Sunday, December 11, 2005

Imaginary Stand up Comedy Monologue III

This one gets a little blue, at least more risque than I usually get (which is not at all risque). If you don't do blue, avert your eyes.

A lot of times, when I have a show coming up, I like to scope out the venue to get a feel for the location. You know, to put myself at ease. To pick up on little details I can work into my set. And to get the vibe for the underlying chi of the place. Sometimes, you can do all that by just walking by, maybe poking your head in the door, and checking out the neighborhood. Other times, you have to do more.

This was one of those times. Last night, I got here about 7 p.m. to pitch a tent and camp out on the sidewalk in front. The smokers standing outside thought it was a little weird, but after I'd fired up the mini-Weber and grilled up some Boca burgers, it was like a tailgate at a Brewers game. Some passersby got confused, thinking it was opening night for the new Harry Potter movie -- or that Phish tickets were going on sale -- and the local media did stop by, and for the most part, I think everyone had a lot of fun.

But the most important person is me. And I feel so comortable here tonight, it's freaky. I also witnessed one of the most amazing examples of graffiti art ever to happen in New York City. Once the bars had closed and the Boca burgers had run out, I mostly had the sidewalk to myself. And while I usually like to stay up, reading, or working out my routine, I must admit that I drifted off. I fell asleep.

Usually, I try to stay up all night because I get to meet more people that way -- and because just because you're asleep in a tent doesn't mean that someone can't steal your tent. Last time I did this, I woke up all tangled up in my three-man, which is really only big enough for one man, thrown roughly in the corner of a vacant lot in Ozone Park. Man, was that embarassing. But last night, I fell asleep and woke up to the most beautiful New York City morning -- and one of the most amazing graffiti pieces I've ever encountered. My urban environment had changed. I had been visited by the urban Tooth Fairy. A citified Santa Claus. This wasn't just made by your average graffiti artist. This was made by a Michelangelo of graffiti artists. The Macgyver of graffiti artists.

Now, despite that overlong buildup, I'm not going to ruin this by tellling you how the public property was defaced, I'm going to tell you how the public property was defaced. I'm going to dramatize the creative process that must have gone into it. And what I imagine must have happened. I think it went a little like this.

Two young guys are walking down the street. I'll play both of them. OK. What's my motivation? OK.

"You know what we should do, man, we should tag something."

"Tag something?"

"Tag something."

"Like, with our names?"

"No, not with our names. That's basic. When you tag with your name, you run a risk. People might know who you are. Remember Kilroy? He was here, but now -- where is he? Rykers. And when you tag something that's not your name, you create a mystery. People wonder who you are, what you're saying, what you're meaning. And that, my friend, is the conversation of the streets."

"The conversation of the streets."


"You want to draw that I Spy guy? Or Neckface? They're mysterious."

"No. That's old hat. I'm old school. Hold on. Let's say we find a sign. Like a billboard. Like that ad on the phone booth. The one with the lady's face. Then we tag something on it that, like, alters its meaning. Like, detournes it. That ad is ripe for parody. Let's do that."

"I think you've been reading too many DJ Spooky liner notes, man. But OK."

"You got a Sharpie?"


"Some Krylon?"


"Shoe polish?"







"Yeah. I got Carmex. Hey, wait. That's stupid. You use Carmex and two things happen. One, it's like she's having a flashback or a pleasant memory of an idyllic past or something. It's all smeary. And two, you're going to dip your finger in my Carmex, draw on that billboard, dip your finger back in my Carmex, and draw some more? No way. My lips are chapped, man, and double dippling is nasty."

"Hey, my lips are chapped, too. Can I borrow your Carmex?"

"Sure. Wait. No way, man. You can't trick me like that."

"Fine. You got an Xacto knife?"


"Sulfuric acid?"


"A gluestick?"


"Man, you've really got to be more prepared. OK, let's see. What else? Let's see. OK, I'm going to run into that laundromat and get something we can use. You stay here. Don't leave. And when I get back, we can tag that thing."

"Fine. I'll be here."

"OK. I'm back. We're golden. I got what we need."

"What'd you get?"

"Masking tape."

"Masking tape?"

"Yeah, hold on. I'll show you. This is going to be wicked. Block me and act like you're waiting for the bus. Look normal. This'll just take a second. OK. Some there. And some there... and there... let's see. A little more there. Huh. Perfect."

"What is it?"

"Don't play me like that, man. You so know what that is."

"Is she playing the kazoo?"

"The kazoo? No, man. That, my friend, is a penis. Pointing at her mouth is a penis. Isn't that perfect? It's like we're saying, 'Whoah, you can't debase and commodify our women, Mr. Ad Man. We'll debase and commodify women ourselves.' Power to the people, man!"

"Maybe it's a jaw harp."

"A jaw harp?"

"Yeah, I think it looks like a kazoo or a jaw harp."

"Are you crazy? It's a penis."

"Looks like a kazoo."

"Cheese it, it's the police!"

And they run.

Yes, my friends, in the middle of the night, between my falling asleep and my waking up, someone had defaced that billboard by making a very rough approximation of a penis out of masking tape. Masking tape.

If that isn't dedication to one's craft, a sheer act of desperate creativity, I don't know what is.

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