He repeated his material from show to show, but hey, who didn't? That's how comics refine, and besides, for us regulars it was like hearing favorite songs.
Steve was really supportive. I tried my hand at standup, and after my first night he told me I delivered the strongest first standup session he'd ever seen. Maybe he said that to all the boys, but it made me feel floaty.
(Side note: one thing I learned from doing this is that when you do some weak standup, and a solemn-faced young woman approaches you to say "You were really funny," what she's really saying is "I am really lonely." So be nice to her.)
I remember once he introduced a friend of his at the open mike, and proceeded to hang his head in embarrassment for said friend as the friend (oh, let's call him Chuck) delivered a puzzling attempt at humor. He was a likable, gangly guy, but his jokes seemed like improvised remarks in the noble tradition of Mort Sahl only dumb. I only remember one thing he said:
"It's hard to be a Christian in the South! Everybody takes the Lord's name in vain! Why don't they take someone else's name in vain instead?" This is an oldie but a goodie on the Christian Comedy circuit, but that first line was perplexing. Did Chuck mean southern Saudi Arabia? The Southeastern US probably presents fewer challenges to Christians than anywhere else in the word 'cept maybe the Holy See.
After a while we began to wish Steve would cook up some new material, even if it wasn't as strong. Once Steve delivered a new joke, but I'd first heard it from my friend J'miza. I recounted this to J'miza, who muttered "That nigga loves to steal jokes." (Steve's whiteness might bear a mention here.)
The open mike shows and I drifted apart as I got more involved in community theatre (tediously documented on this blog's back pages) and I didn't see Steve for a while. Eventually my friend Chauncey told me, "I saw Steve doing a show out of town last week. He's still doing the same jokes about fast food." I began to wonder who had written Steve's original material. Had a ghost writer crafted the stuff? If Steve wrote it himself, why wasn't there more where that came from?
And then, years later, I got a Fecesbook friend request from Steve. I accepted, and discovered that:
- He's a defense attorney
- He's a Ron Paul fanatic
- His Fecesbook posts aren't jokes.
He offered up a free downloadable album of his comedy. I eagerly downloaded it, but found it less delightful than I'd remembered. I find recordings of most standup to be a bit underwhelming (Minnie Pearl is an exception for some reason) so it may just be the lack of his physical presence. I noticed, though, that a spirit of "Afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable" rippled through the comedy; not consistently so, but it was there. A lot of ethnic humor that didn't engage other cultures; not that a comic can't play that game, but a white male child of privilege might want to be thoughtful about it in a way Steve didn't seem to be. Some slut shaming. Some virgin shaming. Some low-on-the-economic-totem-pole shaming. All's fair in comedy, or so I thought in the mid-Oughts, but it wasn't sitting too well with me half a decade later.
And my lack of laffs wasn't directly tied to my politically correct objections; heaven knows I can still enjoy some down and dirty comedy.
I wound up deleting most of the album. I kept a few golden bits to remember him, and then, by.
Steve posted an article about how his firm, with himself involved, got a man off charges of murdering his wife. Were they saving a poor man who'd lost his spouse, only to be falsely charged with her death? Or were they getting a killer off? I don't suppose I'll ever know, but I suppose it was their job either way.
Anyway, this past week saw Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. For the benefit of the not-impossible future reader of this epistle who isn't a scholar of corny sociopolitical brouhahas, the owner of Chick-Fil-A came out and said that he donates a portion of profits to anti-gay causes. His choice, but some gay rights supporters called for a boycott, and in return conservative person Mike Huckabee called for "Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day." It became a thing. Lots of anti-gay types, many of them politicians, showed up at their local branches of Chick-Fil-A to gobble down some mall food and photo-op it up.
Steve, who had seemed to be slightly sympathetic to bullied gays in his standup, posted something to the effect of "This Chick-Fil-A food is as delicious as freedom! Long live Christianity and Chick-Fil-A!" And no, it wasn't a joke. He didn't go for that brand of irony. Fed up, I commented "Kil Mor Homos" in response.
He deleted my comment, and I finally defriended him. Was I trying to goad him into giving me an excuse? Maybe. I'm sure he'll be fine. I'm sure I will too. It's a long way from being the most regrettable relationship conclusion in my 38 years on this earth.