” That was until the Yiddish-singing piano player, slotted to go before me, took the stage. When I opened the door and saw the inside, I almost had a panic attack. Name tags were to be worn at all times, and besides random drug tests there would be quizzes on the differences between muster stations and embarkation stations, weather-tight and fire doors, crew alerts and general emergency alarms, when to use a C02 fire extinguisher or a dry chemical one, what “alpha” and “daco” codes were, and how to identify a mass casualty incident.This guy annihilated so hard that at the end of his set, an old lady in a sunhat slipped him a number and said, “I got a daughter in Queens. “That’s where the shows are at, but first we got a ‘welcome aboard’ show. It was tiny, no windows, bare floor with a bed, a small desk, and a bathroom where I discovered later that, to fit onto the toilet, I had to jam both legs into the shower stall. My act would be graded based on such criteria as “Did comic receive big laughs at regular intervals? ” There were select allowable words for “family shows.” “Change ‘hell’ to ‘heck,’” the pamphlet read, “‘damn’ to ‘darn,’ ‘bitch’ to ‘witch,’ ‘sucks’ to ‘stinks,’” and “avoid words like ‘sex’ and ‘gay’ as well.” I had a total of two “family shows” and three or four regular shows, plus one “welcome aboard” show.There was a doo-wop group, a “human statue of liberty,” a boy band, a flamenco dancer, and a piano player from New York who sang in Yiddish. Once ensconced, I studied the pamphlet I’d been given.
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Then there was the crew – the grunts mostly Filipino and Indian, the officers and the captain, who loved making unintelligible announcements at random junctures, Italian.
There was a running joke among the ship’s crew about the captain: “Knock, Knock” “Who’s there? ” “.” Americans were conspicuously absent from the crew, replaced by a bunch of people who were all probably really good at soccer.
t started as it often does in showbiz: I had to make a room full of old Jews laugh. A friend of mine who’d done ten years at Lorton Penitentiary once described the same routine.
It was during a showcase of performers trying out for gigs on cruise ships at a theater in Miami. The rest of the time was spent fighting guys who were trying to rape him – with mixed results.
Needless to say, I hadn’t stockpiled material children could relate to.
Afterward I got a note from the entertainment director to remove the phrase “knowing each other biblically” and my tried-and-true swear substitute “mother-flower.” But the good news was that “Johnson” was acceptable.
Apparently there was a ping-pong table set up next to his piano, and he hated when people played during his set.
So day after day the passengers would arrive at the table and find the paddles missing.
On one tape they saw the piano player throwing the paddles overboard at around midnight. Then, during the later shows I figured I’d try letting it all hang out a bit more. Jameson, please report to the front office or make yourself known to a crewmember…” I went back to sleep.