From 1999 to 2004-ish, I was one of the contributing writers for Garrison Keillor's renowned radio show "A Prairie Home Companion." I learned a lot of things there, mostly how to spell 'prairie." It was a solid gig and I'm proud of my work there. But, like any other job, there were...things...
Okay, this is one of those scripts I totally forgot about. It's like I was reading it for the first time when I pulled it off the hard drive. I'm trying to think back to the time...TV book clubs were starting to become a thing, with Oprah's leading the way. Then there was a big book, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" that was making the rounds, which must have been the inspiration for the title of the skit. And guess I was hitting back at this wave of pretentious writing that was going on at the time. People weren't writing books, they were writing tomes, these very thick and very prestigious works of fiction that were all the rage. I remember an author turning down a chance to be Oprah's pick, but I don't recall if that was before or after my sketch. And there were a book, a memoir, I believe, that was discovered to be a fraud. It was a strange time in the publishing business. And I had to think, "Pretentious books? Garrison Keillor would love to see a sketch about that, I bet!" Turns out, not so much. So, let's drag this bit out of the comedy carbon chamber and post it here...
This post may spin out into another series of posts, but in the mean time, let me share what happened to me last week...
I got a haircut! There's slightly more to it than that. I went to the hair salon and they brought me in to the available barber, an older gentleman who looked like he's been around enough scalps to handle himself. There was some initial chit-chat about the pandemic, wearing the mask, social distancing. The usual laments about the area stores not being able to open yet and how hard it is for them. Then he adds, "Yeah, somebody oughta smash Cuomo's head with a baseball bat." I got kinda quiet after that. He, however, was on a roll. "Trump's gotta send in the troops to straighten stuff out!" "How can a bartender be a senator?" (I responded, "Well, they say anyone can be president, so I guess anyone can be a senator." I should also note here, she's not a senator, but a Congresswoman.). "The cops' hands are tied! How can the people tie the cops' hands like that?" (They're the people, I didn't respond). "You know how she got to be senator?" (back to her) "She's got all that money." ("Oh," I do respond, "she's one of those rich bartenders...") I mean, I'm not going to argue with the guy. He's cutting my hair! He's got scissors! He's got a razor! I can't even simply nod (did I mention he's cutting my hair?), so I just kept saying "Uh-huh. Uh-huh." He finished up, I paid the inflated price of the haircut and gave him a decent tip for having to work during a pandemic. But I remember thinking, "This should be a skit!" Then I remembered I wrote that skit, like 30 years ago! It was apolitical, but getting a haircut from an angry barber was the premise!
The skit was preformed by the Staten Island comedy group, "Generation Sketch" back in the 90's. They recorded it for the local public access channel. I had uploaded a number of my sketches on Youtube, but I realized as I started to think about this post that I never uploaded the barber sketch! So I had to pull out my VHS tape (google it) and run it through my digital converter and here we are!
I present for the first time in a generation:
Generation Sketch: Still a Barber After All These Years
Freelance writer, still hacking away.