By Brandon Wetherbee
Brandon Wetherbee hosts the talk show/podcast You, Me, Them, Everybody the first two Friday’s of the month at the Wonderland Ballroom and in Brooklyn and Chicago once a month. Listen to it online at youmethemeverybody.com. He’ll be at the Wonderland Ballroom on August 5 with guests TBD arts editor Andrew Beaujon, stand up comedian Adam Friedland and a special set from Meredith Bragg.
I now have the basis for a monologue about apples.
I don’t tell jokes. I’ll never be able to go on stage and point out the absurdity of anything in two sentences. It takes me at least two paragraphs and whatever it is usually tends to involve me. Sometimes I write a traditional joke that makes me laugh. I’ve yet to try one out on stage that’s gotten a laugh. I don’t sit at home, thinking of funny premises and funny punchlines. I write down whatever happens in a notebook, catalogue the events and see if there’s a theme. Once I find a theme, I have the foundation for a monologue.
Last night my fiance and I went grocery shopping at Safeway. We bought a bag of apples. The apples were not good. The apples label had a money back guarantee and a replacement bag of apples guarantee. I returned the apples today. I was told that the label is no longer correct, Safeway will either replace the bag of apples or give you your money back. I told the manager that seems odd since the apples are Safeway apples. He said it didn’t matter. I pointed out that since I was inside Safeway and holding a Safeway product the Safeway guarantee would be honored. He said it didn’t matter. I pointed out the absurdity of Safeway not honoring Safeway’s label especially since Safeway didn’t print a guaranteed until so and so date because those don’t exist. He said it didn’t matter. I asked for my money back. He asked for the value number whatever phone number thing. I pointed out that we didn’t use my value number whatever phone number thing. He said it didn’t matter. I provided numbers that aren’t mine until he gave up trying to put the number in. He handed me the money. I said thank you. He did not reply.
The assistant manager is awful, a piece of shit, a waste of a human. No one would mourn his passing. In fact, the world could only benefit from people like this no longer being people. This isn’t funny. It’s insane, cruel, uncalled for and by this point of the show, maybe three minutes in, most of the audience that hasn’t seen the show before will not like me. It’s fine to try this out during a short stand up set or at an open mic because it doesn’t matter, there’s a built in level of forgetfulness. Whether you hate the host is kind of important. There are a few subjects that you can spew hate at without regard, but how often do you want to see someone rail against the Holocaust or genocide?
Was the assistant manager awful? Absolutely. Can I portray him in a negative light without polarizing a crowd? Of course. No one in any major metropolis has a 100% success rate at a chain grocery store. In fact, I’m willing to guess most people have at least a D rating of customer service for grocery stores in D.C. Universal annoyances are easy targets. It’s why lawyers are punching bags, airline food is discussed more than any other cuisine and a reference to reality television will get a laugh in any board room. If you know what I’m talking about, you’re more likely to like me. It explains the appeal of Jay Leno. He’s the first to admit he’s not reinventing the wheel. He studies what is working in popular culture and works really hard at trying to find the opinion that the most people possible will laugh at. That’s not for me. I’m too busy trying to figure out how to express that I loath the assistant manager in a grocery store without sounding like the perpetrator of a future atrocity.
Sometimes things go to far. That sentence makes it seem like each monologue is a runaway train that I can’t possibly control because I’m a true artist, which means I’m a vessel and nothing more. I do not believe that. Things go too far because embellishment is needed. The story can never be completely non-fiction so I’m not going to fight funny. Sometimes I’ll throw people under the bus for a cheap laugh. If it’s someone I know, I feel awful. If it’s a public figure, it’s fine. For example, I can go on for as long as I’d like about this assistant manager, but once I say his name, it’s too personal.
Safeway is awful. That’s not a revelation. It’s a place I tend to shop at due to proximity and when I’m desperate, an easy source of material. For just $5, I now have a story that will hopefully make people laugh. All because of apples that weren’t for me.
Thanks for reading and have a wonderful night.