couldnt believe it, said Tike, and I was there.
and the Professor were standing in the wings, offstage, and I
couldnt believe it.
gonna tell me?
held every Saturday night, in the San Francisco Opera House.
Tike swung his duffel bag onto the couch, plopped down beside
it and said, Hit me.
a smooth, practiced reflex Freddy opened Tikes fridge, grabbed
a beer and flung it across the studio apartment. In a gurgling,
even more reflexive act Tike chugged the beer can dry. Every
the Frisco Opera House, I know, cut to the chase.
belched, Hit me.
beer was delivered and downed. Theres a stand-up comedy
the Professor and I were watching. Three guysdid I mention
the audience is all female?
Men perform for an all-female audience and vice-versa. And apparently
elective surgery, in twenty-second century San Francisco must
be mandatory. There was half a ton of perky-bouncy tits
in that audience. Can you imagine an opera house full of naked,
pulchritudinous Penthouse pinups?
dont know. Whats a opera house look like?
has a Romanesque façade
was a joke, asshole. Call the Professor. Im going Time-Surfing.
Tike smiled. The first comedian finishes his set, right?
He was okay, better than you, but not nearly as funny as me
I swear on my mothers grave they have this retro-applause-meter,
like on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour and Star Search?
seen reruns on the 20th Century Channel.
sweet, naked, edible Aphrodites started clapping and hooting and
get the picture, said Freddy.
arrow on the applause meter starts moving and they get louder
and louder until the arrow moves out of a red area marked BOMB!
And into a yellow area marked HIT! Then all hell breaks loose.
The front row of Babe-O-Liciousness rush the stage and attack
the comedian. They rip his clothes off and rape the lucky bastard,
right there. Team cock sucking. Cornholing. This guys got
more pussy at one time than Elvis had in a week.
he services like three or four of them and shuffles off the stage,
still stiff-cocked with his pants around his ankles, followed
by this in the buff harem. The second row of women moves
into the front row and the second stand-up comes out. I didnt
get any of his political references, but he was a funny sonuvabitch:
rubber-faced like Jim Carey, loose-limbed like Dick Van Dyke,
cool and smart and sarcastic like Denis Leary
love those Old School fuckers.
smooth, great timing: biting delivery. Some babe heckled him and
he had her in tears in ten secondsmerciless. He said he
was glad she said something because shes so ugly he thought
she was standing on her head.
was slick, said Tike. He buries the applause meter and the
front row carries him off stage. The Professor told me they have
this male aphrodisiac they shoot into his ass and hell be
able to go for days.
the good part.
They won four million dollars. Each.
million for one stand-up set?
said Tike. Inflation was pretty bad. Twenty bucks for a
Heineken, but four-million is a chunk-of-change. And all of the
politicians, money-guys, importers, exporters, any shaker-and-mover,
all of them started out by winning this weekly comedy competition.
Listen, in twenty-second century San Francisco the haves and have-nots
arent determined by race, creed, or gender
Leaders are Funny; the Followers are Unfunny. Its our utopia,
man. Tike shook his head. While were living
on fast-food, playing fag dives and feminist bars in this century,
future stand-ups kick ass and take names.
whats the government regulation on us Time Surfing forward
and entering this competition one week and a hundred and fifty-seven
years from now?
Professor says we got it made. After CENTURYFLEX INC. got busted
for returning to present time to reanimate, the rule is simple,
Tike read from a piece of paper he fished from his duffel bag:
If a Traveler affects a wrinkle in Future Time: i.e., sexual
contact, death of a Futurist, or death of the Traveler, return
we win the stand-up sweepstakes, said Freddy, bop
some babes, and we have to remain, by law, with four million
bucks in the land of milk and funny?
got it, said Tike. And were already entered
in next weeks competition.
pointed at the duffel bag, So we work up a couple of routines
based on current events in the video-mags I brought back; we Time
Surf, rock the house, and live like real Kings of Comedy.
said, Hit me.
* * *
Christ on a crutch, said Freddy, this is the life."
He and Tike stood in the stage-right wing of the San Francisco
Opera House and watched a Standing Room Only crowd of birthday-suited
beauties file to their seats.
said Tike, theres the other guy.
whistled. Hey Buddy, over here.
third comedian, dressed in green denim overalls, appeared visibly
pained, nervous and uncomfortable as he reluctantly entered the
wings from a back-alley entrance. He saw Freddy and Tike and said,
Get over here, you idiots.
wrong with standing here? said Tike.
admiring the scenery, Mister Greenjeans, said Freddy.
the hell over here, he said.
might see you, he motioned at the audience, and decide
they dont like you.
long as we leave them laughing, said Freddy, almost drooling,
whats the big fucking deal?
have to decide who goes on first, said Greenjeans.
dragged the reluctant Freddy over to a small table littered with
$380 worth of empty Heineken bottles. Tike extended his hand.
said the future comic. You assholes been drinking?
said Tike. Takes the edge off.
before The Competition, he said. Stupid fuckers.
He fished a deck of cards from his overalls. Lets
cut to see who opens.
the big deal? said Freddy. Ill open, Tike follows
me, and then you can try and tickle the babes.
exhaled. Thanks, thanks a lot. He hugged them both.
Tight. Good luck, both of you.
said Freddy, are the freakingest, most emotional dude Ive
ever met. Its comedy, not brain surgery.
audience began chanting: We want Number One! We want Number
One! We want Number One!
emcee? asked Tike.
emcee for this? said Jamaal. Youre shit-for-brains,
it, said Freddy. Im going.
a leg, said Tike.
jog-trotted onto the stage and became slightly confused and disconcerted
by the absence of a microphone stand. A microphone wasnt
necessary in the acoustic-enhanced building and Freddys
confusion was momentary, but thats all it took. You can
lose an audience in a micro-second: with a misplaced gesture,
a stammer, or the slightest sign of fear or embarrassment.
had lost this audience before he even opened his mouth.
by the curtains, Jamaal and Tike winced as joke after joke failed.
Not visible to the audience, a triangle of sweat was forming in
the small of the failing comedians back. "This is tragic,
said Jamaal. Im sorry. I know you guys were friends.
bombed before, said Tike. Hell get over it.
bombs occasionally. Havent you?
course not, said Jamaal, thats impossible.
exactly the kind of confidence you need, Jamaal.
curious, said Jamaal, where exactly did Freddy bomb?
cowboy-biker bar in Bakersfield.
he got out alive?
Bakersfield is a tough town. Answer me this: when did stand-up
get so popular?
the old days we, I mean, we comedians, used to perform for nothing.
The stages were tiny and the dressing room was a closet that stunk
of vomit and urine. You worked for free beer and a percentage
of bar receipts that the ownerd fuck you out of. This is
a dream, man. The Opera House. Women, sex. Four million dollars.
money and sex was added after they amended the AAPA: Audience
Amnesty in Participation Act. After that, Hollywood, the NBA,
jetbike derbies, nothing could compete.
I said, Jamaal, this is a dream come true.
you very much, ladies, said sweaty Freddy, and gentle
stink, yelled a contralto from the audience.
and ladies, said Freddy, is what I meant.
we go, said Jamaal.
spotlight on Freddy faded and the applause meter was lit. The
crowd of ladies so raucous, loud and antagonistic moments before
was absolutely silent.
said Jamaal. Sure you want to go on next?
problem, said Tike. He stretched his neck and ran in place.
I wont make that mistake with the microphone. Everything
can be fixed in comedy. We learn from others mistakes.
are cold, said Jamaal.
he bombed, said Tike. Big fuckin deal.
silence, Jamaal and Tike watched as the first row of perfectly
proportioned women hopped up onto the stage and approached Freddy.
He flashed the thumbs-up to Tike and Jamaal and said to the phalanx
of ladies, Which one of you bitches likes it up the ass?
when they tackled Freddy and like a pack of crazed hyenas ripped
and bit and tore at him until the stand-up comedian was a supine,
bleeding, unfunny, and dead rack of blood and meat and bones.
wide-eyed, pissed his pants and said to Jamaal, Audience
Amnesty in Participation Act?
said Jamaal. Knock 'em dead, motherfucker.