Hello [city]! Thank you. Good to be here.
So I was on the main drag here in [city] and I saw an automobile gussied up with flames. Have you ever seen one of these cars? What exactly do the flames communicate? “My car goes so fast it catches on fire”? I don’t know about that. Fighter jets go pretty fast and they don’t catch on fire. Andy Green, the guy who holds the land speed record, went 763 miles per hour and his jet-propelled car didn’t catch on fire. So I think what these flames actually communicate is “My car is having a serious malfunction and is bursting into flames. Help me.”
So I was talking to a guy and I said I used to go to college in Olympia. He asked me, “Which Olympia?” I was like, “Seriously, guy? Do you think I might mean the unincorporated community in Missouri? The place with a history so unremarkable it can be summarized in three lines on Wikipedia? And one of those lines just says that a post office opened in 1899 and closed in 1907? Yeah, that’s the Olympia I mean. That’s where I went to college. Or maybe I mean Olympia, Greece, the site of the ancient Olympic Games. Yep, The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Greece! My Russian literature class met two nights a week in the Prytaneion! Seminar was held in the Nymphaeum of Herodes Atticus!”
Like I said, I used to live in Olympia. Now I live in Pittsburgh. PGH. The ‘burgh. People in Pittsburgh like the Penguins. Love the Penguins. But did you know there is not a single genuine penguin on the team? Really. All human males. And there isn’t a single panther on any of the University of Pittsburgh Panther teams. Not on the basketball teams, not on the softball team, not even on the wrestling team. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel a sports team’s name should more accurately reflect the characteristics of its players. How about the Pittsburgh Hockey Players? Or the University of Pittsburgh College Students?
Actually, I’m glad the names of these sports teams don’t reflect their players. Can you imagine going to a University of Richmond basketball game and seeing a bunch of spiders playing basketball? It would be terrifying. Or the Detroit Lions? You probably wouldn’t leave the stadium alive.
I like sports. I like the Penguins. I like music too. I was thinking about the Ramones the other day. Joey Ramone, Johnny Ramone, Richie Ramone. Each member used Ramone as a last name. I like that. Wouldn’t it be great if more bands did what the Ramones did? “Introducing the Fab Four from Liverpool… Paul Beatle, John Beatle, George Beatle, and Ringo Beatle!” “That Brian Beach Boy has such a wonderful voice!” “Mick Rolling Stone is a fine vocalist, but I prefer Ray Kink.” “You know who was a mysterious and complicated dude? Jim Door.” “Was Kim Pixie booted from the band again? How do David Pixie and Joey Pixie feel about that?” It would make things more fun, wouldn’t it?
My wife and I were playing a game the other day, a pretty common game, the one where you try to decide which deceased individuals you would like to have dinner with. Our limit was four deceased individuals. A dinner of five. So I was thinking, you know, Joe Strummer, Spalding Gray, Groucho Marx, and then for a bit of outside perspective, maybe somebody like Ivan Turgenev. But that would be difficult, wouldn’t it? Supposing he was somehow able to speak and understand English as well as the rest of us, he would still be completely lost. Say I’m telling an anecdote, like, “So my wife and I hopped into the car—oh, I’m sorry, Ivan, a car is a wheeled vehicle with an internal combustible engine, allowing you to move far more quickly than you could on foot or with a horse—and, actually, we heard one of your songs on the radio, Joe—oh, a radio is a device that receives information-carrying radio waves transmitted from far away—and “Clampdown” is a great song, an absolute punk rock classic—oh, punk rock is a genre of music that emerged out of rock and roll. Wait, you don’t know what rock and roll is either, do you? You know what, Ivan? Just leave. Go sit in the corner. Go sit in the corner and daydream about Pauline Viardot.
My comedy mentor told me to always close a set with a reference to a nineteenth-century Russian writer, so I’m done here. Thanks for laughing at some of my jokes. Good night!