the comedy workshop

The Comedy Workshop (Austin, winter 1986)
by steve hellyard swartz
You’re funny and so you assume that managing a comedy club might be the thing for you
You get the job and
You are happy
For a day or two
You are happy, then and again, on and off
You are told by one comic that you are a seriously unfunny man
You are told by another that you are an excellent kisser
You are told by another that you look like an Israeli king out of the Bible
Or something
You remark to your friend Rodney over 2 a.m. olives and shots of Sambuca
That funny people are some of the saddest people you’ve ever met
You and he laugh so hard that you don’t just practically pee in your pants
You do
You find the funniest stuff in a comedy club happens after the club is closed
Or before it opens
You remember Sam Kinnison in his long coat and beret, standing outside a bank down the street from the club, waiting for it to open the morning after you’d cut him a check that he’d promised not to cash until his return to New York City
You remember Bill Hicks sweating on stage, in a black poplin jacket, looking like some fifties beat poet who got kicked out of Neal Cassidy’s car on the outskirts of Denver
You eat olives every night, out of large jars, in those last days before the club closed for good
You drink all the Sambuca
You say to Rodney that at least you never touched the Scotch or the vodka or the beer
The money-makers
You excuse yourself
It’s raining out there on Lavaca
The orange lights of Austin are not late-at-night lights
In Austin, in this time and this place, the orange lights are the lights of very early morning
Rodney yells from the main room to where you are, at the bar, yells
That his marriage is over
You come back with a couple of bottles
He smiles
You laugh
You tell him you’re sorry about his marriage –
But that’s not the reason why we’re switching to Scotch

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