Darrell Vickers – The Magic Hour Part 9: Mark of the Devil

Tony DeSena had been toiling on The Magic Hour for barely a week but the writer from hell, part-time arch-villain and avid narcotic partaker, Mark Poisonpen, had decided that the Tonester had to go. Marky never been so insulted. Work was being asked of him in return for his laughably grandiose salary. This outrage would not stand, man! But how could this young, plucky lad from Hollywood, who was personally financing El Chapo’s summer home, ever hope to Tanya Harding his over-demanding boss?

Tony DeSena

Unfortunately for poor Mr. Poison, Tony was never going to get shitcanned due to the show’s material being sub-par. Mr. DeSena was both hardworking and supremely talented. And even worse for the little skunk’s cause, Tony actually cared.

Mark couldn’t make Tony a slacker and a dope fiend because those roles were already comfortably occupied by himself.

Inveigling the shortest, dimmest person on staff to sneak his jokes onto the cue cards had been as big-a-failure as Marky’s trips to rehab.

Direct and vociferous confrontation had blown up on him like a Firestone tire.

Hmm. So what was left? Spread rumors that he’s a racist? Hey, that’s it! Tony’s a white guy – let’s turn him into Lester Maddox. Suddenly, everyone was hearing disturbing stories about highly inappropriate comments Tony was making about African Americans.

There are two major problems with this.

1. I’ve known Tony for over 30 years and I’ve never heard him say anything remotely racist.

2. If you were going to say something racist that could get you in Dutch with the executive producers, why would you whisper it exclusively to the one, the one and only, asswipe on staff who is trying to get you FIRED!?

Apparently this second point hadn’t occurred to the geniuses in power because no matter how ludicrous these stories were, and there were plenty of them, they eventually started to have a deleterious effect. At one juncture, Geo (who is African-American) became so concerned that The Evil Mr. DeSena was secretly sneaking racist jokes into the monologue; she informed him that he’d been demoted to staff writer and she was taking over his duties and deciding what material went on the show.

A Self Proclaimed Hothead

Now, I’m a bit of a hothead and I would have probably quit on the spot but Tony is far more measured and professional in his approach to work. Anthony simply went back to his office, grabbed the big pile of that day’s material and handed it over to her and ordered the rest of the writers to deliver their material to Geo from then on. The others on staff (minus one) were so freaked out by all this Machiavellian mishegoss, they handed in 20 pages each that day. Being a head writer is a fucking hard and involved job. It’s not something that you can just knock off on your lunch hour. Predictably, an overwhelmed and exasperated Geo handed The Evil Mr. Desena back his rightful position within 24 hours. When Tony pointed out to Ms. Executive Producer that Marky hadn’t handed in a single joke to her that entire day, she just shrugged. 

Meeting of the Dangerous Minds:

As the show’s ratings dropped like MySpace stock, there was an “important” meeting called. At this point, it was like trying to give artificial respiration to an Egyptian mummy but you had to admire their optimism. Sheila E’s brother had become part of the team and had some big ideas. Tommy Davidson – the latest in a string of co-hosts – was also in attendance to proffer suggestions. Geo sat directly across from Tony as this roomful of swingin’ and shakin’ showbiz cats kicked it into high, mummy-huffing gear. But suddenly, inexplicably, Marky began to bark out a rambling string of unfunny jokes about blacks and Latinos. It wasn’t even like he was pitching anything.

Apparently, Poison’s brain was jacked up to 11 on forehead fuel and he was just trying clear out the racially charged thoughts that were ping-ponging around inside his vibrating skull. As Mr. White Privileged Guy continued with his Tourette-tastic outreach program, Geo gazed over at Tony, realizing that she’d stripped him of his head-writer position on the word of an unhinged, bigoted, drug-addled vomitorium. There was a sadness in her eyes, knowing she’d fallen for all his all-too-obvious shit. She then looked away and never mentioned it again.

Thank God They Videotaped It!

Tony had worked up a comedy sketch that required dancers, so an audition session was organized. Only… nobody told Tony. It was also mysteriously not mentioned during that day’s production meeting. Geo clearly knew because she had invited her two teenage nieces to sit in on the tryouts. Marky was also in the room. But not the head writer? Huh? This was obviously all part of Poison’s ongoing plot to position himself ahead of Tony. He hadn’t written a word of the sketch but there he was at the audition like he was running the whole show. Brilliant! Well, evil but brilliant. There was no way his super-sophisticated, elaborately orchestrated; perfidious plan could fail this time! But alas, Marky had grossly miscalculated his intake of Pow! Powder that fateful afternoon. So, things were moving along just as he’d schemed when…

That’s not how you dance!” Marco bullhorned to the shocked attendees around the table. Before anyone could quite figure out what was going on, up he popped like a mob stoolpigeon in the Hudson River and majestically bounded onto the table. Poison then proceeded to do a faux striptease act before the mesmerized teenagers and horrified adults in the room. At one point, with a big shit-eating grin on his mug, he reclined on the pressboard surface, licked his index finger, put it on his hip bone and made a sizzling sound. Who the living, fire-breathing fuck he thought he was impressing with this underage ecdysiastic display I have no fucking idea. Thank god he didn’t have an American flag and a can of Reddi Whip handy! But he wasn’t done by a long shot.

With the come-hither jiggles of a Gypsy Rose Lee and the face of a gypsy moth, Marky pranced around for a final incomprehensibly offensive terpsichorean tour of the wooden platform before triumphantly leaping like a gacked-out gazelle back to Earth.

Only he landed wrong, tore a ligament in his knee, screamed like circumcised chimpanzee and collapsed into a wimpering sack of happy dust. The last thing you espy on the video is his pain-wracked body disappearing beneath the table.

Outside the birth of my daughter, this may have been one of the most perfect, sweetest moments I have ever witnessed during my time of this green Earth.

…especially when the thoroughly breathless and scandalized assemblage was so beautifully slow to respond to his piteous cries for succor.

And Still He Wasn’t Fired!

Apparently, on The Magic Hour, exposing underage girls to the visual delights of Boylesque was insufficient grounds for dismissal. Go figure.

There was an upside to this moral outrage, however. Marky went missing from the show for several blessed days before reappearing with a leg brace the size of the one James Spader wore in Crash. Amazingly, McPoison handed in about the same amount of material while he was being operated on as he did when he was in the office. Talk about a professional!

It’s been over 20 years since last I set eyes on Mark Poisonpen, but every day has been made brighter and my hair more lustrous by his absence. Was this dipsomaniac dipshit the most despised character that I’ve encountered in Hollywood? Alas, not even close. But that is a story for another day.



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

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