A stand-up tribute to New Yorkers

World Trade Center

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Wikipedia. Click the photo to see the original.

Tuesday night: the Slap and Tickle troupe felt they were having an off night. I thought they were better in rehearsal, but I didn’t think they were that off. The stand-up comics who did their sets between Slap and Tickle’s skits were hitting their marks tonight. There was a one about the War on Terrorism that got lots of laughs: “the war is like a good house paint…they’re both oil-based!” However, the troupe weren’t feeling so hot and decided to drop a lot of second-act skits.

It was the middle of the intermission. I was enjoying some beer with Paul when Bert from Slap and Tickle walked up and said “We’ll just end with you.”

Before I got my accordion powers and became a street musician, the thought of this would’ve been terrifying. Especially since I make up half my material about ten minutes before I go on. Standing on a street with an accordion and making an ass of myself has pretty much cured me of that fear.

I took another swig of a very nice ice-cold pint of Wellington (a fine ale, you really should try it) and told Paul that I’d just finished memorizing the lyrics to Fuck You and Your Cat a number by Goldfinger that I was going to sing.

The guy beside Paul said “Hey, that’ll probably be okay. It’s obscure. If you fuck up a line, no one will know. Now if it were something famous or a classical song, say, by Van Gogh…”

“Hang on,” I said. “Van Gogh was a painter.

“Oh yeah.”

The routine

Bert: Ladies and gentlemen, you saw this guy in the “Squeezebox” skit at the beginning of the show, and if you’re a Slap and Tickle regular, you’ve seen his very funny song-and-story routines before. Please give a warm welcome to our own accordion guy, Smokin’;…Joe…deVilla!

Me: Thank you, Bert. “Smokin’ Joe”…God, do I hate that fucking name.

(Laughter, especially from the Slap and Tickle troupe, who insist on calling me that)

Anyhow, before I begin, how ‘bout a big hand for the Slap and Tickle troupe, and the fine stand-up guys, Alan and Fraser? Great show, folks. Big hand for them!


I’d also like to say hello to my friend and housemate, Paul, for coming down tonight. Thanks, Paul (waves to Paul). It’s going to be Paul’s birthday this Friday; he’s turning the big 2-8.


Now I don’t know if you know this, but some of my looned-out horoscope-reading astrology-nut friends think that your 28th birthday is a special one. They call it the start of your “Saturn Return Year”. It’s because the planet Saturn goes around the sun once every 28 years, and Saturn revolves around its axis in the opposite direction that all the other planets do. So they say that on your 28th birthday, your life undergoes a big upheaval and gets turned upside-down. Sure. Makes complete sense to me.

(Some chuckles)

Paul’s done some pretty cool things. He and I are computer geeks, and one of the coolest things he’s done is write a computer program that helps people in China surf the ‘Net – you see, they censor a lot of Web sites there, but our shit gets past their shit. Got lots of press. Quite an accomplishment. And now that his life is going to turn upside down, I expect he will die in a hail of gunfire from some Chinese spies. And since he invited me to help him, I will die too. Thanks for dragging me into your birthday from Hell, asshole.

(Laughter, especially from Paul)

I first heard about this Saturn Return Year crap from an ex-girlfriend of mine, who took the whole astrology thing very seriously, like most Geminis. Two-faced bastards and bitches, the lot of them.


Anyhow, when she got pissed off at me, which was something that happened more and more as the relationship dragged on, she’d always say something like “oh, you’re such a fucking Scorpio”. That was my biggest fault: I was a Scorpio. It’s not my fault I was born in November; it’s my parents’ fault for watching some hella porno the previous…uh, let me subtract nine months here…February! She blamed her parents for a lot of shit in her life; she might as well blame mine too.


Things finally came to a head when she cheated on me with her best friend. Now as the wronged party in a cheating, let me tell you this: you have the right to say anything you damned well please with impunity. So I told her: “You cheated on me with another woman, and you didn’t even have the decency to make me a video?!


Anyhow, in her honour, this song goes out to her.

(Goldfinger’s Fuck You and Your Cat, which was on their first album, Goldfinger. It opens with a 50’s ballad-like portion…)

The night is chilly as the stars above
The things you said that day made me feel loved
To smell your hair and feel you in my arms
How I trusted you and let myself go

(And here’s where it goes all punk)

The pictures in my head of what could never be
You cut me off, you let me down, you lied to me
I take you out, I rub you down, I sell you shoes
So fuck your trust, your perfume, and your mother too
Where’s my T-Shirt?
Where’s my money?
Fuck you! And your cat!

(Laughter and applause)

Yes, as Bert told you earlier, tonight’s theme is “conflict”. So that’s what I’m going to talk about. When Slap and Tickle called me two weeks ago, asking me if I’d do the show, I said “yes”. Then they told me the theme, and I thought, “ooh, edgy.” they told me it would what day it would be, and I thought “A show on conflict on the eve of the 9/11 anniversary. Total suicide. Where do I sign up?”


But I’m not going to talk politics or religion tonight, so you guys in the back – yo, Abdul, peace out, Shlomo (waving to imaginary people in the back corners) – you can put the guns away.

(Just one guy laughs, but he’s loud and he’s slapping his knee)

Instead, I’m going to talk about the resiliency of New Yorkers. The terrorists made a big mistake hitting New York, because the people from the Big Apple are tough as nails. I know, because I have this story as proof.

It’s New Year’s Eve 1994. I’m visiting my friend Andre, whose apartment is walking distance from Shaft’s. So already’s it’s going to be a good party. I knew things were gonna get weird when his housemate, an all-American Michigan girl, got all coked up and hugged the stereo, announcing to the room “from now on, we’re playing nothing but Sinatra!” The way she was dry-humping the sound system, you’d think she was hallucinating giving Frank a lapdance, lost in the aroma of cigar smoke and Brut 33, with Sammy Davis Jr. asking if he could have a go at the white chick after Frank’s done.


Anyway, I’m in the kitchen, trying to find some decent beer to drink. I finally find some Rolling Rock, which is slightly stronger than pop. It’s okay, but I’m drinking it and saying “fratboys get killed on this?!


Monty Python were right – American beer is like making love in a canoe: it really is fucking close to water.


Anyhow, an Asian guy takes note of my little poke at American Beer and says “so where you from, man?”

Now (looking at the room) it would appear to me that most of tonight’s audience is white, so you may not be aware of the rivalry between Asians. You probably just have some memory of the “Asian table” in the cafeteria of your high school, or university…or prison


…and you may think that all Asians stick together. And maybe within our own groups, that’s correct. But many of the first-generation people to come here won’t mix it up with each other. The Koreans don’t like the Japanese, the Vietnamese and Chinese sometimes snipe at each other, and everybody thinks that we Filipinos are here to do their housework.


And we don’t all use chopsticks. Once at this Chinese restaurant, my pal Dan asked me why I was eating fried rice with a fork. I told him “chopsticks aren’t so hot with non-sticky rice. And besides: chopsticks….are for gooks.

(Big laughter. I’m going to Hell for that one.)

Back to the story. So this guy askes me where I live and I say I came to this party from Toronto.

And he says “Canada? What’s that, America Lite?

I decide to take this in stride. “This is just American chest-thumping,” I tell myself.

He then asks “So what’s your ethnic background?”

And I say “Filipino.”

And he goes “Ooooooh. That’s Asian Lite.

Now he’s pissing me off. I’m a proud Asian, and it was time to get my slant on.


So I’ve got a good idea of what Asian country he’s from. Shit, I can tell what part of Hong Kong an Asian’s grandma lives in by the way he “Chinamized” his Honda.


But I ask anyway. “So, buddy, what’s your homeland?”

He says proudly, “Korea.”

And I’m thinking, gotcha.

Oooooohhh,” I say. “The fruitstand people. If the Japs aren’t using you for comfort women, the brothers are using you for target practice!

(Big laughter)

Now in any other city, I would’ve had the shit kicked out of me and kimchi dumped all over my corpse. And rightfully so.


But this was New Fucking York. Dude just put his arm around me, turned to his friends and said “You know what?”

I like this guy.

(Big laughter)

True story, folks.

So I’d like to close this with a number that I’m dedicating to the people of New York. You guys have wicked sack. You guys have…


(AC/DC’s Big Balls, on accordion)

I’m upper, upper class high society
God’s gift to ballroom notoriety
And I always fill my ballroom
The event is never small
All the social papers say I’ve got the biggest balls of all

I’ve got big balls
I’ve got big balls
And they’re such big balls
Dirty big balls
And he’s got big balls,
And she’s got big balls,
But we’ve got the biggest balls of them all!
And my balls are always bouncing
My ballroom always full
And everybody comes and comes again
If your name is on the guest list
No one can take you higher
Everybody says I’ve got great balls of fire!

Some balls are held for charity
And some for fancy dress
But when they’re held for pleasure,
They’re the balls that I like best.
And my balls are always bouncing,
To the left and to the right.
It’s my belief that my big balls should be held every night.


Thanks very much, you’ve been a lovely audience. Thanks you, Slap and Tickle, for inviting me. Since it’s the conflict show, let me just say good night…and FUCK YOU!

Joey deVilla in a short-sleeve work shirt with an American flag patch on the left sleeve and a patch that reads "Initial USA"  on the left breast

My tribute shirt, which I wore yesterday.

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