Sunday, May 18, 2008

My Son the Comedian

Some fathers teach their sons how to play baseball, with big dreams that their boys will play in the major leagues. My 4-year-old son doesn’t want to play baseball. He says he wants to be funny. So last weekend, I decided I’d take him to a stand-up comedy club.

I logged onto and found perhaps one of the funniest comedians on the comedy circuit today, New Jersey’s Bad Boy of Comedy, Mike Marino. I wrote him an e-mail and told him my son wants to be a comedian, and then I asked if he had any advice for him. (My son is, in fact, pretty darn funny. But he’d need to do his homework if he was going to compete with the talent currently out there.)

Within a day or two, Marino emailed me back and said he’d get us into one of his upcoming shows. There he’d introduce my boy to the world of comedy. My son was very excited.

The bar was packed when my son and I arrived. While waiting for Marino to go on stage, the two of us ordered some cocktails. I got a Roy Rogers and my son got a Shirley Temple.

Some fathers play catch with their sons. My son and I were sipping drinks, eagerly anticipating the show that night, and discussing the standup comedy club surroundings.

“That big man over by the door -- the man the size and build of an M4 Sherman tank -- he’s called a bouncer,” I told my son. I went into all the details of a bouncer’s position, the same way some fathers might explain the position of a baseball catcher or pitcher. And I did the same with all the other positions in a comedy club so that my son would know all the comedy field’s players.

During the conversation, Marino found us and came over to our table to say hello before he went on stage. He told us about how he got into stand-up comedy, what it takes to become a comedian, and how he used his comedy talent to get into the movie biz. Before Marino left our table, I got him to sign my son’s toy microphone -- the microphone I bought him to use for his comedy routines (in place of the catcher’s mitt I would’ve bought him had he been interested in baseball).

The show finally started, but we had to sit through a few other comedians’ acts before Marino was on. My son couldn’t wait to see Marino perform, as I’d shown him a few of Marino’s video clips on My son was anxious to see him in person. My boy loves Marino’s bit about an Italian from Jersey as president of the United States, ending the war by sending two guys from the neighborhood overseas to whack Osama bin Laden with a baseball bat.

And speaking of baseball, had my son been interested in the sport, the two of us would’ve been sleeping at 11 p.m. on a Saturday night, getting in a good night’s rest before waking up early for a Sunday morning game. Instead, we were spending a boys’ night out at the club talking about the delicate use of the “F” word in a comedy routine. I told my son that he couldn’t use the word at all in his routines until he was old enough. I think he understood.

After the show, Marino came back to our table and talked about comic timing, how set-ups relate to punch lines, and so on. My son took it all in. I think he’s got the stuff that comedians are made of. Marino agreed.

Yes, I’m the proud father of a 4-year-old kid with a future in stand-up comedy. Last weekend, my son hosted his first open mike routine at our house to a sold-out garage. All the neighbors were in attendance.

Afterward, everyone went to Lampost Pizza and celebrated my son’s successful routine. (We had to share the place with a youth baseball team that won their first game.) And that’s when I woke up, realizing it had all been a weird dream.

But was it? Shortly after waking up, I found a Mike Marino autographed microphone in my son’s bedroom.

-April 2008

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