Wednesday, March 05, 2014
I was selected to introduce them.
I asked how much time I could have and was told a couple of minutes. Perfect. I would write up five or six killer jokes. Piece of cake. And the audience knew me from the radio. So it’s not like I was a stranger. I felt sorry for all the poor stand ups who struggled for years in dive clubs and dive towns. Lucky me, I was able to bypass all that shit.
So I wrote some jokes. The smart thing to do might’ve been go to a comedy club and test out the material. A free rehearsal and a chance to fine tune. But no, didn’t do that. It’s only a few jokes. I’d been doing comedy on the radio for years. I knew how to sell a line.
The night of the concert I report backstage before the show. Lots of hustle and bustle. A greasy dinner is served in the bowels of the building for all the performers and crew members. Actually, the performers were in their dressing room either eating there, getting their make up applied, or more likely banging some fifteen-year-old girl. So it was me, roadies, and security thugs. The thought occurred: maybe I should try one or two jokes out on them. Get some feedback. Nah, either I was confident in the material or I wasn’t. I was so why bother?
The concert was supposed to start at 8. I was ready to go. KISS wasn’t. By 9 the audience was getting restless. Some chanting and stomping was heard. KISS was there. They had been in the arena since 3:00 for their sound check. Keeping the audience waiting was a calculated move. Never let it be said that KISS front man, Gene Simmons, wasn’t a savvy guy.
Now I’m getting a little nervous. Has waiting drained a little of my adrenaline? Will I still be able to deliver my lines with the same pizzazz? And how long should I wait for the laughter? It was a big cavernous barn. The big laughs might sweep across the Sports Arena like giant waves. I had to be prepared. And if the laughter was too big and long I might have to drop a joke. I decided which joke to drop.
Finally, the band joined me backstage and I was given the signal to go on.
I marched out onto that big stage and approached the mic. The sound was deafening. 16,100 crazed, stoned, drunk, impatient, surly kids screaming and some booing. Stage lights assaulting me. Like fireflies, thousands of lighters were held high by crowd members. I stood at the mic, surveyed the scene, and this was my first ever stand up routine.
“BIOO presents KISS!!!”
And I got off that stage as fast as I could.
That was also the end of my stand-up career. I figured, why not quit while I’m ahead?
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM