Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Sampling of My Worst Bits

When you've influenced as many comics as I have, people want to know about the evolution of your act. "How did you get so brilliant?" they wonder. Well believe it or not, even Mike Payne has a clunker or three in his past. Since I'm nothing if not humble, I thought I'd share some censorship-inspiring jokes from my early days to show the young guys that even visionaries have missteps. I've tried to recreate them word for word, but some remain incomplete. Most are from my first eight or so months in comedy.


So I'm sure you all heard about the Lilith Fair. The all female tour. The celebration of women in music. Actually, it's just like every other tour, but instead of throwing underwear at the performers, the audience threw fetuses on stage.

This was actually my signature bit for most of my first year in comedy. And while there were times when it generated complaints and threats of banishment, it usually got decent laughs. But like a true artist, I was soon scorning my biggest hit by phoning it in the way Nirvana did with "Smells Like Teen Spirit". I'm not a jukebox, man!

There are all kinds of bars now. Internet bars. Sci-fi bars. Oxygen bars. So I've decided to cash in on this trend by starting my own line of chemotherapy bars. That's right. The sign on the front door will say: "No shirt, no shoes, no body hair no required. They'll serve Bloodless Marys. Pale ale will always be on sale. And when it's last call, the Grim Reaper will walk around the bar, and the bartender will say, "You don't have to croak at home, but you can't die here!"

Chicks are walking past the bar, drunk frat boys are like "Show your tit!"

I have absolutely no recollection of where this bit came from, which is unfortunate, because I'd like to make sure that attic of unfunny stays closed forever. Believe it or not, this was a hit or miss joke, with a decent percentage of hits. Either we live in a society with no standards of any kind, or I'm even more magnetic than I realize.

Have you seen these Play-It-Again Sports stores? Where you can buy and sell used sports equipment? Well, I was down South recently where hunting is a big thing, so down there they have a place called Shoot-It-Again Animals.

You go in, you see a deer with a walker. There's a squirrel with a bulletproof vest. And if you can't afford anything, they just hand you a used fly swatter.

I'm nearly positive there was another punchline before the fly swatter crescendo, but cruelly, it has been lost to time. If you look closely, you'll see the punchlines for "Shoot-It-Again Animals" follow roughly the same formula as the ones in the chemo-bar bit. But hey, how many times did Van Gogh paint a cornfield? I rest my case.

Have you heard about this game Tombraider featuring Laura Croft? Well, apparently she's some chick with cleavage who goes around fighting zombies, and now she's become this feminist icon. So now they've got this new game, I don't know if you've heard about it…it's called Wombraider.

The game starts: She walks into a building, and pro-lifers drop from the ceiling. Social workers start coming out of the ground. And when you get to the last level, you wind up fighting a giant coat hanger.

I think there was also a punchline mentioning "Roe" sprinkled in somewhere. When I wrote this, I was working at a Subway restaurant (not as a sandwich artist, but as a sandwich artiste), and I remember jotting this masterful play on words on one of their brown, not so absorbent paper towels. I think the word Wombraider happened to pop in my head and I unwisely tried to force a bit around it. My mental image of the theoretical game was something like Castlevania. And while I’m convinced Wombraider would make a fine Playstation experience, it did not make a fine bit.

I was at this bar the other night, and the second I walked in, a loose woman pointed at me and said "You're next!" I was like, "Hey, thanks for stroking my ego!" They should have a fragrance for that: 'Next, For Mike Payne.'

[Sniff, sniff] "Hey, is that Old Spice you're wearing?" No, it's 'Caboose, For Frat Boys.'

Okay, so a gal who had slept with two of my friends on consecutive weeks really did greet me on the third week with a firm "You're next!" And because I was still in that phase all comics have where I thought anything funny that happened offstage would be equally hilarious onstage, I decided to make it my opener. I'm amazed to report it usually did well.

It's always good when you can work the term "frat boy" into a bit. It lets you evoke images of date rape/assorted groping without the risk of chilling the crowd with an outright date rape/groping reference. Also, the women always laugh to show their disdain for frat boys, even though 99% of them came to the show with one. And the men laugh to show their girlfriend they weren't a frat boy and that it was just a coincidence their dorm room was called the Red Roofie Inn. And the comic gets to show the ladies in the crowd he's not like those perverted frat boys, even though getting chicks is 99% of the reason he got into comedy in the first place.

If you take the time to examine this joke, you'll notice it doesn't make the slightest bit of sense. How the hell do you get from being demoralized about a whore telling you it's your turn to a wacky cologne bearing your name? This joke exists in such a logic vacuum you could pretty much replace the cologne with any other item without altering the essence. Let's give it a try:

I was at this bar the other night, and the second I walked in, a loose woman pointed at me and said "You're next!" I was like, "Hey, thanks for stroking my ego!" They should make a car for that. The Next Roadster, Mike Payne Edition.

[Vroom, vroom] Hey, is that a Corvette you're driving? No, it's the Caboose; a frat boy utility vehicle.

Watch out kids, papa's got a brand new opener!

Early on I also had a horrible zinger about driving through West Virginia, but I can only remember snippets of two of the punchlines. One was something about people in West Virginia being so unevolved that employers have to provide "devolution insurance," and the other involved driving past a "dental pawn shop." Probably in the same strip mall as Shoot-It-Again Animals and the chemotherapy bar.

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