Now THAT's Entertainment (In Loving Memory)  

rm_TappyTibbins 40M
49 posts
5/17/2005 5:17 pm

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm

Now THAT's Entertainment (In Loving Memory)

He almost missed the jitters, the fear of the crowd. Henry stared at himself in the mirror. His hair was pulling back, running away from the gathering wrinkles on his forehead. There was a knock at the door. “Come in, Chuck.”

Charles Fischer did the entertainment booking for the hotel; booking acts almost as long as Henry had been doing them. Henry turned to face him and saw him take a good hit from a small bottle of vodka.

“Bad news, Chuck?”

“How long we known each other Hank?”

“Do I know you?” Henry tried to force a smile.

“What the hell’s going on with you, Hank? I remember when you used to be funny.”

“What, you mean like last night?”

“I mean like last year. I mean like I don’t remember when. You used to really pack ‘em in. Now…”

“C’mon Chuck, don’t give me that shit. It’s not me. You know how it is. And the economy…”

“And for Pete’s sake, no more economy jokes okay? People who come here want to laugh, not to feel worse. You’ve gotten too bitter, too depressing. I mean, I know that Ginny put you through the ringer an’ all, but shit Henry, people don’t want to hear that stuff.”

“What are you telling me?”

“I mean that you can’t pack them in anymore like you used to. And if bar sales go down then it’s my ass. You’ve gotta make ‘em laugh. Tonight. Otherwise…” They passed the vodka back and forth for a few more minutes. Then Chuck looked at his watch. “You’re on.”

The lights on the stage were bright and Henry gave his eyes a few seconds to adjust. There were maybe four or five couples in the audience. The room had 26 tables. “Hi there folks. My name’s Henry Winterfield. I’ll be your humour for the evening.” The couples spoke softly to each other. He thought that maybe one of the men in the back might be looking in his direction, but he couldn’t be sure. The lights were too bright. “C’mon now folks, I played a funeral a few years back that was more lively than this.”

“Maybe you should go back there,” one of the drunks yelled from the back of the room.

“Thank you sir. I didn’t realize the media was in the audience tonight.” He tried to hurry on with his routine. “So did you hear the one about gay tap dancer?”

“Yeah, you told that one last night!” yelled the drunk from the back.

“You were here last night?” Henry replied. “Well then I guess we’re both stupid. Except that I’m being paid for this.”

“If I’m here tomorrow then I should get paid for this,” yelled the drunk. The crowd applauded. Henry gave up. He pulled the microphone out of its stand and sat on the edge of the stage, letting his feet dangle.

“All I wanted was to make you laugh,” he said to no one in particular.

“So go on then,” yelled one of the women near the front.

He was out of words. The stage lights went off and then on again. The band struck up a tune and a string of sagging chorus line dancers ran on stage and began to kick.

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