The Comedian

Stan wasn’t funny. Fifteen years of doing stand-up, he hadn’t learned one thing about delivering a joke. And improv didn’t work for him either.

He’d tell stories and the audience ended up crying. He tried ventriloquism and the dummy didn’t talk. Somebody suggested puns. For the life of him, he couldn’t figure out what a pun was. Limericks? He couldn’t rhyme. Funny songs? He was off key and his timing was unbelievably bad.

He was so bad the other comedians felt sorry for him. So they suggested he get a partner. Stan kept talking over Ralph Horowitz’s delivery. And when Ralph tried a Tommy Smother’s bit of “Mama liked you best,” Stan agreed.

It wasn’t that Stan didn’t have a sense of humor. He did. That was the tragedy of it all. A fellow comic would tell a joke, any joke, and Stan was guffawing all over the place.

Knock knock jokes? Stan was on the floor.

Impressions? Stan was on the floor.

Light bulb jokes? Stan was on the floor.

Poor Stan. He was desperate to be funny. It was his mission in life. To make people laugh. It all started with George Carlin. Carlin has set so many comedians on their road in life that they’ve given up counting. Stan was just one in a crowd of many to catch Carlin-itis.

Since Carlin had his “seven words you can’t say on tv,” Stan tried “seven words you can say on tv.” Not funny.

Bill Cosby did Fat Albert; Stan tried Skinny Phil. Fat is funny; skinny is not. He tried out tennis jokes. Little did he realize that golf was funny; tennis was not.

Bob Newhart used a phone as a prop. Stan tried that. The thing Stan didn’t get was that Bob was talking to an imaginary person on the other end. All Stan got was dead-phon-itis. The bit went over like a fart in church.

And speaking of church. Stan tried the Stan Kinnison route. Just so you know Sam was a Pentecostal preacher before he became a comedian but that’s not a stretch. Both are show business.

Anyway Stan was impressed with Sam’s take on religion, so he went and got himself baptized. And he almost drowned. Glug-glug jokes didn’t work for Stan either.

One sad day, a Tuesday morning, after a Monday night of really, extra special, bad performing, Stan looked in the mirror. Tears streamed down his face. “When am I going to ever learn?”

Stan could have prayed but he had tried that. After 1,917 prayers, he knew that was not going to work. God wasn’t listening. He wasn’t even sure there was a God. If there was a God, maybe he was having a laugh at Stan’s expense.

There was only one thing left to do. He left the dump of a hotel he’d been staying at. He walked several streets over and came to a hardware store. He went down the aisle and found a coil of rope. Took it to the cashier.

“How long is this rope?” Stan asked.

“Long enough to hang yourself,” the clerk answered.


“Yeah, it’s right there on the label.”

He went back to his apartment and threw the rope onto the bed. He opened the closet door and pulled out his dummy.

“What are you doing?” the dummy said, then saw the rope. “Not that. Please not that.”

Stan sat the dummy down in a chair, then grabbed the rope and made a noose.

“Please, no,” the dummy cried.

“Whether you like it or not,” Stan said, holding the rope tightly, staring into the dummy’s glass eyes, “you’re going to teach me how to be funny.” He shook the noose at the dummy. “Or else.”

The dummy let out a sigh of relief. “I thought you’d never ask.”

The Three Ems

The Three Ems is “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” on Amazon Prime.

Joel Maisel has the perfect life. He has a great job. He makes beaucoup amounts of dough at the job. He has a great wife, the perfect housewife fifties-style. He has two great kids. He has a great apartment in a great city. New York City to be exact.

Yet it isn’t enough. Joel isn’t happy.

He has a dream. He wants to be a stand-up comedian. He’s wanted this since he was a kid. He wants it so bad he is doing stand-up at The Gaslight Cafe in New York City and he is using Bob Newhart’s material. Because “this is the way comedians get their start.”

When Midge, his wife, finds out, she insists he do his own material. Maybe a bit on his sweater. It has holes in it. He takes a risk. He steps off the cliff with the sweater bit. He doesn’t fly because he just isn’t funny.

But Midge is. When Joel leaves her because his stand-up doesn’t stand-up, she gets smashed, loaded, drunk. She walks onto The Gaslight Cafe stage and has the audience rofl-ing. As Jackie Gleason used to say, “Away we go.”

Fpr tjhe rest of Season One, Midge, the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, has to learn how to do stand-up sober. Along the way, she gets some help, and bail money, from the legendary Lenny Bruce before he was the legendary Lenny Bruce. And she has to prove herself in 1950s America when women were not allowed to be funny. They were housewives.

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is the real deal. Mrs. Maisel is hysterically funny. Besides that, she is laughing-out-loud funny. And Rachel Brosnahan nails the role. In addition to a great lead, Amazon has surrounded her with an outstanding casts. There’s the wonderful Tony Shalhoub as Abe, her father; Alex Borstein as her agent, and friend, Susie Myerson; Michael Zegen as Joel Maisel, her ex; Marin Hinkle as her mother, Rose; and Luke Kirby is Lenny Bruce.

The creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” have given me two great seasons to binge on. I can’t way to crawl back into the Amazon time machine in December and return to 1950s America. Maybe, just maybe, John Kennedy will be elected President and Midge will get a spot on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Who knows? She might get the chance to share the stage with The Beatles.