Thursday August 19th, 2010 - Ocho Rios, Jamaica
One of the most enjoyable parts of comedy is becoming friends with comedians. We are a different breed to say the least, and many of us share similar traits. Being a dented can is one of them, but not all. I’ve found comedians as a whole to be of above average intellect and believe it or not, very sensitive as well. Many times, a stage persona is only for stage.
Bobby Slayton is a perfect example. He’s billed as ‘The Pit Bull of Comedy’ and he has a gruff demeanor and gravely voice. He can tear apart an audience and especially hecklers but off stage he’s a very sweet mellow guy, at least the times I’ve met him. I like him a lot and although we’ve only worked a few times, we hit it off immediately. We had synergy.
More often than not that’s how it is with real comedians. I use that term carefully. There are people who do comedy for a living who aren’t real comedians. They’re in it for lots of other reasons, and that’s their choice. They usually get weeded out eventually, but I don’t pay them any mind. I prefer to hang with the people who eat, sleep and breathe comedy.
It’s in them, a part of their soul. If comedy didn’t pay, (and often it doesn’t) they’d still get in front of that audience. Comedy is a craft, and craftspeople WORK at it for the rest of their natural lives. Fame or not, fortune or not, real comedians will never quit working.
I’ve crossed paths with hundreds of real comedians in my day and I never get sick of the experience. I enjoy their company, and we never run out of things to talk about. If it’s not about comedy itself, it’s about bookers, gigs, new places to work and all sorts of things in and around the topic of comedy. One would think it would get boring, but it never does.
This week on the ship the other comedian is a guy from New Orleans who bills himself as ‘Mutzie’. I admit I did a double take when I saw his name on my itinerary, but that’s it. I’d never heard that name before, and I had no idea if it was a male, female or animal act.
It turns out it’s a he, and a very nice one. For whatever reason, I’ve always found every comedian I’ve ever met from New Orleans to be fantastic people. I can’t stand the actual town itself, with all it’s filth and debauchery, but that’s me. The comedians are top shelf.
I can think of people like Sammie Martin, “The Silver Fox” John Schnauder and a guy named “Red Bean” of all things, and every one of those guys are quality people. I think a nickname must be a prerequisite of being a New Orleans comic and Mutzie is a good one.
It rhymes with ‘Tootsie’, and the guy is just loaded with charisma. He’s got that rhythm in his speech that New Orleans people have, and it’s magnetic. He has a little lisp in there too and sounds kind of like professional wrestler Dusty Rhodes. He’s a natural performer.
Mutzie and I hit it off immediately, and I can tell he’s been a road warrior for a lifetime just as I have. He said he started in 1984 just as I did, and has been slugging it out on the road ever since. Three weeks on the ships, three real comedians. This is a perk of the job.