Back in 1977, a then 32 year old stand-up comedian by the name of Steve Martin (www.stevemartin.com) put out his first live album entitled: ‘Let’s Get Small’. I being almost 6 feet tall when this record came out, thought for sure I couldn’t buy a copy, as I assumed it was obviously geared towards the small – but flush with cash – pigmy population in North America; them, and the munchkins from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ as well. It soon became apparent – after noticing equally tall people leaving the record stores with his ground-breaking album in hand – that I was wrong in my thinking. So I – discarding my ‘Toulouse- Lautrec’ outfit – straightened up, walked in, and purchased a copy. I played that piece of vinyl over and over again, bursting out with as much laughter as the live audience on the album after each tasty morsel of wit from Steve.
One track on the album that stood out for me the most was this (and I still remember it to this day): “You know a lot of people come to me and say, ‘Steve, how can you be so funny?’ There’s a secret to it. It’s no big deal. Before I go out I put a slice of Bologna in each of my shoes. So when I’m on stage, I feel funny.”
Such profound wisdom, and I didn’t even have to travel to a mountaintop in Tibet to receive it. From that moment on I too wanted to be funny. (before that I ranged from mildly amusing to seriously befuddled). I began putting Bologna in not one but both my shoes. Instantly, I felt ‘funny’. I was on my way! (to wherever funny people go with Bologna in their shoes). I did this for about two weeks, but constantly having dogs follow me by day and raccoons, skunks and the occasional homeless person hound me at night was too much to bear. I don’t know how Steve Martin did it. (maybe he placed odour eaters underneath) So, I gave up on being funny and gave thought to other careers; careers ‘ sans’ humour. I thought about going into government or being a customs officer – maybe even an undertaker, but eventually decided to be a writer. And, not just any writer! No! But rather the best writer of as many depressing works as possible! (and exclamation points) I wrote plays, movies, short stories, songs and, heaven forbid, poetry! (Sylvia Path, move over). I did this – in relative obscurity – for years until………
Cartoons!!! I had never written cartoons. (There’s a reason for this as they are supposed to be funny and my mantra was to be the exact opposite.) But, for some unknown reason (antidepressants?) I had a burning desire to be funny again. I wondered if I should return to putting Bologna in my shoes. The homeless person could still be seen around the corner from me so I was understandably hesitant. Plus, could I play Steve’s old vinyl record on one of these new-fangled CD players? I was perplexed, and would need a nine year old to help me out on that one. There was also another problem: I couldn’t draw. I could write the material but couldn’t illustrate it no matter how much Bologna I stuffed into my shoes.
So, I posted my ‘partner’ offer on www.ifreelance.com for an artist to turn my gold into platinum. Several alchemists applied, as well as about a dozen artists. These craftsmen had worthy portfolios, but one person’s work stood head and shoulders above the rest. He was what I consider an ‘artist extraordinaire’. His name was, ‘Alexandre Rouillard’, and – this is indeed the gospel truth – he signed all of his work with the moniker ‘Boloney’! Undeniably, it’s a sign from the heavens, I thought to myself. It was meant to be. Nervously, I called him up. After some small talk I asked him why he signed all his works that way. He said, “I do it because my favourite author is `Jack Kerouac`, and jack writes in the 190th chorus of his opus Mexico City Blues: No matter how you cut it, it`s empty delightful Boloney.” I immediately said we should then be Mustard and Boloney. We both laughed heartily and thought the name was perfect.
But, and here`s the really strange twist, is that in further conversation I found out about his family and oddly, when he was born. You see he was born in 1978, exactly nine months after the Steve Martin album came out. His mother Fanny was a fan of Steve’s too, and listened intently to the humor. (she went on to become a well-respected artist as well). Coincidence, I think not!! The hairs on the back of my neck tingle every time I even think about it. (they’re doing it right now) I also like to think Alexandre was equally influenced by the fact his mom placed Bologna in his diapers, shoved slices into his early walking shoes, and fed him sandwiches laced with Mustard. (no baby food for him; kids were much tougher back then) But this meaty part about his early days could just be my over-active imagination kicking in.
Nonetheless, Mustard and Boloney we became! (Beefsteak we are not !!) You`ll notice off to the left Alexandre has drawn our caricatures. As you can see he has the fancier hat and a much broader smile. All that from being raised on Bologna and signing Boloney. (Oh, in the cartooning world it’s all about the hat. Dan Piraro, creator of ‘Bizarro’ wears a nice one. Check him out at: www.bizarro.com. Also, on the cover of the album ‘Let’s Get Small’, Steve Martin wears a hat made out of balloons!) I guess I gave up a bit too soon back then in the 70’s with my goal of world domination through laughter, hence my hat is less robust, and my smile not as wide. But, it`s coming! And, so is our new book entitled, ‘Butt Seriously’. I’ll be talking about that in my next blog.
Together, Alexandre and I make quite the humorous sandwich. So, when hungry for laughs we hope you’ll come back and check out our comedic diner. They’ll always be something on the menu for you.
And, if there isn’t, one can order take-out.