Comedians talk about bombing in front of an audience, comedians possessing such inflated egos that, to them, failing to elicit laughter from an audience is equivalent to the detonation of an entire city.
That’s why they’re comedians. They are out of their minds.
Today’s story concerns a recent “bombing” by yours truly, not before an assembled gathering but in front of a telephonic “Audience of One.” Which, to me, felt exactly the same way, proving that I’m out of my mind. And also too terrified to bomb in the traditional manner, preferring instead to fail miserably one person at a time.
Which, by the way, I usually don’t. I have often bantered successfully with sympatico service representatives and wait-people. And during our recent visit to Turkey, as I mentioned, I would, on occasion, smiling goofily, position myself beside a person whose loved one was about to take their picture, my “Mr. Bean”-inflected gambit meeting with chuckling approval from tourists of all nations. Make no mistake. My mirth-eliciting batting average is remarkably impressive. (I am a professional, after all.) But I am hardly batting a thousand.
As shall immediately be proven.
I am calling a lawyer to ask him a question. His specialty is “Estate Planning.”
Inheritance laws are confusing in this country. Dead moneymakers – or, more accurately, the surviving heirs of dead moneymakers – are required to pay a designated percentage of the estate as an “Inheritance Tax.” However, an “Estate Planner” can devise strategies allowing you to legally pay less. In some cases – though not in mine – nothing.
This strikes me as being simultaneously a schizophrenic Inheritance Tax policy and a “Make Work” activity for Estate Planners.
Oh, and by the way, Canada, the most compassionate country in the Western Hemisphere, does not have an “Estate Tax.” We have one, but if you pay an attorney, you can get around it.”
Canadian Taxpayer: “We may be greedy. But at least we’re honest about it.”
Anyway, I have a question for the attorney, so I call the guy’s office. The woman who answers – I can instantly sense it in her “no nonsense” intonation –
“Good morning. Hoffman, somebody and somebody else.”
is all business. An immediate challenge to comedians.
One I shall ignominiously fail.
“Paul Hoffman, please.”
“I’m sorry. He’s in a meeting.”
“Can I leave a message?”
“I can transfer you to ‘Voice Mail.”
“Will it be his ‘Voice Mail?’”
she responds, with not a hint of conspiratorial playfulness. “Beware, Earlo!” But I foolishly forge ahead.
“Could I leave the message with you? I feel happier talking to a person.”
No reaction. (Even though there is an unmistakable twinkle in my voice.)
“I can take your message.”
“Great. It’s Earl Pomerantz – E-A-R-L…and ‘Pomerantz’, spelled the usual way.”
An unforgivable “reach.” But by now, I am experiencing “flop sweat.”
“Mr. Pomerantz, I will give him the message that your called.”
“I know you will.”
A decidedly hostile “No reaction.” In response to my unnecessarily aggressive “I know you will.”
And that was it. An abbreviated post for an abbreviated conversation.
And you know what?
The attorney never called me back.
I don’t think she gave him the message.