I’m staying in the Kingston Absolute Comedy condo with fellow comedians Andrew Evans and Andrew Vaughan, it’s been a good week. No one exploded eggs, turned the thermostat up to 300º, or got sand in their ass because of a lost gate key. There was a few crazy moments to be sure, but one of the funniest things of the entire week involved nothing more than a sharpie, and two lines drawn on a statue. It managed to walk the line of creepy and funny, all at the same time. Behold the birth of the creepy puppy.
Most comedy condos are sparsely furnished with stuff the owner found at Goodwill or the side of the highway, and living in them for even one night should constitute an increase in pay. The beds suck. The bathrooms suck. If they even have a kitchen, it’s barely one step above a microwave and a beer cooler. The sad part is the some comedians are such helpless children that they would be labelled “hot” and “cold” respectively. If there is a fridge, it’s full of condiments but no food. I once counted 13 half emptied bottles of mustard in one particular fridge. Thirteen. That means that multiple comics got in to town, went to the grocery store, and purchased a fresh bottle of mustard, either knowing that there was already mustard in the refrigerator (but didn’t trust it), or never bothered to look. The part that makes me scratch my head is; no one bothered to throw the previous mustard or ketchup out.
Tons of ketchup, oodles of mustard, none of which will ever get used. None of which will get tossed either. It just sits there, week after week, getting older and browner. It’s like a hospice for condiments. We can’t get rid of it, so we’ll just let it languish on the fridge door until something happens that takes care of it for us. I view the ketchup/mustard phenomenon as a microcosm of a larger situation; no one gives a shit. The person that cleans the condo leaves it there, most likely thinking, “Meh, somebody will probably use it.” One might think that after the 7th or 8th bottle of ketchup that common sense would kick in, but apparently it doesn’t.
What does this have to do with a statue and a sharpie? I don’t really know. I don’t think my adderall has kicked in yet.
Oh yeah, I remember now. Aside from the crappy mattress that was given to the club by a woman who got it from her sister who got it from their great aunt who got it from Woolworth’s for 73¢, and aside from the cathode ray tube television that doesn’t even have RCA jack ports on it, there’s the “decorations”. Sometimes there’s none at all, so the condo looks like a flop house or mob hideout, but when there is “decor” it’s of the same level as the bedding. Acquired.
It’s stuff that was acquired at a flea market, estate sale, or dollar store. I’d guess that most of it is given to the club because someone’s great aunt died and it would be a shame to let that turtle lamp go to waste. It’s about as random as the miscellaneous utensils one finds in the condo kitchen. It makes no sense, and was put there because it was free. It also goes unnoticed. No one pays attention to the paintings on the walls, or the kick-knacks on the shelf, they fade into the background and most comics don’t even notice them. I’ve seen statues that make no sense at all adorning the shelves, and fake plants that still have the masking tape price that says $2 stuck to them. No one notices this stuff, which is why I bring it in.
I’ll go to the dollar store, flea markets, salvation army, and I’ll buy the most random bizarre item I can find, and leave it in the comedy condo as if it’s always been there. I’ve left thimbles, unsettling paintings, slightly offensive ceramic figurines, and a lot of small statues. Statues are my favorite because they get noticed the least. I forget a lot of what I introduce to the comedy condos, so I’m not entirely sure that I wasn’t the one to add the puppy statue to the Absolute Kingston condo. It may have been someone else’s doing, but it might have been mine; it has all the markings of being my work. It’s a random cute puppy statue, mouth open, adorable by any measure. And totally, completely, random.
If it wasn’t my handiwork before, it most certainly is now. Upon discussion of said statue, I decided to alter it a bit. Andrew #1 (Evans) was riding my ass about labelling all of my belongings with “Storck” (so I know what to grab when I’m leaving for the next gig) and wondered why I hadn’t labelled the puppy statue yet. I saw an opportunity and quickly grabbed the nearest sharpie marker, and made my way towards my newly discovered canvas. In mid stride it occurred to me that writing my name on it would be funny for about 15 seconds, and then it would just look like juvenile vandalism with little thought behind it. Not my style. I want staying power.
I changed my artistic vision in a nano-second, and with sharpie in hand I went to work. It was simple yet elegant, two simple strokes of the brush that communicated so much. An upward sloping eyebrow here, another eyebrow there, and that was all that was needed to keep us laughing for hours. Deep laughter. We laughed harder at those two simple lines than we had laughed all week at anything that happened on stage. It was the kind of laugh that gets spurred on by simply looking at something and remembering, the contagious laugh that one person initiates, and immediately infects all those who know the joke. Those two upward eyebrows turned a cute, benign puppy statue, into a creepy piece of decor. It’s the type of creepy that you wouldn’t notice if you’re not looking for it, it creates a subconscious sensation of unease. Like when there’s someone watching you from a distance with malicious intent, but you can’t put your finger on why you feel uncomfortable.
For the foreseeable future, comedians will come and go, but the creepy puppy will never waver. His slightly sinister gaze will make them uneasy but they won’t know why. It’s just subtle enough that they might not be able to put their finger on why they feel odd. I’m happy that I will be leaving this comedy condo just a little bit weirder than I found it.