Profit, an Excerpt from Mosaic Man
by Ron Sukenick
 
 

One of our personalities is a tummler. A comic, a crazy. At a precocious age he wanted to be a wild-tongued word twister like Danny Kaye who was from his Brooklyn neighborhood. Or a suave ventriloquist like Edgar Bergen. Or even a dummy like Charlie McCarthy. But a star. Some kind of star. To loud mouth his way out of Brooklyn. Or talk softly maybe but with a big shtick. Marathon mouth. Now that he's escaped we're not sure what he gets out of it. Maybe it's just his bent. If not his warp. Or his kink.

Because comics are kinky. You need to be the tattler of dirty secrets, the more so the tummler, the killer kike. To joke about the shit, you have to get into the shit. And that's no joke, that's sad. If not sadistic. Fear, hell and death is the scummy underside of all those laughs, a side that comics and hellfire preachers best portray. Which is why they often stray. Godliness is the cover, as is funniness. You have to kill off authoritarian cops and pops to get on stage and grab the mike, and the king is first on the hit list.

"Once I find myself on a boat from Morocco to Spain. A group of refugees clustered on deck with their belongings attracts my attention, because though dressed much like rural Berbers and obviously lacking means, they exhibit a certain ancestral elegance.

"Me. 'What's their story?' In Spanish.

"' Ellos mataron al Re,' answers a sailor, crossing himself. 'They killed the King.'

"We're not talking Elvis."

He waits for laughs. Doesn't get any. "Elvis was called the King," he says. "Get it? Elvis Presley, p,r,e . . . you know? You don't care about him? Right, all he had was money and fame, who cares about that?

"Do I hear a snicker?"

To a certain extent we all have the same story so that his story is the story of the refugees on the boat. But his story is that he wasn't there. It's an alibi. He didn't do it, it wasn't his fault. One of the things they always tell you is that you did it. But he didn't. "Screw that. I wasn't there. It wasn't me." That's his usual story.

Though maybe it's time to change his tune, what the hell. "Sure I killed him. I'd do it again. Because I'm pissed--he has it coming after twenty centuries of grief. Let him show his face. Christ the Butcher."

His bit is to retell the old stories. "Who was this messiah anyway? He had twelve followers and one was unreliable. The rest was marketing."

"Yeah."

"I bet you didn't know Elvis was Jewish. On his mother's side, that's what counts. It's a proven fact, look it up. You thought it was a religion? What makes you think it's a religion? Being Jewish is an art," he says. "You got to have talent."

"What if you don't have talent? Hire a boy. What, I'm the boy?'" he says, pleading innocent.

He who? What's the difference? He gets on stage, he tells his joke, he takes his bow. He favors gags because he's chronically disgusted and when gags at least he doesn't puke. There's not much difference between laughing and puking, laughing and puking and crying, they all come from the gut. Besides, gags stop you from saying what you really feel, and saying what you really feel is not advisable. Blind rage gets you nowhere, look where it got Samson. Freud didn't invent the Id, he just dropped the Y.

He can't say what he really feels because he's not a real person. He doesn't really feel anything. He's a dummy. A manikin. An android. An alien cyberpod. Slapped together. Mosaic man, the man of parts. Ceramic. Or silicon. Prick him he doesn't bleed. He who? The Jew. Of thee I sing.