Not exactly “news” for those of you who read my blog with any regularity, but I am a devoted fan of the Howard Stern Show (yes, I know, I only have On Demand via Time Warner because I’m afraid of the havoc an actual Sirius subscription would wreak on my life). Howard was syndicated here in KC for a short period in the 90’s, and other than that my only exposure to the show was on E! and during trips to the East Coast or phone conversations with my Joisey buddies. I liked his books, his movie, and have always generally loved his brand of precisely calculated non-censorship. In my opinion, he is without question the greatest interviewer in history……at least when I take my extreme attention deficit disorder into consideration. I visit the website daily for the rundown of the show and giddily turn to Time Warner Channel 121 every day to see what they have uploaded after midnight. I promise you, it is much, much smarter entertainment than many people give it credit for.
So with all of that said…..in my experience talking about my Stern love with others, there are three basic reactions…. #1) The eye roll (usually from self-professed “liberals” who think the show is only about degrading women or the mentally disabled, and pretend to be anti-censorship until, God forbid, something offends THEM!), #2) “Yeah, used to love watching him on E!”, and #3) Real fans of the show, who are surprisingly from all walks of life. To be honest, to avoid offending real superfans I’ll admit that I’m somewhere between #2 and #3. I just haven’t had regular access to the old terrestrial radio shows, but the old replays on In Demand have incredible depth and breadth…..so I can have great fun discussing the show unless it’s with one of those rabid archive genies who dismiss you unless you are a 25 year never-missed-a-show fan.
So Howard Stern In-Demand was running a special 99 cent weekend about 2 years ago or so, and I thought “what the hell”…I knew my girlfriend was moving out and I’d have a happy, peaceful, psych0-free bachelor pad where I could sit around in my drawers and laugh my head off, AND I’d soon be recovering from gastric bypass surgery and would have plenty of free time. Within ten minutes into my 99 cent weekend I was hooked…….hooked I tell you. Soooooo much better than the old censored E! shows, plus the immediate gratification….watch it whenever you want 24X7. The Beetlejuice Retrospectives, Uncut Handcuffed To Jeff The Drunk footage, the Alec Baldwin interview……..Artie Lange’s weight crisis, George Takei’s visits…..Artie “coming out” to George…..The Roasts, Richard and Sal (and Sal’s sham of a marriage)…..pretending that replays of a Leon Spinks interview is actually Leon calling in to ask questions. Of course, there’s the Sybian, but as an ex porn king it’s never been that big of a novelty to me……unless the chicks visiting are from Penthouse, the nude entertainment is very, very hit and miss. And you constantly ask, “what’s real and what’s bullshit” as the minutea of staffer’s lives are revealed, leaving no detail unturned……possibly, but you never know, it is a masterfully crafted charade.
SO AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT……the “Killers of Comedy” came to Kansas City a week ago Friday… a little detail that somehow escaped me until about 2 days before the show. Still, I did manage to score a 4th row center seat at Harrah’s Voodoo Lounge, which was a sure sign the show would be woefully underattended….and it was. The lineup of Stern Show staffers and whack-packers varies from town to town, with east coast shows obviously getting more of a selection. We got The Reverend Bob Levy, Shuli, Yucko the Clown, Richard Christy, Sal Governale and Beetlejuice……not shabby.
For me the show was just as much about environment as it was content. Don’t get me wrong, I got some HUGE laughs throughout the evening, but as I stated before the show didn’t sell very well, so it was a small handful of people who actually knew the show and I think we were very outnumbered by people who got free tickets off of the radio or got comp tickets for being regular casino patrons. THOSE PEOPLE and the visibly upset members of the Voodoo Lounge Staff who had NO CLUE what bomb was about to drop made it just as much fun for me as getting to scream at Beetlejuice “Hey Beet, is Artie a fag?”…to which I think he replied something barely intelligble like “Hey fuck you pal I don’t know nothing but you the one taking it up the ass!”. So yes! Racism, sexism, homophobia, beastiality, pedophilia……and probably necrophilia! If you are even passingly familiar with any of these guys, yeah, you know you’re going to hear at least one white guy use the n-word and women in the audience are going to be asked some of the most intimate questions one can possibly imagine. That’s the schtick, it’s not high art……unless you’re me and you really believe that this Theatre of the Absurd is a very, very valid form of entertainment far above the liberal and conservative fundamentalist idiocy that asks “now when they say that stuff, how do you know some drunk in the audience isn’t going to bash in some gay kid’s head and tie his body to a fencepost?”. It’s always the same question….and if you talk to these lunkheads long enough, the next thing that follows is the Hitler-bomb. So I usually just respond, “Gee, I didn’t even think of that! I was so busy running out of that show to hurry and abduct a five year old that I didn’t even consider the harm that this humor can do!”. See? Genius! That type of humor just writes itself! Seriously, I promise you that what passes for the gentrified type of humor safe enough for the masses coming to you in the fall lineup is WAY more dangerous than jokes about Shuli looking like an escapee from Dachau. Everything in moderation…….even moderation.
So we all got the warning about no flash photography and no heckling before Shuli started the show.
No heckling? I guess the definition of heckling at a KOC show is “do not wing beer bottles at their heads”….because the fucking CORNERSTONE of these shows is interacting with the comics and trading verbal abuse. Now, compared to footage I’ve seen from some Jersey shows, the KC crowd was nothing but angelic and very well mannered. So much so that the comics were really trying to get us going. I think overall, for such a small group, we were respectable. I got a response to my “Taco Tico” shoutout from Shuli, so that felt good. It WAS funny to overhear bartenders hissing about “that stuff just isn’t even FUNNY!”…. and watch the Harrah’s suits congregate over by the side the stage to keep a close eye on how things progressed. Not exactly Gavin whatisname from Bush who will be here next week, huh fellas?
As a comic and emcee, Shuli delivered, and next up was Yucko…..I think. I won’t go into the actual material too much, but I will say that I was lucky enough to be sitting right in front of a Stern fan who definitely eclipses my dedication to the show. Funny story…..as I was walking into the casino some guy was standing there and looked right at me and mumbled something. I did what I normally do in that situation in a place like a casino……I kept walking. I hate casinos, I think that hospitals and funeral homes are less depressing and cater specifically to the distraught, the marginalized and the mentally ill……so no, not going to ask some guy “huh?”….especially since the concealed carry law specifically states you can’t take your weapon into a casino. But I kept seeing this guy as I walked over to the Voodoo Lounge, and then he was in the bathroom and then IN THE BAR next to me….AND THEN, as luck would have it…..IN THE FUCKING SEAT DIRECTLY BEHIND ME. So long story short, he ended up being a cool guy and was eyeballing me because he thought I was Benjy Bronk from the Stern show. I was flattered AND offended equally……I’m not a vain man, but Benjy? Really? So anyway, he posts over on the Stern Fan Network and apparently he wasn’t the only one who thought they were having a Benjy sighting. Pretty hilarious, actually.
So this is how Yucko greets trick or treaters…..weiner through a plate full of candy……
Next up came Sal Governale and then Richard Christy…….
Not a whole lot to add about their sets other than the fact I really do think Sal is a total dick. I know that the wrapup show guys have described him as someone who is likeable in person but does not have any semblance of endearing charm on stage. The second part I can completely agree with……he just comes off like “hey, how great is it to see ME?”…..and then continues making references to parts of Kansas City he’s obviously never visited….talking about how “dark Raytown is, even during the day”….and I’m all for some good old fashioned racist humor, but at least get accurate information about the town you’re in or you’ll end up coming off like…….Sal Governale. Oh, and OF COURSE he’s the ONE GUY who didn’t visit the merch table after the show for autographs and pictures. Richard was cool though, he’s just a likeable kind of guy and he’s from the area….small town metalhead who has made the semi-bigtime. I had the honor of stumping him buy yelling out the name of his movie “Supertwink”, to which he replied something like “well thank you sir, I think you and I are the only ones who get that reference, not sure where to go with that one”. He also went on a funny rant about his love of heavy metal and the years and years he went without getting laid, going at an audience member with something like “okay there Mr. Pussygetter, maybe you were getting laid, but can you say that you’ve jerked off on a lampshade in Liepzig, Germany? Didn’t think so!”.
Next up was a very, very, VERY drunk Rev. Bob Levy, who was perhaps the most interactive with the audience. And by interactive, I mean he had some serious questions about the sex lives of audience members. At the end, he and Shuli bring out Beetlejuice for a round of Q&A with the audience, and THEN the “finale”….which if I understand correctly is either the Reverend eating bleu cheese off a woman’s butt or Beet getting flown into a woman’s butt to enjoy some whipped cream they spray on there. So the first “volunteer” from the audience ended up being a third grade teacher who had NO CLUE what was going to happen to her……so she bailed pretty quick….
NEXT VOLUNTEER was this drunk Amazon whose even drunker husband talked her into going up and getting prepped…….she balked, big time, but between her husband and the fellas she was about to go for it……right before the suits who were waiting in the wings came over and SHUT THAT FUCKER DOWN! Too funny…….I’m pretty sure some of the audience and some staff members suffered signs of post-traumatic stress the next day.
All in all, all incredibly filthy jokes aside, the guys all seemed cool as hell when we were chatting at the merch table. I was telling Bob and Shuli I wished KC could have represented better for them and that they’d still come back…..they sounded happy enough with the crowd, so I hope to see them again soon.
Bob, Me and Shuli…..
Me and a smiley Richard…..who I learned after hugging him that he may be suffering from a case of the MRSA due to an untreated sore……..
And last but not least……the one and only miracle of humanity…..Beetlejuice.
Anyway, rambling on like a bitch here……it was a lot of fun to see these guys I’ve been following for the past few years, and they all seemed like dudes I’d be more than happy to drink with……or go do some hate crimes!