In Wyoming, Ohio, the best day of the school year – far and away – continues to be May Fete. On or about the second Friday in May, Wyoming Middle School (in Wyoming, OH) transforms into a massive carnival teeming with rides, food, and game booths.
When I was a kid, May Fete started at noon and went late, late into the night. To a seven-year-old in 1971, it was as if a high-end amusement park had sprung up out of nowhere. You couldn’t go to an odd corner of the school grounds without running into a cake walk or a fish bowl toss or a dunk booth or something. Simply trying to explore every nook and cranny of the event took a very full day. It was incredibly exciting.
Continue reading “it’s may fete time again!”
Well, it’s been an interesting month-and-a-half to say the least! Support for Plrknib has been extremely positive. Thanks so much to all of you who have been buying copies and leaving reviews. It is much appreciated!
Plrknib has gotten some very lovely initial reviews at both Amazon and Goodreads. We’ve also been doing Goodreads Giveaways. The latest one is for five signed copies of the paperback. More information is here.
Plrknib now has two different Facebook pages. One for the book itself here. And this one dedicated to d.w. eye, the club that’s referenced throughout the book. Please like both pages to get updates on the book and the comics!
We’ve added a Press Section over at the Plrknib site, where you can see some of the recent coverage that the book has been getting. You can expect to see more in the coming weeks.
Plrknib has also been featured on Publisher’s Weekly’s indie site Booklife for the past week.
Also, since the book is about stand-up, some folks have asked if I’m still performing – and if so, where. Yes, there are a bunch of dates coming up in 2017, and we’ll be posting those here. And chances are good that we’ll be giving away signed copies of the book at some of these performances…
I’m extremely excited to announce that Plrknib is now available at Amazon.
Plrknib – which has been serialized for the past year over at www.plrknib.com – is about my experience doing stand-up comedy during my senior year of high school in 1980.
Early reviews have been great. Including:
“Hysterical, edge-of-your-seat drama.”
“The Power of Jokes permeates this book…in a way rarely seen in fiction.”
“I felt as though I was on stage with him 30 years ago.”
Plrknib retails for $1.99 (ebook) and $6.99 (paperback).
And! – for this week only – if you’d like a free review copy, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll set you up!
Some early reviews are now coming in…
“Hilarious and Personal Memoir of What It’s Like to Follow Your Dream of Being A Stand-Up Comic.”
“In this gonzo, coming-of-age memoir set in the early 80’s, Alex Bernstein takes a situation most people might consider trivial – a teenager stealing a professional comedian’s joke – and turns it into high, hysterical, edge-of-your-seat drama.”
“I felt as though I was on stage with him 30 years ago.”
“Halfway thru this book I started telling everyone I knew that they needed to read it.”
“Wow. I Liked a Book About Stand-Up Comedy!”
Fireworks were so abundant and so easy to get when I was a kid, that I thought you could get them anywhere – the grocery, the local drug store. I didn’t realize till much later that my father – and everybody else in town – had to go all the way across the river to Kentucky to get them.
He always bought a good selection – not just sparklers, but bottle rockets, black cats, cherry bombs, and big stuff like roman candles. He showed us how to set them off, but we were not at all graceful. We’d light them and run, 20-30 feet off. And if the thing didn’t go off, you’d have to decide whether or not to go back and check. Was it a dud? Delayed? Should we light it again? What if it exploded the moment you got near it? I can say that I never knew one of those kids who lost a body part over a firecracker. (Although I did meet a kid on a bus once who shot himself in the leg with his dad’s rifle. But that’s another story.)
But the best fireworks were firecrackers. The ones they sold (and still sell I’m sure) in bricks with the fuses all tangled up and you could separate them out or light the whole thing at once. We’d put them under cans and watch them explode into the air. Miniature dynamite.
The biggest badge of honor was finding a loose, unused firecracker somewhere outside. The kind that had been dropped or abandoned. Bottle rockets that flew off but never exploded. If you found one in the street or the woods, it was better than money. And after a typical Fourth of July, kids would scour the streets for them. Most were duds, but one in a hundred worked. I held onto one for about a year that was perfect and dry before I tried it. When I did, I had no idea what was going to happen. I blew a Folger’s can to kingdom come.
One time, at camp, we did this show that we knew would be perfect if we could end it with big special effects. What we wanted was dry ice – but my friend Kenny said, no problem, he’s got black cats and some cherry bombs. He’s on it. Fortunately, it was at the end of the show, and it didn’t matter so much when the entire building filled up with smoke and everyone ran out of the place, screaming and coughing. No one got hurt. But ten minutes later smoke was still pouring out of the windows.
I was onstage. And my heart stopped pounding. I was simply there. Talking. Moving. Trying to be funny. No sense of self, time, technique. No sense of anything but the here and now, the lines and the people in front of me. And I waded through my bits. At home they had clocked in at three-to-five minutes. Here, they took twelve.
This is my first stand-up. If I throw-up it’s part of the act.
Back in 1980, I performed stand-up for the first time in Cincinnati at age 16. It was a pretty good show, until I got banned from the bar for life. Click here to read more.
Clifton was a hippy town, a mini-Haight Asbury, but smaller and a bit cleaner. It was the University of Cincinnati’s campus and during the 70’s the town was alive with bars, boutiques, head shops and restaurants like Zino’s Firehouse Pizza, In Cahoots with its mile-high reubens, and the Beacon-sized Bogarts, where any mid-level name band could make you feel like you were at a happening.
On Calhoun, sandwich row, you could start at one end, say, Adriatico’s Greek deli and work your way down, eating and barhopping. Towards Clifton Ave you’d hit Arby’s, Wendy’s, the Acropolis, and then it was bar, bar, bar, bar, campus bookstore, bar, laundromat, Tony’s Pizza, bar, bar.
Chapter 6 of Plrknib begins…
After a half dozen more Sundays with Dugle, WAIF rewarded us with our own show, late at night on the last Saturday of every month. And with that, the Six Pistols found themselves in Geek Nirvana.
Dave D, Bucky, Ron, Bob, and I wrote prolifically. At the other extreme, Dave S., my best friend, never contributed a single piece of material to the show. Additionally, he couldn’t act and any voices he did were extremely nasal because of ongoing sinus problems. (Bob, at least, could fake a British accent, albeit with a Kentucky twang.)
However, Dave did make a lasting contribution: he brought sex to the show.
The conclusion of chapter 3 of Plrknib. Click here to keep reading.
Sample Six Pistols sketch
Scene: Generic game show music comes up. WINK MARTINDALE addresses the audience. Nearby, are JOHN DAVIDSON, FRANK W. DIXON, and TED NUGENT. They stand near the Amazon River.
WINK: Hi, I’m Wink Martinjerk, and you’ve tuned in to Celebrity Piranha Kicking! This is South America – the Amazon River! Today, we’ve got John Davidson, famous author Frank W. Dixon and Ted Nugent.
FRANK: Gee, chums, hello.
TED: LET’S ROCK!
The third chapter of Plrknib keeps on keeping on. Click here to continue.
My mom says I’m hanging out with a bad crowd. I said there’s six of us, Mom. That’s a good crowd.
Friday night. The lounge area at WAIF.
“I’m doing stand-up at this club in Clifton, tomorrow.” I said. “I got five minutes.”
“Excellent,” said Dave. “I’ll see if Carl and Buffy can go.”
Bob came over, dropped his backpack.
“What are you doing?” he said, in slight Kentucky twang
“Stand-up in – ”
“What do you know about stand-up?”
“More than you,” I said.
The third chapter of Plrknib begins. Click here to continue.