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There was a doo-wop group, a “human statue of liberty,” a boy band, a flamenco dancer, and a piano player from New York who sang in Yiddish. Once ensconced, I studied the pamphlet I’d been given.
As I went into my opening joke about being from New York, someone yelled, “Pussy!They complained and more were conjured up from storage.This happened several times and before long, there were absolutely no more paddles left on the boat, so the staff looked at security camera footage to find out what might’ve happened to them. On the early-evening shows I utilized bits I’d stopped reciting years ago – scraps, anything that wouldn’t rock the boat, so to speak.It was a symphony of shit-faced-ness, beet-red behemoths staggering and scooting from buffet to casino to bar, cabin to cabaret, then line-dancing back to buffet.It was as if I was watching an anti-American propaganda video.On one tape they saw the piano player throwing the paddles overboard at around midnight. Then, during the later shows I figured I’d try letting it all hang out a bit more. Jameson, please report to the front office or make yourself known to a crewmember…” I went back to sleep.
In the middle of my second late show I’d gambled on some material about being Jewish and being married to a black woman. ” Before I knew it, I was reaching for his neck, but JR slid between us and jammed a beer into my hand, miming a helicopter noise while steering me in the opposite direction. Five minutes later: another announcement, then another, and another, all telling her to report to the front office with increasing urgency. A Filipino steward came in and dutifully looked in my bathroom and under my mattress.
While I had one foot in the Manhattan clubs as a regular, another was on the pedal doing road gigs.
Still, I figured it would be smart to give the world of cruise ships a shot, even though with Circus, I was starting at the bottom.
Single.” Even though following that guy was like following Springsteen in Jersey, I managed to book one gig. “I guess I’m gon’ be your orientation.” “Where’s the venue? It was also freezing, with no way to turn down the air conditioner. My act had to be completely rearranged into three different half hours, one child-friendly, each one repeated once, plus a different “welcome aboard” show, not to be repeated.
It was with a cruise line that, as a professional courtesy, I’ll call “Circus Cruises.” It had the collective ambience of a floating Red Lobster. I flew into Texas where the ship, headed to Mexico, would be taking off. My act is essentially a low-budget indie film about my life in New York with neighborhood characters like “heroin dude” and “check-cashing place lady with beard eating an LGBTBLT.” I’d also been warned that if passengers complained about a performer, that performer could be helicoptered off of the ship. Cruise ships are one of the last refuges for veteran comedians to make a living doing what they do.
One particular cabin, I was told, doubled as a pop-up brothel where you could either “dock your boat” or “get your anchor tossed,” depending on your proclivity.