The C-word Controversy

I am not mean by nature. I am not in the habit of picking on people for the helluva it. I do have a problem with people that are bent on ruining a show; especially, if I’m hosting. Doesn’t matter how much money you have or are spending. If you need to be called out, I’m dialing your number. This was the case Friday night (July 10) at the Comic Strip.

A couple came to the second show one act deep into the show. I was on stage as the guy deliberately rearranged seats, choosing to sit as close to the stage as possible. After introducing the next act I returned to the stage finding his date had joined him. She had removed her shoes and propped her naked feet in the guys lap. My first thought was all I had to do is point out that her behavior was inappropriate and move on.

“You might want to put your shoes back on because if you look around, you won’t see anything that looks like your living room because you’re not at home.” Nothing.

They both sat there defiantly as if my request was totally out of the box and they had no intention of complying.

“Seriously, you’re going to sit like that for the rest of the show?”

A couple in the back couldn’t see the offenders and asked what they were doing. I told them she is sitting there wiggling her ugly toes.

“Aw, you’re just jealous I’m not wiggling my toes in your lap.” I assured her that was not the case and continued the show.

If the Strip had someone in place to monitor the room they would’ve known there was a problem, quietly went over to the table and asked the woman to put her shoes on as we were in a nightclub. Not at the beach. No shoes, no shirt, no service. The show would’ve gone on without a hitch.

But that was not going to happen. After the next act it was time for the raffle. The woman still had her shoes off with her feet propped up, and I told her if I picked her name out of the fishbowl I wouldn’t give her the free tickets to a future show. And wouldn’t you know it, I did. Against 70 to 1 odds, she was the winner. I expressed disbelief and she was more than happy to jump on the stage, ID in hand to prove she was the winner. I told her it didn’t matter she was not about to be rewarded for being a cunt. Here we go!

In the next few seconds, I called her a cunt a couple of more times and that’s when her date climbed onto the stage to confront me. He got pretty close to my face before Jay Oakerson came up to step between us. The couple decided without the backing of the rest of the audience who clearly were on my side, it was time to go.

Out in the bar area they were telling anyone who would listen that I had verbally abused them and wanted satisfaction. They finally paid their bill and left the club. The next day, I got a text from the booker saying he had to pull me from the two shows I had been booked for that night. After a few back-and-forths of me explaining my position and the booker steadfastly backing the rude customer I was done.

In the days since the incident I have gotten support from fellow comics and even a customer that was in the audience that night. Jay Oakerson, the only person to come to my defense vowed to never work the Strip again, and posted on Twitter an exchange he had with the owner of the Strip. The owner blamed Jay, me, and other “asshole” comics for the demise of the Comic Strip.

The truth is the Strip has been on a steady decline for years. Long time employees of the club have left and the replacements have been subpar. One comic posted #boycottcomicstriplive. Done.

William Stephenson

The Change Over

I don’t know the exact moment of the change-over. Not even the year. I just know I was never happy about it.

Growing up in Detroit in the sixties I lived within walking distance of two major Detroit landmarks. The Hitsville Building (Motown) and the General Motors Building. A group of neighborhood kids would make the trek in September to check out the new models a few days before the nationwide rollout. As long as we didn’t have ice cream or candy on us, we were allowed to sit in the cars and pretend to steer.

The cars not equipped with power steering were more fun because you could turn wider. The first thing I always checked out were the tail lights. I wondered if they would be like the ones I imagined in my head. Then, I’d dash to the front to see the headlights’ expression. It was usually some form of a smile, nothing like the aggressive look of today’s cars. I was intrigued by the Impala. I loved to see what they did with the Bel Air and Biscayne, stripped down versions of the great Impala. No power nothing and they were just butt ugly. For me it was the black wall tires that turned me off. What a difference a white stripe made.

The first time I noticed the black wall tire as standard equipment was during a week long gig at the Borgata in Atlantic City with Vic Henley. I hit a $2,500.00 payout and decided to rent a Caddy and drive back to NYC on a night off. Well, Vic rented it and I gave him the money. We had the new Outcast double CD with Hey Ya on it so we were in groovus maximus to and fro. But when I saw the pretty Caddy in the light of the next day with black wall tires, I felt…like when you wake up next to a woman who looked much finer the night before.

William Stephenson

Sticks and Stones

Sticks and stones will break your bones but names will never hurt you.

“Sticks and Stones” is a popular saying told to kids when they come home from school crying because they were teased. The truth, being called a name hurts the psyche. Just as the insightful words of a great thinker can be inspiring, the harsh words of a hater can be devastating. If the name you are called has hurtful words expertly strung together, the damage can be more bothersome than physical pain. It depends on one’s level of sensitivity. Even a thick skin can be penetrated with a powerful insult.

Playing “the dozens” back in high school, the object was to trade insults with someone until somebody gave up. Including a person’s mother in the fray could be grounds for a beat down. “Your mother” has probably started more fights than any other two words. When someone is insulted, he or she usually shows what we called the “do’ face.” It’s the look you have when you unexpectedly run into a door. Surprise combined with pain. The imagination put into an insult is key. If someone called you fat, you gave a clever response with a twist to get the crowd standing by to go “oooooh!”

“That’s because whenever I finish fucking your mom, she makes me a sandwich.”

It took quite a bit not to “do’ up” and act like the comment didn’t bother you in the least. With the immense popularity of the Internet, anybody can say anything about anybody with relative anonymity. I think the answer to cyber bullying is close to the same old school advice, simply walk away. In cyberspace, walking away amounts to blocking the abuser, or better yet, turning off the computer.

They say one should develop a thick skin to be an adult in this world. They also say people insulting others are on the offensive because of their own inferiority complex.

I believe them.

William Stephenson

One Night On The #1 Train

Riding the #1 train home late at night is usually fine. Some drunks, but for the most part they pass out without puking or causing trouble. Friday night, I was halfway home when my car was inundated by a group of about 10 twenty‑something black guys. Lucky I saw them when they piled in. I could’ve been in a deep nod or blasting a jam all up in my earholes. If I looked up and saw them suddenly, I would’ve jumped for sure. Probably bump into one of them and that would have been it.

One of them notices a guy sitting across from me. I got the feeling that one of the group had trouble believing he actually ran into him. I didn’t know if this was going to go south so I turned off my Ipod to listen to the exchange. Suddenly the group surges towards the guy. Now I can’t even see the dude they’re talking to because this one brother was big and wide, and damn near stepping on my toes.

Between the “youknowwhatI’msayins” and the “myniggas” I gathered there was beef between one of the group and a dude the passenger knew. It was a tense few minutes and ordinarily I would move to another seat at the other end of the car. The big guy was looming over me and I had no where to go. I had the feeling, “Excuse me, I need not to be collateral damage” wasn’t going to fly.

One of the guys in the back of the pack was all for beating the guy up just because it was Friday. Another said no, wait until 137th or 145th St. We were around 110th at this point, and I hoped hard this situation would not boil over. The passenger eventually convinced the gang that his involvement with the person of interest was minimal but would probably kick his ass, too.

William Stephenson

Me First

I find it ridiculous the number of people that have entitlement as a middle name. The feeling of importance is prevalent in today’s intsatwitter society. It has nothing to do with gender or race, rather it seems an American thing.

Somebody told you that you were the center of the universe and your poop is lemon scented. This is the attitude I see where ever I look. The 1 train at 59th street was well populated when I got on. I spent the weekend house/dog sitting and had a small piece of luggage. There was a couple of seats open, but between large people. I would have to sit on the edge and not be able to sit back and relax. I didn’t mind standing because I sat around watching NBA games and Tuna Wars all day.

Halfway down the car was a seat holding a lady’s purse. The lady next to her was busy with her face in her phone and couldn’t feel the people standing all around her. I very much wanted a true New Yorker to make her move it, but the car was full of tourists. It never occurred to this selfish harlot to simply place the purse in her lap so somebody could sit. Or worse, she used the purse on purpose to discourage anybody from sitting next to her. I gave thought to yell, “Excuse me, can you move your purse so somebody who paid just as much as you did to ride―unless you bought your purse a metro card―can sit down?” Instead, I set my eyes on stank in case she looked at me.

She’s lucky she didn’t because when you are on the business end of my particular stank eye you will know you did something wrong and feel bad about it.

William Stephenson

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