. I’m talking about did you ever do a corporate gig where you go to a corporation and impersonate one of the big-wigs or pretend to be some exec’s homo boyfriend? Shit like that.”

“Never heard of it.”

“Did you ever hear of Norman … can’t think of his last name. Something like Titsdale?”


“He, like, came down to our Christmas party and played Santa Claus – only he made all the VPs sit on his lap and told them what they were getting for Christmas. He was briefed by my boss’s secretary and like, he told the VP sales that he was naughty he hadn’t met his annual projections and was hurting the company’s bottom line, so he wasn’t getting a bonus, just coal in his stocking. The VP went ballistic! Anyway, he was so awesome they offered him a job. Now he’s VP corporate communications.”


“They need to find another corporate prankster. They asked Norman if he would do it again, but now he says playing Santa isn’t in his job description. I mean, he’s got a point. So, would you be interested? I could put in a good word.”

“Doing what – playing Santa? The Easter Bunny? The Hedge Fund Fairy?"

“Dunno. It’s more secretive than trading instruments.”

“No, thanks. I’m out of the comedy game.”

“Oh, get over yourself.”

“What I can’t get over are CEOs who have their cronies vote them these obscene stock options and bonuses while they rip off investors and wreck the environment.”

“Look, don’t you see it’s just a big game. They just know how to play it a little better than the rest of us.” He paused. “You can make serious money, dude.”

“How serious?”

“I think Norman got five grand. And a job that pays him six figures majorly.”
And that’s how I came to be sitting in the office of Magnum I. Stephens, CEO of ConRon Energy LLC.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The P.C. Marines

OPEN on generic war footage: Planes bombing, platoons attacking, gunners loading torpedoes, soldiers in trenches taking potshots at the enemy, bombs exploding, soldiers charging up a hill, other soldiers tending to the wounded, dragging the dead and wounded off on stretchers.


It’s no secret that America is running out of soldiers. As they try to fight wars on several fronts simultaneously, they’ll be forced to find new recruits wherever they can find them …


A SOLDIER dashes out of a clearing and into a Quonset hut, dodging bullets.




Sergeant, I just got the order from General Peckerwood. Your platoon has to take
that hill!

(turning to his platoon)

Alright, ladies, let’s go.

They are all in civilian attire; not one wears combat fatigues.


Hey, who you callin’ a lady? It’s “woman,” got it? You patriarchal creep!


Don’t pay any attention to Miss Thing, Sarge. Some of us love being called ladies.

(to platoon)

You heard the order. We gotta take that hill. So drop your penises and grab your
socks. Let’s go! Hut, hut, hut!

(wears a Phat Farm ensemble and a large medallion around his neck)

Yo, I ain’t got nothin’ ‘gainst those sand niggers. Me and them is brothers.
We both victims of the white man.


Shut up, Ridiculis, before I victimize your brain.


Racial profiling! Hate crime! (removes cell phone, punches a button) Get me
Reverend Al!

Sergeant shoves a reluctant Ridiculis out of the Quonset hut.

(to Sammy Lee, a Chinese-American)

Lee, what are our coordinates?


Oh, I get it. Just because I'm Asian, I'm supposed to be good at math!


You're our navigator! Oh, forget it.

(groaning under the weight of his backpack, barely strong enough to hold his rifle)

Oy, my back!


What’s wrong with you now, Mister Rosenberg?


You know what. Sciatica, arthritis.


Christ, you’re always bitching and moaning. Get your sorry, 76-year-old ass in gear!


You can’t do this! I’m going to write a letter to the AARP!


Get going!

Senior Citizen leaves the hut.


C’mon, Gonzalez, no more siesta! You ain’t gang-banging in the barrio no more.


Hey, I am a proud Latino. Get that straight, or I will get an ACLU attorney down here before you can say “Taco Bell!”


Get goin’!


Sergeant hands out ammo to each platoon member.


Listen up. I piss napalm and shit grenades. I’ve downed more booze and banged more quiff than all you numnuts put together.


Sexist pig!


(handing out ammo to his hastily assembled platoon)

Listen up. I piss barbed wire and shit napalm. I’ve downed more booze and banged more quiff than all you numnuts put together.


Sexist pig!


O.K. I’ve downed more booze and had more ... meaningful relationships with women than all of you put together. Without a doubt, you are the sorriest bunch of pathetic, spineless --

(starts crying)

Please stop, Sarge! You’re always putting me down. I can’t take it!


White man done it again.

(to Sergeant)

You know he’s a highly sensitive person.


Alright, I’ll skip the speech. The order is to take that hill from the enemy. Some of us may not come back --


It better not be me who don’t come back. ‘Cause if I don’t come back, the Congressional Black Caucus gonna be breathing down yo’ ass.


It had better not be me! Me, either!


Alright. (sarcastically) We’re all coming back. But first, let’s take that ridge. Go!

The platoon sprints off, except for the Senior Citizen, who limps behind. Sounds of gunfire.

CUT TO: More generic battle scenes.


The platoon is under heavy attack.


They’re layin’ into us! Quick, into that foxhole!

The platoon starts to scramble toward the foxhole. A MAN WITH NO ARMS cries out.


No way! That foxhole isn’t wheelchair-accessible!


Who the fuck are you?


We’re your reinforcements.

PULL BACK TO REVEAL a raggedy squadron of the disabled – people with no arms, no legs, the blind, the deaf; one soldier has no head, another is clearly schizophrenic and speaks in various strange voices.


Same scene, after the battle. The entire platoon has been wiped out.


The few, the strong, the touchy. Join the P.C. Marines.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Spoiler: Part 9 -- The involuntary celeb

The meat-packing district had done a real estate 180 since I moved there a dozen years ago. For one thing, nobody packed meat anymore, and the only cow carcasses that arrived there were exhibited in galleries. The transvestite hookers that used to lurk in the greasy shadows were gone, replaced by young professionals whose profession seemed to be “alcoholic.” After putting in a day on Wall Street, they’d flock to Ninth Avenue to pickle themselves in some fake Edwardian tavern, downing shots with the desperate abandon of people trying to smother their conscience. (There were even reports of young professionals fucking on the bar, which even the tranny hookers would’ve thought déclassé.) Tucked-away Spanish joints that offered trough-sized portions of gummily comforting paella were forced out by landlords renting to swank “event” restaurants that attracted celebrities and sprayed your dinner from an aerosol can.

Stella McCartney had a boutique. There were stores named Shoegasm and a four-star hotel on the corner of Ninth Avenue, across the street from a building that had once housed a multi-level S&M club (one floor for gays, another for straights, like an outlet mini-mall for perverts).

The neighborhood had been totally consumed.

Usually, I felt invisible there, or like a ghost in an old fable who was cursed to eternally wander his old stomping grounds.

But not today.

“Yo, man! How you let that bitch do dat to you?” yelled an Hispanic man hauling supplies into Gauche, a newly opened all-night eatery that catered to a clientele coming down from crystal meth and Special K who had just recovered feeling in their lower torso and realized they were hungry.

“Sorry,” I said, as if I had no idea what she was talking about, and averting my head, I kept walking. A few heads turned, and I noticed a gaggle of women wearing miniskirts and leather boots and carrying shopping bags staring at me and chattering conspiratorially.

At a red light, a pale, gaunt young woman – most likely a vegan – tugged at my jacket.

“I just want to say that I love your work.”

“You must have me confused with somebody else.”

“You’re the guy Shawna dumped, right? I forgot your name. Is it Brad?”


“I’m really sorry, I like, never do this, but can I have your autograph?”

Before I could even get to Western Beef, four more people had stopped me, and a couple of Japanese tourists had snapped photos, which they would undoubtedly email to their friends back home. Maybe some TV producers would see it and invite me to wrestle a squid on one of those goofy Japanese shows.

When I got home, there was a message from C.J. Bastone, the booker for Stand Up and Take It, a club I’d used to play. Wondering if I’d be interested in doing a gig as part of a theme night entitled, “Losers, Screw-Ups, and Schmucks: A Night of Laughter.”


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Spoiler: Part 8 -- Retreat

For two weeks I just lie in bed, balled up like a fetus who you knew was going to have a hard time getting through the birth canal. I was behind on my rent, and lost eight pounds. Even when I finally got out of bed, I was afraid to walk outside. I imagined that the rest of New York City was huddled out there – I envisioned it as a CGI-generated throng of eight million – dissing me. I had all my food delivered and hid behind the door, extending just my arm to take the food and pay the Mexicans who delivered it.

I had one last conversation with Katlyn. She called me one night to say she was sorry about the way things turned out, but that she had just received a copy of the edited program and that it looked fantastic – except that I could’ve used a little makeup. “But then, that would’ve spoiled everything, right?”

“You sadistic bitch –”

“There you go again. Mr. Negative.”

“Oh, I’m negative --”

“And Mr. Ungrateful. This is going to make you famous. At least more famous than you were, which was like you had a minus Q rating. One guy who got dumped by Shawna is a regular now on VH1.”

“Who gives a shit? He’s a moron.”

She sighed. “You so don’t have commercial instincts. Don’t you know that any publicity is good publicity? Besides, breaking up with you I’m doing you a favor. We would’ve just gone on being miserable.”

“I wasn’t miserable.”

“Well, I was miserable enough for the both of us. I was putting in misery OT. I was so miserable that when I’d see starving African kids I’d get resentful – like why weren’t they making a PSA about me?”

“So, you were fucking miserable? You couldn’t just tell me. You had to have some porn slut humiliate me on national television?”

“She’s not a porn slut! She was on ‘Two and a Half Chimps.’”

“Which chimp was she?”

“Look, this was a wakeup call. You’ve got to be more ambitious. I mean, you shouldn’t even have time to date.”

“Don’t worry. I won’t be. You’ve taken care of that.”

She sighed and I could hear her eyes rolling.

“This is about your folks. Acting out. A gesture of rebellion that you hoped would humiliate them in front of their Scarsdale club buddies.”

“I’m going to let you go.”

“No, you’re not going to let me go. I’m going to let you go first.”

“Take care.”

“Take care? Like you took care of me?”

“It’s every man for himself.”

I went back to bed for another four days, during which I only watched Turner Classic Movies. Nobody could’ve made a movie about a guy getting dumped by a porn star on national television in 1933. The past was safe. It was the future that you had to avoid at all costs.

Finally, my shame started to dissolve, like tear gas after a riot, and I needed to go out and look for work. I thought it might be safe to venture outside, and that by now, a week and a half after the show aired, Moron America would’ve shifted its attention to some other tele-boob. Then my mother called, and said one of her neighbors had seen a TV segment on me, that millions of people were passing around clips of my public humiliation, and that I was the hottest thing on the Internet.

I considered plastic surgery and wondered if there was a Witness Protection Program for the innocent.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Spoiler: Part 7 -- Katlyn's kiss-off

“Harry, you’re probably wondering why this is happening. Why you’re watching me on this tape. Why I got Shawna to drop this bomb on you. Well, it’s because you’re a loser, Harry. And a wimp. And if we had this talk in person, you wouldn’t take it like a man. You’d argue and scream and, who knows, even cry. I spared you all that. You might not appreciate it now, but someday you’ll thank me.”

“You go, girl,” Shawna said to the screen. She stepped out from behind her desk to reveal a short leather skirt and matching boots – the all-American dominatrix look. She shrugged back her shoulders and tossed her hair for the camera.

Now, I’m not a sweater. But I was dripping like I’d just stepped out of a Turkish bath. I looked pathetically over at Shawna, who had undone her bun and removed her glasses and pinstriped blouse – her HR drag – revealing a paper-thin crimson chemise that clung to her breasts in seeming defiance of gravity.

I couldn’t speak. A barely audible inner voice piped up something like, “Humiliation. The whole world knows.” Suddenly, I was a three-year-old in my parents’ home in Newark, in the center of a group of relatives who were laughing at me for walking around in my rubber pants.

I tried not to look at the hidden cameras, which could be anywhere, so I kept my eyes fixed on the screen. I’d missed a few words, and Katlyn was speaking into the camera with quite the professional panache, “I’ll be back with all-new reasons why you’re such a loser after this.”

A commercial came on. A young couple frolicked in an open field. A Closeup of their toddler smiling. Shots of a tranquil, perfectly manicured, suburban lawn. There was even a bunny rabbit. A preternaturally calm male voice said, “Precious moments. From ConRon. The energy people.”

Shawna turned off the tape.

“How was that?” she said to the hidden camera. “Super, Shawna,” replied a voice from a hidden speaker. She walked out of the room. A half-minute later, a small, wiry man entered and handed me a clipboard holding a form.

“If you don’t mind signing this…”

“What is it?”

“A release.”

“What if I don’t?” I managed to mew.

“I guess you could sue us.”

I looked at the young woman – a pretty redhead with purple highlights and huge, round eyes.

“Go ahead. It’s your fifteen minutes,” she said.

More hesitation.

“You know how many people would love to be dumped by Shawna Jade?”

I signed. On my way out, after they gave me a copy of Shawna’s tape, I overheard a tall, nerdy guy ask the receptionist, “I’m here for the job interview?”

I kept going.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Spoiler: Part 6 -- Shawnuff

There was this show, “Shawna Jade Dumps Your Boyfriend for You.” The premise is self-explanatory. Contestants wrote in and described why they wanted Shawna Jade to break up with their boyfriend. Shawna Jade became known by “starring” of an amateur video in which she did an impersonation of a little fat kid break-dancing on another amateur video – both of which videos received mega-hits on the Internet. This was her first television show, and the gimmick was that not only would she perform a proxy break-up with some unsuspecting but fame-hungry schmuck but she’d do a mocking impersonation of him to boot.

I had no idea that Katlyn had submitted an application to have Shawna Jade break up with me (or, for that matter, what criteria a boyfriend had to meet, what degree of jerkitude he had to attain, to become a worthy candidate).

Nope. Never suspected a thing.

Not when she asked me to make goofy faces or talk about my sexual fantasies while she Camcorded me. Not when she clammed up when I asked her what those forms were she was filling out, the ones that read “Release” at the top. Not even when I caught snapping pictures with her camera phone of me wearing a pair of cut-off shorts and a T-shirt reading “Gay Pride: It’s Something to Be Proud Of” – that we’d bought as a gag during the parade – stained with oatmeal I’d just eaten.

Not when she told me she had set up a “job interview” for me with an exec at the media company where she worked part-time in the marketing department.

Not when the interviewer, a sexy young woman named Cody, who had more piercings than a Yoruba chieftain, told me that the position they were seeking to fill was “assistant sales assistant.”

Not even when she asked me if I was happy with my love life.

“My love life?”

“Yes. I mean, how are you and Katlyn getting along?”

“Um, what does that have to do with the position of assistant sales...”

“Assistant. We want to know because we, like, need to have a smooth working environment. And if two people are, like, fighting, you know, that can bring down office morale.”

“I guess so.” I wondered why she was prying, but the way things were going in America, I figured that delving into employees’ love lives was now part of the H.R. job description.

“So, do you love Katlyn?”


“Are you going to marry her?”

“I’m sorry. I thought this was a job interview – ”

“I mean, how are you going to support her – on an assistant sales assistant’s salary?”

At this point, flummoxed, I leaned back, sighed, and threw up my hands.

“You’re some sort of comedian – ”


“Make me laugh.”

“What? No…”

“Come on; make me laugh. Do your routine.”

“I’m not – this is ridiculous.”

“How are you going to support your woman if you’re always wimping out?”

I don’t know – I guess I was afraid that if I didn’t comply Katlyn would be cross with me. Who knows – this wacky company might even hold it against her. She could lose her job.

“O.K.” I said. I took a few seconds to collect myself, then assumed my Guy character.

“Bonsoir, les dames et les messieurs. Mon nom est le Guy. Je suis de Montréal, mais je suis venu à New York pour ma carrière. Je recueille de vieux journaux.”

“What is that – French? You do your act in French?”

“I start it in French, then move into this kind of gibberish mix of French and English.”

“Oh, yeah, that’ll get you on Leno.”

I slid down into the hard metal chair.

“It’s obvious that you’re not a serious beau for Katlyn. You want to know why?”


“A, you’re a loser. B, you’re broke. C, you have twisted sexual fantasies.”

“My fantasies are not twisted.”

“I’d heard of background checks, but this was ridiculous.

“You want her to do it with another chick – while you do your act.”

She laughed derisively.

“You’ve got it all wrong. That actually happened – I mean, not with Katlyn. With some other woman.”

“Uh-huh,” she spat in knowing disbelief. The incident in question – which I related to Katlyn one night and which she had apparently twistedly conveyed to this woman – occurred at an open-mic night at a lesbian bar in the Village, when the act who went on right before me was a stripper who let some of the butch patrons go down on her. I mean, not even Pryor could follow that.

“I’m leaving.”

“Where you going? We’re not finished with the interview.”

“I don’t care.”

“Don’t you want the job?”

“No, thanks.”

“Well, guess what? There is no job.”

“Cody” turned away, into the hidden camera, and announced, “You’re on ‘Shawna Jade Dumps Your Boyfriend for You.”

Blanched is not the right word for the change in my circulation. No, my blood seemed to evacuate from every corner of my body, into my gut.

Shawna stood up and extended her hand. “I’m Shawna Jade, and on behalf of Katlyn White, you are hereby dumped.” And she pretended to “knight’ me with an invisible sword.

I was in a stupor and felt myself saying, like a heroine in an old Hollywood melodrama, “There must be some mistake.”

Then Shawna picked up a remote and aimed it at a plasma screen TV I hadn’t really noticed. Katlyn’s face appeared on the screen.

The Spoiler: Part 5 -- The Women

I wouldn’t have become a spoiler if it weren’t for two people. The first was Katlyn (pronounced CAT-LINN) who I met at an acting class led by a woman named Marguerite who ran her workshop like a cross between group therapy and the Manson family. A cult of bad actors. The kind who wouldn’t just drink the Kool-Aid, but let it dribble down the edges of their mouths while doing a melodramatic scene from “One Life to Live.”

Marguerite had a lot of rules – no discussing the workshop outside the workshop, no questioning her inside the workshop, men should wear ties and women knee-length dresses and “sensible” shoes, and the one cardinal rule that Katlyn and I broke: No dating other actors from the workshop.

Katlyn was tall and had cheekbones like Mt. Rushmore. She came from nouveau-riche Westchester money and who called herself as a “progressive.” She was always talking about “social justice,” “the Sandinistas” and “the Shining Path” who if they still existed, would be touring college campuses playing their old hits in some left-wing “Ozzfest,” and “helping those less fortunate,” a rule that, as it turned out, she broke when it came to me.

It was also very clear that, like many people of her generation – X, Y, Z, like chromosomes – she felt that fame was her due, whether or not she earned it. But if she called herself an “artist,” people would feel she had nobler aspirations and wasn’t just another of the multitudes with a jones for the spotlight.

Also, I questioned what she meant by “art” when her main preoccupations were entertainment gossip (“Abscess Hollywood,” I called it) and reality shows. Each time I caught her watching them, she would either pretend to be channel surfing -- like I’d found her masturbating – or deliver a nonstop, condescending critique of the performers, as if you’d never in a million years catch her eating grubs or sharing a house with six strangers and 25 video cameras.

Katlyn and I first hooked up after improvising the death scene between Hitler and Eva Braun, in the Fuhrerbunker – in German. (She spoke it; I didn’t.) No matter that Marguerite disapproved of my Hitler – “he’s too full of himself,” she said – Katlyn was so hysterical at my pidgin-German, which I’d channeled from watching tapes of Sid Caesar on “Your Show of Shows,” that I had no trouble convincing her to pop the cyanide capsule and to date me afterward – a sequence of events that, looking back, was in the wrong order.

Now don’t get me wrong. I found her magnetizing. All of her – her almond-shaped face, thin, tapered nose, long, boyishly narrow-hipped torso, breasts almost imperceptible through those white Brooks Brothers shirts she liked to wear, her flat backside that receded into the tops of her thighs…I know what you’re thinking, and no, I’m not a closet case or ambivalent about my gender orientation or any of those buzz-phrases people these days like to drop on you. (Even Katlyn. She’d get insecure about her flat chest and I’d reassure her that I liked her that way, and she’d say, “You sure you’re not gay?” I mean, impossible, women.) I’m just different from your average cave-dwelling guy-in-a-suit. Big boobs and ample hips? No, thanks. If I want to see curves, I’ll watch Pedro Martinez.

Besides, Katlyn was very much a woman. Dewy lips, soft skin, fresh smell, soft moans. The sex was good – Katlyn was the first woman who showed me that clean sex could be dirty, too, or at least reasonably satisfying. No tie-me-up, tie-me-down, horse-fucking, peg-the-boyfriend fantasies. If our love life was a designer sandwich, it would’ve been called the Westchester. Ham and Swiss on Arnold Brick Oven, hold the mayo.

I fell for her because she laughed at my wisecracks, she was smart and unlike most of her generation, could speak and write in complete, grammatically correct sentences.

Katlyn and I were together for almost a year, during which we were discovered by Marguerite and banished from the workshop. (Actually, one of our fellow classmates, a gay man named Hirold – “it’s not ‘Harold,’ it’s ‘Hirold’” – who flirted with me, happened to see us together on Eighth Avenue and turned us in.)

We weren’t distraught; far from it. We’d both been onto Marguerite for a while, and let’s face it, New York City is not exactly short on failed actors -- and failed acting teachers. Besides, Katlyn knew that in her worst-case scenario – failing as an actor -- she could always marry some son of a cement company magnate and act part-time. A guy her family deemed appropriate for the Wedding Announcement page of the Times – or as I like to call it, the Breeders’ Guide.

But even if she wouldn’t admit her own dreams of stardom, from day one, Katlyn let me know what ambitions she had for me. “You should be on ‘Saturday Night Live’” soon became “Why aren’t you on ‘Saturday Night Live’?”, which morphed into, “If you weren’t so lazy, you could be on ‘Saturday Night Live’.” Despite her nagging, I was hooked on her. She had what I wanted – confidence.

Sure, we fought but unlike with all my other girlfriends, things were relatively stable. She even took me home to meet her folks, a couple of martini-swilling WASPs who I thought only existed in A.R. Gurney plays and who acted toward me like leaders of a superior civilization from Alpha Centauri. “Dinner” was a single slice of roast beef so gray that I felt somebody should’ve played “Taps” for it and some “heirloom” potatoes so musty-looking, I thought they’d actually been handed down from a previous generation. And string beans. Always string beans.

She took me home, I think, for her folks to reaffirm what she’d already decided: That I wasn’t marriage material. The folks made their intentions pretty clear by A) the way they called Katlyn “Katherine,” which I discovered was her given name; and B) the way they grilled me: “Where are you from?” (“Newark” is never a good answer.) “Where did you go to school?” “What do you parents do?” (Again: “Bet on NFL games” – not good.) “What’s your background?” I wouldn’t have been surprised if they’d asked me to take a blood test. Or state our three branches of government, like I was applying for citizenship. Which in a way I was.

My unsuitability was so obvious that they actually warmed up to me after that. But while Katlyn knew she had to dispose of me, she chafed at her parents’ influence and decided to break up with me in a way that would most embarrass them.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Spoiler: Part 4 -- The bar mitzvah

The bar mitzvah was in Great Neck, at the Hotel Fontainebleau. Its banquet halls resembled a Great Neck furrier’s version of the court of Louis XIV. You know, the Palais de Versailles meets Zabar’s. The bartenders were dressed like footmen and courtiers, the coat-check girls like saucy Frenchmaids, and the waitresses like Marie Antoinette. Let them eat lox.

It got weirder. You see, there had been a scheduling mix-up and the banquet hall that the bar mitzvites thought they had reserved had been given over to a bar mitzvah party of Reform Jews. The Orthodox Jews had retreated to an upstairs suite and were in foul temper when I arrived – especially when I asked the father of the bar mitzvah’ed boy, a hulking man with huge sweat stains that started under his arms and spread toward his midsection, like two converging bodies of water, and who looked like the first Orthodox professional wrestler – “The Golem” – and whose family owned a discount electronics store, where the event would be held.


“Here? In the hotel”

“No. Right here.” And he patted one of the twin beds in his half of the suite.

“They expelled us,” muttered the boy’s mother.

“For two thousand years, they’ve been expelling us. They expelled us
from the temple. From Egypt. Where else did they expel us, Harry?” asked
another older woman, maybe the boy’s aunt.

“From the Louis the Fourteenth Room,” said Harry.

“I can’t do my act on a bed,” I said. “I need a stage, a microphone, lights.”

“You want to get paid? Then you’ll do it where I tell you. If I say do it sitting on the toilet – ”

“Alright, Mendel,” said the Golem’s spouse.

“All the world, isn’t it a stage?” the Golem said, tilting his giant head at me.
I relented and edged myself onto the bed.

“O.K., everybody, it’s time for the comedian,” announced the Golem, in a loud voice that was threatening to me while suggesting to them that I was another punishment the Jews had to endure.

I sat down on the bed. About half the crowd – there had to have been a hundred people – squeezed into the suite, while the rest spilled out into the corridor.

And for the next half hour, I did my act – all my acts, and even parts of other comic’s acts. A few jokes that played on Arab stereotypes that I cribbed from a Pakistani comic named Aladdin, some Jehovah’s Witnesses material from a comic who’d grown up in that cult. I even stole Woody Allen’s line about having his marriage performed by a rabbi who was so Reformed, he was a Nazi.

The whole time, the Golem trained his head on me like it was a loaded cannon. And nobody said a word – except for a couple of the older kids, who chuckled at some of Guy’s gobbledygook lines and immediately were shushed by their elders. As if they were in schul.

It was worse than any club bombing. It was more like hostage comedy. Two thoughts merged in my mind:

1) I need to get out of this room. I thought about dashing for the window and shuttling down the fire escape, except that there was none outside the room and anyway the window was blocked by a minyan of bearded men in frock coats and wide-brimmed hats; and

2) Any career has got to be better than this. Even operating a “hot nuts” stand that I could just park on a street corner most of the time, except during the summer, when I would do the ethnic street fair circuit. No one would judge me or my hot nuts, which New Yorkers expect to be inedible, if not nauseating.

By the time I’d reached the 25-minute mark, I had run out of inspiration and realized that I should end with some remarks about Joshua, the bar mitzvah boy.

“Joshua, I’d like to acknowledge you on your big day.”

Some scattered applause.

“They say today you are a man.”

More applause.

“Worst decision you’ll ever make.”

“Thirty minutes!” bellowed the Golem, pointing to his watch. “It’s time to settle.” He beckoned me out into the corridor where, instead of the two hundred in cash I was expecting, he gave me discount coupons “worth two hundred” at his electronics store in Crown Heights. “But no iPods.”

When I got home I noticed that the coupons were six months past their expiration date. I never tried to redeem them.

For most comics, this would’ve been just another bomb, something they could turn into a routine or at least use when they traded war stories with other comics – one of our favorite pastimes.

But for me it went deeper. I had been dissatisfied with the business for a long time. The whole comedy thing felt stale, phony, contrived. Then I had a revelation: It was. I mean, the whole idea of going somewhere expecting to be entertained, and telling jokes to a roomful of people expecting you to tell jokes, well that goes against any real definition of wit, which is all about spontaneity. A joke in a comedy club was about as surprising a cum shot in “Anal Intruders.” (Not just in the original, but any of the series.)

I mean, what was separating me from those trained bears on roller skates you used to see on the “The Ed Sullivan Show”?

Those bears could skate, is what.

Now, some of the other comics, when I shared these thoughts, would get all scornful. It was all about “paying dues,” and if I didn’t want to do that, I should get out of the business. Which was my point. Many of these guys had been dues-payers for ten years or longer. I peered into my future and saw myself doing my act at “Mostly Magic” at 1 a.m. in front of a bunch of other comics, then grabbing a gyro at Mahmoud’s before taking the train back to Bensonhurst, where I’d be living with my mother.

Except my mother, who was from Jersey, was living in a retirement home adjacent to an Indian casino in Michigan. Hated the heat and went north while all her friends turned tail south. But that’s another story.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Spoiler: Part 3 -- My "manager"

I worked hard on my characters. I researched them, read books, grilled friends and acquaintances – I mean I Stanislavskied the mothers. Thought about their favorite foods, what kind of underwear they liked, what they dreamed. I wrote long back stories, sometimes going back generations. I had this obsession with authenticity. Insane.

But my career was going nowhere. I had been making the rounds for almost three years and was still a nobody, still fighting for stage time and playing the modern version of vaudeville. I thought of turning to acting – just when all the actors were turning to standup.

Things didn’t improve much when I went with this agent named Lenny Weinstock. Lenny dredged the ocean floor of comedy, emerging with a wide variety of non-talent that he would book in totally obscure venues – magic shows, historical re-enactment societies and clubs where Goth kids who weren’t old enough to get into real heavy metal clubs hung out. Light metal clubs.

One of Lenny’s acts was his wife, a brassy Jewish girl with flaming red hair who went by the name Imelda, the Weird Fairy. She would come onstage in a white, fluffy chiffon dress, white chiffon “wings,” white pumps and red socks. Her act was asking the audience to shout out “wishes” that she would grant if they would agree to perform ridiculous tasks such as wearing their underwear outside of their suit or barking like “a baby seal being clubbed to death.”

Lenny was an ex-comic himself and really believed in his “clientele.” He had an office in an all-but-abandoned office building next to a Croatian Orthodox church so close to the Lincoln Tunnel that instead of passing the collection plate they could’ve collected tolls.

You’d walk in and the fluorescent light in the vestibule would be shattered and the stairs littered with discarded bags of half-eaten fast food. You’d pass other comics – drawn, pimply-faced, beer-bellied guys who looked desperate enough to scavenge from the bags of semi-eaten Tacos Bell, E.coli or not.

And then – the office, a long, open space with mismatched, abandoned chairs, grungy- sofas, unruly piles of papers and notebooks, teetering pyramids of videotapes, chopsticks, OTB slips, old Metrocards, candy wrappers. It was a like a collection from a crime scene. A board behind Lenny’s desk scrawled with magic-markered schedules that listed which of his comics was booked where. Lenny was in his thirties but was balding in front with long, stringy hair in the back that crawled out from under a New York Rangers cap. He often wore a matching, grimy, food-stained Rangers sweatshirt and jeans which weren’t just “distressed” – more like “traumatized.”

Lenny sat at a plastic fold-out desk that looked like dollhouse furniture and spat into multiple phones simultaneously, trying to drum up work for his comics. His side of things would sound like this:

“Two shows, Saturday night, Atlantic City? Sure. The Trump? ... The Dew Drop Inn? Where the fuck is that – nineteen fifty-eight? ... Camden? Camden is not Atlantic City…You need somebody who can work dirty? ... Filthy? Disgusting? Hey, what do you want, my guy to jerk off on stage? … If necessary. Ha, ha, ha…O.K., we’ll take it.”

Or like this:

“Lou, Lou, Lou. Louie. Comeannn … You’re always bitching how come I don’t get you any gigs and now I got you a gig and you’re bitching about the gig that I got you … Offshore casino. … No, not Bermuda. … The Caymans? Hey, if it was the Caymans I’d take it. … It’s offshore … Somewhere in the Atlantic, that’s all I know. … Whattya mean, how do you get there? Public transportation.”

Eventually, he’d be conducting a kind of opera of showbiz sleaze, shouting into all four phones:

“Fred? Len. Two shows, fifty each. Plus all-you-can-eat bratwurst. You in?”

“Whattya mean, you ain’t a prop act? Get a watermelon and an ax – bingo, you’re a prop act.”

“I’m sorry about Farley. Peeing on the audience, I mean, that crosses the line. But he’s got a chemical imbalance…”

Lenny had his eccentricities, too. Like he always wanted you to stop in personally to see about work. All the comics hated it. Besides being out of the way and time-consuming, he’d make you wait. And the place reeked of exhaust fumes from the backed-up tunnel traffic outside.

On the other hand, I owe it to Lenny that I decided to abandon the standup life. It happened one day when I walked into his office just after one of his regulars backed out of a bar mitzvah out on the Island. Would I fill in for him? It paid a couple hundred, plus a car service. I certainly needed the money, as the only income I had at the time came from filling out online surveys or, when I got really desperate, volunteering as a guinea pig for drug trials. (I mean, I always tried to get the placebos.) Besides, to get paid at all was rare and made me feel like a professional – so much so that I jumped at the offer before considering all the ramifications. Like how I would tailor my act for a bunch of Orthodox Jews. In a hotel room.

(Afterward, I would return to Lenny’s office and sound him out about what kind of material the Jews might like. His response? “Nothing anti-Semitic.”)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Spoiler: Part 2 -- How I became a comedian

I hate the term “comic.” And “comedian.” You think of baggy pants, seltzer-spritzing, watermelon-smashing, musical ventriloquist, “didja ever notice?”-ing, dick-joking, black-jacketed, overgelled, semi-literate, class clowns-gone-to-seed lamebrains. Open-mic knuckle-draggers lugging sour dreams of landing on Dave’s couch or yakking it up with Conan or having a permanent seat in Jay’s green room. Rupert Pupkin wannabees. You know, the kind that’s so pathetic they get hissed at kiddy birthday parties?

I know this. Because I used to be one of them. I stood out on the street corners in the rain and snow flicking invites to people who looked at me in my crummy peacoat, hardly better than a panhandling bum, knowing I had to recruit five strangers to win five minutes to work out – a time span that can seem like five light-years when you’re facing a roomful of drunken Yuppies whose water is smarter than they are and who feel their ten-dollar cover charge entitles them to shout obscenities, make cell phone calls to their Friendsters, paw their dates sloshed from Jell-O shots, moon you, and generally act as if they’d been hired to act in your worst nightmare. At Yuksters. Benny O’Hoolihan’s House O’ Hoots. And We’re All Smiles, the outsized logo of which – plastered on the marquee, painted on every wall – was a pair of grinning lips and a set of perfectly white teeth that looked like an alien creature that was all smile, or a dental ad you’d see on a panel on the F train.

And having to schmooze the club owners, who judged your act on how many drinks customers ordered during it, or their henchmen who booked the room, usually some rat-like creature who took bribes from comics to bump them up in the order, but who wouldn’t blink at breaking his word and pocketing the cash.

And if you could survive this, well eventually, maybe after six months or a year, you’d win a spot on the weekend, when the out-of-towners would show up, but even then you’d start out getting the last slot, around 1:30 a.m., when the only people left looked like they’d tunneled their way into the club from somewhere deep inside the earth’s crust. Smelled like they’d just come from a wine tasting at the Manishevitz factory. Looked like they tried a sex change, thought better of it, and went back again. The people you found after you scraped off the pond scum.

Some of the comics were good eggs – likable, thoughtful, encouraging Almost all of them were smarter than their acts. Which was demoralizing. And more and more even the better ones just chucked their professionalism – they spelled out jokes, ripped the audience for not responding to flat or misfired gags (at times veering close to the kind of pathetic begging you’d expect from a homeless guy or a torture victim), resorted at the drop of a hat to the “Anybody here from Jersey?” line that you knew was leading to a cheap insult and, worst of all, didn’t bother memorizing their act, making the audience wait as they flipped through index cards and notebooks. One guy even tried booting up his laptop on stage, which took five minutes and seemed like some sad kind of performance art. But not quite.

My act? I started out doing regular standup: comments on current events and trends, what they call observational humor. My problem was I couldn’t stand to tell the same joke twice, while most comics spent years polishing the same five minutes until it was bland and inoffensive enough to attract the network scouts. If a joke bombed, I lost all respect for it. And if it worked – even when I got some chick to spit-take her saketine – well, that was it. It had lost its comedy cherry.

You see, I always needed things fresh. It’s one of the reasons why I became a “spoiler.” Being a spoiler is a special one-time-only experience. Not just for me, but for the host and the audience. And especially for the “victim.”

But let me backtrack: I ditched the “Didja ever read the labels on the bottom of a mattress?” act and started doing characters. Built up an entirely new act. But not the standard “street people” all the other character comics did – your cliched panhandling outpatients, cardboard Latinos, “um-be-lel-la”-chanting generic Africans, and swishy fairies, with a junky thrown in to make it “edgy” and fill out the multicultural minstrel show they knew the white, middle-class audience would dig.

Nope. I did a one-eighty. First, with Professor Pfelding, a pompous, hopelessly out-of-touch, left-wing film history teacher who would try to shoehorn references to obscure films and phrases such as “mise-en-scene” and “transgressive” into every other sentence, always at the wrong time, such as while trying to seduce young students in his office. I’d have him looking down a girl’s dress and saying, “Exquisite mise-en-scene, my dear. Not since Max Ophuls have I seen such glorious mise-en-scene. Andre Bazin would faint.” Of course, nobody knew who the fuck Max Ophuls and Andre Bazin were. To them it read: “lecherous, full-of-himself professor.” It’s comedy short-hand.

Pfelding was based on one of the profs I had at N.Y.U. who gave me a B- just because I submitted my oral final on tape. This was before I dropped out during my junior year. But more about that later. Possibly.

Another character was Guy, based on a French-Canadian guy who collected newspapers in my neighborhood with this kind of manic intensity that made you think that by saving the papers he was saving humanity. Why, he never explained. He wore a thin leather jacket and Birkenstock sandals even in mid-winter, claimed to be a millionaire up in Montreal and spoke in this almost unintelligible, marble-mouthed patois. The way I played him, it was half-Quebec, half-Professor Irwin Corey. I’d do a conversation between myself and Guy, me asking directions and trying to figure out what the hell he was saying and him just spouting vaguely French-sounding gibberish, with English words like “millionaire” and “McDonald’s” thrown in. I guess you could call him a “street person.” But French-Canadian homeless? It just wasn’t being done.

Then there was Bob Burdette, vice president of corporate communications, who hid everything – his emotions, his motives – behind a torrent of corporate gobbledygook. He was the kind of guy who was always coming up with what he thought were absolutely brilliant “new ideas” to please his boss. “Find the Meeting,” a character-building exercise in which senior management would make their subordinates search the building to find where an important meeting was taking place. Group calisthenics, like the kind Japanese companies used, and which he led dressed as a gym teacher. Clothes-optional Fridays. To “help loosen up the corporate atmosphere.”

Ironically, while I thought Bob was my weakest character, he was my most popular – or should I say my least unpopular, especially with the same corporate types I was mocking. Once in a while, after a show, one of these suits would come up to me at the bar, buy me a drink, and tell me Bob was “just like my boss.” Sometimes they’d ask me if I played corporate events. You know, sales force retreats, company picnics. At the time, I blew them off. Didn’t take them seriously. Felt insulted. Ultimately, though, that’s how I became a “spoiler.” But that came later.

Our busy professionals

The biggest crisis for these people is that their nanny ran off with their personal trainer, or their masseuse raised his rate and their therapist went on vacation. While blue-collar workers have seen their jobs migrate to India, we have another class of people who have voluntarily outsourced their lives.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Spoiler: Part 1 of a new novel

This is the first installment of my new novel, The Spoiler:

His best job
My best job ever was at the ConRon board meeting. In Houston. I walk in there with a dozen guys in Brioni suits and alligator cowboy boots. I’m wearing a Brioni suit they loaned me for the gig. Must’ve cost fifteen hundred min, diamond cufflinks and a diamond stickpin – I’m talking not bling – blang – shoes by Emilio or whatever the fuck Zegna. The mark comes in, he knows everyone on the board. He’s going around the table making refined frat boy bullshit intro smalltalk shit – “Larson, Tom, J.B., Karen” – and he sees me and fucking freezes. He nods, mutters “Hi” then subtly tries to make, like, eye signals with the others as if to say, “Who the fuck is this guy and what is he doing in the boardroom – our boardroom? – of the world’s biggest oil company?” He scans this VP and that VP, the comptroller, accounting, marketing, corporate communication, P.R. Not one of them makes eye contact.

Then they all start glad-handing me, slapping me on the back, asking about my wife and kids. The mark then gets it, takes his cue, and now it’s face-saving time, and he starts talking to me like we’re buds, like we went to high fucking school together and shared a bong out beyond the quadrangle. “Did you have a good trip in?” And I tell him, “Great. The corporate jet is awesome, dude.” And I can tell immediately that he flew on a non-corporate jet. A peon jet. From the ashen look on his face, it could’ve been a prop plane.

They start the meeting, all kinds of introductory b.s., they go over the agenda, some skirt freshens their coffee and Danish, which was like sugar-glazed cardboard, Masters of the Universe eating shit from a coffee cart, and I keep looking over and smiling at the mark, who’s pretending everything is A-O-fucking-K. And the thing drags on with all kinds of reports on world prices, new discoveries, all this petrol-speak – it was so Z-inducing, I started nodding off, like the junkies I used to watch in Tompkins Square Park.

And the mark, finally it’s his turn to speak. And he gets up and announces that he’s done a study, the result of which is that in order to bring the bottom line in line with the analysts’ earnings projections, “we” have to lay off forty-five thousand people. That’s like a fucking small town. But he’s got the charts and graphs and everybody nods and the CEO pretends to be concerned and weighing the decision, but he’s got these forty-five thousand people wriggling in his hand like Godzilla before he decides to eat them, and he pretends to agree only reluctantly and with the gravest misgivings about the P.R. blowback, but the P.R. chick – one of these flinty, only-in-America bitches who seems to have honed herself into a human stiletto – reassures him she can handle it, and everybody yeses him and they fucking applaud the mark for his totally unnecessary study that they only used to justify a decision they’d already made.

And then they introduce me. “Mr. Haslop,” – I find out later he’s this semi-retired VP who was stationed in Jakarta, went native and never attends these meetings in person. And my title is VP and chief executive, personnel. And I get up and I start with some long-winded b.s. about how the forty-five thousand may not be enough, and that we have to cut to the bone to compete with BP and EM, and that the stockholders are concerned about excessive executive compensation. You know, the natives are getting restless. And I go on, “We may have to tamp down on our bonuses” and everybody looks predictably pissed off but tries not to show it. And then I say it’s worth it to avoid problems with the institutional investors, and that this may even mean the termination of one or more senior management. And I turn to the mark and I say, “Isn’t that right, Mr. Whiteman?” That’s his name can you believe it? And he looks befuddled, stunned, and turns to the CEO, who says to him, “What do you think, Dave?” and Dave says, “Um, do you really think this is necessary?” and the CEO says, “Yes, I do.” Then I say that I have a PowerPoint presentation, and the lights go off and the screen lights up, and the computer projects the demonstration, and, well, the first slide is titled, “Should Dave Whiteman Be Terminated?” And you hear Dave’s voice just issue this pathetic gurgling moan, like a grasshopper losing an erection. And the slides come on, one after another, demonstrating in that impersonal yet dumbed-down PowerPoint manner, in just how many ways Dave deserves to get canned. He’s not pulling his weight, he’s indecisive, he waited too long to come up with the study to downsize the forty-five thousand, he’s not keeping on top of his department, there are even whispers about sexual harassment.

They gave me the raw material, but I wrote the slides myself. And the last one outlines his proposed termination agreement and severance package, and it’s pocket change, really, and this sends Dave over the edge. He starts by pretending it’s a gag and he’s in on it, but the blood has so rushed from his face he looks embalmed and his hands are shaking like he’s got Bells’ palsy and his feet are tapping like Art Blakey on speed. When his line “This is a joke, right?” falls on a room as still and quiet as a newly snowed cornfield, he starts pleading. He’s got family to support, two kids, two mortgages, his wife will leave him, it’s his second, trophy wife, although I saw a picture of her and she looks more like a bowling trophy, all stiff, gilt-edged, wax-smiling executive mate. And then the lights go on and they’ve got two beefy-looking security guards and they’re packing serious heat! And the CEO says, “Dave, I know this is a bit of a shock, but you have to go back to your hotel, these gentlemen will escort you,” and Dave says to the CEO, “Warren, you can’t be serious.” And Warren says, “Don’t call me Warren. It’s Mr. Houseman.”

By now the others can’t hold it in, and they’re howling, breaking up, while Dave is breaking down. I almost expected to burst his carotid artery, that’s how tense the guy was. And then I stand up and go over to him and rip off my tie and throw away my jacket and say to him, “Dave, you’ve been punk’d!”

And I look down and under his chair is a puddle of urine.

Was it mean? Sure. But these guys, they’re like world-class sadists. What they do to people, to the world … this was a walk in the park.