For my international friends who dwell in caves: The Comedy Network is one of the coolest networks in the Multiverse, with shows that are both intelligent and so funny you should have to sign a waiver before tuning in… because you’re going to risk fatal injury from laughter.
And I want to join their star-studded ranks.
But not just any hack with a few jokes can earn a place among the higher echelon of professional yukmeisters. A high-class comedy factory like the Comedy Network must get at least a dozen pitches. A year. Yessir, it takes a special breed of comedic jackass to make their pitch stand out from the drooling, hungry-for-Canadian-fame pack.
But the question is, how the H-E-Double-Upside-Down-Slightly-Askew-Candy-Canes am I going to pull that off? I bounce fourteen dollar checks on a regular basis so bribery is out. I don’t have access to farm animals. (I hear the Comedy people really love sheep; if you get my drift.) I’m not one of the so-called “pretty people” that are rumored to live somewhere in Canada. I’m not a stand-up comedian with years of experience and a legion of fans who are willing to kill – or at the very least, maim – at my command. And I don’t have a PR team, a manager named Scooter or even a white trash mom with a YouTube account.
So, unlike that time at Rick Patrone’s house party when I was blessed enough to get a make-out session with Stephanie Toffalo, only to blow it by using wire cutters to cut off the new bra her mother just bought her (I’m pretty sure the snaps were designed by the Marquis de Sade), I’m completely screwed.
Still, everyone loves an underdog, right? And I’ve spent more time under dogs than anyone I know, so I should be a shoe-in!
So here we go, five reasons why I, Robert “The Hook” Hookey, deserve a show on The Comedy Network.
5) I may not have the uber-talented, comedy-producing vagina of Amy Schumer (whom I respect as a human being as well), but I’ve been called a pussy all my life, so…
4) I’ve been a bellman in the Canadian tourist mecca of Niagara Falls for almost twenty years.
And yes, after almost two decades of dealing with sexually adventurous accountants, cosplaying hookers, Louis Farrakhan’s heavily-armed entourage, maniacal rug rats, cross-dressing pastors, bi-polar Mounties, drunken soldiers, tipsy casting agents, Hollywood D-Listers with delusions of recapturing their former glory, real-life mad scientists, O.J. Simpson, serial cheaters, bucket listers, thieves, boozy barristers, hellish hockey moms, rage-filled hockey dads, sapphic soccer moms, TV Dragons, schizophrenic party planners, Little Bo Peep on Spanish Fly, Dracula on acid (and no, it wasn’t Halloween), murderers, trust fund brats that make the Kennedys look well-behaved, unnatural disasters that make a Sharknado look like Sunday brunch with Bob Newhart, twincest, raging day drinkers, Strombo, drug addled millionaires, wannabe super models, exceptionally ditzy dance moms, fast food franchisees frantic to get their freak on, rabid purse puppies, trophy wives, amateur adult film stars, would-be adult film directors, that Wealthy Barber guy, A-List American actors who long for temporary obscurity (though not too temporary, of course), Canadian actors who long to be recognized (even though they refuse to admit it), families whose genetic line should be wiped from history if we ever perfect time travel, and Scully from The X-Files, I have a tale or two to tell.
Incidentally, that was just one week.
3) The best part about my “work”? It’s all real (mostly), so there’s no need to keep paying – and occasionally feeding and vaccinating – a roomful of writers whose primary concern is to please their network masters so as to avoid being sent back to:
- Their mom’s basement.
- New Jersey.
2) I’m a pasty, balding forty-something white guy. We’re in short supply these days, especially in the melting pot that is our modern society, so a wise network would snatch me up for collectible purposes if nothing else.
1) My childhood memories alone could fill five seasons of a television series, one that would make the gods themselves weep at its brilliance.
Growing up in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, afforded me the opportunity to enjoy a childhood wthat was a mixture of National Lampoon and Playboy. Life was good.
And speaking of good, a young lady named Cheryl Williams embodied everything that was good about the 1970s: her hair was as golden as McDonalds’ arches, society permitted girls to eat back then so her shapely form was considered highly attractive by all the boys at our middle school and her chest, well, her chest was a thing of beauty. She was Pamela Anderson before Pamela Anderson was Pamela Anderson.
And the best thing about Cheryl Williams? Her mom.
Yes, her mom preceded Stacy’s Mom by a few decades. Momma Williams was a cougar before the term existed and so her progeny followed her lead and flirted with every male in our school. Teachers of both genders loved her. Girls wanted to be her. Boys had to run away from her before their biology overwhelmed them. The attention went to her young head and in an act of self-promotion that predated the Gaga era, she began to spread the word that her mom was away every weekend with various “uncles” and that she hated the curtains in her bedroom – so she took them down. Cheryl also made it known that she went to bed every night at precisely the same time and that her bedroom window was located directly beside a cable TV tower positioned in her driveway by a brilliant cable company employee with glorious foresight.
Her legend grew to the point that my friends decided to launch a Tolkienesque quest to catch a glimpse of her “two towers”. There were five of us in the Fellowship of the Fling:
- The requisite Fat Kid who as I recall, was never seen without a food item of some sort clutched between his doughy sausage link fingers.
- Foreign Kid, Fat Kid’s relative by marriage. We never did figure out just where Foreign Kid hailed from. Then again, in those days no one cared.
- The middle-of-the-road, white-but-not-too-white, average kid who never spoke up or stood out in any way. The type of boy who grows up to achieve infamy as the guy on the block with seventeen bodies buried under his basement.
- The Great Aryan Hope. The embodiment of the ultimate German male, GAH was tall, blonde, blue-eyed and the best athlete in our school. Bucking convention, he was neither a bully or overly-confident when it came to the ladies, which explains, as you’ll soon see, why he threw me under the bus that night.
- And that left a skinny, blonde kid who shared GAH’s background but little else. I had a European background but my blood was definitely not Aryan.
Of course, my friends were convinced we were all going to lose our virginity. You know that term has always bothered me; “lose your virginity”? The word lose implies an accident. Trust me, I spent years attempting to beat my virginity to death before I realized I’d need help to vanquish it for good.
To be honest, that’s where my memory begins to get… hazy. When you’re young all you care about is growing up; you never stop to consider the price of aging in a world where we overload our brains with sensory input – not to mention alcohol and various pharmaceuticals, both prescribed and not-so-prescribed.
As you’ll soon see, though, my friends weren’t actually worthy of a place in my Hall of Memories.
Getting back to our quest, we set out as a single unit one fateful night, youthful libidos at the ready, to ensure our place in middle school history by sneaking across Cheryl Williams’ driveway and scaling said tower to witness her greatness with our own eyes. And of course I don’t have to tell you who was elected to go first, do I?
One of the great ironies of my existence as a tall man has been my fear of heights, a fear that can be traced back to the night I ascended my personal version of Mount Doom to feast my tweenage eyes upon Cheryl’s unclad milky white flesh. After a climb that felt as though it took my entire childhood to complete (one of my friends kept softly shouting “If you die, can I have your comics?”), I arrived at the Promised Land.
There she lay, spread eagle on her pink bed in her insanely pink room, (honestly, it was as though she never left the womb) clad in a white blouse that was bursting at the seams, her outstretched legs swaying back and forth as she read a Tiger Beat magazine.
If you’ll allow me to get technical for a moment, folks – not that you have any choice – the principal characteristic of voyeurism is that the voyeur does not normally relate directly with the subject of his/her interest. Yet, in this case the hunter was in fact the hunted, as my casting as Peeping Tom #1 merely filled a role in a drama young Cheryl herself had written. To that end, she cast her eyes in the direction of her make-up mirror (years later I would come to realize she had been waiting for someone, anyone, to take the bait and she was merely checking the mirror to see if anyone had been brave enough to actually show up), and after a moment of self-reflection she rose and began to strip.
A sheltered lad, ignorant in the ways of the world, especially where the fairer sex was concerned, I had never seen a schoolgirl au naturel, never mind one with an ecdysiast mindset, and so I have created a myth concerning this night in my mind over the years. But the truth is, Ms. Williams was the consummate sexpot, in mind as well as body; she took her time as she disrobed, allowing me ample time to fully appreciate her beauty. Her epidermis was unblemished, her limbs were taut, her bosom was unequaled and her tushie was the Stradivarius of posteriors. Needless to say, I was in love.
That night I was James Bond, Batman and Shaft all rolled into one. I was Luke Skywalker after Princess Leia planted one on him in The Empire Strikes Back. (Yeah, she was his sister, but no one knew it back then, not even George Lucas, bless his twisted heart.)
A pane of glass separated us, but in that moment Cheryl Williams and I were bonded by an unbreakable bond that would outlast time itself.
Of course, it was at that very moment that my role in this little farce went downhill – literally. Just like that Greek kid who failed to heed his father’s warnings, I flew too close to the sun and my wings began to melt. For those of you requiring further clarification: it took two hands to maintain a safe grip on that cable tower… and one hand to masturbate.
You do the math.
As one grip intensified, another weakened. Gravity was indeed a heartless bitch as I plummeted to earth. My brief existence flashed before my eyes but since my life at that time was all about comic books and Doctor Who episodes, and since I’d already read all my comics and I’d seen every episode of The Doctor’s adventures available at that time, I think I nodded off. Ironic, isn’t it? I was about to fall to my death during my inaugural adventure as a peeping tom and I couldn’t even enjoy the whole “life flashing before my eyes” thing.
And so I napped on the way down. Until I my trip came to a softer ending than I was anticipating, that is.
As it turns out, Cheryl had omitted a few details from her bio, and one of those omissions was a St. Bernard named Moose. A short time after this night, August 12, 1983, to be exact, a film based on the Stephen King novel about a killer dog named Cujo was released.
If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t. In fact, I’m begging you to avoid viewing this film. If you disregard my warning there are only two possible outcomes and they both suck for yours truly.
- You’ll dig your eyes out with an ice cream scoop and I’ll get sued by your sighted relatives who will no doubt claim I’ve ruined your chances of ever realizing your dream of achieving fame and fortune as an eyeball model.
- You’ll scour the web until you locate my home address and before I can say “Blame Stephen King, he wrote the damn story!”, you’ll be knocking on my front door. To “thank” me. With a machete.
It also occurs to me that by imploring you to avoid watching Cujo, I’ve actually issued a challenge to your subconscious that it will be unable to avoid answering.Oh well, my list of regrets isn’t long enough anyway.
Now where was I? Oh yeah, Moose, the Dog Who Saved My Life. As you’ve no doubt surmised by now, I’m not exactly a master of the dramatic reveal and so I’m simply going to cut to the table, lay my cards out on the bush, stop beating around the chase and stop mixing metaphors. The truth is this:
My friends and I set out one night to spy on one of our more nubile classmates and I fell from a two-story cable tower while watching the same grandstanding schoolgirl put on a show for me and in the process I landed on her St. Bernard.
Boys will be boys, right?
But back to Moose. He may have broken my fall, but I still went down harder than Ginger Lynn in the 1985 adult film classic, Kinky Business. And trust me, that’s pretty hard. I became well acquainted with the gravel in Cheryl’s driveway while testing the strength of my still-developing skull. My eyesight had yet to deteriorate so I wasn’t sporting any eye wear but I was compelled to cover my boyish good looks with my suddenly-unencumbered hands – which were soon covered in a mixture of driveway dust and crimson liquid, courtesy of a dozen small cuts.
Old school Bond never bled.
So there I was, groaning and silently cursing the hormones that led to my literal downfall in the first place, when my self-pity gave way to confusion, bewilderment and fear when I rolled over and looked up at Moose’s heaving, drooling face. He just gave me a look that said:
“Seriously, Two-Legs? This is how you initiate a mating ritual? Just do what I do; sniff a female’s butt, take a deep breath and hop on! Easy peasy!”
Or something like that. Truth be told, I was far too occupied with overriding my body’s overwhelming urge to void my bowels all over Cheryl Williams’ driveway to focus on my canine language translating skills. Fortunately, his message delivered, Moose simply sniffed me for an eternity before wandering away, no doubt nursing a mother of a backache. I can only assume he picked up a hearty whiff of my mixed emotions – and the gallon of urine I was barely holing back – and decided I wasn’t worthy of his time.
The sigh of relief I was planning to release died in my lungs as Moose shuffled back into the night. Once her dog had returned to his post, I cast my gaze skyward and Cheryl Williams came back into view. In addition to a flimsy sheer nightgown
she wore an expression that was equal parts disappointment and righteous indignation, with just an inexplicable hint of elation. I had failed to play my role to her expectations and so the drama she had written in her young head was not going to play out on this particular night. I could actually feel the heat of her gaze on my damaged cheeks and I remember wondering when she was going to finally turn away and allow me to literally pick myself up, dust myself off and start again when I felt the cool night air all over my wounded body – and I mean all over.
Yep, as it turns out, “Mini-Me” was still present and standing at attention. Now in my forties, I often find myself returning to that night and envying my member’s perseverance. “Yes I can”, indeed.
I’d like to tell you that this story had a happy ending – eventually – but the truth is, the conclusion was a mixed bag, at best. It was agonizingly brief but I got to enjoy a helluva show before almost dying. I learned the value of true friendship after my buddies bailed on me. Cheryl Williams went easy on me and kept the details of that night to herself, although she never spoke to me ever again. And finally, I discovered that performance anxiety would never be a problem for me.
Suck on that Fred Savage of The Wonder Years.
My legion of followers: (Yes, I realize I’m contributing to the devaluation of the word “legion. Shut up.) This is where you come in. (Yes, I know you’re thinking “That’s what she said, Hook!”, but please try and concentrate, okay?) I need your help. Here’s what I need yo to do:
- Take a break from downloading increasingly-shameful dolphin pornography and click on the Comedy Network link right here.
- Before you got lost in Comedy’s awesome comedic black hole, click on one of the social media links in the right-hand corner.
- Share this post or any of my work with the good folks at Comedy.
- Use the hashtag “#TeamHook, if it strikes your fancy.
- Woo them in any way you choose: poetry, song, rant, maybe you have an aunt who happens to be a little loose with her affections… whatever, just putting it out there.
- Accept my thanks in advance.
See you in the lobby, kids…