“The One-Two Punchline” | Novella | Written by McConnaughay - Mishmashers Mishmashers

“The One-Two Punchline” | Novella | Written by McConnaughay

A surrealist fiction

Chapter One


Something a lot of people don’t know about me is that I was actually meant to be a twin. It’s true, no bullshit, stay with me here, my brother, his name was Davy. It’s true, my parents looked at us as auditions for the world’s most generic name awards, I guess. He ended up dying in the womb though and I never had any brothers or sisters, so it was always me and the parental units, as us robots call them,” Jimmy Lawson flashed a small smile at the remark. “I remember when I was a young boy, I lived with my mother and father. You see, they are divorced now, which is sad, but not surprising given the relationship they had with each other,” he prefaced early.

Things were going well. He did his best at carrying a genuine energy and enthusiasm around the crowd, but was not always certain what to do with his hands. Instead of something resembling a composed comedian honing his craft, he imagined he resembled something close to a baby bird flapping its wings and trying to take flight, but not really knowing how to yet.

I, uh, I can remember a lot about my childhood. I would say my upbringing was normal for the most part, sort of the basic family template, I think. My father was a man’s man and my mother was a very 1950s style woman, you know what I mean? She knew how to cook from scratch, which is, … I don’t even know if I understand what scratch is!”

The comment received a small chuckle from the crowd. Jimmy laughed a little himself. That line had been improvised.

Do you buy it at the store or, uh, what’s it categorized as? Oh, yes, we have a small container of scratch, bottom shelf, right by the condoms.” The last line had Jimmy doing his best impression of a retail employee on an intercom, but it was met with the sound of crickets.

He let out a nervous laugh, the joke did not have the legs he initially thought it would. He needed to go back on script.

I love my father very much,” Jimmy smirked, for the crowd’s benefit, then, added: “Now.”

And he and I have a very good relationship as adults, but, when I was a young kid, I would have sworn to you that he loathed me with an undying passion. It was crazy, it was like I wronged him in a past life. I spilled a drink and he was ready to come at me with a belt.”

He stopped for a moment, untangling the wire of the microphone from around the stand. The crowd winced when he mentioned the belt. He had to acknowledge that.

A lot of damn millennials in the crowd tonight,” He jested. “Never had your asses beat by a strap of leather, and, you know what, I know it is not cool to do now, but I never remembered the beatings, so much as I remembered the mean things he said. Physical pain is fleeting, but my father was like a mental assassin when it came to his one liners and insults. The man was an absolute master at it! My mother, on the other hand, I think she may have evened him out a bit. She was kinder and more patient, which, it might surprise you to learn this, but I was the type of child that needed a lot of patience.”

As Jimmy spoke, he admired the many different faces that pointed themselves in his direction. You never really appreciated how ugly everyone was on a universal scale until you were faced with a whole lot of them. Perhaps saying a whole lot was an overstatement though. There could not have been more than eighty people filling The Laugh Track Comedy Club tonight.

I remember once though, I did do something that upset her a lot and it upset me a lot as well, but for an entirely different reason. I can remember it was the only time in my life that my mother has ever downright insulted me. I was thirteen years old and, as many of the guys here can attest, that is a very special time in a young man’s life.” The laughter of the crowd at the comment brought Jimmy a small chuckle, so he acknowledged them: “Some of you, I see, already have some theories about where this is headed.”

On the occasions when I used to partake in my one-handed shenanigans, I usually locked the bedroom door. What you need to understand is that our house was very old. Every door took a skeleton key, only problem was, when we bought the house, my bedroom belonged to a toddler, a bitch named Samantha who shoved crayons in the keyhole, so my door was the only one that didn’t lock. It also didn’t click properly, like, you had to wiggle the whole door around for it to latch.”

The shock value of calling a toddler a bitch always drew a response from the crowd, this time was no different.

I prided myself on my ability to know whenever anyone was nearby, like I had enhanced hearing, like the world’s lamest superhero. But, one day, my father was at work and my mother was out shopping, so, you know, I figured I would make a day of it. Light some candles, set out some roses, steal one of my dad’s porno mags, you know, the works! I sprawled myself over my bed, legs spread eagle like, uh, well, like an eagle. My jeans, my boxers, even my shirt, all of it was strewn around my bedroom, I was into it, man. Then, I heard someone open the front door.”

Needless to say, I was terrified. I stood up to my feet, tally whacker flapping around in the breeze, I ran over to the door as fast as I could and I slammed the motherfucker shut! But then, something happened. Something happened I could not have imagined in my worst nightmares. I slammed it hard, but it did not latch. Instead, it ricocheted off the hinge and came hurling back, and, I don’t know if it was the way I was standing, but my foot was lodged underneath the door! I am not fucking around, the bottom of the door literally had itself splintered into my foot, and I cried bloody murder when it happened. So, of course, when Mom comes running, drops her groceries, ‘oh dear, oh dear, my baby boy!’, and, there I am. Naked. My foot is stuck under the door. Bloodshot eyes. I am crying like a baby. And, I have a boner. My Mom sees me in my predicament, laughs and says, ‘clearly your brother had the brains of the operation’.”

Thank you so much, Marybeth! You have been wonderful.” The crowd was at an uproar. At least, about as much of an uproar as a small audience could muster. It was not bad. It certainly could have been worse, Jimmy thought, remembering all the hecklers he had encountered over the years.

Jimmy smiled and waved them all off as he disappeared behind the curtain. The next guy’s set would start now.

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