Last night I was wrapping up a 5 day, nicely paying stint at Wise Guys Comedy Club in Syracuse, NY. It was a very pleasant time, despite the cold and snowy weather. The shows went well, the people bought some merchandise and I read and watched movies to my heart disease’s content throughout the week. In other words, what was a very difficult comedy year, full of work, but only half full of pay and gigs, appeared to be ending on a high note. The two shows went well – the 8pm show was by far the best of the week and although a little more subdued (odd timing), the 10pm went well also. So what could go wrong? I even made a very modest New Year’Resolution: Don’t see anyone get beat unconscious at a comedy club. Set the bar low for myself to guarantee no disappointment in 2013…
One of the bartenders at Wise Guys has a tongue ring, a tremendous amount of tattoos and large breasts that she does not keep particularly well hidden. Being that it was New Year’s Eve her significant other was in attendance and he was not hard to pick out (even if he had not been at the previous night’s late show). About 6’4″, 225 lbs, with lots of tattoos, two earrings and a face flush with alcohol – he looked like Kevin Federline if K-Fed were training with Barry Bonds in the frat-bro off season. He came up to me and was very effusive in his praise for my comedy, let me know we shared mixed race heritage and then wanted to get into a discussion of penis size. Considering the freezing weather and my general sense of decency I avoided discussion of dick and sneaked away with a friend to share a drink before New Year’s. There are two other significant details that came into play now.
It was about 11 pm and although having a good time it was clear that the bartender was trying to stop her boyfriend from pulling out his penis at the bar. Now I always enjoy a good “Who wants to sex Dikembe moment” like anyone else, but I could tell from the bartender’s reaction that this was not her boyfriend’s first “pulling dick out a bar” rodeo. Instead of saying “What are you doing?” which would indicate confusion, she kept protesting “oh god, please don’t do that,” indicating that it was not her first “my boyfriend gets drunk and pulls out his dick” rodeo.
That coupled with the fact that K-Fed Canseco had another friend who went about 5’10” with tattoos and muscles and a clear Napoleon complex and I knew this night was in for trouble. I told my friend “these guys go to bars looking to fight and they will probably fight tonight.” For the 5000th and last time of 2012, I was right.
Just after midnight, presumably angry at Carson Daly’s coverage of the ball dropping, K-Fed was in a stare down match with a guy who was wearing a sweater, going about 6’1″, 180 and standing with his girlfriend – clearly a guy who wants to throw down at a comedy club if I ever saw one. Well K-Fed then gives the guy a very hard push which launched him into my table. As Sweater guy gathered himself K-Fed, apparently offended that his push did not cause permanent damage went after the guy and started pummeling him. People, except for K-Fed’s friend Napoleon Dynamite, were trying to break up the fight, but K-Fed would not be deterred.
When the parties were finally separated, the owner of Wise Guys politely asked K-Fed to “get the fuck out.” K-Fed begrudgingly left while his soon-to-be unemployed girlfriend was left very upset. However, Napoleon maintained anger that could only come from being an angry, muscular midget and he continued to menace Sweater guy, who looked remarkably composed and unscathed for being on the losing end of an MMA match 50 pounds out of his weight class.
I assumed everything was OK, but of course the buzz I had worked so hard on (I stored my drink tickets from the week so I could get silly drunk on NYE) was gone. I am no fighter. I usually try to break up fights because I don’t like seeing people get hurt, but more so, I hate seeing the shitty side of people exposed. It just makes me feel uncomfortable. And the look of those two guys were of guys who had insecurities, juiced up muscles and wanted to prove something to someone. So they went to a comedy club (not exactly Road House or where SAMCRO hangs out) and it was pre-ordained that they would either inappropriately comment about a girlfriend or bump into someone and feel offended. I don’t mind fights when I feel like they emerge out of something genuine. It does not mean I like them, but they don’t get me as upset. Hell, two weeks ago I saw a male comic hit a charging female heckler in the face and that felt more justified than what happened at Wise Guys. (No I am not endorsing either).
So how did this end? Well K-Fed and Napoleon waited outside and when Sweater went outside (I am not sure why – perhaps to leave, perhaps to make an ill-advised attempt to defend his manhood) he was then pummelled into unconsciousness. According to staff members they were still punching him as he lay unconscious. When I got outside, seeing that there were more developments, the two were already getting into their Jeep. But the cops had been called and surrounded the car. Sweater guy’s girlfriend was crying over his limp body, but then it appeared that he was regaining consciousness.
I then had to go ask the owner for my paycheck, which always is a good feeling – “I know you have to fire an employee, may be facing litigation and have had your New Year’s Eve ruined, but could you fork over the cash? I have to hit up Denny’s right now.”
So I wanted to start my year right, with a wallet full of loot and pride in a job well done to finish the year. And that is how my year ended. But my new year began with two meatheads shattering the peace and fun of a fu*king comedy club and probably putting a guy in the hospital. A very inauspicious start to my 2013 comedy year. I think William H Macy captures the feeling best in Boogie Nights.