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Mark's Friggin' Comedy Show Fun In Dunellen - Saturday, January 17, 2004

I've been to a bunch of comedy shows over the past couple of years now and I have to say, this one turned out to be one of the most bizarre shows yet.

The two shows I went to in Dunellen on this night were make up nights for shows that were canceled back in December. The December shows were snowed out. I decided it might be best to go by myself since I'd been to this place before and I knew how small the backstage area was. Plus, my girlfriend just wasn't into going on this night anyway. I got to the place about an hour and a half before the show was supposed to start. I hooked up with the amazing Rev. Bob Levy who has invited me to a lot of these shows over the past year and a half or so.

I hung out with Bob and comedian Paul Dell'Angelo for a little while waiting for Artie Lange to show up. I also got to meet comedian Buddy Flip who was going to host the show. Artie and his lovely and very sweet girlfriend Dana showed up a short time later. For some reason, I'm still amazed when Artie comes in and recognizes me and treats me like one of the guys. That's the way he's been ever since I was introduced to him the first time. Same with his girlfriend Dana. Anyway, we all kind of wandered back to the backstage area of the Dunellen Theater to get out of the way of the crowds that would soon start pouring into the place.

The backstage area is tiny. There's really about enough space for about 4 people to hang out comfortably. We soon had about 8. I didn't want to get in the way and wanted to just kind of observe and blend in there. I managed to do that but had to kind of shove myself under a 20 foot ladder that was propped up against the wall at a 45 degree angle. I'm pretty friggin skinny so it wasn't too tough to do.

Pretty soon there were people like Dan the Song Parody Man and Tara from WJSE in Atlantic City hanging out back stage. Tara brought a friend with her so that was just one more person... I'm not complaining, both of them were pretty friggin hot. Jim Florentine(Terrorizing Telemarketers and Meet The Creeps) also showed up just to hang out. KC Armstrong was supposed to show up but when Bob called him around 8pm, he was just waking up at his apartment in New York City. He was about an hour or so away and wasn't going to make it to the first show. That led to a little bit of confusion about who was going to perform and for how long... They had it straightened out within a short time though.

The theater was packed by the time the first show started. The guys did their acts during the first show and it all went pretty good. The crowd enjoyed the show but they weren't as rowdy as the second show (more on that later). As usual, Bob had the crowds rolling with laughter as he's done every friggin time I've seen him. And of course the crowds went friggin insane when Artie got on stage. People love Artie and cheer him as he gets on stage to AC/DC's ''Back in Black.'' He gave them a couple of his now infamous ''FI-AH!'' sayings as he started his show.

I'm not a very outgoing person so I never know what to do when I'm at these things by myself. After the first show I just kind of stuck to my corner of the backstage area and had a couple of short conversations with Florentine, Artie, Dan and Paul. Paul had some great stories about Bob. He told Jim that he used one of his suggestions to piss off Levy. Apparently Jim told him that when Bob falls asleep in the car he should turn on the heat full blast. Paul said he was driving Bob home one time and did that to the point that Bob would wake up, freak out and turn it down. He said he did it about 4 times on the trip home. When he finally got home Bob was really pissed yelled at him about his stupid jokes. Jim told us about how he did something like that to comedian Eric McMahon on a trip down south one time. He said it was like 90 degrees outside and McMahon was sleeping so he turned on the heat. He said McMahon was sweating and woke up once to turn down the heat. He did the same thing a short time later and said the sweat was pouring off of McMahon's face when he woke up and turned it down again. Jim said he had (arm) pit stains that were huge from the sweat. Of course they were better story tellers than I am so it was much funnier coming from them.

Bob was busy selling his CDs up front as the crowds were leaving. I was thinking about leaving myself since it started snowing out and it was getting late. Good thing I didn't leave though.

KC showed up toward the end of the first show. They didn't bother putting him on since it was so late. He hung out back stage, made some phone calls and checked on some basketball games in the paper... and had a few, okay, a bunch of drinks.

There were a ton of people showing up back stage to say hello to Artie during the break between shows. Once again, I just tried to get out of the way and blend in while all of that was going on. Not too long after that the second show was ready to start. Artie made the mistake of letting the crowd see where he was. They started chanting ''ARTIE, ARTIE...'' when they saw him. He had to hide so they would stop. That was just a taste of what was to come. This crowd was rowdy.

Poor Buddy Flip was the first one who had to deal with the second show crowd. There was a small group of guys in the first row who would just not shut up. They were heckling this poor guy, making fun of the bag he had on his hip. They were brutal. KC could hear all of the heckling so he came up with a great idea... Paul Dell'Angelo and Dan the Song Parody Man both brought in some food that was laying all over the place back stage. There were subs, chips, mozzarella cheese in oil, Entenmanns doughnuts and some other various snacks for everyone. KC decided that the guys in the front row might need some food to shut them up. He took a couple of half eaten subs and shoved them inside his jacket. He took a full box of donuts (assorted flavors) and told Florentine he didn't care and would throw the shit at them if they didn't shut the hell up. Jim told him that they might need something to drink as well. KC grabbed a bottle of beer, just in case.

Paul Dell'Angelo had to deal with the crowd after Buddy did. They still wouldn't shut up and no one was throwing them out. KC was next up. He carried all of the food out on stage with him, ready for battle. I think KC made it through about half of his act before he finally decided that he'd had enough. He warned the hecklers that he was going to throw the stuff. The wouldn't shut up so they had half a sub thrown at them. I saw that one get thrown and I heard that he threw at least one donut. It didn't stop them though.

Bob Levy handled the rowdy crowd pretty well. He was able to keep them pretty quiet by goofing on them a little bit. After Levy was done, Artie had to deal with them. They were still talking and interacting with the guys. They even threw a bottle of beer up to Artie as a gift. Artie managed to catch it without getting knocked on his ass. He never did drink it though.

I hung around through most of the second show. While all of that was going on there was a strange guy creeping around the backstage area. He kept staring at people with crazy eyes. He even followed Tara and her friend when they went out the back door to head over to the bar. He didn't say much and just lurked around in a very creepy way. We all thought the guy was very odd... never did find out who he was though.

I headed out before Artie was done since the weather was getting bad and it was getting really late. I walked out the side door to head out front where Levy was. As I was walking out I saw the creepy guy coming out of a dark side alley. I pretended not to see him and just kept on walking.

As I was saying goodbye to Bob some people started coming out of the show. It's always fun to see Bob work his magic selling his CDs. I kept moving toward the front door but the creepy guy was still wandering around the lobby so I was watching him. Tara was hiding behind Levy so the creep guy wouldn't see her. I suggested that she not walk to her car alone when she was leaving. She probably had that figured out an hour before I made the suggestion.

A woman came up to Levy after the show and showed him her t-shirt that read ''I'M HERE ABOUT THE BLOW JOB'' in letters that had to have been 5 inches high. It was actually almost as creepy as the guy who was wandering around staring at everyone. She was there with a guy who I'll assume was her husband. He appeared to be a little bit intoxicated. Bob pointed out Jim Florentine who was standing there and told the woman and her husband that he was Benjy from the Howard Stern show. Jim, who lives jerking people around like that, played along with the joke. He had the guy convinced that he was Benjy. The guy told him he was surprised he wasn't fat like Howard always says he is. Jim said that he'd lost a lot of weight (and gained some height). It was pretty funny to hear the guy telling him how impressed he was that he lost the weight and wasn't as much of a mess as he thought he was. Once that guy and his wacky wife left, I had to get out of there. I'm sure there was more fun that I missed out on that night. I should have just stuck around all night.

At one point in the night I told Jim Florentine ''This would make for a great reality TV show...'' Jim said something like ''Yeah, and this is only back stage...'' It's really fascinating to be part of that when you're not doing it every night. It really would make a great TV show or DVD. I feel very lucky to have been able to be part of it.

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