the eye


“You’re up third, Saturday,” said Roger.  “Five minutes.  Come half an hour early or you lose your spot.”

“Really?  I got five minutes?”

I walked to the bar, exuberant.

“I got five minutes!”  I said to Bob and Drew.  “I got five minutes!”  I said to Jack.

“Everybody gets five minutes, asswipe,” said Jack.  “You’d have to be the most unfunny son-of-a-bitch in Cincinnati to not get five minutes.  And they’d still give you five minutes.”

“Great,” I said.  “I can live with that.”


The second chapter of Plrknib is up.  Click here to continue.

what it is


Plrknib is a memoir about my experience doing stand-up comedy in Cincinnati in 1980-81 when I was 16-17 years old.

I’m going to be serializing it weekly over at  It’s about 35+ chapters, so depending on how fast I post, it should be complete by the fall.

Most of the entries will be straight chapters from the book.  But I’ll also be doing some meta chapters – over there and over here – like this one, explaining what’s going on behind the scenes.

Plrknib” itself is the name of a single, extremely important joke that appears about halfway through the story.

Almost every stand-up comic mentioned in the book is real, and many of them are still going strong today.  (Where and when appropriate, I’ll link to them and their websites.)  And d.w. eye was the very real comedy club we all performed at.

The rest of the names (e.g. people from high school, etc.) are, for the most part, changed.

If you were a teenager in the late 70’s/early 80’s – or a fan of stand-up – and other – comedy of the day, this should be right up your alley.

Thanks for taking the trip with me.

underground man


By 5th, 6th and 7th grades I was being bullied by kids of all races, creeds, and genders. Kids who were being bullied by other kids bullied me.  Disabled children bullied me. Friends let friends bully me.  Bullying me was like a local Rite of Passage.  You just weren’t anyone in Wyoming if you didn’t beat me up, first.

The rest of the first chapter of Plrknib .  Click here to continue.

a story about comedy


This is a story about comedy.

When you write a story about comedy – about anything, really – you form a contract with your reader and certain expectations are created. So if I’d written, say, a book about a dog, you might ask, well, what kind of dog? And I might say a Maltese Shih Tzu. And you might say, oh, oh, great, and start reading.

So, upon hearing that this story is about comedy, you might ask: well, is it funny? And the answer, honestly, is no.


The first chapter of Plrknib is up.  Click here to continue.

plrknib again

The second entry is up at Plrknib.  It’s called, confusingly, “Plrknib“.  It will get less confusing in the days to come, I promise.  It should be worth the wait, I think.

By the way, it’s pronounced “Plurk” (like “work”) – “Nib”.  Plrknib.  So, there you go.

Here’s a bit of what’s up there, today…


For the better part of my senior year of high school, I was Plrknib and Plrknib was me. We were one and the same. When people saw me on the street or at the club, I was Plrknib.  At Wyoming High School and at Ursuline dances, at Bogarts, and at the Losantiville Country Club, at the Corral Show and Zantigo’s, I was Plrknib.

And, briefly, it made my life much, much easier.



I’ve just launched my new site Plrknib.

More about what that is, soon.

The first entry is Possible Opening Lines.  Here’s an excerpt.


Good evening.  I’ll be your comedian for the next ten minutes.

Good evening.  My people have been persecuted for 5,784 years.

Good evening.  My grandmother just died.

Anybody kick pigeons?

This is my first stand-up.  So, if I throw-up its part of the act.


please stop with your back-to-school ads already

Can you please stop with your back-to-school ads already?  I hate back-to-school.  I have two weeks left of summer and I’d like to enjoy them sitting on my back porch getting drunk, doing nothing, and not hearing about back-to-school all the time.  I don’t care that this is your big pre-school sales season and that you will lose this incredible opportunity to sell Dora backpacks and Bieber pencil sets by the truckload.  I don’t care.  This is still MY summer.  And your back-to-school ads are pissing me off.  I hate back-to-school more than my kid and I’m not even in school.

So, if you could please wait until after Labor Day – maybe around Halloween – to start putting your back-to-school crap on every object everywhere at all times that would be really really excellent.

Thank you.

May Fete

The best day of the school year – far and away – was May Fete. On or about the second Friday in May, Wyoming Middle School (in Wyoming, OH) would transform into a massive carnival teeming with rides, food, and game booths. May Fete started at noon and went late, late into the night. And it was incredibly exciting.

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.

Continue reading “May Fete”

miserable holiday stories


I’m extremely proud to announce that my first-ever short story collection – Miserable Holiday Stories – is now available as a Kindle ebook.  The collection features 10 mostly holiday-themed pieces (actually 11; there’s an Easter egg buried in there), eight of which have appeared here and in various lit journals over the last few years.  And the whole thing is an e-steal at a $1.99!

Here’s the blurb copy from Amazon:

Throw another yule log on the fire and twist that final menorah lightbulb! Author and humorist Alex Bernstein presents a collection of quirky, bittersweet tales calculated to ruin even the most blessed festivities. No matter which holidays you celebrate, these 10 stories will have you yearning for mid-January. Featuring the recent Glimmer Train finalist (but not winner) “Brownie Mix”, the infamous chapter-book parody “The #$@!# Bicycle Boys Save Christmas, Again!”, the never-before-printed “Blue Christmas”, and stories previously appearing in such eclectic journals as The Big Jewel, Litro, Corvus, eFiction, Dysfunctional Family Story, The Legendary, Blue Print Review, and Hobo Pancakes, Miserable Holiday Stories is the perfect gift for that special someone you’d rather not ever hear from again. And cheaper than wool socks, to boot!

Click here to order on Amazon.

And a big thanks – and Happy Holidays – to all of you who have supported Prom and these momentary distractions over the last few years!