by Eric Schwartz and Steve Lord
(This sketch appeared in the first episode of Gag Reflex Comedy Theater Of The Air April 2000)
GRAMS: BENNY GOODMAN SWING MUSIC
DAN: I've always been able to funny eat. I've always been able to make people laugh just by eatin'. Mom knew this. My story really begins in 1934. I was 9 years old. It was the middle of the depression. It was just me and Mom because Dad had been eaten by a bunch of Irish kids the year before. Mom, had taken me to New York City to meet famous talent agent Russell Gindy. She knew I could funny eat and she thought I could be a star. Me, I just wanted to help mom pay the bills…
STEVE: (HAND SLAMS DOWN ON DESK) I ain't got time for no funny eater!
KRIS: Please Mr. Gindy. Give Willy a chance.
DAN: Golly Mr. Gindy. I can funny eat like you've never seen funny eatin' before.
STEVE: Kid, if I gave a break to every kid that came through my door I'd be up to my eyeballs in kids. Today alone I've turned down a funny bather, an amusing phone dialer and some little girl from Nebraska who can sneeze Modern Major General. So kid, there's a lot of talented people out there.
DAN: With that he pushed us out of the door. (DOOR SLAMS) It seems mom had been banking on my being a star so much she didn't even buy a return bus ticket. Soon we found ourselves alone in the alley behind Mr. Gindys office.
KRIS: I'm sorry son.
DAN: I'm awful hungry Ma.
KRIS: (PAPER WRUSTLES) There son. Would you funny eat for me?
DAN: Are you …
DAN: So I funny ate to make my Ma proud. I didnt know that Mr. Gindy had just stepped onto the street near us.
(SOUNDS OF FUNNY EATING. KRIS GIGGLES)
STEVE: Why son that was some damn fine funny eatin'. Damn fine.
DAN: Thank you Mr. Gindy.
STEVE: Oh please. Call me Charles. It's not my name but I'm not going to unload all my problems on you. Anyway, Kid, how'd you like to be a star?!
DAN: I was on my way. Mom was able to quit her job as a taste tester at the turpentine factory as I hit the vaudeville circuit.
STEVE: Will you look at these notices kid! THE CLEVELAND STAR - Funny Eatin' Kid steals show. THE NEW YORK TIMES- Wunderkind brings funny mastication to new heights. THE PITTSBURGH DAILY JOURNAL - What a slob! What a pig ! What a night! THE BALTIMORE HERALD Crazed Irishman kills four wounds 9 others! Youre a sensation kid!
DAN: And I was a sensation too. I played every big time vaudeville hall and theatre from New Haven to Wasco. Night after night I funny ate my way into everyones heart. The world was my oyster. In fact you should have seen my oyster routine. I had horkin in the aisles. Even in Boston, the toughest oyster eatin crowds in America. But things were about to change.
STEVE: Ive never seen a Boston crowd do that! We barely got it cleaned up in time for the Tim Nessle and His Farting Sheep Quartet.
DAN: Do you ever knock!?
STEVE: Whats the matter kid?
DAN: Im tired of this! Do you think this is all I am?! Just another funny eatin palooka! I want to expand my horizons. I want to "Fine Dine" at Carnegie Hall. I want to take unfunny tea with the Queen of England. I want to push the envelope! I want to eat outside the box.
STEVE: But youre a funny eater kid.
DAN: And youre fired.
STEVE: Fine! Ive got 10 funny eaters waiting to take your place at the table.
DAN: Then get one of them to be your trained donkey!
STEVE: You mean trained monkey?
DAN: Dont you ever correct me again Darrin!
DAN: Get out! And with that he was gone. Well my dream came true within a year of firing Gindy. Carnegie, the Queen, and I had a contract with MGM and shootin my first movie Funny Eating Follies of 1939. It starred me, Zasu Pitts, The Ritz Brothers, Ronald Reagan, and Konga The Funny Eatin Chimp. I was on top of the world.
MILLIE: Hello everybody! This is Mitzie Carthiser at the Hollywood premiere of Funny Eating Follies of 1939. Well I see the king of funny eating himself. Heart throb Bill Walden! Bill! Bill! Over here.
DAN: Hello Mitzie! Hello America.
MILLIE: Well the word around town is that you steal this movie. How are you feeling?
DAN: Well, Mitzie, this movie was a team effort from the word go. From the director Billy Wilder to Ronald Reagan, everybody pulled their weight. And, I guess, in the end it really made me look good.
MILLIE: And who is this lovely lady on your arm?
DAN: Shes a high priced hooker.
MILLIE: Uh… I think I see your costar, Mr. Reagan!
DAN: I was self-destructing fast. I was burning bridges left and right. Follies did well but my next two films, Let Them Funny Eat Cake (a drama set against the back drop of 18th Century France) and The Road To Lordsburg (A rollicking musical comedy set in southern New Mexico) were flops! Then came the war. I found myself fighting in the Pacific Theatre. The American armed services didnt take very kindly to a cocky funny eater.
ERIC: You eatin funny again , Private?! Dont think I havent seen your kind in here before son. You think youre something special?! You think you deserve the gold cup?! Get that bread out of your mouth when Im talking to you! Well since you think thats so damn funny, lets see how funny you find cooking! Youre on KP for the next month. And I will be watching you! If you put so much as a GODDAMN cracker in your mouth and chew funny Ill crawl up your ass like a crawdaddy and rip your lungs out! Am I coming through loud and clear?!
DAN: In 1945 the war ended. My spirit broken, I returned to Hollywood hoping to rekindle my career. But it was too late, America had moved on. No one wanted to see a guy funny eat anymore. I went home to Mom. (DOOR SHUTS) Mom?! Mom?! (OPENS ANOTHER DOOR) Oh God Mom! It was too late. It seems Mom had been taken in the night…by the Irish. They left very little of her for me to bury. I became a vagrant. I moved from town to town, funny eating for food. I was at the bottom. The absolute bottom. Until one afternoon in a New York alley…
MILLIE: Excuse me.
DAN: (COUGH) Yeah?
MILLIE; You are Bill Walden arent you. Legendary vaudevillian funny eater.
DAN: I used to be, kid. So, what of it?
MILLIE: I saw you with my mother 20 years ago. You changed my life. I took up funny eating. Watch! (SOUNDS OF FUNNY EATING)
DAN: Wow. You got the chops kid.
MILLIE: I would love the chance to work with you. Im doing a little night club show tonight. Theres a huge group of Funny Eating fans putting on a revival. Why dont you come along. Theyd love to see a living legend like you.
DAN: And thats how I got back on top. When I stepped on stage, it was like I was home. It was like I was a hero or something. And Ive been back on top ever since. And the young lady who rediscovered me? Well… she never made it to the stage that night. I clubbed her to death with a canned ham and took her stage time. Am I worried about getting caught? Nah. I funny ate the evidence.