I gave him comedy act stage time and he rewards me (really) by walking off the stage whenever Rudy Giuliani’s unmasked
It’s been 21 years since I did my last gig at the Baton Rouge Funny Bone. Some say I should’ve gotten out before my 1999 New Year’s Eve finale. Perhaps they’re right because after 15 years at the club, most everyone in Baton Rouge had heard my joke. When the audience blurts out your punch line before you get to it, it’s time to go.
My most humiliating moment onstage came one night when there were only about 20 people in the entire club. At the time, we had three comics each show: me, as emcee, the middle, or feature act, and the headliner. As emcee, my job was to warm up the audience and get them ready for the feature act and headliner.
This particular night, there were three women sitting together right down front. They had their arms crossed, which is bad body language that practically screamed to me: “I ain’t laughing at anything, clown boy.” So, I concentrated on trying to make them laugh, reasoning that if they laughed, I had the entire room.
Nothing I did worked, so I resorted to talking to them. I usually talked to people in the audience because that was a good way to loosen them up if I could play off their responses to make a joke. But I got nothing. Finally, I asked what they did for a living. It turned out that all three were law students in Tulane Law School. No problem. I had a number of lawyer jokes that I rolled out.
Still nothing. Finally, out of desperation, I told them that I had done my best material and even tried lawyer jokes, so what would they like to hear?
Without missing a beat, one of them replied, “Humor.”
Any entertainer should know when he has lost the fight. I bailed and brought up the feature act.
Despite that one show, I had a great run working for Mike Rogers at the Funny Bone. It gave me the courage to promote my own shows in Mandeville, Hattiesburg, Natchez and, the most successful of all, in a monthly show at a place called Augustine’s in Hammond.
At Augustine’s each month, I would bring in an established comic to headline the show. It usually was one who had performed at the Baton Rouge Funny Bone whom I knew to be a strong act. To round out the bill, I gave stage time to a number of amateur comics from the Baton Rouge and New Orleans area.
New Orleans was especially fertile ground for aspiring comics, so I always had a well-staffed show at Augustine’s with as many as five or six locals to go up before the headliner.
One headliner was an African-American comic who had been burned in a freak gasoline fire when he was fueling his car. His best line was, “Between me, Michael Jackson, and Richard Pryor, we have proved beyond a doubt that black people are flammable.”
One of those who made the monthly pilgrimage from New Orleans to Hammond was a resident of internal medicine at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans. A Korean, he played off his ethnicity, tossing out lines like “We industrious Koreans think the Japanese are lazy.” Not exactly political correctness, but hey, this was comedy and nothing is sacred.
His name was KEN JEONG . A licensed physician, he gave up his practice of medicine to concentrate on a movie career. You may have seen him as the hilarious Mr. Chow in the Hangover trilogy (he’s the one who jumped stark-naked out of the trunk of a car in the original Hangover movie. It was his wife’s idea to do that).
More recently, he has appeared as a regular panelist on the Fox Network’s The Masked Singer, a show I have never watched because I equate it with cheap substitutes for entertainment like Bachelor, Bachelorette, Dancing with the Stars, Survivor, and other low-cost productions designed to seduce us into a lobotomized state. (Sorry, Ken, but I’m just not into such low-brow entertainment).
But last week, during taping of the show, Ken STALKED OFF THE SET in apparent disgust over the revelation of one of the masked singers on the show.
And who was the masked singer who was unmasked, drawing the ire of Ken Jeong?
None other than former New York City Mayor and current Trump apologist and fellow conspirator Rudy “hands in his pants” Giuliani.
Ken was infuriated to see Giuliani behind the mask because his background as a doctor stoked his anger. He considers Giuliani as part of the administration that bungled the COVID-19 pandemic in its early stages.
I know there are the usual trolls who will trash me for this, but I don’t really care. I am proud of Ken Jeong and his courage to walk off the set of a show aired by Fox Network. If the trolls have anything to say about my comedy career that never really got off the ground except for a few dozen corporate shows on each coast or if they don’t like what I write, they don’t have to read these posts.
Meanwhile, if I ever get the chance, I will shake Ken Jeong’s hand and hope he remembers me.