In Remembrance of The Rick Emerson Show

Originally posted May 22nd, 2008, after Emerson’s Eleven, the last official Rick Emerson Listener Party.

For further clarification, I was still employed by CBS Radio at the time of this posting, and this Listener Party was the first (and last) Rick Emerson Roast, conducted under classic Roast rules: No cameras, no recordings, whatever happened behind those closed doors, stayed there.

It is also notable for being the event wherein I met my wife, although I don’t REMEMBER meeting her, nor does she remember meeting me – we were both a little (greatly) intoxicated at the time of our meeting, and although we’ve been told by separate parties that we talked for almost a full half-hour in a corner of McMenamin’s Crystal Ballroom shortly after the party ended, neither of us remember the discussion, or anything outside of the fact that we met. We had to schedule a date 2 weeks later simply to meet again for the first time. It obviously went well.

So here now, in the style of latter-day James Ellroy (for Lord Knows what reason), is my recap of what many consider the last, and greatest, Rick Emerson Listener Party.

Wake. Stumble. Coffee. Viso. Computer. News Stories. Realization hits: I don’t have to look up news stories, I don’t have to go to work. Our benevolent boss has decided a best -of show would suffice for our on-air presence to ensure that Rick’s roast gets the injection of bile-flavored mediocrity it deserves.

Messageboards. Blogs. Battlestar. Bicycle. Pushups. Situps. Sweat. Shower. Closet. Contemplation of Clothes. A tornado of tailored tryouts, tossed on the bed. The Blue? The Grey? The sweater? Sweater with the Suit? You’ve turned into Clinton from What Not To Wear. What’s wrong with you?

Try the plaid vest. You look like Dobie Gillis in the plaid vest. Throw the jacket over it. Put the fedora on. Ah yes. Goodwill Fashion Show in the house, ya’ll. This’ll work.

Pack the bag. Have a snack. Hit the door. Hit the street. Get hit by the heat. Fucking HELL it is hot as balls out here. Hit the store. Hit the fridge. Viso in hand. Viso on counter. Wallet in hand. Card not in wallet.

Eyes wide open. Fear and Frustration frothing in stomach. Hit the door. Hit the street. Hit the house. Hit the phone. Hit the couch in frustration because I got hit with a stolen debit card. Bracing for hit to bank account via guy who hit my wallet hitting store. Hit never comes. No pending transactions. I kill the card. No cash in hand. Can’t buy drinks with MAX tickets. Good thing I’m cute and we’re getting comped drinks in the green room. I start again, sweatier, saltier and stressed. Time shoves down on my shoulders along with sun. I run my roast routine repeatedly till it’s rote. I ride electric rails silently.

Hit work. Hit desk. Grab check. No time to cash it. Check-in at Crystal Ballroom comes in 20 minutes. I’m 20 blocks away. I can make it. I’ll look like a crackhead, but I’m from Salem. I can swing that. Check doesn’t have bonus on it. Wallet groans. Lost card. Lost bonus. Lost time. So much lose in such a little man. Little legs light out for large ballroom. Sun dropping in sky. Stomach dropping in guts. Sweat dripping down back. Showtime approaches.

Ballroom. Staircase. Expansive and Empty. Pre-show prep being carried out. Emerson approaches. Cap’n comes with. I’m almost calm. I’m amongst friends. Aaron Duran and Scott Dally apparate out of nowhere. Aaron looks like Asian Curtain Factory exploded. Ascot assaults eyeballs. It’s perfect. It’s glorious. I anticipate comedy gold. Scott sticks to key details. Scott says “Free Beer in Green Room.” Scott says “Storm Large in Green Room.” Scott steers us to the stairs swiftly.

Green Room. Rock Stars. Nickel Arcade tuning guitars. Emerson Starship getting dressed. Storm Large by the sink. Storm Large sizzling. Storm straightens her hair. Straight legs jammed against side paneling. Smartass comments stream like overflowing sink. Fucking stunning.

Sarah Dylan smiles. Tim Riley surveys. Peter Carlin studies. Byron Beck stares. Lasciviously. Leering. Laser-like. Lisa Desjardins laughs. Ladylike. Adorable. Accomodating. Bearing loaves of bread and brie. Bread is broken between Lisa and I, building beds in our bellies for the booze to bury itself in. She doesn’t yet understand. She will be loved by the throng. The standing O will be long. Loud. Loving. She doesn’t quite understand the wave about to crash into her. She will. She drinks. I drink. We toast. We nosh.

Rick zips in. Rick zips out. Eyes dilated. Unblinking. Getting dressed one article at a time, one person at a time, like a car on an assembly line passing under robot after robot. Tie. T-Shirt. Overshirt. Jacket. pants. Socks. Built brick by brick. Geek Deity: By Lego. Emerson Starship prepares behind closed doors. Bon Jovi is Belted as a form of bonding. The roasters recuse themselves and reverently listen. Ritchie Bristol runs around, redolent in his reek.

5 minutes. Pictures popped. Flasks tipped back. drinks mixed. Jokes like javelins, spearing and spiked, readied. Muscles tensed. Rick zips in. Rick zips out. Mouth moves. Statements staccato. Syllables shot at speeds almost incomprehensible. silence achieved. The starting has started. We start off. Green Room abandoned.

The Hallway beckons. The Long Walk. The Stage. The air vibrates. The air is visible. The air is like a kid’s Crayola watercolors. Run under a sink, swirling overhead. I can see the sound of the crowd before I see the crowd. I see Aaron Duran, Storm’s arm crooked in his elbow. I see Carlin’s face drain of color. I see Byron smirk bemusedly. Carl Click. Pink Clad and Solid. A statue. Surprises lurk under that strained cummerbund. I stick by my Captain. I see the crowd itself.

Holy fuck.

HOLY FUCK.

It’s like a tidal wave of humanity crashed and beached 1200 people inside the building. They roar. I’m in a lion’s mouth. I’m in a whale’s stomach. I’m in a bear’s den. 1200 teeth waiting to close down on my neck. My first attempt at stand-up comedy, everybody. I look to my Captain. He looks like he killed a Hasidic street-vendor. I look like I beat up a bum. I can’t see his eyes, he’s hidden them behind sunglasses. He is so much smarter than I am. If he’s shook, he doesn’t show. I lock it down. We go last. Let it loom.

Click claps. Corrals the crowd. Focuses their frothing. Unleashes Rick, Ritchie, Sarah and Tim. Unleashes the Crowd. The noise pushes my chest back. Lifts my arms. Pounds my hands together. Lifts my cheeks. I’m smiling. Videos are projected. Laughs roll out of the roiling humanity below. THAT’S what winning this crowd will sound like? It’s terrifying and terrific all at the same time, intoxicating. I chase it with whiskey. I might as well be pounding water.

Rick introduces Lisa. Screams steamroll the stage. Her eyes lose their ability to blink. She understands now. She smiles so wide the sides of the structure stretch to accomodate. From Such Great Heights we can only stumble: Scott and Aaron take the stage. Sark is in charge. Cutty Sark. He sits silently on the podium. Surveying the slip-sliding string of jokes stumbling off the stage. Time stretches. Storm snatches up a mike, snipes a headshot from the dais. The crowd lurches to life.

Byron brings his best. A tale of teenage trysts. Rick Emerson as gay hustler. Fisting is key. Wrist deep in young lust, Byron tells the tale. Twitters and titters. The chair Rick is resting in was made for squirming. He obliges under the lights and the rain of revulsion splashing the stage from Byron’s script.

Carl Click: “It says on Scott Dally’s Bio Page at Film Fever Radio that he loves sci-fi, movies, video games, and Duran Duran. No wonder your wife left you a couple months ago.”

Brains on table. Heart in ass. Roast has officially begun.

Peter Carlin writes Rick’s obituary. Sweats like perp under hot lights in box downtown. Sweats more than that. I’m afraid he’s going to dissolve. He’s making me thirsty. Whiskey goes in. Breath comes out. Whiskey goes in. Sarah stands up. Flask comes out.

Script goes down. Drink goes in. Script comes up. Laugh goes out. No slips, no stutters. Knife slides in. Edge of notecards serrated and heated. Laughs lubricated by liquor leave easily. We’re floating on an ocean of drunken goodwill and quality comedy. The stage sails this sea steady and sure.

Storm Large: “Rick Emerson Raped Me. It’s not funny. Oh sure. Rape is funny. Shut the fuck up.”

I have murdered 2 Viso’s. 600 megs of caffeine course through me. Their plastic corpses rest in peace. Cap’n commisserates. The combo of Cutty and caffeine is oddly calming. The bar is high but attainable. Nerves no longer knocking. Jangling. Nerves now thrumming. Humming. Just in time for Cap’n to be Called by Carl Click.

The Band plays Battlestar to bring us out of our seats. He is a bear facing the bear den. He is one of them. He will lead them to the acrid honey he is about to spray all over their eager heads. I know what’s coming. I smile to myself. The lights overhead sink into his suit. He is an assassin’s silhouette.

Cort: “And look at the who’s who of who the fuck cares that you were able to pull together to shamelessly fame-whore themselves for you tonight. You’ve got the gay guy from that newspaper that nobody reads.

And then you’ve got Byron Beck.

Sorry, Peter. That’s all I could come up with for you. Some cheap gay joke. That’s not to say you’re gay. Honestly I don’t know anything about you, because much like everyone else in Oregon, I don’t read the fucking Oregonian.

But speaking of cheap gay jokes, Byron Beck, everybody!”

Explosion. Stomping. Room undulating. Waving. It is ferocious. It is alive. It is a blanket made of barbs. It fits Cap’n like a glove. He wears the glove. He clenches it in a fist and keeps throwing blows. Rick can’t stop laughing. Cort can’t stop swinging. It’s perfect. And then it ends.

My turn. I tentatively approach. Lights like lasers setting my forehead on fire. Cap’n has killed. My job is to reanimate. And then headshot every last undead still laughing. I drop a line. I get a laugh. I drop another. The laugh grows. I tuck this barbed blanket under my chin like a kid wearing a towel and playing Superman. I fly. I dance. I hit the mic and bob back. Whiskey and Viso and Cap’n’s Confidence sludge through my circulatory. I spit punchlines and smirk mercilessly. Goddamn. GODDAMN. I jump up and land with both feet on the jokes on my page. I twist the balls of my feet on it like I’m putting out a cigarette. I step back one last time. I hug Rick. I take my seat.

The abuse is coming.

He flies to the mic. Animated. Like Disney on Crack and Meth at 66.6 frames per second. He shoots fire. He spits napalm. My skin bursts like the sun itself is under it, and I laugh like a loon. Sarah grabs a mic and leans back. leans into it. lets loose. Lazily. Effortless. Arrows from all sides, snarling and sweet-natured. I die like Boromir, smiling and satisfied. Bleeding on the leaves. Rick is a tornado of laughing death. A cyclone of comedy. The dais is wrecked. The Roast is over.

The whiskeys finally sink in. The walls turn liquid and blur. The hugs merge and linger. The congrats are exchanged, volleyed, accepted and humbly rejected. The Green Room is repopulated. It grew somehow. It’s larger somehow. Cavernous. Full of exhausted people. Exhausted comedy. Extinguished flasks. Extinguished Cigarettes. Extinguished expectations. Fears trampled. Anxiety stomped out. All that resides is warmth and success and glowing satisfaction.

Click collects claps on the back. Carlin clinks toasts and takes off. Beck and his beau bow out. Sarah sings Cher while surfing a sofa. Packages of porn and pizza are passed out. The ride ratchets down to 1st gear and rumbles along.

GODDAMN. What in the fuck just happened? Did this day just happen? Really?

I need a chicken sandwich and a beer. I gotta go to work tomorrow.

Published in: on 03/14/2011 at 12:20 am  Comments Off on In Remembrance of The Rick Emerson Show  
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