Saturday, April 28, 2012

Comedy writers can be bad ass!

In the summer of 1990 I was broadcasting for the Tidewater Tides, the AAA affiliate of the New York Mets. It was a Sunday afternoon game and I had to read a commercial for the Day’s Inn at Military Circle – “Home to the visiting teams of the International League”. I noted that our dreaded rivals, the Columbus Clippers (Yankees ) were coming to town next and said, “Why don’t you call them all at 5 a.m. and welcome them to Tidewater.” Now you have to bear in mind that no one listened to minor league radio broadcasts other than players’ wives.

Or so I thought.

The next afternoon I arrived at the park only to learn that the Clippers had been besieged with pre dawn wake up calls. Needless to say they were pissed.

I guiltily went down to their clubhouse and apologized to their manager, Rick Down. He was very gracious, said he had heard it on the air and thought it was pretty funny. He also felt this would stir up the team, I might have done him a favor. (It did. They won that night. So now I had pissed off both teams.) But Rick was very forgiving.

The Clippers’ trainer however, was not. He went ballistic when he saw me, calling me words that were too harsh even for DEADWOOD. And he vowed to get back at me when we were in Columbus the following weekend.

I calmly asked if he ever watched CHEERS. He said, “Yeah, why?” wondering why that was relevant to anything. I then asked if he ever caught some of the bar wars episodes between Cheers and Gary’s Old Towne tavern? Again, he said, “Yeah. So what?” “Well, I wrote those shows, motherfucker, “ I said, “Do you really want to get into a practical joke war with me?”

That was the last I heard of the trainer.

The moral is clear.

Do NOT fuck with comedy writers! EVER!

We may appear harmless but we can fill your office with sheep just for looking at us funny.

19 comments:

Max Shenk said...

HA!

This reminds me of my favorite "Who's listening to the ballgame" story of all-time, one that Harry Kalas used to tell about Richie Ashburn and his unpaid plugs for Celebre's Pizza in south Philly. Ashburn, around the 5th or 6th inning, when he and Kalas and Andy Musser would get hungry, would say, "I wonder how those folks at Celebre's Pizza are doing tonight." And about 25 minutes later, a couple pies would be delivered to the broadcast booth.

Eventually the Phillies' front office caught onto this and they called Ashburn in and said "Look, Rich, we can't have you giving plugs to Celebre's. They're not one of our sponsors."

So the next game, when Ashburn was doing color for Kalas, he was reading the birthday announcements, and he said "And a happy birthday to the Celebre twins: Plain and Pepperoni."

25 minutes later, two pies were delivered to the broadcast booth.

Nat Gertler (Sitcom Room alum) said...

"Do NOT fuck with comedy writers! EVER!"

Most of the lovely women I know adhere strictly to this rule, and choose to do all of their fucking without comedy writers.

Rich Shealer said...

That is one of the funniest anecdotes I’ve read on this site.
Don’t mess with the class comedian. The class clown does the pranks, the class comedian tells him what to do.

David Schwartz said...

This may be the only story I've ever heard where a comedy writer was a bad-ass! Great story!

Michael said...

Also, not all of those pranks on MASH were the cast members' idea, even if they were legendary pranksters in their own right. Think of all of the episodes of shows about practical jokes. Ken is one of a long line of smoldering volcanoes.

Dave Mackey said...

Just to follow up for history's sake, the Tidewater Tides eventually moved to Norfolk and are now the AAA affiliate of the Orioles. The Mets' AAA affiliate is now the Buffalo Bisons. We always joke about how players sent down to the minors "shuffle off to buffalo", just like in old cartoons.

Shan said...

Ken I think you're officially my new hero!

Michael said...

By the way, another reason not to mess with the announcer: when the Dodgers traded pitcher Mike Marshall in the 1970s, that noted egomaniac said he never got the credit he deserved (he merely won a Cy Young Award) because Vin Scully didn't like him, and had a few choice words about Vin who, as always, maintained silence and decorum. The next time Marshall pitched in Dodger Stadium, I don't think I ever heard such booing in my life.

Tom Quigley said...

KInd of ruins the notion that all comedy writers do in their personal time is drink warm milk and read Tolstoy...

RCP said...

"Do NOT fuck with comedy writers! EVER!"

You got me shakin in my New Balances.

Pumpsie Green w/envy said...

When I returned from Vietnam in 68, I was stationed in Norfolk, but attended lots of Tidewater games in that old concrete bunker of a stadium in Portsmouth. The Tides had a killer team with Jon Matlack, Tim Foli, Mike Jorgensen Amos Otis, Bobby Heiss, Art Shamsky, Choo-Choo Coleman & Duffy Dyer. There of course were many more, most of whom eventually made it to the show. Some of my fondest baseball memories came when following the Tides. Yes, I also listened to the games cuz that's what fans do! By the way, I heard you doing a voice over on a Wings episode - Roy Buggins/Ray Biggins sings the National Anthem at Fenway. For you, that was real type-casting! Too bad Blow wasn't there to send some fries to Roy.

Paul Duca said...

Be careful, Ken...they may be people who would LIKE an office full of sheep, if you know what I mean.

Paul Duca said...

Ken, you must have some powerful charm to make Debbie disregard that stricture....

Jer said...

And as another post for history's sake - the Columbus Clippers stopped being paired up with the Yankees in '06 and are now paired up with the Cleveland Indians instead.

Good thing too - it was tough to care about my home town team when I knew that the best guys were going to be going off to the Yankees.

Mike Barer said...

Too funny, I used to listen to single A radio broadcasts. I love baseball and grew up in Walla Walla before the Major Leagues had come to the Northwest.

Anonymous said...

That is the nerdiest tale of unchecked nerd bravado I have, perhaps, ever read. The only inherent elements missing were an inhaler and Vic's Vaporub.

Mike said...

So says the brave anonymous commenter.

Mike said...

Question,
we know that lots of things on TV now would not have passed network censors in the past. The reverse is also true in certain cases, for example Speedy Gonzalez. Anything you've written, that you think qualifies?
What is the latest that people can think of that would not appear on network television today but did then?

PolyWogg said...

The funniest line is the last one...I'm going to put that as a quote on my rotating quote page:

"We may appear harmless but we can fill your office with sheep just for looking at us funny." -- Ken Levine :-)