LAUGH: Portraits of the Greatest Comedians and the Funny Stories They Tell Each Other

Authors: Mike Thomas (Editor), William Claxton (photographer), Kathleen Bywater, Andy Gould
Date of publication: November 1999
Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Length: 99 pages
Comments: Contains a portrait of Jon and a story by him.


Page 13:

Success hasn't diminished the deep respect I have for my predecessors, guys like Jerry Lewis, Buddy Hackett, Alan King, Richard Belzer -- comics whose collective aroma is not unlike that of the Stage Deli; corned beef, rare.

About six years ago, when I was fairly new to the business, those idols of mine, the ones I just mentioned, showed up at the Friar's Club Comedy Festival in New York City. I nearly orgasmed when I saw them there. It was largely because of them that I'd become a comic in the first place. So, eager to introduce myself, I weaseled my way backstage.

I was among giants here, and feeling really out of place. I tried desperately to blend in, but I still looked like a groupie. What am I saying? I was a groupie. So I lurked in the shadows and schemed. How would I approach them? Next thing I knew, they approached me. This was the break I'd been waiting for. Though the only thing they were waiting for, I noticed, was the elevator, next to which I was standing. To the casual observer, it probably looked as though I were a member of this comedic rat pack. In reality, I might as well have been a panhandler.

If I couldn't join them, I decided, I'd eavesdrop. So I pricked my ears and hunkered close. Jerry was nearing the end of a story he'd begun earlier, something about a recent event he'd attended. " . . . and people were packed in so tight, you couldn't do this without hitting somebody," he exclaimed. As he uttered the word this, his fist lashed out and accidentally drilled me in the sternum. I went down for the count.

To add insult to injury -- really, it hurt -- no one seemed to care that I'd been knocked on my ass. I mean, who'd have thought he could throw like that? While part of me felt strangely honored to have been slugged by the King of Comedy, the rest of me felt like spit -- in a humorous sort of way. No "Sorry kid." No "Let me help you up." They just continued their conversation as if nothing had happened.

I was still on the floor when the elevator arrived. From my wormlike vantage point, I watched them board, and as the doors began to close, I heard one of them ask, "So, Jerry, you seen Dean lately?"

You're nobody until somebody loves you.


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