Darrell Vickers – The Magic Hour Part 7 – Put on a Happy Farce

For good or for incalculable evil, I have earned my daily crust as a professional comedy writer my entire adult life. During the innumerable decades spent splashing ink onto three-hole-punched paper, I have fashioned myriad ludicrous plots and fanciful situations. I’ve woven preposterous storylines replete with illogical reasoning and nonsensical outcomes. But only once have I found myself trapped inside a full fledged, Loony-Tunes, Ionesco play in real life.

Once Upon a Time:

Our fantastical fairytale owes its genesis to the age-old game of golf. It turns out our almost friendless co-host, Krunk Highheel, had managed to snag glimmers of criminally undiscerning companionship on the uber-irrigated links of drought-ravaged California. A surprising number of celebrities procure some odd form of enjoyment out of pursuing a small ball around pesticide-choked, booby-trapped landscapes under a baking hot sun. One such UV-ray-bombarded luminary is Samuel Jackson. At some point Krunk and Samuel had run into each other during their melanoma meanderings and decided that they’d like to chase a few small balls around together.

Things Go Good:

It came as a sizable surprise to all of us when Krunky suggested that he could land Samuel Jackson as a guest on The Magic Hour.

Number one – who knew that he had any actual amigos that weren’t inflatable or imaginary?

Number two – was he really doing something to help the show out and not just himself?

It’s no secret that The Magic Hour was having trouble booking guests. Late Night is a slithery snake pit of politics and blacklistings. People liked Magic personally but his show might only last a few months (Boy ain’t that the truth!). Why risk pissing off Jay Leno, who was going to be around for another decade or more? This is the kind of self-serving, semi-paranoid calculation that constantly flows through the Machiavellian minds of celebrity publicists when deciding what shows to book their clients on.

The Jackson appearance came together quickly and was a real coup, considering. I think we bumped a lowly comedian to make room for him. (Later – when the show was really in the toilet – the lowly comedian turned us down.) This was a nice slice of good news for a production that had suffered more bad luck than Candide.

Things Start to Go Bad:

Andrew, Tony DeSena and I, plus a couple of the Executive Producers, were in Lon’s office the morning of the show. We’d often congregate there in the a.m. to go over the guests, comedy bits and late developments.  Because Mr. Jackson would be on first, it meant we were spared having to write a comedy spot. Big dance of happy feet. Everything seemed to be going swimmingly until the phone rang.

It was Krunk calling from his car.

“No, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Lon said, his face hardening.

Ten minutes of intense and profane pettifoggery ensued. As I’ve stated in an earlier blog, attempting to reason with Krunk was like trying to escape from prison by licking your way through the iron bars of your cell. When he finally hung up, the infuriated Lon informed us that we had a problem. Krunk was insisting Samuel Jackson’s appearance be kept hidden from Magic. He wanted him to be totally in the dark until Krunk announced on the couch that he had a little surprise. Highheel would then stand up and usher Samuel onto the stage to the delight of everyone watching and all and sundry would know that Krunk had super famous pals that he hung around with.

And then Lon informed us that he’d already told Magic that Samuel Jackson was going to be on that day. There was no secret. There was no surprise.

Minutes later, Krunk huffed and puffed his way into the office and another half hour of deafening voices and markedly differing opinions commenced. Lon was smashing his fist onto his desk yelling, “Magic doesn’t like surprises” and the intractable Krunk was bellowing back that it was the only way Jackson would appear on the show. The whole fucking argument was insane. Magic already knew. And that’s all Lon needed to say. “Magic already knows.” End of story.

But of course, he didn’t do that.  In the end – and to the genuine surprise of more than a few of us in the room – Lon, purple with rage, screamed at the top of his lungs, “FINE! Fine, it’ll be a fucking secret. We won’t tell Magic. HAPPY??”

Huh!?

Krunk was indeed happy. He’d won – sort of – at least he thought he had. Highheel was going to get to play the big man on national television! Then it was time to head on off to his dressing room so he could smile at himself in a mirror.

The rest of us couldn’t wait to hear what was going to happen next.

“We’re just going to have to play this like Magic doesn’t know.”

“But he does.”

So, the entire day became about keeping the Krunkmeister deceived and happy by pretending to keep Magic deceived and happy. Which he wasn’t. We ardently wanted Samuel on the show and there was no telling what would happen if Highheel flipped out because he didn’t get his way. Which he didn’t.

The First Problem:

If Samuel was going to be a surprise at the top of the show, then Magic had to believe that we were doing the regular opening comedy spot – which we weren’t.

Try and follow me here – because things start to get a little convoluted.

Andrew, Tony and I quickly whipped together some routine we had lying around. It might have been a desk piece that we’d started but it didn’t pan out. I have no idea. I just remember having to plump it up with a few new jokes. Jokes that would never ever going to be told.

In the early afternoon, Tony and I would traditionally trot up to Magic’s dressing room to go over that day’s comedic offering. So, up we headed, armed with our phantom spot. Since Der Krunken was going to deliver the jokes, he had to be there too. Oh joy!

Sidebar:

I remember Magic had this absolute knockout assistant who always seemed pleased to see us in her beguiling and transcendent voluptuouosity. She touched my arm once. I still think back to that wondrous moment late at night, when the moon is full. Sigh.

Back to the Story:

So, Mr. DeSena and I ambled into Magic’s dressing room and dutifully began our ridiculous charade.

“And then you say, ‘are there any other examples of oranges being elected to public office?’ and Krunk says…” You get the idea.

Magic was great, as usual. Krunk was grinning like a drunken gibbon as we pretended to go through the larfs. Then one of the execs in the room couldn’t help himself and decided to open his mouth to let the echo from his vacuous brainpan drift out into the room. He wondered whether a couple of the lines were a bit too racy to do on the show. I almost exploded. We weren’t going to be doing them on the show!!! This officious, dunderheaded fucker was actually giving us rewrite notes on pretend jokes!!!

An hour or so later, Tony and I wandered onto the stage, our make believe scripts in hand, and we espied Magic sitting in the audience seats while the techies milled about the set. We sauntered over to talk to our amiable host and discuss the insanity of the day. He was fine with it all. Whatever it took to keep the boat sailing smoothly.

And then we proceeded to go through an entire rehearsal of “the comedy spot that never was” with cameras, lighting, the whole nine yards.

When it was all over, Krunk came up to Tony backstage and smugly handed him the glass he was holding. “And the acting award of the year goes to Tony DeSena. Hell, I even believed we are going to be doing that spot.”

Lord give me strength!

Come show time, Krunk did get to play the big man and surprise the hell out of his host. To his credit, Magic acted truly surprised-the-hell-out-of. Stunningly, even after the fact, there were no leaks and Mr. Huffypants never found out.

For eons he would go on radio shows and boast how he “produced” the Samuel Jackson spot and pulled one over on THE Magic Johnson. This was right before he went on to slam me for the jacket I wore on stage. In recent years he’s added that I had a mullet haircut to his list of my unspeakable crimes against humanity. This is a total, tonsorial fabrication. I assume it’s only a matter of time before he claims I also had a lazy eye and a big ole warty nose.

The Epilogue:

Krunko actually resided in my old neighborhood in Sherman Oaks. Years later, my wife and I were out for a stroll one balmy eve and I caught sight of a familiar, dreaded figure coming towards me on the sidewalk. I was so tempted, as we passed each other, to turn and evilly blurt into his ear, “Magic knew!” But I didn’t. That’s what he would have done. I may not be perfect, but it’s not hard to be a far, far better human being than Krunk Highheel.

I wonder if he cheats at golf.

=DV=

DBAWIS_Button

Darrell 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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: