License to Deadpan

A nearly empty nightclub, a tall, skinny man with no expression at all stands in a pool of light....

License to Deadpan

by Joyce Melton 



I had to pay for my dog's license the other day. He never has any money.

Any of you have a dog? 
Sir? They don't allow dogs in the club, you'll have to call a cab to take him home. 
No, sir. He can't drive himself. We could get in trouble for letting a drunk dog drive. 
Somebody take the keys away from that dog.
(Close to mike.) Friends, don't let your dog drive drunk.
My aunt used to have a dog. She took a mail order obedience training course but eight weeks of postage on her pekingnese was killing her. Then somebody in the post office stamped the pooch 'Fragile'.  (ka-thud) Last she saw of Fifi...
When I see someone wearing a watch I ask them for the time. They always make me give it back.
There's a big car park in town. I went to see a game there but they don't have a place to put my baseball.
I bought a pair of mirrored sunglasses, I thought they'd make me look cool. When I put them on, all I could see was two big eyeballs.
The cat tried to borrow money from me. I told him I already gave it all to the dog. Do you think I ought to hide my shoes?
My aunt mailed a letter to herself but she got the zipcode wrong. Now she has to move.
I bought some holiday candy from a foreign country but I couldn't translate so I didn't know what to celebrate. It tasted stale. I figure it must have been International Expiration Date candy. Bon-bons.
I put decaf in my automatic coffee maker last night and at six this morning it let me sleep in.
If you say anything funny before this election, people will probably vote for you anyway. We lose more good comedians that way. 
George Bush had a killer act before he accidentally got elected governor of Texas. Could have happened to anyone.
I bought a cell phone for my cat. I got the national plan because those roaming charges are killer. He calls me the other night and says he's in El Paso. The cat, not George Bush. 
He wants me to send the dog with cabfare so he can come home. Are you crazy, I said. Take the bus. George is gonna be looking for work soon, maybe he'll drive you.
The last time I gave the dog money, he bought a chiropractor's license and now he plays golf on Wednesdays. Dr. Fido he wants me to call him. You're not a real doctor, I tell him, you've only got a seven handicap.
I think I'm going to be rich. Golf is turning into a spectator sport. No, really. I bought the concession for selling pork rinds at Augusta. Dogs love 'em.
Actually, I'm warming this act up for George. He's still got stand-up in his blood. I can't do that thing that he does though when he looks like he doesn't know what he's saying. Like he might say anything. (smile faintly) He just cracks me up. (complete deadpan)
I'm thinking of running for president. I think the country is ready for a president like me. Whatever it is that I am.
A panhandler asked me for a pint of blood. He looked like he might have already sold most of his. He said no, he was just an out of work vampire. Damned recession. I told him I didn't have any blood to spare and what I've got is full of stand-up. He settled for a quarter.  I know he's just going to buy plasma with it. (Shrug.)
If nature abhors a vacuum why are there so many empty seats tonight? It's unnatural.
I wanted to do some gambling so I bought a lottery ticket. But it's not gambling if you know you won't win. So I went to one of those Indian casinos. They looked at my nose and gave me the tribal discount.
My cat is a compulsive gambler. Every time he sees a bird outside the window he runs into the glass with his face. (Demonstrates.) One of these days he figures, he's bound to get lucky, the window will be open.  We live on the fourteenth floor, so he's already lucky.
Stupid birds act like they've won the lottery, anyway. Chirp. Chirp. Tweet. Anybody that happy at five a.m. is probably a terrorist.
A caffeinated terrorist....
Thirty years ago, I would have said a communist. What did we know.
My aunt called me from El Paso....
She said Fifi's going to be fine...
...a little superglue...
...some duct tape....
She says the cat is taking up golf and thinking of running for president. He better not quit his day job. There's some pretty funny guys out there.
I told her to send back my shoes.
Have them marked Fragile.
I feel like I won the lottery.


I Have Just One Bit Of Advice

No, I won't say it. I can just see you up on stage in some nightclub giving this act.
May Your Light Forever Shine

Day Job

Nope I won't say it either, but what if you're unemployed? Funny stuff Joyce!

I'm retired!

But my nephew wants to be a comic.

Actually, I wrote this after reading a bunch of Steven Wright one-liners in the middle of the night. :)

- Joyce

Buhdom, bom

Standup done as prose. Side effects without feathers. Different that comic writing that starts as writing, not the sledgeomatic mayhem of Dave Barry or the tautological pull-my-finger of SJ Perleman but yea verily as a stage act transcribed; a libretto- deadpan, austere, the zen stuff. Perhaps harder to do than either standup or essay-humor. I love how the different threads progress, intertwine, fade and come back,
cancel each other out ............ Steven Wright huh? Yeah.

Good stuff, that duct tape. Whenever I'm buying kitty litter at the supermarket I say,
"Well the duct tape idea didn't work, so I guess I'm back to this..."
~~~hugs, LAIKA

Side effects without feathers?

Well, Woody Allen used to say, "The thing with feathers is my brother."

I've always loved Bob Hope. :)

Hope and Keaton, (another deadpan artist) are recognizably major inspirations for Allen and for me in my comic writing.

There weren't many female stand-up comics when I was growing up. A few comediennes like Minnie Pearl, who's almost a clown so much of her act was costume. The old quote (from Ed Wynn?) "A comic says funny things; a comedian says things funny," doesn't draw a firm line between styles at all.

Which is Steven Wright? Is he funny because he's deadpan? Well, in part. But he honestly says funny things. Still, you have to say them funny or you won't get a laugh.

The classic comedian was Jack Benny. Much of his material WASN'T funny, it's the way Jack said it that made it funny. George Burns, another classic comedian, had the luck to partner with one of the funniest comics of all time, Gracie Allen. The contrast of their styles was part of the act's charm.

Another classic team, this time a comedian and a clown, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball. Ball was in the Jerry Lewis-Red Skelton comedy genre, a comedienne whose act was so physical that it really did cross over into clowning. I seldom saw her do any stand-up, though. Sketch was her forte.

Just rambling here. :)

- Joyce

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