Darrell Vickers – I’ve Seen You’re Fired and I’ve Seen Rain

On balance, being a comedy writer is about as exciting as picking out a good denture cream for your great aunt at the local Albertsons. It consists of countless hours spent sitting alone in a room (much like we all did at our senior prom) and staring at a screen as white as Edgar Winter’s ass. No adoring crowds erupt into deafening acts of rhapsodic approbation, when we triumphantly tap out, “The End” on well-worn keyboards.

My cat sometimes meows to get fed, but to be perfectly honest, the rush just isn’t the same. The loftiest height we purveyors of the pen can realistically aspire to is one of Artistic Cuckold. We pace nervously behind the ugly, unpainted side of stage flats and listen to audiences fall in love with characters we created. And those throngs of orgasmically entertained populi aren’t leaning out of their newly-moistened seats, desperate to hurl themselves at the genitalia of we Gods of the Written Word. No siree Robert!  There is nary a thought given to the piteous birther of this transcendent fictional colloquy that now makes their spirits soar and their palms grow damp.

The average shallow-thinking theatergoer is only dreaming of charging backstage and fellating the first big-chinned slab of ham they can locate who’s upper lip reeks of spirit gum. Never mind, that these puffed-up, botoxed dandies would stand around on stage in their elevator shoes like constipated department store mannequins, if some noble scribe hadn’t ripped the brain from his or her very skull and torturously squeezed out inky gold onto the hallowed page. It may begin with “The Word” but it usually ends with Handsome McDimwit getting the head of his Oscar washed by Daisy McIowa in his ego-sized Malibu mansion.

Not that I’m bitter.

But there are times – murderously few though they be – when rewards beyond measure are bestowed upon we humble tillers of the typewriter.

Case in Point:

Earlier this annum, an explorative missive pinged my Gmail, casually enquiring whether I would consider adding my knee-slapping two-cents to a panel of Tonight Show writers at the Norfolk Comedy Festival. The 10th annual, no less. I hummed and hawed for a fraction of a nanosecond before feverishly tip-tapping my gracious acceptance. Twice before, had I journied to the land of The Big Red to wax poetic about my days spent wandering the legendary halls of late night Camelot. On each of those sojourns eastward, swell times and bonhomie abounded, not to mention a goodly amount of wine and a few beers. Andrew Nicholls and I were so swept up by our unmitigated jocundity on these occasions,  you would have hardly known we were comedy writers. Feasts and football filled our free hours and during our spirited panels, adoring Johnny fans smiled and giggled at our dazzlingly jocular remembrances of that golden age of yore.

Nebraskans – apart from voting for a backed-up toilet wearing an ill-fitting suit – are wonderful people.

Backed Up Toilet in Ill-Fitting Suit

Viva la Difference:

In a slight departure from our regular Cornhusker holiday, the Comedy Festival was to be presented in Norfolk – the town where Johnny learned his ABC’s, which were to come in so handy later on in his NBC’s. This quaint, diminutive hamlet is a good (and I use that word liberally) 2 hour drive from an airport that is seemingly in the middle of nowhere. But, a very green nowhere. And a very chemically enhanced verdancy, at that.  When the wind is high, you need to give your teeth at extra spirited scrubbing before beddy-byes to remove the thick layer of Roundup from your gubbers. But, as long as you don’t touch it, breathe near it or want to ever bear children again, it’s perfectly safe.

After our 100-plus mile journey through Monsantoland’s killing fields, we alighted at our sprawling hostelry. A usually peaceful, western-themed edifice that now found itself jammed to the rafters with comedians, magicians and professional wise-guys.

The Fairmont of the Corn

From the second we dropped anchor at our awesome auberge, the treatment was first class and beyond. Outside of one of those che’che’ Malibu rehab clinics, I don’t know where you could receive such excessive pampering. And we got to drink!

Our tickets to all the shows were front-row center (Sitting next to Dick Cavett, no less!). We even had our own chauffeur/guide (thank you Mr. Shipley). It was like we’d died and gone to StubHub.

Our panel also included Mike Reiss (The Simpsons), David Steven Simon and the aforementioned Mr. Cavett. Fortunately, we eked out a few laughs and the audience found us relatively entertaining. Perhaps it was due to long term exposure to cow-staggering amounts of Glyphosate, but these people actually thought they wanted our autographs.

Not that everything was candy floss and big wet monkey hugs in this flat, corn-fed oasis. There were prairie oddities that bordered on disturbing to these lads from Southern Cal.. One-eyed, flightless bees. Meat-wrapped lettuce in all the salads. And rain. But not just any rain. While grabbing a snack before a particularly splendid night of guffaws and chuckles, every flatscreen in the sports bar flipped to a map of yellows, reds and dark purple.

The clouds outside turned as black as Dick Cheney’s wedding dress. Precipitation began to strafe the countryside from the growling belly of hell. In California, we consider morning dew on the lawn a downpour. L.A. drivers have been known to pull over to the side of the road and shoot themselves in conditions that require them to turn on their windshield wipers. This was like God himself was wringing out all of June Alison’s old adult diapers directly above us. The manager of the eatery paced back and forth. At first I thought she was teaching her staff how to avoid serving the customers, but no.

A twister was upon us (and not the type our old gym teacher used to try and get us to play in the change room)! A Dunkirkian evacuation was at hand. We were whisked, along with our fries and beverages, through the industrial doors behind the counter. The employees were building an ark and trying to pick which two kitchen rats to take with them, as we passed. Eventually, we were placed in a room without windows. “Great,” thinks I. “Now if a tornado is headed our way, we won’t be able to see it coming.”

Luckily, we did not end up in Oz and no beer was lost during our harrowing pre-show refection.

Later that very eve, we supped and broke bread with Dick Cavett and exchanged risible anecdotes involving Alexander King, Groucho, Johnny, Parr…and of course, Dick Cavett. Yes, it t’were truly divine and well worth risking life and limb for.

I still get a warm and fuzzy glow, when I think about my last glorious stay in the land of sugarbeets and sorghum, but perhaps that’s just the flumioxazins working their way up through my bone marrow.

But worry not, dear reader. The joy bus has left the building and all has returned to normal. I now sit alone in my office, staring at an unsympathetic computer screen, with only five mushy grapes for company and dining pleasure. The warmth of adoring smiles has chilled down once again to the grim solitude of the unwritten page, punctured only by the occasional visit from a peckish and grumpy feline.


Uplifting Epilogue

Nebraska…you have my number.



Darrell’s Gallery of Nebraska Comedy Prom Memories…. 

Nebraska! Home of Johnny Carson and not far from Other States

Weather Alert in Sports Bar

Darrell, Andrew, Mike, Reese, and David

At the Omaha Airport. Some Brought Hats

Why We’re Here….

Sioux City Television Celebrities!

Sitting Panel. Johnny Joins Us on Heaven Cam

Adoring Fans

In the front row for the big show. Cavett is napping on a Blonde woman and checking his FitBit watch

Mr. Carson was much larger than we thought. Andrew Mike, and Darrell are dwarfed by his biggenous

One of Johnny Carson’s houses in Nebraska

The Lohan Patio and Pool at Malibu Rehab

and finally…

Denture Cream! Helping Great Aunts eat corn on the cob since, like, forever….


Darrell Vickers appears here whenever he damn well feels like it

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.co

DBAWIS_ButtonDarrell Vickers started out as one half of Toronto area band, Nobby Clegg.  CFNY fans may remember the cheery song “Me Dad” which still gets airplay.  From there, he valiantly ventured to L.A. and eventually became head writer for The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  Since then, he’s created numerous sitcoms and animation shows in Canada and the U.S.  He still writes music and has an internet band called Death of the Author Brigade (members in Croatia, Canada and the U.S.)   Mr. Vickers also had a private music mailing-list where he features new and pre-loved music.  Anyone who would like to be added to his daily mailing list, just write him at Radiovickers1@gmail.com 

2 Responses to “Darrell Vickers – I’ve Seen You’re Fired and I’ve Seen Rain”

  1. Peter Montreuil Says:

    Well done!

  2. Elaine Gyoerick Says:

    A RadioVickers fan here. I was looking through some of my old emails and found this gem of a link. I had a lot of fun reading about the Nebraska adventure. My eyes widened a few times and I had some giggles, too. Thanks very much.

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