Court Jester- The Making of a Comedian

This is the story of comedian Mark Sweeney. A 25 year comedy veteran and the funniest guy in his price range. The oldest of six children, he grew up with no computers or cable TV and survived high school in the 70's. He's a former Marine, college student, bartender, courier, shuttle driver, sprinkler fitter, real estate agent, actor and comedian. His adventures take you from the plains of the Midwest to the deserts of Iraq to the mountains of Afghanistan to the underground "sex" clubs in the Far East all the way to the lower middle class.

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Book Excerpts



I crapped in my pants once in second grade. I don't know why I'm even telling you. It's not something I'm proud of. I'm not sure there's ever been an instance when filling your shorts with poo is something to be proud of, unless there's some kind of bet involved. I'm not even really sure what happened. One minute I was sitting at my desk, the next minute I'm sitting at my desk in britches full of poo. I think I tried to fart and ended up crapping my pants. Either that or I just didn't want to raise my hand and ask for permission to use the bathroom. Was I ashamed that I had to poop? I don't know. Was I so embarrassed that I had to poop that I would rather poop in my own pants than ask permission to go? I don't know. What I do know is that I just pooped in my pants. I didn't panic even though I distinctly heard someone mention something about the smell of poo, as in; did someone just crap their pants? I just sat there with undies full of poo and tried to play it cool. Yeah, it stinks in here, who just shit? I was forced to join the other children in chiding the offending party in order to cover my shame.

There's nothing worse than having to sit at your desk in a pile of your own feces. I stayed that way the rest of the day too. Just sitting there with poo in my pants, and it was only morning so I had to sit there all day. I did eventually get to the bathroom and did some perfunctory cleaning, but it had to be done quickly and with a great deal of subterfuge. You don't want to raise any suspicions. During recess, I feigned illness so I could just lie in the grass and watch the other children play. Are you going to play kick ball Mark? No, I'm just going to sit here in my poo filled pants and try to get the smell to dissipate.

I guess I could've gone to the nurses office and say I was sick, but the smell of poop was around me like a shadow. There was no mistaking it. At the end of the day I waited until everyone had left before I got up, you know, just in case the seat of my pants was stained by poo. I thought it had to be. After all, I just spent six hours sitting in my own waste. I walked home, I couldn't take the bus with the poo stench wrapped around me like a blanket. Somewhere on the way I stopped behind some bushes, took my underwear off and threw them down the sewer. What a relief. My poo pants were gone. I was still a mess, but the poo pants were gone. I've never forgotten that moment of throwing my poop filled undies into that tunnel. To this day I can still see them lying in the bottom of that storm sewer. That wasn't such good times. I never did poop in my pants again. From that day forward, if I had to go, I raised my freakin hand.

From Chapter 24

Strip Clubs and Such

...Of course to see these kinds of shows you had to go off street. Not always a wise decision. You couldn't get too carried away with the drinking, or you might get your shit rolled, and that's a long walk back to the base. Trust me from where I speak. The off street journeys weren't just in Okinawa, they were in all the places we went: the Philippines, Thailand, Korea, mainland Japan. Off street was where you went to see the weird spectacles. They weren't advertised in the paper, they didn't have store fronts or signs. They weren't always hard to find though because they all had barkers on the street. I call them barkers because they barked at you to come into a certain club. Hey, Joe, Joe, Joe, come on in, Joe, we got good shows, Joe. It must have been cool if your name was really Joe; then it would be like everybody over there would know your name. Hey, Joe. Cool.

Many times you'd have to follow him somewhere. OK, not many times, every time. It's not the kind of place you have in the mall. It was always an anxiety-ridden walk. You're actually preparing for someone to jump out and try to rob you. Again, you always travel in a pack. Safety in numbers was never more apparent. We'd walk through these alleys and follow him down some outside stairs. We'd cross another alley, maybe head up a flight of stairs, come back down, cross another alley and then start heading down. Down into the bowels of late night entertainment.

More than once it crossed my mind that this is dangerous, but what the hell, it's Saturday. Let's party. We would go down the stairs and he'd bang on a door, a slot would open up, they would threaten each other, or at least that how it sounded to me, then we would be allowed in. When I use the word seedy, you have a pretty good idea of what I mean. I wish seedy would be useful here. This place made it seem like seedy would be an upgrade. It was like that scene from Deerhunter, where you expected to see the Russian Roulette game going on. Doesn't anyone here have a mop or a sponge or some paper towels? What's on the floor? What is that on the wall? Are those real stuffed zebra feet? Why is that dwarf carrying a machete? What is that sound? Is that a real mummy? What is that smell? Is somebody cooking something? Don't tell me they serve appetizers. Where are the white people? Do I want something to drink? Yes I want a drink. I need a drink, but only something in a bottle please. I don't want to drink out of a glass from this place. I was a little uncertain about the bottle to be honest, but alcohol was definitely needed for this night. I had a buddy who in these situations would say, you've got to experience life if you're going to experience life. Yeah, well I'm a nineteen-year-old suburban boy in an underground sex bar somewhere in the Philippines, so I think I'm experiencing life. I'm also trying to experience tomorrow, so behave yourself and don't start any trouble. That was the only bar I've ever been to that I was hesitant to even pee in. That's a dirty place.

A crowd had already started collecting around the stage, there seemed to be anticipation in the air. The club had your standard bar off to the right and the stage on the far left wall. The stage was bathed in a pale yellow spotlight. I'm not sure if there's there a more unflattering spotlight color than yellow, but there it was, soaking the stage in its amber glow. A murmur ran through the crowd, and since most of the people in there weren't speaking English, I'm not sure what the murmur was about, but it was there. A single chair stood on the that stage. I wasn't sure what the show was going to be. I don't think the barker mentioned it; he just grabbed us and told us we were in for a treat.

The place was filling up fast. Beer and shots were flowing, and a party atmosphere was forming. As we're cradling our mead and sipping our grog, the mood changes. The lights remain the same, but a guy comes on stage and puts a soda bottle on the chair. That lonely, dirty, wooden chair now has a companion: a soda bottle. Dear God, what's going to happen here tonight? The air fills with the stench of sweat, spilled beer and sticky floors. I realize that using "sticky floors" right there may not have been applicable, but it seemed like the phrase to use in this particular situation. Sticky floors, you can appreciate the feel of that can't you? You can associate the smell that may come from the sticky floor in a basement bar in a foreign land, can't you?

So we wait. Tension mounts, almost palpable now. Something's going to happen. She appears from behind the curtain, a girl, a dancer, a gyrating sexual goddess. Keep in mind that as I'm thinking this, I'm 19, a product of the suburbs, I've got no wife, no girlfriend, a head full of liquor, cash in my pocket, and I'm also about 8,000 miles from home. To me at that time, she was a gyrating sexual goddess. She dances, she sashays, she glides across the stage and sidles up to the chair...