An Apocryphal Tale … or Not
July 29th, 2015 · No Comments · Blog
by Michael Rakosi
( I had a dream the other night. It went something like this … )
The Feldman brothers were on edge. Their guy had made the top ten … barely, and was participating in the first Republican national debate. Fox News had decided to set the standard of 10 candidates, making 6 or 7 candidates ‘also-rans’ before anyone had actually run. Their guy squeaked through, and with his body, squeaking through was barely possible, even with the weight loss. He was the dark horse populist, Chris Christie, who, along with “The Donald” were the two verbal stars of this Pantheon of Presidential Pretenders. The Trumpster, despite the crazed utterings, was at, or near, leading the pack. The Feldman brothers, though successful in both local and state elections, had never had a national candidate, but they were ready for the big leagues, and their candidate, New Jersey’s Big Boy Gov had been prepped ceaselessly and was ready with a demeanor and bark that was the envy of many and had attracted quite a few fans. Though far behind, this was his breakout moment, where America’s ‘everyman’ would identify with him and there would be a rush towards their candidate.
In this debate, Christie was running far left, almost in the center in the real universe, and was a Republican governor in a Democratic Northeastern state, who had committed the unforgivable sin of hugging this President. A slight worry was the temper, the prosecutorial fervor, the need to strike back instantly, at any possible slight. The candidates were lined up in a crescent with Trump and Bush in the middle and Christie to the far outside.
A gentlemen came to the center microphone and gave the rules of the debate; Judge Learned Hand would have had difficulty understanding them. Each team of political operatives was stationed away from the stage in a booth ready to watch the three lines on a screen monitoring the opinions of focus groups, Republican, Democrat and Independent bob up and down in real-time reaction to each sentence uttered by the contenders. Needless to add, the collective level of anticipation in each booth was palpable. The Quicken Loans Arena, now known as “The House that LeBron built”, was divided amongst officials, the media, and as best they could, equal numbers of supporters of the 10 participants, so the rooting interest was not divided by two, as in a basketball game, but by ten. Each audience member, sitting with their claque, was rooting for their man. (Carly Fiorina didn’t make the cut.)
The M.C. asks that there be no applause until the end. Lots have been drawn, although no-one’s wife had been turned into a pillar of salt. (Biblical reference) Each candidate has a lectern, three minutes to capture the word and the world. Ben Carson goes first, and then Walker and then Santorum, no big news, just continued pieties, clichés, small government, against abortion, still raging about health care for the masses … And then, it was Governor Christie’s turn. As he cleared his throat, a voice rang out from the audience, loud and clear: “You fat fuck, you put New Jersey in near bankruptcy!” Christie keeps his cool, and smiles as Security attempts to locate the voice, and says to the audience, “One of my enthusiastic supporters.” The Feldman brothers heave a mutual sigh of relief … Then, the voice rang out again. “You little dick wonder, my mother had a heart attack on the George Washington Bridge!”
Christie flips. “Shut the fuck up or I will fuck you AND your mother in the ass again!” The audience is stunned. Some titter, but the Feldmans know in a heartbeat, that they, and their Candidate, are done. Died aborning. The air has been sucked out of the room. The three opinion lines in front of the Feldmans drop to the bottom of the screen like a dead quail … or Quayle for that matter. What would happen next? Christie pulls his microphone out of its holder, goes to the front of his lectern and pulls off the tape holding the cord to the lectern. A long microphone cord spills onto the floor. Christie scoops up the cord and moves to the center of the room. “First, let me apologize for my temper. It sometimes gets the better of me. Many of us have tempers, and sometimes we blurt out stupid things. I have just, clearly, shot myself in the foot, and maybe in an even more delicate body part.” The audience chuckles in agreement, sounding relieved. The other candidates are still aghast and agog. (In literary circles, those adjectives, often seen together, are known as the ‘Aggie Sisters’) Christie continues. “But this election is not about my temper, or staying on message, or haircuts costing hundreds of dollars, or the beloved sound-bites and photo opportunities. I’m as guilty as any. But this about how we, the people in this room, can elect a Republican to the White House. It is about bringing people, who we have not reached as Republicans into our tent to build a coalition so that together, we can rebuild this country. We are all not going to agree on everything. My wife agrees with about 75% of what I say. I agree with only about 80% of my own speeches, (big laugh from the audience), but, if we come together to elect someone real, who understands the concerns of not only the people in this arena, but in the whole country, then and only then will we get a candidate that can win. Otherwise, we end up as the party that, once again, ‘doesn’t get it,’ is unelectable, or the little train that couldn’t. All three lines on the opinion monitors begin to rise together, like Lazarus.
The moderator turns to Christie, “Your three minutes are up, Governor Christie.” The audience boos. The three opinion life-lines continue to rise. Something is happening. The moderator says, “Governor Christie, Governor Christie, we will cut off your mic. Please, you are being unfair to your fellow candidates.” And with that, Christie’s mic goes dead. None of the other candidates has moved. They are frozen solid. Christie walks over to where the moderator is seated, grabs his mic, taps it to make sure it’s on and continues; “Fellow candidates … Bullshit. Most of these guys are mesmerized by the sound of their own voices. Get over it folks, a lot of us would like to have everyone believe what we believe. But this is a pluralistic nation, with Whites, Blacks, Protestants, Catholics, Jews and Muslims, and though a preponderance of terrorists are Muslim, it is a tiny fraction of our Muslim citizens. Look, Ben Carson, our only Black candidate, (Can I still say that?), Ben has said, that Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery. Clearly Ben has never worked a cotton field on a plantation in the Deep South. He has also said that there are no such things as “war crimes” … a Summer tour of Aushwitz, Dachau and Bergen-Belsen might change your mind. Bobby Jindal, the Governor of Louisiana, “sounds like the name of a lounge singer in Vegas”, (Big laugh from the audience), talks such nonsense. He’s governor of one of the most multi-cultural states in the union, yet so filled with corruption, it makes Illinois look like Sunnybrook Farm, and he tells people that exorcisms can cure cancer. Can I ask you all to stop playing to the masses but to our sensibilities and our humanity. Rick Santorum, who writes your position papers? Ted Nugent? “America has been corrupted by the NBA and Rock concerts? … And Obamacare is like Apartheid? Clearly, you never spent any time in South Africa. I was against Obamacare, but painting it with that broad a brush has only managed to paint us Republicans into a corner. The audience breaks out in applause. All three opinion lines kick like the Rockettes. This is not a “You’re no Jack Kennedy” or “There you go again” moment. Oil and Gold have been discovered together. No-one knows if that mic has a switch, none of the other candidates have intervened, first, because they believed they were touching a dead man, and now, because if he is a crazy man, he might come for them next. He will.
The slow moving hairy caterpillar from New Jersey is moving to the next stage, the chrysalis is starting to break, the metamorphosis (apologies to Kafka and Houdini), has begun. The excitement in the Christie camp is heart-stopping. A monarch butterfly and maybe a Monarch is about to appear. The Feldmans dare not breathe. When you have nothing at risk, and go for broke, that is true freedom. No downside, baby. This is more than “Must-See TV” this is “Irresistible Entertainment.”
Christie works the room like a veteran of 20 years of standup, turning, moving, bobbing, weaving, no-one can touch him. Though, at this standup thing, he is still a newbie. “Sen. Santorum, you also want to be involved in ruling women’s bodies. I am also Pro-Life, but I understand that other people believe other things, and the only woman’s body I am interested in is my wife … Sorry, Donald.” Trump smiles wanly. “Maybe you should outlaw stretch marks. I would vote for that, because I have more than anyone.”
The audience is now roaring, and the budding populist and fatter Rickles has a rush of adrenaline, like mainlining crystal meth. He is now flying. “Governor Walker, the things you say boggle even my imagination. You claim your foreign policy experience is vetted because you faced down the unions in Wisconsin. Unions and Isis, as my little daughter used to say, One of these things is not like the other. The difference, Governor Walker, is my little girl would know the difference. When you quote others saying, The President does not love America, or is not a Christian, you diminish this entire group. Not an easy task with this group, but I assure you Governor, staring down clerical workers and teachers in Kenosha, is not the same as dealing with ISIS.
We have now seen a 20 minute rant like no other. The Feldman’s opinion lines have merged together at the top of the monitor like Siamese triplets.
Purple martins and black-backed orioles, the natural enemies of butterflies, may sound like a ‘double play combination’, but the birthing of thousands of butterflies are free caviar and champagne to the winged predators.
Christie turns to Bush. “Jeb, you and your family, and I like them all, have been living off the public teat so long, your grown-up teeth have not come in. So many silly homilies and we pander to the Right, which takes away any chance of real dialogue, with people who believe that their Christian values allow and encourage discrimination. Why don’t you tell them to go to church, practice goodness and tolerance and don’t think that you are participating in a gay wedding just because you supply the cupcakes.
Then there is the Donald, who has taken over every 24 hour news cycle since the Punic Wars. He is a genius at P.R., a master at Branding and his amazing, incredibly stupid remarks and hair make him the the subject of an endless 24 hour news cycle. Thank God your Dad was born before you, because with the way you speak and dis-respect all the other candidates is pitiful. Someone said to me you couldn’t get a job for $500 a week. I said you could. In the end, as we all in this arena know, your candidacy will melt like a snow candle, and you will end up with a national talk show, which is actually what you wanted to begin with, since many of your other Billionaire ventures have disappeared into your own hot air.
All of us have seen LeBron smack his resin-filled hands together in this arena, and then, with a touch of that magic dust in the air, and a puff of smoke, create his own basketball magic on the court. But this is real magic; people coming together, moving towards the stage, finally hearing the words they had longed for, that will produce a candidate, a demagogue, a President, a winner.
With the overconfidence of most new standups, Christie goes for the dreaded call-back, a tool which should only be used by the most experienced of comedians. He will return to the original moment, stun them with the switch, and as he steps forward, he says, “I promise as President, I won’t fuck him and his mother in the ass again.” Stunned again, the crowd stops in its tracks as if up against an invisible wall. “What? What?,” Christie yells.
The black-back oriole dive bombs and swallows whole the fat monarch butterfly from New Jersey. It is over. All over.
Two lanky 30-ish men with beards, sweatshirts, sunglasses and baseball caps sit down on the ground with their backs against the wall of a magnificent Catholic church. They each pull out a sign attached to a chain and hang it around their necks. One sign says, “I love Catholics” and the other says, “I love Jews”. They put their baseball caps in their laps, seeking contributions. The Catholics going to mass, see the signs and fill the ‘I Love Catholics’ baseball cap to overflowing with dollars. The other gets a few quarters and other loose change. An hour or two passes and a priest comes out and approaches the man with the “I love Jews” sign. “Y’know, we Catholics love charity, but wouldn’t you be better off almost any place else?” The men nod and the priest returns to the church. The man with the “I love Catholics” sign lifts his sunglasses and turns to the other man and says, “Look who is explaining marketing to the Feldman Brothers.
And so it goes.
Kismet, Shismet … Just Listen.
September 13th, 2013 · No Comments · Blog
Kismet, Shismet … Just Listen
by Michael Rakosi
“There comes a time when all the cosmic tumblers have clicked into place and the universe opens its self up for a few seconds to show you what’s possible.” -
“Field of Dreams” – Screenplay by Phil Alden Robinson
In 1980, I received a check from Warner Brothers in the amount of $180. … made out to Mel Brooks.
I have been in the real estate business since 1967, as a lender, landlord, developer and broker. I have made a lot of money, lost it all and regained it. I have owned a hospital, banks, movie theaters, the famed Fillmore East and dozens of other properties, but being funny is my raison d’etre.
My interest in comedy began in my mid-teens. I listened to comedy albums over and over again. First, Bob Newhart, Bill Cosby and Woody Allen … and later, Lenny Bruce and George Carlin. Then, in 1965, I discovered Don Rickles. I was in heaven.
When “The Producers” came out, (Still my favorite movie, by the way), I bought the dialogue-filled Soundtrack album and committed it to memory, as I had with all my other comedy albums. So you can understand that by 1980, when I mistakenly received that check in the mail, I was already very close to being a Mel Brooks groupie.
When I called Warner Brothers and asked them what to do, they said, “Don’t send it back, we’ll issue another”, so I put it in my desk drawer and forgot about it.
Fast forward to 1995 … I was walking on the 20th Century Fox lot with a friend who worked there, and I spotted Mel Brooks, and like the big sloppy fan that I was, and still am, ran over to him. He was warm, friendly, gregarious and welcoming. I told him about the check and asked what HE thought I should do. He looked me in the eye and said, “Don’t cash it.”
I laughed. He smiled. I was thrilled.
In 2001, I saw one of the last previews before the opening of the musical of “The Producers” on Broadway. The word of mouth on the show was already off the charts, and after the show, I saw Mel Brooks and his wife, Anne Bancroft, walking along West 44th Street. I smiled … but let them escape without them having to interact with me. A few years later, they weren’t so lucky. Mel and his beloved Annie had dinner two tables away from me at an Italian restaurant on Second Ave.
Now, before I continue, you should know that my parents are buried in Knollwood Park, a small cemetery on the Brooklyn-Queens border. It probably holds about 10,000 graves (that’s small by NYC standards) and having been there for a number of other funerals, I was told that Mel’s parents were also buried there.
Finding my parent’s graves is always a bit of challenge and I often lose my way. On one of these occasions, I found that Mel’s parents, the Kaminsky’s were, in fact, buried right behind mine. Each time I visit, after I put a stone on my parents’ headstone, I do the same for Mel’s parents.
Now, do all these odd coincidences mean anything?
I don’t think so. I am not a believer in kismet or portents or talismans or signs … however …
Three different times after that, I had dinner right next to Mel at the Peking Duck House in Chinatown. At first I engaged him with a small amount of genial chit-chat, but by the third time, we were talking like best buddies; about the old times, our parents and our parents’ cemetery. At first, he didn’t believe me, but when I named the cemetery as Knollwood Park, his eyes welled up.
Now, you must understand that I am NOT a shy guy. I am verbal and aggressive … If I was a dinosaur, I’d be a T. Rex. So I am not exactly given to subtlety. Yet, I never once mentioned to Mel that I was doing stand-up for what will soon be 8 years, that “The Producers” is my favorite movie of all time and that I know the 2000 year old man routines by heart or even that I have an internet talk show for men entitled “That Show with Michael Rakosi” (It’s great. Google it.) No, we were just two guys chatting.
When he was about to leave, Mel walked over to my table, put his hands on my shoulders, and said to everyone in the restaurant, “This is one big ganze Jew.”
That remains my all time favorite compliment.
Jeff Greene, a very close friend of mine from New York that now lives in L.A., called me and asked me to speak with a friend of his about a real estate project. His friend turned out to be Fred Tarter, a clearly prosperous and joyful man, who is a professional investor. Somehow, the conversation got around to my standup comedy, and he tells me that he shares a grand-son with Mel Brooks. Mel is his “mekhutn”, a Yiddish word meaning his daughter’s father-in-law. Suddenly things started getting eerie. I thought I heard a voice whisper, “Next Stop, Willoughby”, from an old episode of “The Twilight Zone”, and Rod Serling began intoning, “You are traveling through another dimension; a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind …”
There is an old joke of a man caught in a rising flood after days and days of torrential rains. He refuses all aid and rescue, waiting he says for a sign from the Lord, telling him what he should do with his life. The water rises over the first and then the second floor of his home, he is now sitting on the peak of his roof. Just then a Red-Cross helicopter appears over his home, and sends down a ladder. He refuses help and puts up a poster which says “I am waiting for a sign from the Lord”…
The helicopter retreats and the man implores the heavens, “Lord send me a sign”. Just then a booming voice calls out with biblical thunder, “Who the hell do you think sent the helicopter?!”
Sometimes you’ve just got to listen.
Joe Frazier – R.I.P.
November 8th, 2011 · No Comments · Blog
R.I.P. Joe Frazier. In 1996, Joe Frazier published his autobiography “Smokin’ Joe”, with my good friend and award-winning writer, Phil Berger. What a story! Frazier, born 1 of 13 children made his way from the rural South and became champion of the world. We held the launch party for the book at an eatery in my building. Gerry Cooney, Jose Torres all came to celebrate with Frazier, this big mountain of a man in his signature Stetson. It was a great party, a night to remember. First Berger and now Frazier have lost battles with cancer and both were champs who went out punching. I’m honored to have known them.
October 11th, 2011 · No Comments · Blog
“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” was a 24 year old Pantene commercial featuring Kelly LeBrock that has somehow resounded over the decades.
Don’t hate Denise Grayson because she followed her muse, gave up an amazing career, giant salary, perks and respect to become another auditioner who thinks they can perform, paint, write, dance, (fill in your own choice), and submarines their education, lifestyle and their personal life to take on the Sisyphean task of conquering Show Business.
Hate Denise Grayson when your husband, wife, sister, brother, (fill in your own relative), decides to chuck it all because of Denise Grayson. THAT is a good reason to hate.
Denise did all the things we want from our children. Top of her class in high school, graduated in 15 minutes from college, entered Law School at 19, while remaining respectful, sharp and beautiful, with 20 foot white teeth, good for advertising.
It started off well enough; an only child of parents (both teachers), her father, a pro musician, who picks up every instrument like people pick up salted peanuts. His visage suggests a) the head of the Teamsters or, b) at the very least, a shop steward, who speaks as if he is a Don at Cambridge. Her mother is soft spoken, a reader, semi-intellectual, and an amateur painter of high quality. These are the real culprits. They encouraged and allowed Denise to ‘follow her bliss’.
From struggling in the vineyards of auditioning, (where there are truly grapes of wrath), Denise lands a role in a spectacular, game-changing movie, “The Social Network”. And who, after six auditions, does she play, but an Intellectual Property lawyer, which is exactly what she was previously, in real life. (Hollywood, I assure you, is nothing like ‘real life’.)
Big names were rejected for the role. For the excoriation of Mark Zuckerberg (Played by Jesse Eisenberg), with words in staccato rhythm from the magic keyboard of Aaron Sorkin, Denise plays the part to a ‘T’, bringing life to the writer’s words, in a setting that was her own. With her character, Gretchen’s questions, the movie rotates from scene to scene. She is Denise, well-oiled, that makes the story go. The authenticity of the deposition scenes are because Denise IS that person.
Imagine Hollywood doing something so real. What will we have next? A fantasy movie about a Black President? Now the audition line has ended. Denise has already filmed a pilot for a sitcom, has another movie in the can, and Producers know her name and face.
Such is the life of Denise Grayson today, red carpet, Academy Awards and more.
In driving: objects in the mirror are closer than they appear. In Life, if success appears more probable than it is, IT IS NOT. Blame Denise Grayson.
The Stuffed Bear
A few years ago, I saw this Giant cream-colored Polar Bear in Paris.
It was about 5 and a half feet tall, thick with big glass brown eyes, leather nose, paws and ears. I told the saleslady, I was buying it for a woman. (That was a big lie. It was for me. So what?) She said, instead of sending it, I should buy a coach seat for it and take it with me. I said, “Are you nuts? Send it.”
A few weeks later, I’m back in New York, and I get a call from Customs … at Charles DeGaulle airport in Paris. (I swear the following dialogue is verbatim.)
(French accent) “What is in ze box, Monsieur?”
“A stuffed animal, sir.”
(French accent) “What kind, Monsieur?”
“A bear … a Polar bear.”
(French accent) “You may not take stuffed animals out of France, Monsieur, we consider zem national treasures, Monsieur.”
“He’s not alive.”
(French accent) “Of course, Monsieur, he is stuffed.”
“He’s a stuffed animal, a toy, a child’s present.”
(French accent) “We don’t consider a stuffed animal from France to be a child’s present.”
“Wait a minute. You understand, he was never alive.”
(French accent) “Maybe not to you, Monsieur.”
“He has no bones!”
(French accent) “Not anymore, Monsieur.”
“I bought him from this lady on the Champs D’Elysee … she wanted me to take him home with me.”
(French accent) “You Americans encourage French people to be bad in the name of commerce.”
At this point, I was seething, and I was about to say, “Look you Frog, your women have small breasts, nobody over there showers, you always need rescuing, you’re afraid of Germans, and you all eat snails.” But, instead, I said, “You’re right. The box is mis-labeled. It’s a gift … for Jerry Lewis.”
There was a pause.
(French accent) “Why didn’t you say so, Monsieur. The package will be sent immediately.”
“The Good Humor Man Always Rings Twice.”
May 20th, 2011 · 2 Comments · Blog
“The Good Humor Man Always Rings Twice.”
“Baby Boomers” is a nice appellation, I guess, for my people, generally thought of as those born between August ’46 and December ’63. Nice is nice, but it’s not the “Greatest generation”, or “Gen X” (forceful and mysterious). It doesn’t seem weird or peculiar that our generation fought and protested the same war, brought down a President, brought forth rock n’ roll and widespread drug use, (sometimes intertwined), integration, women’s rights, health awareness and gave birth to the speak-your-own-mind-endlessly era, which were aided by the personal computer, cellphones and all the “I” things, which resulted in the interconnectivity of everyone, everywhere.
Toasted Almond ice cream bars, for example, have their own Facebook page. That’s right, the one flavor that means only Good Humor. Not Coconut or Chocolate Chip Candy, (my personal favorite), not Strawberry Shortcake or Chocolate Eclair. Only Toasted Almond makes you think only of Good Humor. Cold, delicious and endlessly surprising. The Good Humor man or woman (Yes, there were women, my friend Sandy was one), arrived at approximately the same time every day, and caused screaming. “Dad, I need a quarter! A Dime!” “What does everyone want?!” My nephew Mark used to cry every time he heard the bells, because having had ice cream twice that day already, his mother would think three was ‘overload’ and say no. Anticipating this, he would start to weep upon hearing the bells.
I was a Good Humor man for one Summer in the late ‘60’s. It taught me kindness, business, empathy and more. I was a relief driver and got seven dollars for loading a truck and two dollars for showing up when not needed. I got twenty five percent of what I sold, and a bonus of 8% for everything I sold over $100. (That was called “bageling”)
The best thing about the job was feeling as if you were bringing a spark of joy into people’s otherwise mundane lives. A moment of pleasure on a hot Summer’s afternoon or early evening.
Bringing joy is a really nice thing. Good Humor is Hnot actually humor, but it is good. Very few jobs share those characteristics, except maybe standup comedy.
Maybe “Toasted Almond” is a good name for our generation. Many of us were toasted a good deal of the time, and all but a few of us were ‘nutty,’ but I think it would be a hard sell.
By the way, my nephew Mark, grew up and made a lot of money, and bought a Good Humor truck to put on his estate. Now he makes his own kids cry.
My generation has been one of myriad opportunities and that damned word, “choice” again. But this generation goes from the middle of Truman to the beginning of Johnson, and the pressures of all those years was not the same.
Many of the generation chose to serve, some to flee in protest, some to become teachers, some to stay in school ad infinitum. Clinton and George W. Bush are among us, as are Billy Crystal and Robin Williams. Barack Obama is one of us, Michelle Obama is an honorary member. George Carlin and Robert Klein are not Boomers. None of the Beatles or Rolling Stones are, nor The Beach Boys (except for the late Carl Wilson.) And the entire 2008 Republican Presidential ticket missed it from both ends. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are, but none of the people behind Facebook are.
Baby Boomers have exercised, vegan-ized, self-actualized and botox-ed, in a defiance of age, both physically and metaphorically, for so long, that first careers, and often second, have come and gone, and we are still rarin’ to go.
We’ve had second families and second careers. Lifepaths that were detoured by marriage, wars, babies, have often sprung to life after we felt our familial and career responsibilities had ebbed or ceased. Little sprouts and buds of new ventures sprung through crowded sidewalks as this generation, which admired Timothy Leary, Abbie Hoffman, Gerry Rubin, William Westmoreland and Richard Nixon (By the way, none members), seeks another sense of fulfillment without the Peter Max covered VW bus. (Not a member either)
Our generation thought that age and infirmity would never touch us, (some of us were actually glowing), and to quote Lucille Lortel, “Age is just a number, and mine is unlisted.”
But enough with the overview. Everyone has heard these names in whatever juxtaposition. Specifics interest us. Hence, the birth of “Ice Road Truckers.”
When one is young, impressionable, impressed and driven, when your parents are attorneys, one cannot decide to be a carny, a clown, or a denizen of late night comedy clubs with drinks and drugs and smokes and seedy characters, (are there still such a thing as seedy characters?)
My parents, being who they were, had expectations for this investment of love, time, money and their son. My college years were at best, spotty, and I went into the Real Estate business, barely surviving at first, but then achieving greater and greater success.
Success often breeds success, (as does its often abused stepbrother, failure), but I did very well, with all the bells and whistles; the chauffeured car, the art collection, the giant New York City apartment, but saw it all go away in the early nineties like a tsunami of liquid plumber.
My creativity, long in hibernation, came back to the fore during therapy, and I came up with the idea for a talk show; sort of a real life therapy with the viewer as voyeur.
My partner, Anita and I shopped it, and were told by a leading agency, “We don’t want anything this good.” “You need a comedian or celebrity to host.”
Rising to the challenge of always being the funniest, and I mean that without equivocation; Someone suggested that I am the bastard child of Dr. Phil and Don Rickles.
Knowing that both my metaphorical parents were bald deterred me not, and I took a standup comedy writing class given by one D.F. Sweedler. The graduation was an appearance at the famed Comic Strip Live in Manhattan.
It was overwhelmingly exciting, without the nerves. (When you lose all your money, few things make you nervous again.) It was also great, unreal, and a high unlike any other.
That was over 300 appearances ago (at the Comic Strip alone), and gigs around the country, in L.A., Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, etc.
It has, in essence, given birth to “That Show with Michael Rakosi”, which has been thrilling in execution, acceptance and acclaim, a mighty trio.
We have male boomers speaking about their lives. Our only rule is, “No Sports and no politics.” It is touching, warm, informative and funny. Women can’t believe it. I can barely believe it myself.
Thomas Wolfe said, “You can’t go home”, but you can certainly come out for the second act.
The Good Humor man always rings twice.
April 29th, 2010 · 8 Comments · Blog
Monday, was an unusual and special day. My friend Rabbi Robert Levine of Rodeph Sholom was being honored as man of the year, or because it is Naral, person of the year for his endless support of Women’s productive rights. The event was held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Time-Warner Center on Columbus Circle. I was seated with Rabbi David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College and the Jewish Institue of Religion, his wife, Rabbi Jacqueline Koch Ellenson, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice-President of the New York Board of Rabbis, Cantor Rebecca Garfein, Rabbi Lisa Grushcow and Dr. Reverend James A. Forbes Jr. of Riverside Church. So it was me, four Rabbis, a Reverend and a Cantor. “One of these things is not like the other, one of these things doesn’t belong.” Let me give you an idea; the devil was about to join me at my table, saw who I was sitting with, and fainted. So much for a good time, though the clergy can certainly tell a great story.
The luncheon was filled with many politicos and other stars in the celebrity firmament. Mayor Bloomberg spoke first and said that he had met Rabbi Levine in the men’s room, now first of all Robert spends a lot of time in the men’s room, (no perversion implied), and as far as I am concerned, the Republicans are not the only ones who can spend their time meeting and greeting in the men’s room, the Democrats can also. He spoke of N.Y. defense of women’s health care rights and the funding thereof. Sen Kirsten Gillibrand spoke next and said she met one of the other leaders in the ladies room, being that women had the same rights as men and laugher ensued.
Those who knew, spoke of and asked questions about, www.thatshowwithmichaelrakosi.com and the forthcoming episodes and which of the cast members they like and felt was memorable. I was taken happily aback by what people remembered, and how much they cared.
Isaac Mizrahi the famed designer was next and was funny and charming, (I hate when others are funny). He was rousing and full of “piss and vinegar” and raised much more money for Naral with his speech. He and I were the only men there who were not wearing a tie. He was not, as claimed, wearing a giant Target t-shirt underneath his leisure suit. In any case, he was excellent.
After a number of speeches by the leaders of Naral, came Tina Brown, editor, literati, and all around famous person, who spoke brilliantly, expanding the issue of women and their rights all around the world. She seems to have intimate knowledge and inside “poop” of the great and the near great. In a hard spot, without her regular audience, she was brilliant. I congratulated her after the speech and she was both beautiful and gracious. We spoke for a moment about how her mother was almost Maureen O’Hara, and she was startled that anyone knew that. She is in charge of www.theDailyBeast.com and I have read it since Monday. It is both cutting edge and informative, but after all, what else would you expect from “The Master”. She asked who I was, and I gave her a card from the show. I hope her phone calls cease.
Robert Levine was up next and though I have seen him speak many times before , he was beyond masterful. The “right wing” of our country has never encountered such a brilliant, thoughtful attack on their opposition to the rights of women and their unborn fetus. He quoted scripture and pointed out the bible’s only mention of abortion. He kept a powerful and intellectual subject moving with different tempos and references both personal and philosophical. Without his natural humor, (and Robert is funny, I hate to say that), he kept us enthralled at his thoughtfulness and powerful oratory. He truly was second to none.
Did I mention that I gave out a lot cards for www.thatshowwithmichaelrakosi.com and that people promised to watch? I hope you all enjoy the incredible story of Christopher Borg beginning Thursday, and then will watch all of the other 6 episodes over again.