Jughead's Basement Podcast

Sunday, June 24, 2012


In which the reader is made to believe that Paige and John will meet Patton again... 
but they don’t.
When we arrived at the Hideout, half past midnight, the inviting cadences of Patton Oswalt’s simulcasted voice were being piped out of a speaker above the entrance. The canned spoken words disappeared from behind us as we entered the empty front barroom.  There was one hipster, only a few drinks away from changing his status to barfly, standing by his stool at the far right.  There was one bartender behind the counter, or maybe it was two.  I don’t mention this again in the story, so go ahead and picture anywhere from one to seven bartenders.  There was one woman tucked in a corner near the front door behind a chest high block of wood.  She was holding a hand-stamp like a gavel.  We approached her with our IDs out ready to prove to her our consenting ages of alcohol consumption.
“The show is sold out.”  
We looked around.  The bar area was nearly empty, but the back room was packed beyond capacity.  We looked at each other hopelessly.  Neither of us knew how to proceed.  
I said to the woman, “It’s a benefit.  We have the money, we’ll pay.”
I mumbled, “We are part of the agency team... thing.”  The sentence didn’t even make sense.  To accent my ridiculous statement I pointed in the direction of the overpopulated back room.  Then I uttered a single word, “Pam?”  
The woman that held the power of entrance nodded her head in a short termed bemusement.  Then she restored herself to a more permanent appearance of anger and irreparable imposition.  My words didn’t contain a single ounce of substance.  I really really suck at getting into places.  
She was no longer having any of it.  “The show is sold out,” she repeated sternly.  Then in case we were actually idiots she pedantically elaborated. “That means there isn’t any room.”  
Our dejection, as well as our humiliation, was felt deeply.  We moped our way back outside.  
Paige said, “Well, at least we can listen to Patton.”
Then Patton’s voice ceased.  From the speaker we could hear the MC take back the microphone.  He thanked Patton for performing.  I recognized the MC’s voice, but I couldn’t place it.  For a moment I fooled myself into thinking if I could place that voice, I could use it to our advantage, and we’d be sitting pretty.
    [MC: Dan Telfer]
Paige asked, “Should I text Pam?” 
In less than a minute after Paige pressed send on her phone, Pam appeared in the doorway.  She, for the second time in one night, waved us fearlessly into restricted territory.  
“It’s sold out Pam.  We wanted to pay but she wouldn’t take our money.  It’s a benefit.  We want to pay.”  
If I didn’t know better I would have thought Pam ignored what I had just said.  She ushered us past the doorwoman.  
“Excuse me,” The woman yelled.  “They can’t go in there.  They don’t have tickets.”  
“They’re with me.”
“I don’t care.”
This response took Pam aback for a quick second, then she started saying whatever came into her head.  “They were already in here.”
“Then why don’t they have stamps on their wrists?’
“They came in through the back.”
“Then they snuck in.”
Before Pam could construct another retort the door to the back room opened. The front bar began to get crowded.  One lean fellow in a leather jacket made a beeline straight for Pam.  He was probably a comedian looking for representation.  We would later discover that a high majority of people in the space were stand-up comedians with varying degrees of notoriety.  It was part of Pam’s job to chat up the talent especially the ones her agency were scouting.  Talking to the clientele, and potential clientele, she claims is the easiest and most enjoyable part of her job as a talent agent.  Whether she delighted in this particular interaction, having turned away from us, did not matter.  She was required to make him the center of her attention.  Paige and I were once again forced to fend for ourselves.  This couldn’t possibly bode well for us.
I turned back to the woman.  She was staring at me.  Keeping me in place with only her gaze.  “We’re kinda’ supposed to be here... maybe.”
She did not speak.
“We’ll pay.”
Pam, ignoring the doorkeeper’s plea, called me over to meet the person to whom she was speaking.  Before I could signal back to her that I was harboring major doubts in taking any kind of steps forward while being watched so intensely, Pam returned to her conversation.
The woman came out from behind her wooden box.  She extended her arm towards my face.  “I’ll have to get the Owner.”  She called over one of the two to seven bartenders and told them to get [Fill in name of Owner here.]  She seemed to be taking this whole door person security thing a little too far.  We were in the Hideout not the UN.
Pam heard this threat over the din of clinking glasses and chaos.  She broke out of her conversation and turned back towards us.  “Yes, you do that.”  She didn’t say this angrily, she just said it with confidence, as if all of this was out of the hands of the doorwoman and that the Owner would agree with Pam.  “Go get the Owner.”
Paige and I wanted to run away and hide, but I trusted Pam more than our own instincts.  We held our tenuous ground for the time being.  More words went between Pam and the woman at the door.  I began to not like the woman at the door, even though she was only doing her job... with a vengeance.  She was the human embodiment of a cerberus, a mythological three-headed watch dog.  She would protect the venue owner and his property to the death.  She would have torn us apart with all twelve of her canines if the owner had deemed it to be so.  He didn’t.  When he arrived he looked directly at Pam’s pass, and without any exchange whatsoever he calmly and politely turned towards us. “Forty bucks a piece.”  Pam reached into her purse to pay.  I said, “No.  We can do this.  It’s a benefit, and we want to pay for it.”  
“Here you go sir.  Sorry for the trouble.”
“No trouble at all.”
Then he whispered something to the woman at the door, and she looked sad, and then we felt sorry for her.
Later Page asked me what the benefit was for, and I had no idea.  I thought that that was funny; such integrity out of me for such unknown causes.  [After reading this, Pam would remind me that it was a benefit for 826 National - Writing, Publishing, Tutoring.  I new the title not because of the non-profit work they have done, but because of a commercial that was written for my Neo-Futurist show called, CRISIS: A Musical Game Show.  Steve Heisler, a writer/journalist/performer who just so happened to be at the Hideout that night working for The Just For Laughs festival, created a video commercial that was shown during the play.  It was arguably the funniest thing in that entire show.  826, quite a good resonant cause indeed, even if it was started by a bunch of literary hipsters.]
We finally made it in to the venue, but Patton was gone.  We don’t know how he did it. He couldn’t have passed by us, yet we never saw him again.  The man obviously needed rest, and I imagine Paige resolved herself to thinking her hero simply wished he was back in his hotel with his wife and child, and then, by the power of talent and kindness alone, he just disappeared.
Kyle Kinane chose that moment to emerge from the back room.  At first glance he had the demeanor of a mischievous hell’s angel reject, a blue collar mephistopheles.  He was surrounded by his local Chicago friends and Comedians, an entourage of instantly likable Midwestern Alcoholics, friends that had been supporting him since he was just an annoying drunk punk kid telling stupid jokes in the back seat of their vomitous beat up automobiles.  He had always made them laugh by instinctively exaggerating details of minor adventures they had all just experienced. He had an advantage.  He had the talent but he also had the audacity to wear a bushy beard and to bathe in the back alley glory of his gruff, low, often difficult to understand, voice.  He had always spoke like a jaded janitor, since childhood, since he was soiling his diapers in between knowing smirks and taking hits from his infant joint.  
“Hello Kyle.”
“Hello Jughead.  Hello Pam.”
Kyle looked at Paige, not knowing who she was.
“Oh!  Sorry,” I said.  “This is Paige.”  
  They shook hands.
Kyle was not a short stocky older man that she had been following the progress of for years.  Paige didn’t have stored in her suitcase of emotions the years of admiration of his talents, as she did for Patton or even myself.  She dodged me for at least 6 months before I contacted her and said, “When the hell are we going to talk?”  The building of admiration and sexual intensity that it would take for her to cry at Kyle’s presence would probably never happen, but she was, and still is, honestly impressed by his talent.
“Your show was great!”  she said.
Then I chimed in, “Yes, it was good to finally get to see you perform.”
At this point in our careers while writing this, while having experienced the night at the Vic then at the Hideout, I was more famous than Kyle, and yet I felt I had to impress him, to tell him an anecdote which would make us both look important to each other.  I wanted us to both be cool. 
     “Kyle.  The other night I was trying to remember your last name but I couldn’t recall it.  So I Googled “Kyle” along with the word “Comedian.”  You were the first one to show up.”  I thought he could use this in his act, although I never would have said that to him.
He was ever so slightly embarrassed by this remark.  He laughed inaudibly.  His subtle laugh was drowned out by one of his friends guffaw-like outburst.  They must have shared the same name and the same career, because after this other guy got done laughing he said, “I told you it would be you and not me.”
Then Paige said, “Kyle, when we were walking down the stairs of the Vic Theatre, two men were behind me saying that they enjoyed you more than Patton.” Paige later admitted that she thought this was blasphemy. “They couldn’t remember your last name so they kept throwing out ‘Kane? Kimmons?’ I turned around, smiled at the boys, and said, ‘Oh, his name is Kyle Kinane.’ As I walked away, one of them said, “Woah. That must be his girlfriend.” I turned around and winked at them.”  Paige winked at Kyle.
Kyle turned red.  I don’t know what he was feeling but it must have been strange for him to never have met this young woman, and for her to say such an innocently flirtatious thing in front of her boyfriend and one of his childhood idols. On the surface of it he seemed very pleased.
While she was speaking, a man who towered over everybody, uncomfortable in his own skin, lurching, waring a Black Sabbath t-shirt entered the front room.  I happened to notice him, but stayed quiet because I didn’t want to seem rude to Kyle, Paige, and Pam while they were talking.  The towering man did not have enough room to pass our group without accidentally brushing up against one of us.  He stood there for a few seconds assessing the situation.  Who would he choose to ask to move inconspicuously so he could pass by?  He did not know that I was watching.  He was not aware that I knew who he was.  He backed up as close as he could to the wall, put his hands on Paige’s shoulders as he passed behind her, and escaped to a door in the front area of the club that had a staircase that lead up to the performer’s dressing room.
Kyle, Pam and a few others walked over to the bar to buy a few more drinks.  I pulled Paige aside.
“Do you have any idea who touched your shoulder only a few moments ago.”
Paige’s eyes widened.  She was in a paralytic state of starstruck panic expecting me to say Patton.  Little did I know that this would shock her more than if it were he.
I said, “Brian Posehn.”
I think the synapses in her brain misfired in a thousand different directions.  She began crying, but the tears quickly turned into red hot balls of flaming anger.  “Why didn’t you tell me!!!!”

[Brian Posehn, was also in the Comedians of Comedy.  Besides being a stand-up comedian, he is also a writer, performer, musician, seen on The Mr. Show, Just Shoot Me!, and The Sarah Silverman Program.  Even though he is Tall, Paige had nearly as much respect and fear of his talent as she did for Patton.  The Geekdom that Patton espouses runs deeper and more rampant in every fiber that constructs the lurching foundation of Brian Posehn.]

“I’m sorry, We were talking to Kyle.  I thought it would be rude to cut off the conversation with him in order to refer to someone like Brian Posehn who is much more famous than he is.  I made a judgement call.  I couldn’t do that to Kyle, or me!.”
Paige got very serious.  “Where did he go?”
“I think he headed up those stairs.”
Pam handed me a drink.  She went to hand Paige a glass of water when she dived into Pam’s arms, hugging her tight and crying on her shoulder.  She explained to Pam what had just happened.  I can’t remember how she structured her sentences, but I was the bad guy in the scenario, in a loving way.  Pam laughed.  She grabbed Paige by the shoulders, “Let’s go upstairs.”
“I wouldn’t lie to you.”
Pam took her by the hand and lead her upstairs.  I turned back around, and I was alone.  All around me people were deep in conversation.  I stood in the center of the bar with my drink in my hand, sucking from my straw.  The slurping sound echoed in my head, blocking out the comprehension of all other sounds.  “Blah blah blah,” was all I could understand.  I moved to the edge of one group of people talking, then I backed up and stood by another, then I moved back to my lonely spot blocking the exit out of the back room.  I was incapable of jumping into any current discussions.  I felt absurd.
“Who am I?” I asked myself.  Then I laughed.  I laughed while alone, but knowing that I would eventually share this with a distant audience, an audience not in the room at the time, an audience I hoped would, on some level, relate to my ridiculousness.

1 comment:

  1. I just had a thought on why I have been so personally involved in these posts about Stand up comedy. The obvious one is that it is a passion of Paige's. But also, for myself, it is nice and feels great to have a performance viewing hobby in a field that I have NO interest in pursuing a career. It may be a first.

    - John Jughead Pierson