"Given the times we are in..."

Given the times we are in, I am strangely reminded of this story. Early in

my stand-up career, I became a regular act at Catch a Rising Star. June

1981. Catch a Rising Star was a showcase club featuring comics and

singers, on First Avenue between 77th and 78th. It was the East Coast

center of the stand-up universe, as the Comedy Store was in LA. I was just

beginning to kind of make a living at this. At Catch, they paid you $6 if

you got on stage, which was called "€œcabfare,"€ but to most of us, it

was a livelihood. Everybody got $6. Me, Rodney Dangerfield, Robin

Williams, Jerry Seinfeld. It was strangely egalitarian. Back in 1981, $6

could get you a decent meal at the Green Kitchen, the diner on the next

block. One night, around 3 am, a bunch of comics were seated around a

table. Me, Adrianne Tolsch (who was the house MC at Catch), Larry Amoros,

Jimmy Vallely, Eric Zoyd (my roommate) and Michael Hampton Cain. This is

months before Adrianne and I started dating, two years before she moved

in, nine years before we got married, 25 years before she went to


I went to the john in the middle of the meal, and stole a roll of toilet

paper, which I had run out of the day before. I jammed the roll into the

pocket of my sportcoat. I came back to the table. We kept yakking.

Suddenly, Adrianne lifted up the bottom of my jacket, where the toilet

paper was bulging out of the pocket, so the rest of the table could see

it. She yelled, "What kind of man reads Playboy?" We got the check. No

one could follow that.    

Bill Scheft is a writer living in New York.

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