Darrell Vickers – The Magic Hour Part 8 – “I Am Sooo Sorry, Tony”

For many weeks, I have tearfully journeyed through the annals of the ignominious, ignoble and egregious disaster that was The Magic Hour. I shall now visit the anals, for the jaw-dropping account I am about to chronicle involves a world-class-plus asshole. Enter Mark Poisonpen, the writer from hell.

Marky was the perfect storm of horrible. He wrote practically nothing. He devoted all his working hours to spreading scurrilous calumny and chicanery wherever he oozed. He was paid more than all the other writers. He also had a ludicrously long contract for a startup show. Plus, according to a number of people around him, Mr. Mark had a substantial nose-candy problem. Now, I never personally witnessed his nasal passages sounding like a backed-up bowery toilet but it sure would go a long way to explain his destructive and erratic behavior.

And there were stories!

Story One:

Poison had somehow landed a job pounding out punch lines on the old Dennis Miller Show. Predictably, before he could even arrange the hand-mirror and razorblades on his desk, he was jettisoned with extreme prejudice for producing the same paucity of material that he was now gracing The Magic Hour with. BUT…

Dennis Miller bagged an Emmy that year and his producers were forced to allow lucky Mark go up on stage and accept the award with the still-employed writers who’d actually contributed to the show. Not content to just graciously accept his good fortune, Mr. Poison got goggle-eyed drunk, crashed the after-Emmy party and proceeded to maniacally wave his unearned statue under people’s nonplussed noses like it was Jimi Hendrix’s plaster cast.

Story Two:

(This kind of saga circulates for two reasons. 1: It’s true. 2: People hate you with every molecule of their being and passing on this sort of icky anecdote gives them exultant and cathartic joy.)

After he’d been Trotskied off Miller, Marky inexplicably managed to land a job on Keenan Ivory Wayans. Soon, something was amiss on that televisual giant.

A nighttime ne’er-do-well was periodically taking a big steamy dump on the set when all and sundry had trotted off home. No matter what measures they put in place, they could not apprehend this fecal felon.

Then! A revelation fell upon the masses. This bowel bandit was loosing his logs in a television studio. A television studio that was full of cameras! So… they cunningly left the studio cameras running all night. The next morning, there was Mark Poisonpen – in glorious Panavision – squatting down on set and cracking open a smelly one. Turns out, doing a Quonset hut of coke gives you an explosively unpredictable digestive system. Needless to say, he was immediately wiped from the show’s staff and its carpets. This was the first time in Hollywood history that someone was given their walking papers for having the runs.

And then, due to some unpardonable crime we’d committed against God and heaven’s meanest angels in a previous life, the fucker ended up on our show.

While I never caught sight of McPoison hoovering up hillocks of blow like Al Pacino in Scarface, one couldn’t help but notice him standing outside the studio for hours upon days jaggedly puffing away on a cigarette.

He was frequently joined on his cancer cavalcade by Little Toad. Toady was the producer/head talent booker on the show and a refugee from Jay Leno. It’s really hard to quantify the vast divide between how smart he actually was and how owl-like he believed himself to be. Now, the head talent booker is responsible for the quality of guests on the show, which we have already established was rock-bottom shitty, but being a Hindenburg-level failure at his assigned task clearly wasn’t enough for this diminutive lightweight. For reasons unknown, he was hell-bent in securing his lips to the storied and volcanically unstable butt of L.A.’s most despised scribe.

More to come on this little dimwitted weasel.

And So It Begins:

On Tony DeSena’s first day as head writer, he was sent out to supervise a remote shoot. Knowing he’d be away from the office for a number of hours, he gave out writing assignments to the staff. Upon his return, he headed over to Mark’s office to find out why his material was missing from the pile on Tony’s desk. It turned out the absence was not down to a clerical error. He had nothing to hand in. “I just wasn’t feeling it,” he informed our incredulous leader.

“Not feeling it” would have had you trebucheted off the Tonight Show before Ed had his first drink of the day. A late-night writer has to be a joke machine. These shows run on volume and they run on funny. Five-nights-a-week makes no allowance for “not feeling it.”

The rest of the week bore only slightly more funny fruit from this toxic tree. By Friday, Tony had no other option but to go to Lon and ask that this comedic non-entity be terminated. It was the only sensible thing to do so of course they didn’t do it. Marky had 22 weeks left on his preposterously generous contract and they didn’t want to eat the money.  Apparently Lon felt shit tasted way better than cash.


It soon became an untenable situation. Tony was going to continue to demand material that Marky was just too strung out to produce. Something had to give. While he wasn’t any good as a writer, Marcus Carcass was a dab hand at flattery and connivance.

Poison decided to do an end around. Since he was writing almost nothing and Tony was putting even less of it on the air, our Wormtail came up with the idea of handing his daily joke to Little Toad and convincing him to place it directly on the cue cards. Unfortunately, Tony was a professional (probably the only one on staff) and he checked the cue cards every day to make sure they were accurate. And quite surprised was he to find a cheap shot about Darryl Strawberry’s recent drug problems in two-inch letters that he had not approved. This had the rancid pong of Poison all over it, so Tony marched down to Jeff and Geo’s office to remonstrate aplenty. They were horrified by the joke. Magic and Strawberry were good friends. It was summarily yanked.

Mission accomplished, Mr. DeSena retired to his office to enjoy the kind of rich, smooth satisfaction that only a Nutbutter Bar can give you. Alas, mid-creamy-chew, he was confronted by the Pint-Sized Amphibian and Mr. Poison. Tony was accused of having a bias against Mark and usurping Toady’s authority. “I’m the producer and if I put something in, it stays!” he wanly croaked.

“Wrong,” our plucky and talented head scribe responded. “I’m the head writer and I have final say about what goes on those cue cards.”

“So, who’s the boss here?” Poison helpfully interjected.

“I’m the producer,” Toady pointlessly and redundantly informed him.

“Yes, and you book the guests.” (a debatable assertion at best) “I take care of the script. Perhaps we should just stay out of each other’s way.”

The duplicitous duo left in a huff to go for a puff.

The next day, what did Tony once again espy – thanks to Toady – but yet another unauthorized bon mot. So off he stormed to Jeff and Geo’s office.
”Do you really want the genial host of this show doing a joke about a rape whistle?” (I’m not making this up.)
They did not. It was out.

A few days later Mark ran into Tony in the hallway and asked him to come into his office so they could iron out their problems. Awww. Peace on Earth at last.

Peaced Off:

The Magic Hour offices all led out into an open area that was populated by dozens of staff members. As Mr. DeSena alighted in his chair, he perchanced to notice that Poison had forgotten to close his office door.

I was out in the concourse talking to a secretary at the very moment Marky began screaming at the top of his lungs. Not at Tony, at the open door, for the benefit of everyone in the building.

“Who the hell do you think you are?” Our resident snort pig did not wait for a response to his deafening interrogative. “You can’t treat me like that!”

He then commenced to stride out into the open area and back into his office, slinging boisterous slander and contumely all the while.

“You can’t talk to me like that!”

“You’re being unfair and you know it!”

Each time this noxious nincompoop entered the open area, he’d look around to soak in all the eyes glued to him as he continued on his toot-fueled tirade.

Finally, Poison pointed to his open portal and shrieked, ‘Now get out of here! Get out!”

This was supposed to be Tony’s cue to slink out of the office, a disgraced varlet who’d been mercilessly whipped and slammed back into his place by Marky’s righteous harangue. But Tony just sat there.

Poison was a little confused for a second or two. His meticulously thought out, infallible scheme, had experienced an unexpected hitch. A tiny turd was floating in his punchbowl of joy. He’d struck a little lump of baby powder in his mountain of Bolivian Oblivion. But he quickly recovered, like Daffy Duck after he’d had his beak blown to the back of his head by a hunter’s shotgun blast. Marky yelled louder and pointed even harder at the door. “Get out!  Get the hell out of here!  You can’t talk to me like that!” 

By now his eyes were as glossy as a women’s magazine cover and his face turned violet with Alec-Baldwin-with-a-dash-of-Russell-Crowe-level rage. Tony thought he might become violent but his anger was so cartoonish and over the top that Anthony began to chortle at this lesser mortal.

With his evil master plan to humiliate one of the top variety writers in the world now in smoking ruins, Poison stormed off in search of sympathetic powders that could salve his wounds and delight his synapses. Tony un-slinked back to his own office to get some actual work done.

And the train kept a-rollin’.

Stay tuned for Part Eight, which ends in Marky’s jaw-dropping, felonious fan-dance and a leg brace.



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

One Response to “Darrell Vickers – The Magic Hour Part 8 – “I Am Sooo Sorry, Tony””

  1. Some guy in the US Says:

    Waiting for the next installment is like waiting for the next Jack Reacher. I must have the whole thing, at any price*.

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