Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Sixth Card Of Christmas

Bill Rutkoski is another comedian friend of mine who put some muscle into his Christmas cards. And Bing Crosby.

One winter Bill and I were booked to do a standup gig in Burlington, Vermont. As we drove north from New York City I looked longingly at the snow-covered houses and farms that were spread out picture postcard style along the highways. How peaceful it would be to have a normal life in a quiet part of the world, I thought. What a relief to not be driven by something as ephemeral and unpredictable as fame.

Suddenly Bill turned to me and said, “Wouldn’t it be great to be normal and just live in a house in a quiet part of the country and just be a regular person?”

Bill moved to L.A. a few months after I did and one day we got locked into a conversation about how annoying it was when people found out what we did for a living. One of the best things about being a standup comic is making people laugh. But one of the worst things about being a standup comic is listening to the suggestions of accountants, teachers, salesclerks and anyone else who thinks they understand the complexities of comedy.

“I’m a temp; you should do a skit about that.” They did, it’s a movie called The Temp.

“You should see the people at my office; you could do a whole skit about them.” They did, it’s a sitcom called The Office.

“I’m a waiter; you should do a skit on that.” They did, it’s a reality show called The Restaurant.

“I work in an ER; you really need to do a skit on that,” at which point I’ve lapsed into a coma and could really use an ER.

For starters, stand-ups don’t do ‘skits’; that word went out with Vo-do-dee-oh-doh. Improv players do ‘sketches’ and stand-ups do ‘jokes’. And please, let me save you the trouble: Yes, we write our own material and No, we don’t know how we come up with our jokes. And please, please, please don’t tell us a joke and if you must, try not to tell a racist, homophobic, sexist joke and then tell us we can use it. We’re never going to use it.

Bill has since gone into acting full time and told me he stopped telling people what he did for a living. He now just says he sells shoes.

End of chat.


  1. These cards are totally making my holidays merry and bright! Today's made me snort with laughter. I love a traditional holiday snort.

  2. I love this card. What drives me crazy is the old "I've always wanted to write a book, too! I just never had the time."

    I usually respond with, "Well, one day I ran out of bon-bons so I decided to get up off the couch. The book pretty much wrote itself."

  3. But the real question is: When Bill says he sells shoes, does he also say he makes people wait until Tuesday to get them?

    (you need to know his act for that to be meaningful... and I loved that joke)

  4. This is another one of my funny friends signing in. Steve is the creator of the brilliant writing program Scriptware, an international spiritual guru and former standup comic. How's that for a resume? He used to do a standing back-flip during his act!!

    Meanwhile, I've forgotten Bill's joke...

  5. AMEN to that my comedian brothers and sisters!!! Comics should borrow the gay policy used by the armed forces..."Don't joke, don't tell."
    PS- I run into Bill's brother Mike all the time at commercial auditions here in NYC...great guy...when I'm hanging with him I feel like a war veteran commiserating about our many lost battles.

  6. Oh, the joke was (I'm sure I don't have it verbatim, and what made it funny was the delivery of the punchline, but anyway):

    I took my shoes to this place; it had a sign that said, "Shoes repaired while you wait." I said, "When will these be done?" The guy said, "Tuesday." I said, "Okay, I'll see you then." He says, (yelling), "No! Sit down! You wait!"