A Standup Guys Tale by John Debellis
“It was around three-fifty on a Friday afternoon when I got the call from Larry David, his voice weak and on the edge of desperation, ‘Uh…John…it’s Larry…I have a problem….”
‘What kind of problem, LD?’ I shot back while muting my TV.
‘Uh…I’m stuck upside down.’
Back in the early eighties someone proliferated the idea that hanging upside down for 15 minutes or more a day would reverse the effects of gravity, straighten your spine, flatten your wrinkles, deliver blood to organs that were normally left to scrape by on leftovers, and add years to your upright life. Somehow, some way, the abnormally skeptical, negatively enriched, perennial angry, Larry David fell prey to this philosophy. LD bought a doorway bar and gravity boots, convinced that hanging upside down would give him the gift of health, or the least it would temporarily contain his hypochondria.
On that day, LD could not pull himself up and was stuck hanging upside down like a balding bat. Luckily, he kept the phone on the floor where he could reach it.
‘I can’t pull myself up! You have to come over now. The blood is rushing to my head. I’m going to die!’
For most people those words are said under extreme duress, to Larry it’s almost a mantra, but I could tell by the fear saturating his plea that the threat was more real than imagined.
I lived only a few miles from Larry, so normally to travel that short distance would take no more than ten minutes. Except it was Friday near rush hour in L.A. and LD lived in the hills above Laurel Canyon, where the ever-twisting roads doubled back on themselves like an octopus’s legs in a whirlpool. I raced up and down streets while drivers pounded their horns when I stopped to look at street signs or make sudden U-turns. The thoughts of Larry hanging upside down alive weren’t pretty, but just the notion of a dead LD was horrifying. How could I possibly explain this to the police without bursting out laughing–never mind trying to hold a straight face to Larry’s brother, Ken, or not join in when other comics do Larry David death jokes.
Somehow, I ended up on Larry’s road and screeched to a stop in front of his house. I slipped on something on the sidewalk shooting up his front stairs and falling into his front door, almost knocking myself unconscious. For a few seconds, I was disoriented and had forgotten where I was and why I had come. Then, I saw LD, swaying gently, blood drained into his face, his body seemingly lifeless. I shook loose from my trance when he started breathing, a quick stunted breath, measuring the air, then almost rejecting it entirely. Something was wrong.
I thought he was about to die for good, when the power of his voice shook me loose from my dread and he yelled from the bottom of his lungs, ‘Get out and wipe your damn feet. You stepped in dog shit!’
It was then that I realized Larry would survive, his temper intact, and I wouldn’t receive a thank you for saving his life. In other words, he was himself again.”
About the Author: John Debellis originally started his descent into helplessness as a stand-up comic before turning to writing because he needed another way to express his depression. He wrote jokes for the likes of Rodney Dangerfield, Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Gabe Kaplan, Elayne Boozler, Billy Crystal, and Joe Piscopo before joining the writing staffs of Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show, and Politically Incorrect. He was the head writer for critically acclaimed D.C. Follies, and has written for sitcoms so bad, to this day, he’s too embarrassed to cash the checks. He was, however, the supervising producer of the ACE Award-winning Joe Piscopo Special on HBO, and also produced what the competing networks said was the best special ever done about stand-up comedy, Comedy Club Super Stars, on ABC.
And to purchase Standup Guys: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009L64WZS
Thanks again to John Debellis for his guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, blogs from me, and Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a smile-filled day! – Vonnie