Super Bowl

Super Bowl XLVIII – Back of the Stage

In the days leading up to this year’s 48th Super Bowl, politicians from New Jersey griped about some promotional materials using New York’s name first. The game is to be played at Met Life Stadium in Jersey, the home field for both NY Jets and Giants football teams. New Jersey does not have a professional football team at all. Years ago when New York couldn’t agree on space for new stadiums in the Big Apple, they moved to Jersey but kept the New York name. What did you think was going to happen? This is the way an Empire State operates. Moving and shaking, wheeling and dealing.

There were some Seahawk fans in the audience last night at the Cellar, and I had to shut them down. Whenever the subject of the Super Bowl came up, a table of about six went to whooping and hollering. They acted as if they were in a stadium where that kind of noise is accepted and encouraged. It is a great release to rear back and yell as loud as you can when you are among 60,000 other people screaming at the top of their lungs. If you can come up with a chant that catches on, all the better. In the smaller confines of an intimate comedy club, these outbursts are severely out of place.

I asked one of the Seahawks crew why they were so excited. “We’re in the Super Bowl” was the reply, followed by another round of whoops. When I asked what position they played it quieted them down a bit. They worked in an office somewhere in the Department Of Busy Work Bullshit. I explained that they were simply rooting for the Seahawks because it was in their area. Nowadays teams trade, cut, and buy different players every year, so you are actually rooting for a place if you are a lifelong fan of any team. When they lose, they say “We’ll get ’em next year!” However, it won’t be a we situation, it’s a whole new different group.

Over the many years I’ve been in stand up, I have had decent shows in New Jersey. Clubs like the Penny Arcade and Rascal’s offered me weekend work that was worth doing. One nighters during the week were mostly nightmares. You’d meet at the Original Improv at 44th and 9th to wait for your ride. Many comics could get work just by having a car to drive 3 other comics to a Jersey gig.

The first stop was always a gas station to make sure there was plenty of gas in the car. In pre- GPS days getting lost was the norm. I once sat in a broken down car on the side of a road for hours, waiting for a tow truck. The driving comic pulled out a book and read while I prayed every approaching vehicle was the tow.

Ask any NY area comic about Betty’s Fireside with the stage directly behind the bar and you’ll hear great tales of woe. You had a good set if nobody threw a bag of chips at you.

New York will take full credit if the big game comes off without a hitch. If something goes horribly wrong, the game will be known as the Super Bowl Jersey Screwed Up.


William Stephenson

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