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Mike Welch

Comedy    For    The    Non-Functioning    Literate

The typical non-functioning literate appreciates certain types of comedy, and 'hack' is not one of them. Mall comedy is the enemy. These crowd-pleasing, pandering shit biscuits get enough attention from the suburban masses who flock to see them further define what is, in my humble opinion, the lowest common denominator of the art or sullen craft.

Non-functioning literates appreciate thought-provoking comedy, comedy that pushes the edge, comedy that provokes and challenges, and does not cave-in to the political watchdogs, comedy that is truly funny to someone with dignity.

The comics that can rightfully call themselves true artists are caught between:

1. Club owners and bookers who encourage you to just go up there, smile alot, aim low for the easy laugh, helping them sell drinks, and...

2. Sticking to their guns, their true voice. Doing what THEY want to do, giving the audience what they want to give them, bringing the audience up to their level instead of bringing it down to theirs.

This site will not offer any portions of my act, mainly because I don't want to get my material ripped-off.

It DOES celebrate what I think the typical non-functioning literate will appreciate and relate to. And who knows, it might even educate a few in the process.

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The glamorous life of standup from a comic's point-of-view.

Standup Comedy Stories:

"Hell Gig"

Last night, Nov. 9th, I'm headlining a two-niter. The opener does material about being gay...the homophobic audience starts to eat him alive. The feature gives them what they want and they get focused. So far, so good. The stage is on the same raised level as the bar, so there are people and tables behind you as well as immediately to the left and right. As soon as I get on the "stage", the venue seats six loud, drunken, obnoxious people in the table RIGHT NEXT TO ME!

The hostess/waitress told me later she didn't want to allow them in, but she 'had to'. Immediately, within seconds, they are disrupting the show by yelling stuff out to me, calling attention to themselves. I ask them nicely (initially) to please keep it quiet so I can do the show. They continue to disrupt, especially the man closest to me.

THE MANAGER IS STANDING RIGHT THERE WITHIN 15 FEET AND ALLOWS THIS TO OCCUR. So I start to get a little nasty with the heckler, the crowd is totally with me. He keeps going, I cream him verbally. The crowd is on my side. This continues, escalates. THE MANAGER DOES NOTHING. I ask nicely if they would please consider moving to another part of the room so I can't hear them. They refuse. He starts in again. I lay into him again, the crowd is cheering. I start to go back into my act, he starts in again. I stop and announce, "Where is hell is the manager? Hey, you need to talk to them!" He talks to them. I ask the man nicely to please be quiet, he finally agrees, then flips me off. I lay into him with the safety off, humiliate him beyond belief. The crowd, of course, loves it. I ask the manager to kick them out, the crowd cheers. Then his girlfriend starts in on me. So I stop and explain to her the reality of how difficult it is for me, a male, to deal with her the same way I did with him without coming across as a jerk.

I go back into my act, she starts calling me a jerk, asshole, etc. I ask her to shut up. She tells me I am intimidated by her, and starts saying stuff like 'Fuck you!' to me. FINALLY...FINALLY...I get to the last resort of, "Shut up you fucking idiot! Where's the manager...KICK THEM OUT" He talks to now, the crowd hates this table with a passion. I jump under the brass rail to get away from them and start to do my act 20 feet away out into the crowd. The crowd loves it, they finally get to see the show they paid for. So far, good move. It's working.

FINALLY, the manager kicks them out. The woman heckler tosses a pitcher of water at a female patron before she leaves. Water is all over the floor, a walkway. The table leaves. Good. I jump back up on "stage" and go back into my act, but a fight breaks out in the lobby with these 'people' and the crowd notices. I announce, "Tyson is down!" Laughter (This was the same night Evander Holyfield knocked Tyson out with a TKO). I hum the theme from "Rocky". The female heckler hits the manager in the face. They call the cops. This goes on for a few minutes...

Suddenly, a female patron walks by in front of me, slips on the water on the floor, and her head pops with a sickening thud on the ceramic tile floor. She lies there motionless. I ask, via the microphone, if someone will please come help her. Some customers come to her rescue. A minute later, I defer to the impossible situation and announce that we will be taking a short break for 5 or 10 minutes, then will continue with the show. Most people stay. Ten minutes later, the bartender gets on the mic and announces the show has been canceled, if anyone wants to leave their name & number, they will get free tickets for future shows.

The majority of the people come up to thank me for dealing with the situation so well. NOT THE MANAGER. He thinks I should have just ignored them and did my show!!! He then tells me they were so drunk when he let them in that they only served them water. The woman was taken to jail for assault. The woman who fell was taken away in an ambulance.

The restaurant/bar will be liable for all medical expenses, lawsuits, etc.--even though the female heckler is the one responsible for the incident by throwing water at someone.

The manager allowed all of this to escalate for at least ten minutes before finally kicking them out.

I consider the possibility that I will never play that room again for reasons I am not responsible for.

I will most likely not get paid.

Update: I did get paid. I got rebooked. Miracles do happen.

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Not enough glamor yet? Try this one:

"The Private Party Gig:"

The phone rings.

'Hi, this is Ellen Brown. I got your name and number from your agent. And I need a comedian to perform at my husband's 60th birthday party. She showed me your tape and I'd like to hire you. I really liked your material, very clever. I'll need you to keep it clean. Can you do some fart jokes?'


'My husband has a problem with passing gas and I'd like you to make fun of him.'

'Please tell me you're kidding!'

'He's famous for it. The guests will love it.'

'What about your husband, will he love it?'

'People tease him about it all the time. Here's a true story you can tell about him. Everyone at the party knows about this…'

'If they know about it, why tell it?'

'Anyway, he's at this business convention and he's been holding his farts in all morning, so at lunchtime he goes for a walk to pass the gas and he has an accident, if you know what I mean. He he. He shits his pants. Isn't this the best? I hope you're writing this down. So anyway, he walks back to the hotel he's staying at and goes to the restroom in the lobby, finishes his business and takes off his soiled underwear and tosses them behind the toilet instead of the trash can and goes back to the seminar without any underwear. Isn't that a riot?'

'What do you want me to say about it?'

'Just tell the story.'

'Are you sure? This might really embarrass him.'

'The rest of them will love it.'

'So, tell me you love this guy?'


'Never mind.'

'And he shits a lot too.'

'And you want me to keep it clean?'

'Yeah, a lot of people from our church are going to be there.'

'Do they fart and shit a lot too?'


'Never mind.'

'Oh, another thing, we don't have any kids because he's impotent. Can you do something on that? And he's got really small penis. That's why his first wife left him. She's gonna be there too.'

'Does she go to your church?'


'Never mind.'

'So, can you do it?'

'Look, I have a problem with making fun of your husband's personal problems. I've done a lot of these kinds of gigs before, but I don't think I can do this for you. It's just not my style. How much does it pay?'

'Five hundred.'

'So, what time should I be there?'

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I just had a week get cancelled, bumped, moved into the unknown future on me, probably the afterlife. I didn't find about about it until I saw there was a different headliner on their Internet web page. I was supposed to be working with someone else. I had to call THEM to find out they put someone else in there instead of me. Two weeks before the gig and I have to call THEM to find out I am not working there that week. Talk about disrespect! I am not being singled out here, they do this to the comics all the time at this club. I turned down work thinking, believing, I had that week booked, changed some plans around it. As I look back at it, I have never worked that club without getting bumped to another week. It's just not worth the trouble to work there anymore.

If any of his employees treated him that way, they'd get fired...but I guess it's okay to treat the comics that way, after all, we're only the product that fattens his bank account. So I go out to the club to figure out exactly which week he has in mind for me because he won't take my calls, even though he asked me to call him at a specific time. I find him, ask him if he has a minute to get this worked out, he says to wait right there, he'll be right back and then he goes home!

Please reread the previous sentence for dramatic effect.

He does this to comics all the time. He did this to a comic who had just been on the 'Tonight Show' 3 times....he left & went home while he was on stage auditioning! The comic was understandably livid.

The plot thickens. Here's an update to the above situation, about 2 weeks later: Someone from the same club calls me and asks me if I want to come by the same week I got bumped from and do some FREE sets. Hello? I get the owner back on the phone & tell him he'll have to pay me for the week, so he says okay. Ten minutes later they call & tell me they found someone to do it for free and I get bumped again 2 weeks later to the week of September 10th. THEN they ask me if I still want to come by one night and do a free set the week I got bumped from twice. Talk about balls!

(No, I didn't go do the guest set.)

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Stay tuned. More to come.

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All material copyright 1997 Mike Welch

Other Links

The Newel Post: A Literary E-Zine (more of my work, as well as many other contributors)

Links to my other Non-Functioning Literate pages

The Non-Functioning Literate Homepage: What this is all about...
Poetry for Non-Functioning Literates: Read and weep...
My Comedy Bio & Resume: