A Potpourri of Nonsense
You know what I haven’t done in a while? Empty my brain of all the stupid, pointless, ridiculous thoughts that are in there. It’s good to do that now and again; it’s like cleaning out the attic. Every so often you find something cool in there. Mostly, you find stuff so purposeless and stupid that you wonder what ever possessed you to put it in the attic in the first place.
Most of the stuff in this essay will be like that, I suspect. And there will probably be a few Larry Kingesque “Whatever Dick Clark is taking, send me some,” one-liners.
Read at your own peril.
I suppose I should begin by saying I was on “PBS NewsHour” on Tuesday talking about Shohei Ohtani. You can watch that here if you like.
Over the weekend, I was on NPR’s “All Things Considered” talking Shohei with Scott Detrow, who is a regular reader here (Hi Scott!). You can listen to that here if you like. I’m pretty sure I said the same stuff in both interviews simply because, like Sollozzo from “The Godfather,” I’m not that clever.
Do supervillains in movies ever laugh at anything that is not, you know, related to them destroying the world? Like would a supervillain ever listen to a Nate Bargatze bit and just crack up and say, “Oh, wow, it’s true, right?”
I’d say Nate Bargatze is my newest favorite comedian. Funny thing is, the first time I saw him was at a magic convention while I was working on my book, The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini. Nate does an absolutely hysterical bit on appearing at a magic convention, which you can watch below, and I suspect this was the one I was at, though he says this one was in Des Moines and mine was in Columbus:
See, Nate’s dad, Stephen Bargatze, is a magician. And he’s very, very funny. I was at my friend Joshua Jay’s MagiFest in Columbus; it’s the oldest continuously running magic convention in America, I think. And magic conventions, they’re, well, they’re something else. You’ve got magic lectures. You’ve got tricks for sale. But mostly, everywhere you go, and I do mean everywhere you go, you will see a bunch of people doing card tricks and coin tricks and rope tricks for each other.
What I’m saying is that you basically spend the entire weekend picking cards. I picked so many cards that weekend that when I was called on stage to pick a card in an actual magic show, I totally mixed it up with some card I had picked earlier, which was quite embarrassing and, anyway, magic conventions are something else.
Anyway, Stephen was doing his comedy magic bit, which was really great, very Southern and homespun and kind of like what Andy Griffith would have done if he was a magician. And then, sure enough, there was a magic trick that ended up with Nate appearing on stage. I had been told by Josh that Nate would be appearing as a big surprise, so I was ready for it. The rest of the crowd, as he says in the bit, was definitely not ready for it. And it leads perfectly to Nate’s killer line which is: “When you do comedy in front of people not expecting comedy, it does not come off as comedy. It sounds like a mean speech.”
But the funniest part to me was actually the line he said that day. I’ve never forgotten it.