celebrity piranha kicking

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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.

JOHN: Hi!

FRANK: Gee, chums, hello.

TED: LET’S ROCK!

 

The third chapter of Plrknib keeps on keeping on.  Click here to continue.

©2016 Bernstein/Doster

the six pistols

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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.

what it is

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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 www.plrknib.com.  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

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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

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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.

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plrknib

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.

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fourth of july

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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 expode 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.

reethe cupth

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My piece Reethe Cupth is now up at Winamop.

1972. Fourth grade.

Every Wednesday, after school, I car-pooled across town to this tenement Hebrew school in Cincinnati with my sister and two other sets of local children we couldn’t stand, the Siegels and the Lipschitz’. Karen Lipschitz was the worst human alive. Incredibly mean. She was twelve and stocky and had this big blonde permy afro, and wore grandmother clothes and Coke-bottle glasses. She looked like Little Orphan Annie’s mutant twin. And I had a bad lisp at the time and she would tease me, mercilessly.

And one day, at the religious school canteen…

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summer camp tips 2

When you dive into a pool, don’t have someone hold your legs.

When I was about eight years old I had my first lesson in diving at the Camp Wildbrook pool in Cincinnati. 

Initially, diving terrified me.  My thinking went:  if I dive headfirst, the entire pool will enter my nose, and I’ll drown – or – somehow the liquid, watery water will magically harden and I’ll break my neck.  And so on.  My mind zipped through endless configurations where I drowned or became paralyzed.  So, I’d stand by the edge of the pool, head down, arched over, arms in perfect V-formation – and then jump into the pool. 

But the Camp Wildbrook swim instructor had an ingenious idea to help kids like me.

“I’ll hold your legs,” she said.  “And you dive in.”

I was incredulous.  Oh, sure.  Like that makes sense!  That way when I crack my skull – my legs will still be poolside, already paralyzed.  No thanks! 

Over and over she’d try to hold my legs still.  But I’d always wriggle free and flail into the water, heads-up, sideways, belly-flop.

“How was that?!” I’d say.

And she’d smile and sort-of half nod and shake her head.

A few years later, I overcame my fear and learned the proper way to dive.  In fact, I love diving now and continue to this day.  Though never off the high board.  That’s too scary, and I’m sure the water actually would harden if I ever tried that.