Despite some set backs (you know, people I love constantly dying and shit) I’m prepping to do a one hour special. That means I’ve been deep in my Set Book: organizing, writing, rewriting, editing, deleting, repeating…
Tonight I unearthed, reworked, and performed a bit from the way back and it worked better than ever:
My Mom asked me to buy her a new cell phone.
I said: “Ma, you don’t need a new phone.”
Then she hits me with, “But all my friends have new phones.”
And then I got to say something to My Mom I’ve wanted to say my entire life: “Well, if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?”
Undeterred she said, “If you loved me, you’d get me a new phone.”
I said, “I do love you. That’s why you’re grounded.”
She said, “That’s not fair.”
I said, “I know, but my house, my rules.”
She said, “It’s not your house until I’m dead.”
“Don’t test me old woman.”
Casual Fans stop reading here. Comedians￼, Comedy Aficionados￼, and Craft Nerds continue on.
True Story: This joke is really old. I wrote it back when cell phones were still a new thing and not everybody had one. As they became more ubiquitous it got harder to credibly do this bit. It rang less and less true and so I stopped.
(I moved it to the alphabetized section of My Set Book. That’s where new jokes, old jokes, promising yet unfinished routines are kept. À la George Carlin, I don’t throw anything away.)
As a random writing exercise when I’m on the train or waiting in line, I’ll pick a letter, go to that section, review and rewrite. Sometimes, inspiration strikes. Sometimes, I still got nothing. Today, I was moving a bit out of my active set to the alphabetized section:
“It’s hard to shop for Mothers Day. What gift says ‘I’m sorry I ruined your uterus’?” (It’s not all good or gold, people.)
And that’s when I saw the “Mom’s Mobile” bit. Apparently, it’s been a while since I’ve picked “M.”
As I read through the bit it took me 10 seconds and one word to fix it: “new.”
Then: My Mom asked me to buy her a cell phone.
Now: My Mom asked me to buy her a *new* cell phone.
It doesn’t seem like much does it? Actually, it seems pretty freaking obvious. Why didn’t I think of it sooner? I don’t know. I thought of it now.
It fit perfectly in the section of my show where I talk about the role reversal between me and My Mom. I even remember the moment when I had a choice on stage to try it or not. But the audience was with me and so I did it.
It’s great to write and do new jokes. But it’s also satisfying to re-write and give new life to some of the old ones.