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Paul F. Tompkins: Laboring Under Delusions

  • 04/21/2012
  • views: 2,278

Paul F. Tompkins revisits his professional past as a video thief, an extra in a Daniel Day-Lewis film and a retail clerk at Hats in the Belfry. (41:40)

NOW WE'RE TALKING.

THERE I AM, RAZOR-SHARP,CRYSTAL-CLEAR FOCUS.

THE BACK OF MY HEADCHASING DANIEL DAY-LEWIS

DOWN THE STREET.

THAT IS THE EXTENT OF MY ROLEIN THERE WILL BE BLOOD.

MY FRIENDSSTART SEEING THE MOVIE,

AND I START GETTINGTHESE MESSAGES,

PEOPLE CALLING ME UP,SAYING, "HEY, MAN,

"I JUST SAW YOUIN THERE WILL BE BLOOD.

"AWESOME JOB.

YOU SHOULD BEPROUD OF YOURSELF."

I GET, LIKE,SIX OF THESE MESSAGES,

AND I START TO THINK,

"ARE THESE PEOPLEMAKING FUN OF ME?"

I KNOW HOW LITTLE I AMIN THAT MOVIE.

IT'S NOT LIKE I'M DELUSIONAL,RIGHT?

IT'S NOT LIKEIF YOU ASKED ME,

"HEY, WHAT'S THERE WILL BE BLOOD ABOUT,"

I WOULD SAY,"OH, IT'S A STORY OF A GUY

TRYING TO KEEPA MEETING ON TRACK."

YEAH.

"IT'S WORTH A RENTAL.

DANIEL DAY-LEWISROUNDS OUT THE CAST."

TOO LONG,

YOU PASS THAT POINTOF NO RETURN

WHERE YOU STARTTALKING TO CUSTOMERS LIKE THIS.

"YES, SIR, I ALREADY TOLD YOU.IT'S IN AISLE THREE.

I CAN'T PICK YOU UPAND CARRY YOU OVER THERE."

SO I'D PASSED THAT POINTA LONG TIME AGO.

HAD A TASTEOF MY DREAM--GONE.

I WAS MAD AT THE WORLDABOUT IT,

[whispering]REALLY MAD AT MYSELF,

[normal voice]BUT SURELY THIS MUST BE

SOMEONE ELSE'S FAULT.

SO I GO AND I GET A JOBAT A VIDEO STORE.

AND THERE I WAS,BACK BEHIND A COUNTER,

ANGRY,FULL OF SELF-LOATHING,

AND I JUST COULDN'T MAKE THISFUN FOR MYSELF ANYMORE.

SO I STARTED STEALING.

YEAH.

IT WORKED LIKE A CHARM.

IT REALLY LIVENED THINGS UPAT THE OLD WORKPLACE.

I STOLE VIDEOTAPES,NOT MONEY.

I PRIDED MYSELFAT THE TIME

THAT I STOLE VIDEOTAPES,NOT MONEY FROM THE REGISTER.

I WAS NO COMMON THIEF,YOU SEE.

WITH THE REST OF MY LIFE,

I STILL THOUGHTIT WAS IMPORTANT

THAT I GO TO COLLEGETHAT FALL.

NO, I THOUGHT ABOUT IT.

I REALLY THOUGHTLONG AND HARD ABOUT THIS,

AND I THOUGHT,"IF I DON'T GO TO COLLEGE,

I MIGHT GET YELLED AT."

[laughter]

IS THERE ANYTHING WORSE ON EARTHTHAN BEING YELLED AT?

YOU'RE ALREADY WRONG.THERE ISN'T.

IT IS A FEAR THAT PERSISTSTO THIS DAY.

LIKE, I'M A GROWN MAN.

I HAVE A MUSTACHE,RIGHT?

THIS IS WHEN I KNEWIT WAS KIND OF TIME

TO MOVE ONFROM HATS IN THE BELFRY...

WHEN MORE THAN ONCE,THIS HAPPENED--

MORE THAN ONCE,THIS HAPPENED TO ME--

SOMEONE CAME INTO THE STORE.I'M ALONE BEHIND THE COUNTER.

PERSON COMES INTO THE STOREAND SAYS TO ME,

POINTING ATA VERY SPECIFIC HAT

THAT HASA VERY SPECIFIC NAME.

SAY TO ME, "HEY, LET METRY ON THAT KING HAT."

[laughter]

"IT'S NOT CALLED A KING HAT,SIR.

"IT'S CALLED A CROWN.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

"CROWN.YOU KNOW THIS.

"IT'S NOT A FOREIGN TERM,

"WE DON'T HAVE A WORD FOR ITIN ENGLISH.

"IT'S NOT A WORDYOU'VE ONLY EVER SEEN IN PRINT,

"YOU'VE NEVER SAID ITOUT LOUD,

"YOU'RE AFRAIDYOU'RE GONNA MISPRONOUNCE IT.

"CROWN.

"NOT KING HAT.

"CROWN.

"YOU KNOW, LIKE...

LIKE CROWN."

MORE THAN ONCE,THIS HAPPENED!

WEEP FOR HUMANITY,LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.

SIX MONTHS LATER,A TOTALLY DIFFERENT PERSON

WALKS INTO THE STORE.

I'M ALONEBEHIND THE COUNTER.

"HEY, CAN I SEETHE KING HAT?"

WHAT IS GOING ON?

HOW CAN THIS BE?

"DICTIONARY'S TOO HEAVY,GET RID OF SOME WORDS!"

NOW, NEEDLESS TO SAY,NEITHER ONE OF THESE GENIUSES

PURCHASED THE KING HAT.

- WHAT'S REALLY SAD IS

THIS NAMEACTUALLY WORKED ON ME.

LIKE, I THOUGHT,"IT'LL BE FUN TO WORK THERE."

I'LL TELL YOU WHO DID HAVE FUNAT HATS IN THE BELFRY

WAS THE CUSTOMERS.

PEOPLE WOULD COME INBY THE GAGGLE.

THEY WOULD ASK METO HAND THEM THINGS

THAT WERE CLOSER TO THEMTHAN THEY WERE TO ME.

THEY WOULD TRY ON HATS

AND GIGGLEAND LAUGH AT EACH OTHER,

TAKE PICTURES.[laughs sarcastically]

LEAVE EVERYTHING LYING AROUNDFOR ME TO CLEAN UP.

LEAVE WITHOUT BUYING ANYTHING,

PAUSING ONLYTO LOOK OVER THEIR SHOULDER

AND SAY TO ME, "YOU MUST HAVESO MUCH FUN WORKING HERE."

MUST I?

YOU ARE NOTTHE BOSS OF ME.

THAT OTHER TEENAGER IS.

HERE'S WHEN PEOPLE HADTHE MOST FUN

AT HATS IN THE BELFRY,

WAS TRYING ON OUR FANCIFUL,THEATRICAL HATS

THAT WERE HANGING UPON THE WALL.

THESE WERE COSTUME HATS.

THEY WOULD BE, LIKE,AN OVERSIZED 10-GALLON HAT,

OR AN ABE LINCOLN STOVEPIPE,OR A ROMAN CENTURION'S HELMET.

THESE HATS WERE SO MUCH FUN,

THEY COULDN'T BEDOWN ON THE GROUND

WHERE PEOPLE COULD JUSTGET AT THEM ANYTIME THEY WANTED,

SUFFER SOME SORT OF JOYOVERDOSE.

THESE HATS WERE HUNG UPON THE WALL OUT OF REACH.

AND FOR US TO GET THESE HATSDOWN OFF THE WALL,

WE THE EMPLOYEES WOULD TAKETHIS LONG WOODEN POLE,

AND WITH THIS POLE, WE WOULDFISH THE HATS OUT OF THE HEAVENS

AND THEN DEPOSIT THEMIN THE HANDS

OF THE WAITING FUN-SEEKERSBELOW.

MAYBE THAT'S WHYPEOPLE THOUGHT

I WAS HAVING SO MUCH FUNWORKING THERE,

'CAUSE I GOT TO PLAYWITH A STICK.

RIGHT?

THEY THOUGHT I WAS LIKEAN APE WHO'D FIGURED OUT A TOOL.

"OH, HE'S GONNA GET SOME ANTSON HIS STICK,

I'LL TELL YOU WHAT,IT'S CERTAINLY NOT

PART OF A BUSINESS MODEL,RIGHT?

IT'S NOT LIKE TWO GUYSGET TOGETHER

TO START A VIDEO STORE,LIKE,

"WHAT DO WE DOIF THE PEOPLE STEAL?"

"I DON'T KNOW.PAY THEM LESS."

"OOH,YOU'RE GOOD AT BUSINESS."

[laughter]

SO I WAS MADE TO WRITEAND SIGN A CONFESSION

WHILE THE MANAGERWATCHED ME.

THIS WAS SOME CLASSIC"GETTING YELLED AT" STUFF.

THIS IS LIKE I MIGHT AS WELL BENINE YEARS OLD,

WEARING MY CATHOLIC SCHOOLUNIFORM, RIGHT?

"DEAR VIDEO STORE, I'M SO SORRYTHAT I STOLE STUFF FROM YOU.

PLEASE DON'T BE TOO MAD.I WANT TO GO TO HEAVEN."

SO I TURN IN MY CONFESSION,AND I GO TO LEAVE.

AND I'M JUST BOMBARDEDWITH THOUGHTS,

LIKE, ALL OF THESE THOUGHTSAT ONCE,

"WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?

"LIKE, I WANTED TO DOSTAND-UP COMEDY,

AND NOW I'M GETTING FIREDFOR STEALING FROM A STORE,"

AND AS I'M GOING THROUGHTHIS EXISTENTIAL CRISIS,

THE MANAGER SAYS TO ME,

"AND, HEY,

DON'T EVER COME BACK."

I THINK I GOT IT, DUDE.

I THINK WHENI WAS WRITING THE WORDS,

"I STOLE STUFF FROM HERE,"

I FIGURED OUTI WOULDN'T BE WELCOME BACK HERE.

YOU WILL NOT BE SEEING MEIN A WEEK'S TIME,

"WELL, I'M ASSUMINGTHAT'S BLOWN OVER.

"WHAT'S UP, EVERYBODY?ANYTHING GOOD IN NEW RELEASES?

KEEP AN EYE ON ME!"[chuckles]

[cheers and applause]

WORKING RETAIL

THAT WAS THE FIRST TIME

I EVER HEARD THE PHRASE,

"IF YOU'VE GOT TIME TO LEAN,YOU'VE GOT TIME TO CLEAN."

ANOTHER HUMAN BEINGSAID THAT TO ME.

TO MY FACE!

"IF YOU'VE GOT TIME TO LEAN,YOU'VE GOT TIME TO CLEAN."

WHY ARE YOU RHYMINGSTUFF LIKE THAT?

ARE WE IN THE ARMY?

SO LEANING--JUST OUT OF THE QUESTION.

TOTALLYOUT OF THE QUESTION?

UNACCEPTABLEFOR AN EIGHT-HOUR SHIFT?

YOU KNOW I'M NOT A HORSE,RIGHT?

I CAN'T, LIKE,JUST LOCK MY KNEES,

AND I'M GOOD FOR THE DAY.

SO MY FIRST RETAIL JOBWAS A HAT STORE.

A HAT STOREBY THE NAME OF...

"HATS IN THE BELFRY."

[laughter and applause]

WEIRD.

WEIRD APPLAUSE.

SURELY THE OWNERSOF HATS IN THE BELFRY

WERE DOING THE SAME THINGWHEN THEY CAME UP WITH THAT GEM.

LET ME WALK YOU THROUGHTHAT TITLE.

YOU KNOW THE EXPRESSION"BATS IN THE BELFRY"?

[laughter]

MEANINGSOMETHING'S A LITTLE CRAZY.

IT'S NOT QUITEWHAT YOU EXPECTED.

AND YOU KNOW HATS?

[laughter]

BY 1994 I'D BEENMAKING A LIVING

DOING STAND-UP COMEDYFOR ABOUT A YEAR.

BUT THENCLUBS STARTED CLOSING DOWN,

ALL THE WORK DRIED UP,

I HAD NO JOBS,I HAD NO PROSPECT FOR JOBS,

AND SOI FIGURE TO MYSELF,

"WELL, IF I'M GONNA STARTSTRUGGLING ALL OVER AGAIN,

I MIGHT AS WELL GO DO THATSOMEPLACE WHERE IT'S WARM."

SO I MOVETO LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA,

WHERE I DID NOTKNOW A SOUL,

AND WHERE I VERY QUICKLYBURNED THROUGH MY STAKE OF $200.

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN SO BROKEYOU CAN'T BELIEVE IT?

YOU KNOW THAT FEELING?

[laughter and applause]

YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?

REALLY?

YOU FIND YOURSELF SAYING,"HOLD ON, HOLD ON A SECOND.

"I HAVE ZERO MONEY?

I DON'T THINKTHAT'S EVEN LEGAL."

SO I KNEW WHAT I HAD TO DO,

BUT I REALLYDIDN'T WANT TO DO IT,

WHICH WASGET A DAY JOB AGAIN.

NOW, THIS WASGOING TO BE TOUGH,

BECAUSE I HAD HAD A TASTEOF DOING WHAT I WANTED TO DO

FOR A LIVING,AND THAT WAS NOW GONE.

LAYER ON TO THATTHIS THICK CREAM OF BITTERNESS.

I HAD USED UP ALLOF MY RETAIL GOODWILL LONG AGO.

HERE'S HOW IT WORKSIN A RETAIL CAREER.

YOU START OFFAT A RETAIL JOB SAYING,

"YOU KNOW WHAT?THIS JOB IS GONNA BE EASY.

"I MEAN,WHAT DO YOU DO, REALLY?

"YOU JUST HANG OUTBEHIND A REGISTER.

"YOU'RE, LIKE,SELLING STUFF TO PEOPLE,

"AND YOU'RE REALLYKIND OF JUST CHATTING ALL DAY.

"I MEAN,WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT,

"I'M REALLY JUST GETTING PAIDTO HANG OUT FOR EIGHT HOURS.

AND I LIKE PEOPLE."

AND YOU THINKTHAT YOU DO.

RIGHT?

[laughter and applause]

YEAH, PEOPLE ARE GREAT!

PEOPLE COMEINTO THE STORE,

AND YOU'RE SO CHIPPERAND FULL OF LIFE.

"HI, CAN I HELP YOU, OR DO YOUJUST WANT TO HANG OUT?"

YOU'RE STARTINGTO MAKE ME THINK

THAT I HAVESOME SORT OF DISEASE.

[laughter]

[laughing] LISTEN,DON'T TELL PAUL.

WE JUST WANT HIS FINAL DAYSTO BE AS EXCITING AS POSSIBLE.

[laughs]

OH, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,THANK YOU SO MUCH

FOR BEING HERE THIS EVENING.

I JUST WANT TO TELL YOUSOME STORIES TONIGHT

OF VARIOUS JOBSTHAT I HAVE HAD OVER THE YEARS.

AND I'M SPEAKING TO YOUIN MY CAPACITY

AS A STAND-UP COMEDIAN.

THIS IS THE LONGESTI'VE HELD ANY JOB TITLE, EVER.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,I'VE BEEN A STAND-UP COMEDIAN

SINCE I WAS 17 YEARS OLD.

17.

I WAS A CHILD!

A CHILD GOING TO WORKIN COMEDY CLUBS.

IT WAS DOWNRIGHT DICKENSIAN.

THERE I WAS,JUST OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL,

MY TATTERED CAPAND MY SOOTY FACE,

AND I WENT TOA COMEDY CLUB.

[British accent] PLEASE, SIR,MAY I TELL SOME JOKES?

[laughter]

SO THE MOMENT I SET FOOT

ON THE STAGEOF A COMEDY CLUB,

THAT'S WHEN I KNEW,WELL, THIS IS WHAT I'M GONNA DO

FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.

CASE CLOSED,I'VE FIGURED IT OUT RIGHT NOW.

BUT EVEN THOUGH I KNEW

WHAT I WAS GONNA DOWITH THE REST OF MY LIFE,

I STILL THOUGHTIT WAS IMPORTANT

THAT I GO TO COLLEGETHAT FALL.

NO, I THOUGHT ABOUT IT.

I REALLY THOUGHTLONG AND HARD ABOUT THIS,

AND I THOUGHT,"IF I DON'T GO TO COLLEGE,

I MIGHT GET YELLED AT."

[laughter]

IS THERE ANYTHING WORSE ON EARTHTHAN BEING YELLED AT?

YOU'RE ALREADY WRONG.THERE ISN'T.

IT IS A FEAR THAT PERSISTSTO THIS DAY.

LIKE, I'M A GROWN MAN.

I HAVE A MUSTACHE,RIGHT?

STILL AFRAID OFGETTING YELLED AT.

SO THERE WAS NO WAYI WASN'T GONNA GO TO COLLEGE.

AS SOON AS I GOT TO COLLEGE,THOUGH,

MUCH LIKE AS I SET FOOTON A COMEDY CLUB STAGE

AND KNEW THIS WASWHAT I WAS GONNA DO

FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.-

AS SOON AS I SET FOOTON A COLLEGE CAMPUS,

LIKE,"UGH, MORE SCHOOL?

WHEN DOES THIS EVER END?"

SO I DROPPED OUTSO FAST.

SO FAST I DROPPED OUT.

AND I DON'T REGRETANYTHING.

TO THIS DAY,LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,

I WILLOCCASIONALLY REALIZE

I NEVER HAVE TOGO TO SCHOOL AGAIN,

AND THIS WAVE OF RELIEFWASHES OVER ME.

LIKE,"OH, THAT'S RIGHT!

"AHH!OH, I DO WHAT I LIKE.

"OH, I'M NOTSOME POOR, DUMB CHILD

NOT IN CONTROL OFTHEIR OWN LIFE."

[laughs]

SO MY ACADEMIC CAREERENDED LITERALLY UNCEREMONIOUSLY.

AND NOW I HAD TOTELL MY PARENTS

THAT I HADDROPPED OUT OF COLLEGE, RIGHT?

AND I WAS TERRIFIED,

BRACED MYSELFFOR A GALE-FORCE "YELLING AT."

AND MY MOTHER JUST SAYS,

"WELL, WE EXPECTED THISTO HAPPEN."

UGH!

I DON'T CARE FOR THATAT ALL.

LET'S PUT ASIDE THE FACT THATTECHNICALLY YOU ARE CORRECT,

BECAUSE HERE WE ARE.

LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING,LADY.

IT'S THIS KINDOF NON-SUPPORTIVE PARENTING

THAT IS DRIVING METO SEEK VALIDATION

FROM STRANGERSIN COMEDY CLUBS.

SO MY MOTHER SAID,"WELL, IF YOU'RE NOT GOING TO

GO TO SCHOOL,YOU HAVE TO GET A JOB."

FAIR ENOUGH.

SO I WENT DOWNTOWN,MOVED DOWNTOWN PHILADELPHIA,

GOT MY FIRST RETAIL JOB.

NOW, I HAD NEVER HADA JOB BEFORE,

AND THIS OPENED UPA WHOLE NEW UNIVERSE

OF GETTING YELLED ATTHAT I DIDN'T EVEN

BELIEVE WAS POSSIBLE.

LIKE, THIS PERSONA YEAR OLDER THAN ME

DETERMINED MY FATEEVERY DAY.

WORKING RETAIL--THAT WAS THE FIRST TIME

I EVER HEARD THE PHRASE,

"IF YOU'VE GOT TIME TO LEAN,YOU'VE GOT TIME TO CLEAN."

ANOTHER HUMAN BEINGSAID THAT TO ME.

TO MY FACE!

"IF YOU'VE GOT TIME TO LEAN,YOU'VE GOT TIME TO CLEAN."

WHY ARE YOU RHYMINGSTUFF LIKE THAT?

ARE WE IN THE ARMY?

SO LEANING--JUST OUT OF THE QUESTION.

TOTALLYOUT OF THE QUESTION?

UNACCEPTABLEFOR AN EIGHT-HOUR SHIFT?

YOU KNOW I'M NOT A HORSE,RIGHT?

I CAN'T, LIKE,JUST LOCK MY KNEES,

AND I'M GOOD FOR THE DAY.

SO MY FIRST RETAIL JOBWAS A HAT STORE.

A HAT STOREBY THE NAME OF...

"HATS IN THE BELFRY."

[laughter and applause]

WEIRD.

WEIRD APPLAUSE.

SURELY THE OWNERSOF HATS IN THE BELFRY

WERE DOING THE SAME THINGWHEN THEY CAME UP WITH THAT GEM.

LET ME WALK YOU THROUGHTHAT TITLE.

YOU KNOW THE EXPRESSION"BATS IN THE BELFRY"?

[laughter]

MEANINGSOMETHING'S A LITTLE CRAZY.

IT'S NOT QUITEWHAT YOU EXPECTED.

AND YOU KNOW HATS?

[laughter]

- WHAT'S REALLY SAD IS

THIS NAMEACTUALLY WORKED ON ME.

LIKE, I THOUGHT,"IT'LL BE FUN TO WORK THERE."

I'LL TELL YOU WHO DID HAVE FUNAT HATS IN THE BELFRY

WAS THE CUSTOMERS.

PEOPLE WOULD COME INBY THE GAGGLE.

THEY WOULD ASK METO HAND THEM THINGS

THAT WERE CLOSER TO THEMTHAN THEY WERE TO ME.

THEY WOULD TRY ON HATS

AND GIGGLEAND LAUGH AT EACH OTHER,

TAKE PICTURES.[laughs sarcastically]

LEAVE EVERYTHING LYING AROUNDFOR ME TO CLEAN UP.

LEAVE WITHOUT BUYING ANYTHING,

PAUSING ONLYTO LOOK OVER THEIR SHOULDER

AND SAY TO ME, "YOU MUST HAVESO MUCH FUN WORKING HERE."

MUST I?

YOU ARE NOTTHE BOSS OF ME.

THAT OTHER TEENAGER IS.

HERE'S WHEN PEOPLE HADTHE MOST FUN

AT HATS IN THE BELFRY,

WAS TRYING ON OUR FANCIFUL,THEATRICAL HATS

THAT WERE HANGING UPON THE WALL.

THESE WERE COSTUME HATS.

THEY WOULD BE, LIKE,AN OVERSIZED 10-GALLON HAT,

OR AN ABE LINCOLN STOVEPIPE,OR A ROMAN CENTURION'S HELMET.

THESE HATS WERE SO MUCH FUN,

THEY COULDN'T BEDOWN ON THE GROUND

WHERE PEOPLE COULD JUSTGET AT THEM ANYTIME THEY WANTED,

SUFFER SOME SORT OF JOYOVERDOSE.

THESE HATS WERE HUNG UPON THE WALL OUT OF REACH.

AND FOR US TO GET THESE HATSDOWN OFF THE WALL,

WE THE EMPLOYEES WOULD TAKETHIS LONG WOODEN POLE,

AND WITH THIS POLE, WE WOULDFISH THE HATS OUT OF THE HEAVENS

AND THEN DEPOSIT THEMIN THE HANDS

OF THE WAITING FUN-SEEKERSBELOW.

MAYBE THAT'S WHYPEOPLE THOUGHT

I WAS HAVING SO MUCH FUNWORKING THERE,

'CAUSE I GOT TO PLAYWITH A STICK.

RIGHT?

THEY THOUGHT I WAS LIKEAN APE WHO'D FIGURED OUT A TOOL.

"OH, HE'S GONNA GET SOME ANTSON HIS STICK,

AND THAT'LL BE HIS LUNCH."

THIS IS WHEN I KNEWIT WAS KIND OF TIME

TO MOVE ONFROM HATS IN THE BELFRY...

WHEN MORE THAN ONCE,THIS HAPPENED--

MORE THAN ONCE,THIS HAPPENED TO ME--

SOMEONE CAME INTO THE STORE.I'M ALONE BEHIND THE COUNTER.

PERSON COMES INTO THE STOREAND SAYS TO ME,

POINTING ATA VERY SPECIFIC HAT

THAT HASA VERY SPECIFIC NAME.

SAY TO ME, "HEY, LET METRY ON THAT KING HAT."

[laughter]

"IT'S NOT CALLED A KING HAT,SIR.

"IT'S CALLED A CROWN.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

"CROWN.YOU KNOW THIS.

"IT'S NOT A FOREIGN TERM,

"WE DON'T HAVE A WORD FOR ITIN ENGLISH.

"IT'S NOT A WORDYOU'VE ONLY EVER SEEN IN PRINT,

"YOU'VE NEVER SAID ITOUT LOUD,

"YOU'RE AFRAIDYOU'RE GONNA MISPRONOUNCE IT.

"CROWN.

"NOT KING HAT.

"CROWN.

"YOU KNOW, LIKE...

LIKE CROWN."

MORE THAN ONCE,THIS HAPPENED!

WEEP FOR HUMANITY,LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.

SIX MONTHS LATER,A TOTALLY DIFFERENT PERSON

WALKS INTO THE STORE.

I'M ALONEBEHIND THE COUNTER.

"HEY, CAN I SEETHE KING HAT?"

WHAT IS GOING ON?

HOW CAN THIS BE?

"DICTIONARY'S TOO HEAVY,GET RID OF SOME WORDS!"

NOW, NEEDLESS TO SAY,NEITHER ONE OF THESE GENIUSES

PURCHASED THE KING HAT.

DID YOU NEEDTHAT LITTLE P.S.?

"OH, YOU WON'T BE BUYINGTHE KING HAT TODAY?

"YOU WON'T BE BUYINGTHE KING HAT

"USING YOUR VALUE PAPERS?

WELL, THEN, MAY I SHOW YOUTO THE 'GO AWAY' HOLE?"

[applause]

SURE.

ABSOLUTELY.

THOSE GUYS WERE DUMB.

BEST WEEK EVER WAS APOP CULTURE WEEK IN REVIEW SHOW.

EVERY FRIDAY NIGHT.

IT WAS ME AND A BUNCHOF OTHER COMEDIANS

SITTING ONE AT A TIME IN FRONTOF COLORED CONSTRUCTION PAPER

MAKING JOKESABOUT FAMOUS PEOPLE.

IT WAS JUST THAT SIMPLE,RIGHT?

AND THIS SHOW WASEXTREMELY LOW-BUDGET, RIGHT?

IT WAS--BASICALLY,WE WEREN'T EVEN IN A TV STUDIO.

WE WERE INAN OFFICE BUILDING,

AND OUR "SET"WAS IN A DISUSED OFFICE

WHERE THERE WASJUST ENOUGH ROOM FOR THE CAMERA,

A CHAIR, ANDTHE CONSTRUCTION PAPER, RIGHT?

THAT WAS IT.

NOW, AT THAT TIME,

WE SHARED A WALLWITH ANOTHER TV SHOW,

THE I LOVE THE... SERIES OF PROGRAMS.

I LOVE THE '70s, I LOVE THE '80s, I LOVE THE '90s.

THIS WASA SHOW WHERE

A TOTALLY DIFFERENTGROUP OF COMEDIANS

WOULD SIT IN FRONT OF

A TOTALLY DIFFERENTROLL OF CONSTRUCTION PAPER,

AND THEY WOULD WAX COMEDICABOUT A BYGONE DECADE.

LIKE, THEY WOULDPICK UP A RUBIK'S CUBE

AND SAY,"RUBIK'S CUBE, REMEMBER?"

AND THEN PUT ITBACK DOWN.

[laughter and applause]

THAT ONESTILL AIRS SOMETIMES.

SO BECAUSE WE WERE NOTIN AN ACTUAL TV STUDIO,

WE COULD HEAR EACH OTHERTHROUGH THE WALLS.

NOW, THIS IS NOT GREATFOR TELEVISION PRODUCTION.

YOU KNOW HOW WHENYOU WATCH LAW & ORDER,

YOU DON'T ALSO HEAR SCRUBS AT THE SAME TIME?

THAT'S ON PURPOSE.

IT ENHANCES THE VIEWING.

SO MY FILM CAREER HAS BEENSPOTTY AT BEST.

[laughter]

HOW'S YOURS?

HOW DARE YOU.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THISSPOTTY FILM CAREER

WAS WHEN I GOT A CALLSAYING I HAD BEEN CAST

IN A THREE-LINE PART INTHE MOVIE THERE WILL BE BLOOD,

OPPOSITEDANIEL DAY-LEWIS.

[cheers and applause]SURE.

ABSOLUTELY.

EVERYONE LOVES SHOES.

NOW, I HAVE MATURED SUFFICIENTLYIN THE INTERVENING YEARS

THAT I AM MORE EXCITEDTHAN TERRIFIED TO DO THIS.

A LITTLE BIT TERRIFIED,

MOSTLY EXCITED.

SO I GET THERE,

AND I MEET EVERYBODY AND GETWARDROBE AND ALL THIS STUFF.

IT'S VERY EXCITING,YOU KNOW.

AND SO I GET TO THE SET,AND THERE'S DANIEL DAY-LEWIS.

AND HE'S SITTINGIN A CHAIR.

NOW, I'D HEARD THAT HE WASA LITTLE BIT INTENSE, RIGHT?

BUT HE'S NOT, REALLY,HE'S REALLY...

THE MOST INTENSE PERSONTHAT HAS EVER LIVED!

ON EARTH!

ALL HE IS DOING ISSITTING IN A CHAIR,

AND I AM TERRIFIEDOF HIM!

IT IS LIKE A JUNGLE CATHAS WANDERED ONTO THE SET.

LIKE, "WHOA! WHOA! WHOA!

"UH, WHAT DO YOU DO?

"UH, ARE YOU SUPPOSED TOMOVE AROUND A LOT

"OR STAY PERFECTLY STILL?WHA--

WHAT ARE THE RULESOF DANIEL DAY-LEWIS?"

- MY GIRLFRIEND AT THE TIME

WAS GROWING ALARMEDAT THE GROWING STACK OF VIDEOS

ON THE COFFEE TABLE.

SHE SAYS,"YOU'RE GONNA GET CAUGHT."

AND I SAID, "HONEY...

"DON'T YOU KNOW ABOUTTHE ARRANGEMENT IN RETAIL?

"THEY EXPECT ME TO STEAL,

"THAT'S WHY THEY PAY MESO LITTLE.

"IF I GET CAUGHT,IT'S NO BIG DEAL.

"I GOT IT ALL FIGURED OUT.

"LET'S ROLE-PLAY THIS.YOU BE THE MANAGER.

I WILL ESSAYTHE ROLE OF ME."

SO SHE SAYS, "WE KNOWYOU'VE BEEN STEALING VIDEOS."

I SAY, "OH, I WILL NOT WORKFOR ANY COMPANY

"THAT CALLS ME A THIEF.

YOU MAY CONSIDER THISMY RESIGNATION."

I'M OUT OF THERE.

THEY GET RID OF THE GUYWHO'S STEALING STUFF.

I GET TO SAVE FACE.

IT'S ALL PART OF THEARRANGEMENT.

A YEAR GOES BY.

I AM DOING THISFOR A YEAR.

FINALLY, ONE DAYTHE MANAGER SAYS TO ME,

"HEY, CAN YOUCOME TO MY OFFICE?

"HAVE A SEAT.

WE KNOWYOU'VE BEEN STEALING VIDEOS."

AH, THE MOMENTHAS BEEN PREPARED FOR.

I KNOW EXACTLYWHAT TO DO.

NOW, ADMITTEDLY,I DID NOT EXPECT THIS TO HAPPEN

THAT PARTICULAR DAY.

SO A LITTLECAUGHT OFF GUARD,

AND I DID NOT GO INTO MY PLANIMMEDIATELY.

I HAD TO IMPROVISEIN THE MOMENT.

SO WHAT I DID WAS,I IMMEDIATELY BROKE EYE CONTACT,

AND I SENT A HOT RUSH OF BLOODTO MY FACE AND EARS,

BECAUSE THAT'S WHEN I REMEMBEREDTHAT STEALING IS WRONG!

ALL THE TIME!

NO JUSTIFICATION FOR IT.

I DID NOT HAVE HUNGRY BABIESAT HOME

SO THERE WAS NO WAY I WASN'T GOING TO GO TO COLLEGE.

AS SOON AS I GOT TO COLLEGE,THOUGH,

MUCH LIKE AS I SET FOOTON A COMEDY CLUB STAGE

AND KNEW THIS WASWHAT I WAS GONNA DO

FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.-

AS SOON AS I SET FOOTON A COLLEGE CAMPUS,

LIKE,"UGH, MORE SCHOOL?

WHEN DOES THIS EVER END?"

SO I DROPPED OUTSO FAST.

SO FAST I DROPPED OUT.

AND I DON'T REGRETANYTHING.

TO THIS DAY,LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,

I WILLOCCASIONALLY REALIZE

I NEVER HAVE TOGO TO SCHOOL AGAIN,

AND THIS WAVE OF RELIEFWASHES OVER ME.

LIKE,"OH, THAT'S RIGHT!

"AHH!OH, I DO WHAT I LIKE.

"OH, I'M NOTSOME POOR, DUMB CHILD

NOT IN CONTROL OFTHEIR OWN LIFE."

[laughs]

SO MY ACADEMIC CAREERENDED LITERALLY UNCEREMONIOUSLY.

AND NOW I HAD TOTELL MY PARENTS

THAT I HADDROPPED OUT OF COLLEGE, RIGHT?

AND I WAS TERRIFIED,

BRACED MYSELFFOR A GALE-FORCE "YELLING AT."

AND MY MOTHER JUST SAYS,

"WELL, WE EXPECTED THISTO HAPPEN."

UGH!

I DON'T CARE FOR THATAT ALL.

LET'S PUT ASIDE THE FACT THATTECHNICALLY YOU ARE CORRECT,

BECAUSE HERE WE ARE.

LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING,LADY.

IT'S THIS KINDOF NON-SUPPORTIVE PARENTING

THAT IS DRIVING METO SEEK VALIDATION

FROM STRANGERSIN COMEDY CLUBS.

SO MY MOTHER SAID,"WELL, IF YOU'RE NOT GOING TO

GO TO SCHOOL,YOU HAVE TO GET A JOB."

FAIR ENOUGH.

SO I WENT DOWNTOWN,MOVED DOWNTOWN PHILADELPHIA,

GOT MY FIRST RETAIL JOB.

NOW, I HAD NEVER HADA JOB BEFORE,

AND THIS OPENED UPA WHOLE NEW UNIVERSE

OF GETTING YELLED ATTHAT I DIDN'T EVEN

BELIEVE WAS POSSIBLE.

LIKE, THIS PERSONA YEAR OLDER THAN ME

DETERMINED MY FATEEVERY DAY.

HAD BEEN DONE AT ALL.

WE COULD HEAR EACH OTHERTHROUGH THE WALLS,

AND IN THE ABSENCEOF ANY ETIQUETTE

FOR HANDLING THIS SITUATION,WHICH SHOULD NOT BE OCCURRING,

WE EVOLVED OUR OWN ETIQUETTEWITHOUT EVEN TALKING ABOUT IT.

THIS IS WHATWE CAME UP WITH.

WHOEVER GOT THERE FIRSTHAD THE RIGHT TO COMPLAIN

ABOUT THE OTHER SHOW,

AND THE OTHER SHOWHAD TO ACT LIKE

THEY HAD DONESOMETHING WRONG.

DIDN'T MAKE ANY SENSEAT ALL,

BUT IF I LOVE THE '70sGOT THERE FIRST

AND WE WERE MAKINGTOO MUCH NOISE FOR THEM,

THEY WOULD COME OVERAND SAY,

"YOU GUYS!WOULD YOU KEEP IT DOWN?

WE'RE TRYING TO MAKEA TV SHOW OVER THERE!"

AND THEN WE HAD TO SAY,"OH, SORRY, SORRY.

WE WERE JUST TRYING TO MAKEA TV SHOW OVER HERE."

DUMB, DUMB, DUMB.

SO ONE DAY, BEST WEEK EVER IS THERE FIRST,

THAT MEANS WE HAVETHE RIGHT OF COMPLAINT,

I LOVE THE '80sGETS THERE AFTER US.

THEY START GETTING LOUD.

ONE OF OUR CREW MEMBERSGOES OVER

TO TELL THEMTO KEEP IT DOWN.

GUY COMES BACK,AND HE'S GIGGLING,

AND HE SAYS, "OH, MAN,GUESS WHO'S OVER THERE.

IT'S 'WEIRD AL' YANKOVIC,"

AND I SAID, "OH, NEXT TIMETHEY START MAKING NOISE,

"LET ME GO OVER THERE.

"I KNOW WEIRD ALFROM COMEDY.

"I'LL MAKE A BIG BITOUT OF BEING MAD ABOUT IT.

"IT'LL DIFFUSE THE TENSION,

EVERYBODY WILL HAVEA GOOD TIME WITH IT."

FIVE MINUTES LATER,

I LOVE THE '80sSTARTS TO GET LOUD AGAIN.

I SAY, "OH, HERE I GO!

THIS IS GONNA BE GREAT."

NOW, I NEED YOU TO KNOW

THAT WHAT I'M GONNA DOFOR YOU NOW

IS EXACTLYWHAT I DID BACK THEN.

I'M NOT EXAGGERATINGIN ANY WAY.

I KICK THE DOOR IN...

[laughter and applause]

RIGHT?

I FIND WEIRD AL,AND I SAY, "WEIRD!

YOU HAVE GOTTO KEEP IT DOWN!"

JUST LIKE THAT.

WEIRD AL RESPONDS,"OH, I KNOW, I'M SORRY.

"SOMEBODY ALREADYCAME OVER HERE ONCE,

"AND I GOT CARRIED AWAY,I GUESS.

"I'M REALLY SORRY.I HOPE I DIDN'T RUIN A TAKE,

OR ANYTHING."

I THINK,"OKAY, WELL, THIS IS NOT

I THOUGHT WE WERE ALLGONNA LAUGH ABOUT IT,

BUT I'M MAKING WEIRD ALFEEL BAD.

THAT WAS NOT--NOT MY PLAN AT ALL.

I WILL TRY THIS AGAIN,

AND THIS TIME I WILL MAKE ITEVEN MORE OVER THE TOP,

SO IT'S OBVIOUSTO EVERYONE

I'M NOT REALLY MAD,I'M JUST KIDDING AROUND.

OKAY, THOUGHT IT WAS PRETTYOBVIOUS THE FIRST TIME, BUT...

MAYBE I'M JUSTA TERRIFIC ACTOR.

PERHAPS YOU SAW MEIN THERE WILL BE BLOOD.

[laughter and applause]

SO...

I TAKE ANOTHER RUN AT IT,AND I GO,

"I MEAN, WEIRD!

YOU ARE KILLING USOVER THERE!"

JUST LIKE THAT.

WEIRD AL RESPONDS, "OH, I KNOW,I KNOW. IT'S SO EMBARRASSING.

"IT'S LIKE I JUST DON'T KNOWHOW LOUD I'M GETTING,

AND I'M JUST SO, SO SORRY.I FEEL DUMB, I FEEL SO DUMB,"

AND I THINK, "DOES HE NOT HEARTHAT I'M CALLING HIM 'WEIRD'?"

SO I THINK TO MYSELF,"OKAY, OKAY, I...

"I DON'T KNOW HOWTHIS IS HAPPENING,

"BUT THAT WAS NOTBIG ENOUGH.

"I GOT TO REALLY DIG DEEP HEREAND JUST GO SO OVER THE TOP

"THAT THERE'S NO MISTAKING ITWHATSOEVER,

"LIKE, I GOT TO GO SO HUGEON THIS

"THAT SOMEBODY50 YARDS AWAY,

"IF THEY GLANCEDIN THIS DIRECTION,

"THEIR ONLYTHOUGHT WOULD BE,

'THEY'RE HAVING FUNOVER THERE.'"

OKAY, HERE WE GO.

GONNA REALLY SWINGFOR THE FENCES ON THIS ONE.

AND SO I SAY,

"I MEAN, WEIRD!

"YOU HAVE GOT TOPUT A SOCK IN IT!

AAH!"

AND THAT'SWHEN I REALIZED,

I HAVE NEVER MET WEIRD ALIN MY LIFE.

[laughter and applause]

NO, NOT ONCE.

NEVER.

NOT A ONE TIME.

I HAVE MY THREE LINES,RIGHT,

AND HERE'S THE SCENE.

THERE IS A MEETINGTAKING PLACE,

THE MEETINGDOES NOT GO WELL,

DANIEL DAY-LEWISSTORMS OUT OF THE MEETING.

MY CHARACTER IS SUPPOSEDTO CHASE HIM DOWN

AND GET HIM TO STAYAT THE MEETING.

SPOILER ALERT--HE DOES NOT STAY AT THE MEETING.

YOU'VE HAD TIME TO SEE IT.

SO...

SO WE BEGIN THE SCENE.CAMERAS ARE ROLLING.

DANIEL DAY-LEWIS STORMS OUT.I RUN AFTER HIM.

"PLEASE STAY AT THE MEETING.PLEASE STAY AT THE MEETING.

PLEASE STAY AT THE MEETING."

THE SCENE ENDSWITH DANIEL DAY-LEWIS

WHEELING AROUNDAND YELLING RIGHT IN MY FACE!

[laughter]

BUT IT IS FINALLY OKAY.

I AM FILLED WITH GIDDINESSAS HE DOES IT,

BECAUSE INSIDE,I AM THINKING,

"I AM NOT EVENSUPPOSED TO BE HERE.

I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE!"

SO WE DO A FEW MORE TAKES.

WITH EACH SUCCESSIVE TAKE,MY CO-STAR, MR. DAY-LEWIS...

PERHAPS SEIZED BY THE SPIRITOF THESPIS HIMSELF...

HE BEGINS CUTTING ME OFFQUICKER AND QUICKER AND QUICKER,

SO MY THREE SENTENCES END UPBEING, LIKE, ONE AND SOME.

SO, WHEN THE MOVIEIS COMING OUT, I'M THINKING,

"I DON'T KNOW IF I'M GONNA BEIN THIS ONE SO MUCH."

BUT THE SCENE UNFOLDS.OH, THERE I AM.

YES, THAT IS ME,

OVER DANIEL DAY-LEWIS'RIGHT SHOULDER.

THAT OUT-OF-FOCUS BLOB OF COLORSIS PAUL F. TOMPKINS.

- BY 1994, I'D BEEN MAKINGA LIVING DOING STAND-UP COMEDY

FOR ABOUT A YEAR.

BUT THENCLUBS STARTED CLOSING DOWN,

ALL THE WORK DRIED UP,

I HAD NO JOBS,I HAD NO PROSPECT FOR JOBS,

AND SOI FIGURE TO MYSELF,

"WELL, IF I'M GONNA STARTSTRUGGLING ALL OVER AGAIN,

I MIGHT AS WELL GO DO THATSOMEPLACE WHERE IT'S WARM."

SO I MOVETO LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA,

WHERE I DID NOTKNOW A SOUL,

AND WHERE I VERY QUICKLYBURNED THROUGH MY STAKE OF $200.

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN SO BROKEYOU CAN'T BELIEVE IT?

YOU KNOW THAT FEELING?

[laughter and applause]

YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?

REALLY?

YOU FIND YOURSELF SAYING,"HOLD ON, HOLD ON A SECOND.

"I HAVE ZERO MONEY?

I DON'T THINKTHAT'S EVEN LEGAL."

SO I KNEW WHAT I HAD TO DO,

BUT I REALLYDIDN'T WANT TO DO IT,

WHICH WASGET A DAY JOB AGAIN.

NOW, THIS WASGOING TO BE TOUGH,

BECAUSE I HAD HAD A TASTEOF DOING WHAT I WANTED TO DO

FOR A LIVING,AND THAT WAS NOW GONE.

LAYER ON TO THATTHIS THICK CREAM OF BITTERNESS.

I HAD USED UP ALLOF MY RETAIL GOODWILL LONG AGO.

HERE'S HOW IT WORKSIN A RETAIL CAREER.

YOU START OFFAT A RETAIL JOB SAYING,

"YOU KNOW WHAT?THIS JOB IS GONNA BE EASY.

"I MEAN,WHAT DO YOU DO, REALLY?

"YOU JUST HANG OUTBEHIND A REGISTER.

"YOU'RE, LIKE,SELLING STUFF TO PEOPLE,

"AND YOU'RE REALLYKIND OF JUST CHATTING ALL DAY.

"I MEAN,WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT,

"I'M REALLY JUST GETTING PAIDTO HANG OUT FOR EIGHT HOURS.

AND I LIKE PEOPLE."

AND YOU THINKTHAT YOU DO.

RIGHT?

[laughter and applause]

YEAH, PEOPLE ARE GREAT!

PEOPLE COMEINTO THE STORE,

AND YOU'RE SO CHIPPERAND FULL OF LIFE.

"HI, CAN I HELP YOU, OR DO YOUJUST WANT TO HANG OUT?"

WHEN YOU STAY IN RETAILTOO LONG,

YOU PASS THAT POINTOF NO RETURN

WHERE YOU STARTTALKING TO CUSTOMERS LIKE THIS.

"YES, SIR, I ALREADY TOLD YOU.IT'S IN AISLE THREE.

I CAN'T PICK YOU UPAND CARRY YOU OVER THERE."

SO I'D PASSED THAT POINTA LONG TIME AGO.

HAD A TASTEOF MY DREAM--GONE.

I WAS MAD AT THE WORLDABOUT IT,

[whispering]REALLY MAD AT MYSELF,

[normal voice]BUT SURELY THIS MUST BE

SOMEONE ELSE'S FAULT.

SO I GO AND I GET A JOBAT A VIDEO STORE.

AND THERE I WAS,BACK BEHIND A COUNTER,

ANGRY,FULL OF SELF-LOATHING,

AND I JUST COULDN'T MAKE THISFUN FOR MYSELF ANYMORE.

SO I STARTED STEALING.

YEAH.

IT WORKED LIKE A CHARM.

IT REALLY LIVENED THINGS UPAT THE OLD WORKPLACE.

I STOLE VIDEOTAPES,NOT MONEY.

I PRIDED MYSELFAT THE TIME

THAT I STOLE VIDEOTAPES,NOT MONEY FROM THE REGISTER.

I WAS NO COMMON THIEF,YOU SEE.

I WAS A GENTLEMEN BANDIT.

THAT'S RIGHT.

STEALING VIDEOS FROM THE RICHAND GIVING THEM TO THE POOR.

NOW, I HAD THIS JUSTIFIEDIN MY MIND, RIGHT?

LIKE, I HAD IT THATI WAS SUPPOSED TO DO THIS,

BECAUSE ONE DAY I OVERHEARDTWO OF MY COLLEAGUES TALKING

AT THE VIDEO STORE,AND ONE GUY SAYS TO THE OTHER,

"OH, WELL, YOU KNOW,

"THEY EXPECT YOU TO STEALIN RETAIL.

THAT'S WHY THEY PAY YOUSO LITTLE."

WELL, THIS WAS ALLMY BITTER EARS NEEDED TO HEAR.

OH, I DIDN'T REALIZETHERE WAS AN ARRANGEMENT!

I HAVE BEEN LAX IN UPHOLDINGMY END OF THE BARGAIN.

LET ME RECTIFY THATIMMEDIATELY!

I STARTED OFF SMALL,I'D STEAL EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE,

AND IT WAS ALWAYS--IT WAS ALWAYS

LIKE I WAS TOTALLY SUPPOSEDTO BE DOING THIS.

LIKE, NNNGH!

TAKE THAT,VIDEO STORE!

THAT'S WHAT YOU GETFOR HIRING ME.

WHO DOES THATTO A PERSON?

SO TIME PASSES.

I'M NOT GETTING ANY LESS BITTER,AND I'M NOT GETTING CAUGHT,

SO EVENTUALLY I'M STEALINGTWO TO THREE VIDEOS A SHIFT.

EVERY TIME I GO IN THERE,I'M TAKING OUT MERCHANDISE.

I WOULD GET THEREFIVE MINUTES EARLY,

WALK UP AND DOWNTHE AISLES,

AND I WAS SHOPPING,JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE.

"AH, LET'S SEE,

"WHAT'S THIS MOVIE ABOUT?

WHO CARES?YOU CANNOT BEAT THE PRICE."

- MY GIRLFRIEND AT THE TIME

WAS GROWING ALARMEDAT THE GROWING STACK OF VIDEOS

ON THE COFFEE TABLE.

SHE SAYS,"YOU'RE GONNA GET CAUGHT."

AND I SAID, "HONEY...

"DON'T YOU KNOW ABOUTTHE ARRANGEMENT IN RETAIL?

"THEY EXPECT ME TO STEAL,

"THAT'S WHY THEY PAY MESO LITTLE.

"IF I GET CAUGHT,IT'S NO BIG DEAL.

"I GOT IT ALL FIGURED OUT.

"LET'S ROLE-PLAY THIS.YOU BE THE MANAGER.

I WILL ESSAYTHE ROLE OF ME."

SO SHE SAYS, "WE KNOWYOU'VE BEEN STEALING VIDEOS."

I SAY, "OH, I WILL NOT WORKFOR ANY COMPANY

"THAT CALLS ME A THIEF.

YOU MAY CONSIDER THISMY RESIGNATION."

I'M OUT OF THERE.

THEY GET RID OF THE GUYWHO'S STEALING STUFF.

I GET TO SAVE FACE.

IT'S ALL PART OF THEARRANGEMENT.

A YEAR GOES BY.

I AM DOING THISFOR A YEAR.

FINALLY, ONE DAYTHE MANAGER SAYS TO ME,

"HEY, CAN YOUCOME TO MY OFFICE?

"HAVE A SEAT.

WE KNOWYOU'VE BEEN STEALING VIDEOS."

AH, THE MOMENTHAS BEEN PREPARED FOR.

I KNOW EXACTLYWHAT TO DO.

NOW, ADMITTEDLY,I DID NOT EXPECT THIS TO HAPPEN

THAT PARTICULAR DAY.

SO A LITTLECAUGHT OFF GUARD,

AND I DID NOT GO INTO MY PLANIMMEDIATELY.

I HAD TO IMPROVISEIN THE MOMENT.

SO WHAT I DID WAS,I IMMEDIATELY BROKE EYE CONTACT,

AND I SENT A HOT RUSH OF BLOODTO MY FACE AND EARS,

BECAUSE THAT'S WHEN I REMEMBEREDTHAT STEALING IS WRONG!

ALL THE TIME!

NO JUSTIFICATION FOR IT.

I DID NOT HAVE HUNGRY BABIESAT HOME

THAT ONLY ATE VIDEOTAPES.

I'M JUST MAD.I'M JUST MAD.

I'LL TELL YOU WHAT,IT'S CERTAINLY NOT

PART OF A BUSINESS MODEL,RIGHT?

IT'S NOT LIKE TWO GUYSGET TOGETHER

TO START A VIDEO STORE,LIKE,

"WHAT DO WE DOIF THE PEOPLE STEAL?"

"I DON'T KNOW.PAY THEM LESS."

"OOH,YOU'RE GOOD AT BUSINESS."

[laughter]

SO I WAS MADE TO WRITEAND SIGN A CONFESSION

WHILE THE MANAGERWATCHED ME.

THIS WAS SOME CLASSIC"GETTING YELLED AT" STUFF.

THIS IS LIKE I MIGHT AS WELL BENINE YEARS OLD,

WEARING MY CATHOLIC SCHOOLUNIFORM, RIGHT?

"DEAR VIDEO STORE, I'M SO SORRYTHAT I STOLE STUFF FROM YOU.

PLEASE DON'T BE TOO MAD.I WANT TO GO TO HEAVEN."

SO I TURN IN MY CONFESSION,AND I GO TO LEAVE.

AND I'M JUST BOMBARDEDWITH THOUGHTS,

LIKE, ALL OF THESE THOUGHTSAT ONCE,

"WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?

"LIKE, I WANTED TO DOSTAND-UP COMEDY,

AND NOW I'M GETTING FIREDFOR STEALING FROM A STORE,"

AND AS I'M GOING THROUGHTHIS EXISTENTIAL CRISIS,

THE MANAGER SAYS TO ME,

"AND, HEY,

DON'T EVER COME BACK."

I THINK I GOT IT, DUDE.

I THINK WHENI WAS WRITING THE WORDS,

"I STOLE STUFF FROM HERE,"

I FIGURED OUTI WOULDN'T BE WELCOME BACK HERE.

YOU WILL NOT BE SEEING MEIN A WEEK'S TIME,

"WELL, I'M ASSUMINGTHAT'S BLOWN OVER.

"WHAT'S UP, EVERYBODY?ANYTHING GOOD IN NEW RELEASES?

KEEP AN EYE ON ME!"[chuckles]

[cheers and applause]

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