The Last Laugh
(Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood)
Hi, my name is Hymie Ludicrus and feel free to laugh. I love laughter directed at me.
At parties, people would break up when I gave them my name.
What’s in a name, right?
Those party folks gave impetus to my being as funny as I possibly could. The ‘life of the party’, that was me (or, ‘I’, if you want me to show I know a bit about grammar). I didn’t leave the party with a girl – I had this crazy looking nose: it went down so far, then dipped and went further down almost to my upper lip…made eating and drinking some interesting experiences, particularly at a classy joint.
I remember as a kid, I didn’t get a lot of laughs with my name because the other kids didn’t have the vocabulary to connect my last name. Of course, my first name ‘Hymie’ would get a laugh now and then. Hey, it’s true, some people have very strange names one can use for comedy.
One kid on the varsity football team had the last name, Chitwood. I played with that name in my mind for quite a while until I came up with something. Chitwood was a pal so I knew he wouldn’t deck me or anything – probably, just laugh along with me and our other buddies. So, our little group came out of Assembly one morning, walking to our next class, and I say to Chitwood: I’ve got you figured out, Chitwood. He says with a smile: Okay, wise guy, how am I figured? I make sure the group is tuned in to what’s being said, so I say: Is it true, Chitwood, that you eat sawdust and shit 2×4’s?
All in the group laughed, but Chitwood chased me all the way to my next class…which just happened to be English. I wondered if our attractive old maid English teacher would enjoy the question I asked of Chitwood. Anyway, it wasn’t long before the entire football team was razzing my buddy, Chitwood, with my little mind quip. (Incidentally, you folks reading this, sorry for using the word, ‘shit’, but ‘crap’ just didn’t have the alliteration I needed…)
Well, let the record show I tried to become a real-life comic, worked on routines days and nights and finally got my shot at the Scottsdale Comedy Club. There was not a time in my life when I was so excited, and those ‘butterflies’ were giving me fits long before my Saturday night ‘gig’ – I was so proud I could now use a word (‘gig’) other comics, singers, and groups used.
My entry on stage I worked on relentlessly before the big night came. With a large crowd in the audience, I heard my name booming from the microphone. I swallowed hard, took a deep breath, brushed the backstage curtain aside, and walked on stage. People were cheering and applauding though they didn’t even know me.
Halfway toward the mike, in full view of the audience, I stumbled and fell (the routine I had worked on). The crowd was mixed with ‘oohs’ and laughter. When I got back on my feet, I gave them my grimaces, my head jerks, my crazy gyrations – all of which I worked on for weeks. When I grabbed the mike, I said: Is there a doctor in the house? A very pretty lady will work fine, as long as I can see her credentials… Only modest, likely, courteous laughter.
That entrance was to break my opening jitters and loosen up the crowd, and, to some degree, it did. My Shtick went over very well, got some good laughs, even used my crooked nose and a girlfriend I didn’t have in many of my routines,
Management invited me back. I started making a few bucks, hired an agent, Gail Pepper, fell in love with her, and, oddly, she with me. Her nose was a bit like mine, only smaller…kissing was a bit of a chore. (Laugh cue card, please!)
I started every comedy performance with the same joke – mostly for the new people in the crowd, but the ‘regulars’ loved it and roared every time I told it. It became my ‘signature routine’, with all the gyrations and facial expressions…
Two good friends are playing golf at their beautiful country club course. Both players are ‘scratch golfers’ and play the first six holes with no one in front of them. Both guys hit booming drives down the middle on the long par five 560-yard seventh hole. When they approach their second shots, they see a couple of women ahead of them some two hundred yards. The women are chopping up the fairway grass, hitting their balls maybe five or ten yards with each swing, unmindful of the players behind them. The guys are really getting fed up with the waiting… Finally, one of the guys tells his buddy, ‘Hey, I’m going to run up there and tell them to let us play through’. So, the guy runs up the fairway, gets within twenty yards of the women, stops, and runs back to his playing partner. ‘Wow, Jerry’! the guy says, ‘I almost made a terrible mistake: one of those women is my wife, and the other is my mistress’… So, the other guy says, ‘Hell, I’ll run up and tell them to let us play through’. Jerry runs up the fairway and gets within twenty yards of the women, stops, and runs back down the fairway to his playing partner. ‘My God! Freddy, small world, isn’t it’? (Laugh cue card, please!)
The small world was my ‘oyster’ for many years. Gail and I bought our dream home. We had a son (Brooks) and a daughter (Belinda). We doted on them. Thank God! they both had their mother’s smaller nose, and, with no hooks. Our life was full. Gail and I bought and ran our own comedy house. We featured some top comedians and made lots of money.
I still did my gigs but somewhere along the way lost the sharp edges to my routines. At what would become my last performance, ironically enough, at the Scottsdale Comedy Club, it was not my finest hour.
My Shtick was stuck in neutral most of the night, but the crowd loved me: they even brought me presents – I just don’t know where the hell they got them. In fact, they threw them at me, big lush juicy tomatoes…just their way of showing they loved me!
As a closing routine, I stumbled and fell going off the stage and got the longest, loudest laugh of the night.
It turned out I got the last laugh.
Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood – June 20, 2017
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