Too many people I know are planning to “take it easy” tonight. It could be the cloudy weather, or simply the fact that after last week’s summer-like temperatures, the current chill has dampened everyone’s spirits.
Mason comes from the great tradition of the comedians of the Borscht Belt, a vacation spot in the Catskills that became a popular destination for Jews starting in the 1950s. The hotels and resorts in the area hired Jewish entertainers to match their clientele, a lot of whom were stand-up comics. From the Belt came the great comic staples of observational humour (think Jerry Seinfeld and even Cory Doctorow) and aren’t-WASPs-funny jokes (think BET) that we take for granted today.
(I was probably the only Asian in the audience. Most of the audience looked as though they came from North York, which means their only encounters with Filipinos are usually with their housekeepers and nannies. I wondered if they thought I had the night off. “Did you press my shirts and get the kids’ lunches made already?”)
Mason put on a good show, starting with his traditional jabs at audience members in the front row and then going straight for the observational humour. While there’s nothing terribly ground-breaking in his material — the standard items from the news and ethnic jokes (there were moments he really sounded like Krusty the Clown, but then again, Krusty’s probably modeled after him, right down to the bit where he quit being a rabbi to go into comedy and making fun of foreign accents) — he still got a laugh out of the audience, who ages ran the gamut from university students to seniors.
I really liked the bit where he said that “only Gentiles think they have to sit in the airplane seat assigned to them”; it’s funny because it’s true.
I haven’t taken a “Which X are you?” online test in some time, but I couldn’t resist this one. I’m sure my friend Ryan Murphy already knows not only what kind of Nokia phone he is, but which Bang and Olufsen product and which BMW model too.
There was a birthday party for my friend Marlo on Saturday. Dinner — which I missed, owing to some prior commitments — was at the anything-goes yuppie hangout Seven Numbers.
I caught up with Marlo and her entourage after dessert, at which point everyone decided that they wanted to go dancing. I suggested the neighbourhood I call “Clubland”, a busy row of bars and clubs just south of where I live. We were going to see if we could get into Fez Batik, and if the line was too long, we had at least a dozen other clubs from which we could choose.
The line for Fez wasn’t moving at all, so we decided to walk south and try our luck at the clubs on Adelaide Street. Luck was with us; while The Living Room had a decent crowd inside, there wasn’t any line.
A brunette bartender in pigtails and olive green tank top motioned for me to come over to the bar.
“Can you play that thing?” she asked, pointing at my accordion, which I was wearing like a backpack.
“Yeah, otherwise it would just be a thirty-pound fashion accessory,” I replied.
“I’ll buy you a drink if you play something for me.”
I don’t remember what the DJ was playing at the time, but it was easy to figure out which key it was in. I remember the song having a simple riff and that I had no trouble playing it. The bartender was impressed and she poured two shots of Goldschlager — one for her, one for me.
A bearded man in a grey sharkskin suit walked up to me.
“That was great! By the way, I’m Tony. I run this place. Follow me to the DJ booth.”
I followed him through the crowded dance floor and into the booth.
It was occupied by the DJ and a couple of hangers-on. The DJ was
starting an old-school set with Prince’s Kiss. Tony asked the DJ for the microphone.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Tony announced, “please welcome the latest addition to The Living Room family…the Accordion Dude!”
I tipped my hat to the crowd. Tony pointed the microphone at the accordion and said “Go on, play.” Luckily, Kiss is a I-IV-V song, heavy on the sevenths, and it took me only two stabs at the keyboard to find the right key – A. I played through to the end of the song and even managed to get in a decent solo.
Tony led me to the bar on the opposite end of the dance floor, where he asked me to play something for the dreadlocked barman. I forget what the DJ was playing at the time, but once again, it was easy to figure out the notes and I played along. The earned me a free drink from this bartender, and Tony gave me a fistful of tickets good for free drinks. He then led me to the lounge near the front of the club to play for the bartender there. Marlo and company were in the lounge, so I gave them the drink tickets.
“When the accordion train comes in, everybody rides!” I said.
I managed to have a couple of vodka-and-cranberries with the birthday party before Tony came back with an idea.
“I’m gonna have you dance right on the main bar. It’ll be just like Coyote Ugly, but with an accordion.”
He put two crisp fifty dollar bills in my hand and led me to the bar with the pigtailed bartender who served me first. They cleared off a section of the bar for me, and I climbed up and played and danced.
The bartender, Jenn, kept feeding me Goldschlager shots. So far, I hadn’t spent a dime on drinks and I was actually making money.
Marlo had my camera and took a couple of pictures:
A couple of women reached up and tucked fivers in my pants. Inspired by this, Jenn climbed on the bar after last call and tucked my shared of the bar tips into my pockets while spanking me to the beat. This, of course, is why we boys take up playing instruments in the first place.
We decided to head out for some late-night eats after Jenn closed the bar. As I walked out, Tony asked me to meet with him later in the week to discuss a performance schedule. He wants me there every Friday and Saturday night.
I don’t really want to sacrifice my weekend nights to go-go dancing.
(I just read that last sentence and thought: That’s one of those things I never expected to write.)
According to Kiplinger’s senior writer Peter Akkaf, in addition to buying more homes, lame-o’s are refinancing existing mortgages to take advantage of lower rates.
“Lame-o’s across the country are making appointments at financial institutions to ask men in ugly neckties and women with hairstyles 10 years out of style to adjust their mortgages to a slightly more favorable rate,” Akkaf said. “When that’s done, they return to their homes, where they stare at their $12.99 Monet prints from Target and listen to Andrea Bocelli on their mini-stereos. What kind of life is that?”
Asked if the recent warm temperatures could have goosed the market, National Realtors’ Board president Maggie Zadora rolled her eyes.
“God, if that’s true, that’s sad,” Zadora said. “It’s like, ‘Ooh, Mary, it’s 10 degrees warmer outside! Instead of going out and doing something fun or creative, let’s all pile into the minivan and search for the bland colonial of our dreams!'”
As it gets closer and closer to the third anniversary of the day I first played the accordion in public, its powers to bend reality seem to be increasing. Life becomes more and more like a beer commercial every time I bring it out.