“Naked Postal Zone” was written by Margot and taped by Doug. Margie’s writing is typically other-wordly and Doug did a good job of capturing a film noir quality. He later added the scratch marks to make it look aged.

Chucklehead’s “Octopus Tart” Sketch

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This sketch was one of the earliest we did, by Margot Sheehan, and it made a comeback when we were at La Mama. Margot’s skits were all twisted in a sort of whimsical way. This is like a Mary Poppins song on acid. Whenever the actors got bored with a script, they would add an edge to it. (When Michael got bored, she would play the characters as drunks, just for the hell of it.) Here, Mark (Cubby) Sarto appears to be getting increasingly frustrated with the rube played by the late, great Steve Salter that he seems ready to tear his arms off!

Marketing “Tales”

It started with a message on my answering machine. The voice sounded like that of an Indian woman, and the only syllables I could understand were “Tale o’ de Troupe,” which were repeated several times. The next time the person called, I picked up. I immediately explained that I couldn’t understand a thing that was being said, and offered up my e-mail address.

It was a book marketing company based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, but I’m convinced they do a lot of outsourcing. I asked about that in an e-mail and got no response. When I finally got copies of the e-mail ad (allegedly sent to one million recipients) and the media release, I was interested in the very idiomatic English. For example, the title of the press release was “Bumping with This Tricky World’s Unexpected Twists.” In paragraph one, it says “People have their respective roles and characters to play; these characters are just beginning to learn who they are. There’s nothing in the world that lasts so everyone is responsible for making his own life precious by letting go of expectations and enjoying the joy that life brings.” These were ideas that I shared with the company, but their phrasing was quite different. I decided to go with the weird wording just for the hell of it.

My friend Helen shared an image of some woman in Nairobi, holding the phone in one hand and holding an infant to her breast in the other—and being the breadwinner for dozens of family members. I didn’t make a single sale from these peoples’ efforts.

One day in January, however, I got an e-mail from someone who had bought the book off his Website but it hadn’t arrived. I promptly looked at Paypal and, sure enough, this person had ordered a copy. I sent it to her immediately. It turns out she was someone I was drinking with at the local pub, The Black Cow, during last year’s blackout, with whom I discussed my books. So, I’ve decided that drinking at the Cow is a good marketing strategy and I plan to do it often.

Alan Hale Junior’s Seafood Sauce Commercial by Chucklehead

I was deeply touched when fellow Chucklehead writer Anne said she liked this ad, because I’m pretty sure I wrote it. It was part of our last show, called “Stocks and Prawns,” a mish-mash of weird story lines barely glued together. My goal was to make the most disgusting commercial imaginable, starting with “What’s that smell? It’s shrimpy the shrimp!” and “Can I lick the bag?” Steve, as the voice of Shrimpy, added a speech impediment, and Cubby and Rose played really repulsive little kids with seafood sauce all over their faces. You can read the whole story of shooting “Stocks and Prawns” in my Tale, “Requiem for Sea Captain Frank.”

Chucklehead and “Crazy Eddie” Song

I have no idea when this was taped. It was forwarded to me by Anne, who was one of the Chucklehead writers. Jay, Michael, Ronnie, and Mark are all in it. To earn some scratch, the Chucklehead performers performed in all kinds of ads for Crazy Eddie, which was a discount purveyor of electronics. The spokesguy used to end every commercial with “His prices are INSANE!!!” Can’t wait to get to the bottom of this one.

Chuckle Triplex by Chucklehead

We used the Chucklehead Multiplex format to run three quick movie parodies. I was not around for these particular shoots. I’m guessing Cubby made the car–and got plenty of funny looks while “driving” it down the street. Since our short-lived director during that time, Randy Kovitz, was a professional fight director, it was inevitable that we would have some fight scenes, as in “Singles of Fury,” and Chandler Sante and Michael Huston had actually practiced karate. Randy didn’t last long as director only because the troupe was too large and unruly for him. I’m guessing “Sambo,” in which Steve Salter played the title role, was shot in Central Park.

The Hot Dog Boys of Summer by Chucklehead

This is another of our infamous guerilla shoots in New York City–somewhere near the West End Highway by the looks of it. Matt and Mark already had done some acting together, so their improv was very well done. It takes true genius to pull off stupid so well. One of the writers, Anne, played the nice lady who gives them money. I’m not sure what the hot dog guy thought was going on.

Matt disappeared from the troupe fairly early on. What I remember most about him was that he was constantly getting hit on the head. Once we presented him with a birthday cake, and as he was cutting it, a flat fell on his head. (It was almost as if we set him up but we didn’t.) Another time, at a pool in New Jersey, an ambulance showed up. I asked Mark was the problem was, and he just said, “Matt,” shaking his head. Matt had somehow sustained a head wound.

Anyway, we amused ourselves . . .

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