Years ago, when I was still learning how to do comedy, there were times when my big closing bit would not quite get the response that I’d hoped it would. That is to say, I would conclude my set with (what I considered to be) my best, most hilarious piece of material, and, more often than I found comfortable, be met with a breezy, airy, dead silence. Occasionally this wall of non-sound would be breached by a forced, dry chuckle from some dear soul in the darkness who just couldn’t bear to see an animal suffer.
The ejector seat I’d employ to punch out of this profoundly mortifying situation was an impression of legendary actor Peter O’Toole reciting “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” (known in some circles as “The Inky-Dinky Spider;” I feel this regionalism lacks elegance). The recitation started off with a crisp, clear reporting of the spider’s ascent up the water spout, segued into a world-weary recounting of the deluge that led to the spider’s return to Earth, then abruptly shifted into a messianic eruption celebrating the promise of the dawn of a new day. It concluded with a wry aside that hinted at the prospect of the cycle beginning anew. …
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