Category Archives: Comedy Clubs

Paradise 03

Paradise
Part Two

by Howard Rosenberg

A stand-up comedian reviews his painful adolescence and the person who caused it. 3,308 words. Part One. Illustrations by John Donald Carlucci.


Kansas City – 2016

His name is advertised in white lights on a marquee out front, under the heading, COMEDY COLOSSUS. Mainstream sexy is what they want on this circuit. A lot of it, and he delivers. It’s been a nice run so far, the kind of good crowds and boisterous laughs that promise a return gig. But he knows that won’t happen.

He hasn’t been to Kansas City for two years, not since the funeral. And this is his first gig at Chez Vegas. It’s a booking he sought, inexplicably drawn back to Kansas City like a criminal to the scene of his crime, while hoping this would compel him to take care of unfinished business he’d put off far too long. He hadn’t known the unfinished business would devastate him.

He knows the Chez Vegas terrain by heart, could chart and navigate it blindfolded. The pattern for these smallish clubs and their flashy decors rarely changes, whether the curtain he stands behind is red, green or polka-dot.

The smug superior stiff-upper-lips will drink and laugh the least. But he can count on a spillover of loud boozy conventioneers up front along with screaming Hadassah ladies and their husbands who always hang on his words. The closer they are the better, so he can absorb their energy. He knows a few will push hard to meet him afterwards. They’ll want to buy him drinks and, thinking they’re hip, bore him with their own favorite dumb jokes and bleed out their life stories like hemophiliacs. Yeah, sure, Kansas City hip; last month Toledo hip, and before that Louisville.

Hurling insults from the back of the room will be the hecklers: gutless, talentless and mindless with bull’s eyes on their foreheads. They sicken him, but are easy to top and humiliate when they get out of line. Which is why he always hopes they do. He pictures pulling a trigger and blowing them away, all of them, the entire fucking room, thirty seconds of euphoric release.

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Paradise 01

Paradise
Part One

by Howard Rosenberg

A stand-up comedian is booked into his hometown club which stirs up memories. 2,380 words. Part Two. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


Kansas City – 2016

It’s hot, as July nights always are in his hometown. Hot and sticky, the air stagnant and wet, as if he is bathing with his clothes on. It reminds Davey of his childhood, age six or seven perhaps. They would flee their sweltering second-floor flat and join neighbors on the grassy slope of Gilliam Park, reclining on a blanket under the stars with a thermos of iced tea while hoping to catch a breeze. Their rumbling window air-conditioner cooled erratically even when working, and a new one wasn’t in the budget. Not that Davey cared. Drifting off in the park was his air-conditioning as a young boy.

“Thanks,” Davey tells the driver named Pete who wears a Kansas City Royals cap backwards, a retard look for middle-aged white guys. Davey peels off a ten, and Pete accepts the tip with eyes forward, right palm up; he never says much, and his shoulders slump. Davey doesn’t care about him at all, but wonders if anyone could be content driving a town car for a living at age what, forty or forty-five? He decides Pete is dead man driving. Reality check: Pete’s passenger is dead, too.

He puts the driver out of his mind, slings his vinyl wardrobe bag over his shoulder and approaches the rear door of Chez Vegas, a popular nightspot in the sprawling upscale mid-town district known as County Club Plaza. It’s been dark for hours, yet the heavy hair presses against his unshaven face as he jabs a red button, enunciates his name clearly into a small rusted speaker and is buzzed inside where the plunge in temperature brings immediate relief.

Stranded in the middle-earth of show business, he’s been at it for 10 years, so he knows the drill. His drill: slip in and disappear into a dressing room, this one next door to a kitchen whose pungent smells of nachos and spicy fried foods escape through the vent and almost make him gag. As always, he’ll avoid contact and be invisible. Then wait behind the green curtain with his opening joke on the tip of his tongue until he hears his name announced followed by applause.

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Scheft Election

The Raw Vote Is In

by Bill Scheft

TV FICTION PACKAGE: Politically incorrect comedian Tommy Dash horrifies the panelists on a cable news show about the Presidential primary race. 2,759 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.


Okay, enough chit-chat. Here are the jokes I never got to on the air:

  • I’m now taking orders for my new t-shirt: “TRUMP: He’s David Duke, But With A Higher Thread Count.”
  • Ted Cruz may win Indiana. It all depends on whether he can get the heavy Gestapo turnout.
  • If you don’t count Ohio, the only time John Kasich has finished first is when he was jerking off
  • Bernie Sanders spent $46 million in the month of March. And half of that was on fiber.
  • Remember, the Hillary Clinton email scandal started because she didn’t want to carry around an extra device. It’s the same thing that happened with Bruce Jenner.

Before we continue, I have several philosophical questions:

If someone is on cable television news and is under the impression that it’s okay to curse because it is cable television, is that person wrong for cursing? Strictly speaking, is the phrase “cock yahtzee” cursing? Okay, what about “turd parade”? Okay, what about “muff” or “snatch”?

Okay, I know you’re going to say “snatch” is a bit vulgar. And perhaps that’s what got me hustled back onto Sixth Avenue. I was vulgar. And you can’t be vulgar on television. You can be dirty. You can be suggestive. You can be naughty, and we hope you are. But you can’t be vulgar on TV. It’s a public trust, or whatever other hypocritical oxymoronic term you can come up with, like “rectal itching” at the end of a pharmaceutical commercial.

Gee, I hope I’m not giving away what happened last Friday when I got booked to appear on the cable news political roundtable, Right Cross.

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Bill Scheft New Oscar 4

Who Are You Wearing On? —
Tommy Dash Near The Oscars

by Bill Scheft

OSCAR FICTION PACKAGE: Politically incorrect Tommy Dash tried out for Chris Rock’s Academy Awards writing team. 3,175 words.


UPDATE: Tommy Dash reacts post-Oscars…

Am I too late to call the 2016 Oscars "Straight Outta Caucasia"?

Was I the only one who thought Chris Rock wore the white tux so at some point some guy in a bomber jacket would walk up to him on stage, hand a key and say, "It’s the red Lexus…"

By the way, none of my business, but couldn’t they come up with a more empowering word for black people not showing up than "boycott?"

I don’t think they’ll solve Oscars’ diversity problem by next year. But they will come up with the technology so the Teleprompter cannot contain the phrase "Rihanna’s panties."

How about that Red Carpet? I haven’t seen this much side boob since Christie stood next to Trump.

I’m confused. Before he started Apple, Steve Jobs was the "Sprockets" guy?

Abe Vigoda was left out of the "In Memoriam" montage. But, to be fair, he’d been in it for the last 15 years.

Forget his message, let me say this about Joe Biden. Clearly, he learned from listening to Jay Leno rattle off upcoming dates at the end of The Tonight Show… You can never have too many plugs.

Right about now, Pope Francis’ publicist, Howard Rubenstein, is calling him saying, "Hey, you got mentioned in the acceptance speech for Spotlight!"

This is somebody’s fault, but not necessarily mine.

I thought I was supposed to be here, working on the Oscars.

Two weeks ago, I’m at the Comedy Cellar in the Village. I’m trying to get my 20-year-old ban from performing there lifted. Long story, but it involves saying “jizz” on stage. I see Richie Vos, a comic, hanging out by the steps. I’ve known Richie since he would try to barter for crack by doing $10 worth of material for his dealer. He’s clean a long long time, one of those “If life was fair, I’d be dead…” grateful pains in the ass. And he’s a regular at The Cellar. I ask him if he’ll vouch for me to the owner. He smiles and says, “I don’t know, Tommy. What’s the statute of limitations on jizz?” Jesus, does everybody know this story? I ask him if he’s working and Vos says he’s writing for Chris Rock on the Academy Awards. And he says “Academy Awards,” the correct term, in case Ed Snowden is listening in. I say, “Is Chris looking for anything?” And Vos says, “You know Rock. He’s got a dozen guys giving him pages and in the end he comes up with better shit than anything that’s been turned in or anything we’ll ever come up with.” I ask Vos if he has an email for Chris, and he says, mumbling around his cigarette, “Yeah, send him some stuff. He looks at everything. But don’t do anything about his divorce.”

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Bill Scheft 10 Sean Penn

My Time Is Up, You’ve Been Great

by Bill Scheft

The incorrigible Tommy Dash appears to be up to old tricks. But he also has some new ones. 3,742 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.


I’m writing this in the Admirals Club at LAX. Normally, I would just wait at the gate and time my Placidyl for ten minutes before I think they’ll start to board. But the red-eye to Newark isn’t for another three hours and I need to be clear-headed in case Sean Penn shows up to interview me.

That’s why I gave the guy checking names 50 bucks, and I can now drink for free and eat my weight in party mix.

I feel the need to write this post here, at the airport, because I’m still technically in LA. If you’re going to run your mouth on a show business site called “Hollywood Dementia,” you really should be here. Here. The Greater Hollywood Area. Actually, the Greater and Less Than Hollywood Area, which extends all the way to the prison where Liberace’s old boyfriend has a time-share. And you really should be in show business: film, television, long-playing records. They have yet to rule on whether stand-up is show business, although a maître d’ in a Vegas lounge once said to me, “You’re just a buffet that tells jokes.” Where I’m going doesn’t count, and whatever I’ll do when I get there certainly doesn’t qualify.  Reminds me of The Odd Couple when Felix, who has been ghosting Broadway reviews for Oscar, appears on a TV panel posing as Oscar’s doctor while Oscar feigns laryngitis. At one point, he snaps at John Simon, “You call what you have in Los Angeles theater?” Same thing.

Jesus, I haven’t even finished my first Wild Turkey and I’m quoting a 40-year-old sitcom? What a fucking hack.

Maybe that’s why I finally got shit-canned three weeks ago. Because I’m a hack.

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scheft_trumbo_2

It’s Just An Honor To Be Implicated

by Bill Scheft

Comedian Tommy Dash is on a losing streak again, getting two pals fired. 4,211 words. Art by Mark Fearing.


Okay, just by a show of hands, how many of you know about the rule that if you’re dating a co-worker, you have to officially report it to the Human Resources Department so that the company is not liable for any potential sexual harassment claims down the road?

Just as I thought. Nobody knows about this rule. And by rule, I mean racket.

I hadn’t run into Janice in the building  the Tuesday or Thursday before the Christmas break, but we had gone out that Wednesday night. She took me to some Korean place that, again, I’d never been to and was crazy good. It’s hard to fuck up beef, barbecue sauce and beer, but it’s impossible to make the combination so good you go back into the kitchen and ask for a job. And by you, I mean me. Then we went to see Trumbo, and we ended up making out through the second half because, well, we got it. He writes in the bathtub and is a shitty dad. And I would have liked to see more from the Benzadrine. Don’t get me wrong. Bryan Cranston is phenomenal and should get his tux cleaned. This one was not his fault. But I’d like to see him do two hours of reading Trumbo’s letters like I saw Nathan Lane rip through in some Manhattan basement with my ex-wife one night in the early ’90s. See you next time on Kritic’s Korner…

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Scheft Nov302015

54 Hours To Bulletproof

by Bill Scheft

Now that Tommy Dash has found professional success, he’s focused on his personal life: a new girlfriend. 3,332 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.


Happy 11 days after Thanksgiving. Please email me if you would like the recipe for Charlie Sheen’s Sage-Oyster-AZT stuffing.

Here’s how you know things are different with me: 1) I’ll get to the bad stuff later, 2) Turns out it isn’t that bad, 3) Turns out I may wind up a hero.

I can hear you: “Tommy, you really need to do better than that. You can’t tease us like some news haircut on KTLA: ‘When we come back: The lighter side of a mudslide….’ We come here for your fuck-ups. And we’ve gone too long without one. What could possibly be the reason for the delay?”

Well, I think I found someone and I’d like to talk about her.

Again, I can hear you: “Look, Tommy. We all know it’s Janice. And we’re all thrilled you might have gotten laid by the HR gal at your cable network. But again, we did not and do not come here for middle-aged romance. Frankly, we’re still trying to get over what appears to be some kind of winning streak for you. And now you hit us with the word ‘hero’? And you’re not being ironic? And we have to wait? Fuck you. This isn’t the friggin’ Laemmle Noho 7 where we have to sit through some barfworthy Nancy Meyers preview before the Coen Brothers show up. Out with it!”

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See Tommy Kill

See Tommy Kill

by Bill Scheft

Amazingly, Tommy Dash is still employed by the TV sitcom. Now the foul-mouthed comic is acting on it. 3,484 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.


Before we begin, congratulations to my show business friend Chris Rock, who is going to host the 88th Academy Awards. I’ve known Chris since he was a Jheri-curled 18-year-old. In 2005, just before he hosted the Oscars for the first time, I pitched this joke to him in the parking lot at the Comedy Store: Do yourself a favor. Go see “Sideways” with an all-black audience. They start talking to the screen like it’s a horror film – “Don’t open that ’68 Pinot, bitch…”     He laughed and said, “Tommy Dash! Back on the pipe!” I told you we were friends…

Okay, then. Some egghead once asked Carson (Johnny, not Daly. Jesus, not Daly) how he became a star. “I started out in a gaseous state, and then I cooled,” he said.

Guess whose gaseous state will be cooling once his episode of I Don’t Get It airs next month? Go ahead, guess. And if you guess someone else, don’t worry, I can take it. But can you? Can you take it?  Seriously, with all the fuck-ups, misspeaks, oversleeps, bad raps, worse reps, flip phone follies and knocks on Janice’s HR door, can you take it that Tommy Dash just slaughtered a barnful of strangers? (Strangers, and Denard Sharp, who showed up because he “heard some big bad motherfucker-type things.”) Can you handle Danny Musselman putting me in a bear hug and saying, “Thanks a lot, asshole. Now I have to rewrite the finale?” Can you process Sonny Regal asking for the number of MY acting coach? Can you begin to envision the wrap party tableau of Beck Franklin, fucking Beck Franklin, pulling me aside and, as he stared at the floor so I wouldn’t see his glistening eyes, muttering, “Don’t forget me, Tommy. Don’t forget me and Carey. But don’t forget me?” Well, you’ll have to. Because it all happened. I all happened.

You need to believe me. And you need not to believe Chris Rock. I was never on the pipe.

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If Anyone Asks 2

If Anyone Asks, I Have The Week Off

by Bill Scheft

Tommy Dash is fed up being a flip phone comic in a TV writers room of iPhones and Androids. 4,157 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.


Greetings from Gardena! Specifically, the Normandie Casino just off the Harbor Freeway. More specifically, the Crouching Tiger Lounge of the Normandie Casino just off the Harbor Freeway. I’m waiting for a spot at a $1-5 seven-card stud hi-lo table to open up. The woman said it would be 15 minutes, but we’re looking at an hour. Meanwhile, she asks, would Mister Tommy like to play Texas Hold-‘em while he wait? “No,” I said, “Mister Tommy came here to play poker, not this Ponzi scheme with chips where everyone at the table gets to see 70 percent of the fucking deck.” Then she pointed to a spot at the $25 blackjack table, and I didn’t have the heart to explain to her that’s where I go when I’m down to my last $50. Then she pointed to the Crouching Tiger and gave me two drink tickets. It’s 10:00 am, so that should keep me till 10:10.

I got a grand in my pocket, and that’s not counting my Tip and Blow Fund, in case my former dealer, Flacco, returns my text and shows up. Which raises a philosophical question: Is he ever really your “former” dealer? Which raises another question: If your dealer marries your uncle’s daughter, is he your second cousin, or are you just drug related?

The lounge has wi-fi and, my hand to God, there are eight guys at the bar playing Hold-‘em online. One of them is in a full Batman costume, wearing a name tag that reads, “HELLO. My name is MR. AFFLECK.” Seriously, you’re playing online poker while sitting in a casino. I’m sorry, I need to feel the cards in my hand, the chips on my fingers, the Purell in my palms between deals. I, too am online, but only to catch all of you up on why we are dispatching today from Gardena, Monte Carlo without the Board of Health.

Two days ago, I was given the week off. Yes, given. I need to point out that I have done nothing wrong. And I need you to believe me. Yes, I need you to believe the guy waiting for Flacco to show up with some coke.

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Bill Scheft  - Welcome Back To Show Business - 5

Welcome Back To Show Business
Or Whatever It Is I’m In

by Bill Scheft

Further adventures of un-politically correct comedian Tommy Dash in the writers room of a new sitcom. 4,052 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.


Before we begin, congratulations to George Clooney on his one-year wedding anniversary. If you’re looking to send a gift, he could use a couple of guys to help him start digging an escape tunnel…

If you had October 8 in the pool for the date I’d be fired from I Don’t Get It, you lose. Calm down. I had October 6. Actually, I bought four boxes. I had October 1, October 3 and November 19, which is the two-year anniversary of the last time I took a Quaalude. Or the last time I could find a Quaalude. So, I’m still alive.

And so are all of the writers on the show. It’s a miracle. I’m telling you, no jury in the world would convict me if I capped one. Or paid the guy I know who’ll do anything for $300 to cap one. With rare, rare exception, this is the most arrogant, condescending bunch of fucks I’ve ever been around – and mind you, I once gave Bill Maher a lift to Burbank Airport.

Sadly, they’re all kinda talented and I understand why Danny Musselman hired them. Which is more than they understand about me.

Let’s run down the I Don’t Get It writers room, complete with their approximate ages and their odds of still breathing in the year 2016:

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When The Paycheck After This Clears

When The Paycheck Clears,
We’ll Have A New Record

by Bill Scheft

The apologizing comedian Tommy Dash is back boasting about his new gig with a TV sitcom. For now. 3,716 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.


Happy New Year. Happy High Holidays. I’m planning a real show business Yom Kippur fast. I’m going to try and go 24 hours without having to eat shit.

​I missed the Emmys. Did Caitlin Jenner win for Best Editing? I read in Allure she had surgery to have her Adam’s Apple flattened. Wait a minute. She had something flattened and she calls herself a Kardashian?

I’m sorry we haven’t been in touch for a while. I’ve been busy. Which, if you know me, is not my natural state. I will say, it’s alarming to be this kind of busy, which for me means having to get up early but not because I’m due in housing court.

Oh, enough dawdling: I got the gig…

Actually, I got a few gigs on this series I Don’t Get It. We’ll get to the fucking terrible name of the show later. (And I can say “fuck,” because the show is on a network where it’s okay to do that.) Don’t go nuts. I did not get the big gig. I didn’t bag the part of the father, the bitter old comedian who moves in with his successful young comic son. But I got many little gigs. Three, maybe four. I’m something called a “character consultant,” which means I’m not technically on the writing staff but I sit in on the meetings and they pay me Writers Guild minimum, which is $3,800 a week, but they don’t have to give the Guild its taste. And neither do I, so that’s just beautiful. I have a part in the fourth episode where I play the father’s former partner from when he did a double-act in the 1980s. Somebody told me, it might have been CAA agent Denard Sharp who has swooped back in after firing me, that’s worth about five Gs. If I do well, they bring me back. And, once we start taping, I’m the audience warm-up guy, which is another sweet sweet $500 AFTRA dollars an episode. Now, you’re aware I won’t see a dime of that until Episode Six because of my outstanding dues. But after that, I become a paid-in-full working union stiff for the first time since Luke married Laura.

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EVERYBODY BE QUIET

Everybody Be Quiet, We Might Have Something Here

by Bill Scheft

Comedian Tommy Dash is back, this time with a shot at a TV series. If he doesn’t blow it. 3,554 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.


Before we start with all the promising news, look, I’m the last guy to compare myself to Bill Murray, but remember when there was all that talk about him getting nominated for Lost In Translation and he kept saying, “Please don’t make me want this?” Same thing…

If you know anything about me, and you should by now, you know I can be a tad resentful. In fact, if I made the move over to porn, and I haven’t ruled that out, that would be my adult film name. Tad Resentful. Maybe I should go into porn, with all the people who have fucked me. I used to do a line in my act that I not only have a Shit List, I have a Shit Waiting List. Never worked, because they were idiots. Again, I am not bitter, just realistic. As Lou Gehrig said, “I know I’ve gotten a bad break.” Speaking of which, I used to do a line in my act that I went to the doctor, they did some tests and he told me I might have Babe Dahlgren Disease. I said, “Wasn’t Babe Dahlgren the guy who replaced Lou Gehrig?” And the doctor said, “Yeah. Nobody usually gets that.” So I said, “Well, what’s Babe Dahlgren Disease?” And he said, “I don’t know, but nobody gets it.” Again, it never worked, because they were idiots.

Enough. Tad Resentful out. Back to Bill Murray “Please don’t make me want this.” Guess who called? Come on, guess. That’s right. Denard Sharp. My former black agent. I mean my former agent. He’s still black. He got a call from a woman at one of the networks. I can’t tell you which network, but it’s one of the places you can say “cock.” She’s the head of development there. They’ve committed to eight episodes about a single father, an out-of-work bitter comic, who moves in with his estranged son, a successful young stand-up starring in his own new series. I know, I know. Where do they come up with these incredibly original ideas?

Let me back up for a second and just wonder out loud about why no one is allowed to live alone on television. Apparently, it’s some kind of fake law. Like paying your income tax. (Let me do a little housecleaning with my new email friends from Sacramento. Fellas or gals, when you can show me the line in the constitution where it says the government has a right to collect income tax, I will gladly pay my income tax. And by the constitution, I mean The U.S. Constitution, not whatever Schwarzenegger shot list you’re working off of.) Everyone has to move in with someone on television. Or back to their hometown. It’s one or the other. Either way, you’re fucking moving. That’s the first thing I’m going to ask this woman. Were there no affordable apartments in this guy’s hometown? Honest to Christ.

No, I’m not going to ask that. Because I want this. It’s too late for Bill Murray. They’ve made me want this. Okay, I want this. And it doesn’t go well when I ask things like that.

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Believe Me Sheft

Believe Me It’s Better This Way

by Bill Scheft

The  comedian who says what Hollywood doesn’t want to hear is at it again – apologizing. 3,375 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.


"Hollywood Dementia Exclusive: Tommy Dash Responds."

Okay, this did not go quite the way I wanted it to go.

Let’s catch up.

Two weeks ago, I published a letter of apology on this site to Clint Eastwood. I was trying to – what’s the expression, make amends? – for some past behavior in the hopes (I’d say “in the hope” but there was more than one incident) my agent could send me up for his new movie. Well, we still haven’t heard from Clint, Clint’s people, or Clint’s people’s people.

But that’s the least of it.

There was some other stuff around the letter of apology, which I rambled on into a tape recorder. Colorful stuff. Colorful stuff that I may or may not have meant to be included. But I never gave any specific instructions to my daughter, Janey. I mean Abby. So, Abby just transcribed everything and sent it in and the website posted everything. All of it. That was not my intention. I’m not exactly sure what my intention was, but it was definitely not that. I think I was trying to figuratively clear my throat as I worked my way up to the letter of apology. If I had seen the transcript before it was sent, I might have edited some things out. Some of the more colorful things. Like saying my agent sounded like a black guy. He is, but that’s not the point. Just like it’s not the point that he called me a “Jew motherfucker.” Or just like it’s not the point that he is no longer my agent.

The point is Abby should have shown it to me before she sent it, before it came out, before I asked her, “Were you ever going to get around to showing me what I said, Janey?” and before she answered, “First of all, I’m Abby. And I was planning on showing it to you when you got around to telling me you had a new girlfriend, not when I had to hear it on the fucking tape.” So, I had that jackpot to deal with, which turned into the friggin Powerball when she asked how old my new girlfriend is (27, which is the Powerball number). So now, Abby is not speaking to me, which kind of simplifies things because Janey, the daughter I keep confusing her with, hasn’t spoken to me since 2008, when I did a show at Hermosa Beach and made her pay the cover.

Let’s run through the good news. Last week, I got a SAG/AFTRA foreign residual check for an episode of Ed I did in 2000. Usually, they hold all the checks and apply them to your outstanding dues. And frankly, my dues may be the only outstanding thing about me. But this residual slid under the tent flap. $42.86. I used the money to buy one of those cigarette lighter-shaped routers that finds free Wi-Fi. I’m now one of those assholes in the Valley who sits at a sidewalk table staring at an old laptop that looks like something he has to return to the Church library by four. But I can do my own typing and submitting through my new email account: tommybahaha@yahoo.com.

Here endeth the good news.

You have no idea how many people read this last post. No idea. Let me tell you, it was a lot. A lot. I had no idea I was a draw. I’m not, but it was a big house. On the one hand, it was humbling how many people still remembered me. How many people remembered Tommy Dash. It’s the kind of thing I would love to share with my daughters, if we were talking.

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Theres_no side of the street_1250_900

There’s No Side Of The Street Like My Side Of The Street

by Bill Scheft

A comedian who has made a career saying what Hollywood doesn’t want to hear tries to right his wrongs. 2,712 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.


I’m not sure how this works. This was someone else’s idea. Actually, a lot of people’s. My agent, my shrink, two old friends, two guys who know and two ex-wives. The only one who said not to do it was my new girlfriend, which is why she is my new girlfriend. I don’t have a computer. Well, I do, but it’s dial-up. I don’t have email anymore. I would have typed it on my computer, but my printer is busted. Or needs a new ink cartridge. So, I am dictating this into a tape recorder and giving it to one of my daughters, who said she would type it up and email it to some new website where, ideally, they would post it and then other places might pick it up and then everyone would eventually know everything and then… then what?

So, if you’re reading this now, it made it. Which is the difference between what this is and me. I never made it.

There’s a great joke. It’s not mine. I don’t know whose it is, but the fact I’m not saying it is mine is an incredible departure for me. Here’s the joke: Saint Peter at the Gates of Heaven. First guy comes up. Saint Peter says, “What did you do on Earth?” Guy says, “I was a doctor. I made $500,000 a year, but I put in at least one day a week at the free clinic. I also went to Africa twice and performed medicine in destitute villages. My wife and I were married for 35 years, we had three beautiful children, and I had seven grandkids.” Saint Peter says, “Okay, you can go in.” Second guy comes up to the gate. Saint Peter says, “What did you do on Earth?” Second guy says, “I was a lawyer. I grew up poor. Paid my way through law school, started with a big firm, made it to partner. I was earning at least $1 million a year, but three years ago, I left and started my own firm, which did exclusively pro-bono work. I was married 25 years. My wife couldn’t have children, so we adopted two girls, and they both just graduated from law school and are taking over my business.” Saint Peter says, “Okay, you can go in.” Third guy comes up to the gate. Saint Peter says, “What did you do on Earth?” The guy says, “Not much. I never made more than $7,500 a year. I was married and divorced three times. I have five children, two that I’ve never seen. And I’m an alcoholic and a drug addict.” And Saint Peter says, “What have I seen you in?”

I’m not dying, unless you heard something. I’m not sick. The fact that my health is as good as it is may be one of life’s great jokes. As great as the Saint Peter joke, probably not. As great as the bit I came up with in 1994 about the realtor showing John Wayne Gacy’s house (“The basement is 20×30 and sleeps 26…”)? Well, comedy is subjective. A lot of comics love that bit. I heard Robin Williams laugh one night in the back of the room when I did it at the Holy City Zoo. So, for all I know, he lifted it and it died with him.

If I sound bitter, that’s what you’re hearing. I am not bitter. I am just relentlessly realistic.

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