Here”s a little story I”ve been meaning to tell you for a while. A couple weeks ago I was relaxing at home watching the uncut international version of “The Professional,” and the phone rings. It”s this guy Danny that lived down the hall from me freshman year. I lived in East Quad, which was kind of like my own private hell. I had begged for the East Coast stylishness and conformist order of Markley, but because of an administrative error, I was placed in Artsyfartsyville. I mean sure, I liked music and art and whatever, but these people were really living it.
One thing that was a little off-putting, and I know I”m digressing wildly here, was that half of the guys on my floor didn”t even bother to use the showers unless it was to have sex in them. And I”m not complaining about this because I”m a homophobe, because I”m totally not, I think everyone is entitled to live their lives however they want you are the master of your own destiny and all that but I just thought it was bordering on disrespectful, all the raucous gay sex that would go down in our communal showers. Again, please do not take me for a homophobe that is not me. But it was just off-putting, like I said. Plus, some of these guys would go for days without having sex, which meant days without showering, which meant the hall would absolutely reek on hot days.
So back to Danny, he”s one of these dudes who think he”s a comedian. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: Whoever it is, make it quick, I”m watching “The Professional.”
Danny: You should get a “Professional” answering service, because your phone-side manner is R-U-D-E rude!
M: Okay, who the fuck is this?
D: It”s Dan the Man, from freshman year.
M: Dan, I”m gonna have to ask you to make it quick. One of the deleted scenes is coming up. I think it”s the Russian Roulette one. God damn, this truly is an action movie for lovers.
D: I just wanted to let you know that I”ll be appearing at the Comedy Showcase tonight. It”s open-mic night.
M: The Comedy Showcase? That place in the basement of the Union? You still work there?
D: No, that”s the Computer Showcase. And no, I don”t work there anymore, I work at Harmony House.
M: Harmony House? That place went out of business months ago!
D: Look, that”s not important. What”s important is that I”ve been working on a new set of material. It”s a solid three minutes of jokes, then to fill the rest of my five-minute time slot I figure I”ll just free-associate and I can”t really go wrong.
M: You can go wrong. I”ve seen it happen. Remember that time you did your set one night in the lounge on our floor? You did a bit on how squirrels in Ann Arbor are so fat and how they”re not afraid of people? And then you talked about how the show “Family Ties” would be different if the characters were black? Your impersonation of the black “Nick” character was particularly offensive, as I recall. And then you started free-associating, and it went horribly and you almost started crying? I thought you gave that shit up!
D: (In horrendous Balki Bartokomous voice) Get out of the city, Larry! The East Quad set wasn”t that bad. I didn”t kill, true, but it”s not like I died out there or anything. And no, I have not given it up.
M: Quickly now, tell me again why you”re calling?
D: Well, Benny-Boy, I”ve always considered you a fan of my quirky, irreverent style of observational humor. At the end of the East Quad set, everyone was, like, too hip to show any appreciation. Those East Quad kids, you know, with that phony disinterested attitude. You were the only one who gave me a standing ovation. That meant a lot to me.
M: I was being sarcastic!
D: So why I”m calling is, I would appreciate it if you came out tonight and supported me. Bring your friends if you want. It”ll be a rockin” good time. Cowabunga, dude!
M: What did you just say to me?
D: It”s Michaelangelo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I might work him into the act somehow.
M: Oh, for God”s sake.
I ended up going, since I didn”t have anything planned after finishing “The Professional.” By the way, so much of the beauty of Leon and Mathilda”s relationship is lost in the puritanical U.S. cut the Deer Hunter however, still holds the title for most intense Russian Roulette scene.
I called up my twin brother Reuben (I”m sure I”ve mentioned him before), we pounded some Heinekens at Skeepers, and rolled into the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase nicely buzzed. It was hysterical we started this game where every time one of the comedians would start a sentence with “Didja ever notice,” we”d do a shot of Jagermeister. By the time Danny got out there, we were totally blown-out.
To our shock and amazement, Danny opened his set by doing the same bit about Ann Arbor squirrels that he did in the East Quad lounge three years ago. Reuben was like “Busted!” and laughed so hard he vomited into his shirt. I couldn”t help myself so I shouted out “Hey Danny, do the bit about “Family Ties in the Hood”!” And since he didn”t have anything else prepared, “Dan the Man” had to soldier on through every dreadful, agonizing, lethal moment of it. When he got to the part about the black “Nick” character (who was, of course, Mallory”s pimp), someone actually nailed him in the leg with a bottle. Then he started free-associating, and that”s when things really got ugly.
He only got as far as describing a fictional TV show starring Balki Bartokomous and Michaelangelo (“Perfect Mutant Ninja Strangers 2000”) before the crowd started booing. Me and Reuben led the chants of “You Suck! You Suck!” that eventually made poor Danny break down into tears, on stage, alone, his soul bared and naked, his heart torn out and dashed to pieces. It was one of the funniest nights I”ve ever had in this town.
Danny is one of those people I”ll always remember from my days at Michigan. And in case you were wondering, my year at East Quad wasn”t all bad. I gained a profound appreciation for film, literature and music while living there, and wound up never pledging a fraternity, which was like my dream in high school, joining a frat. Life is funny, sometimes.
Ben Goldstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He”d like to send big ups to everyone who came out for the party at his house this weekend, and to Proof of D12 for making a guest appearance during the 1108 Thugz set. Dirty Dozen, baby! Detroit, what!