Friday, May 21, 2010

At The Buzzer.

My show at the Grisly Pear last Thursday coincided with Games 6 of the Boston Celtics – Cleveland Cavaliers playoff series. Sucks when that happens. 

The Celtics were up 3 games to 2, and had a chance to knock out the heavily favored Cavaliers in Boston, so this was definitely not one of those get-the-score-on-the-internet-later games. There was no way I could skip the comedy show, leaving me with no other option then to attempt some Mrs. Doubtfire-esque multitasking.

The show was produced by my friends at Comedy Party USA and was a special goodbye to Michael Reardon, who was moving home to Boston later that weekend.  Mike, like me, moved here from Massachusetts to pursue a career in stand-up comedy. At least that’s what I figured; I don’t really know what his intentions were.  He lived here for five years and now he is moving home and while he never became famous he performed all the time and is one of the happier people I know, which has got to be a win. Mike says he’ll keep performing in Boston.  It never ends. That’s the deal. 

So I was particularly jazzed about this show.  Mike told me I’d be going on first (they always save the best comics for first) and I had a moment of panic where I considered ditching my new material because I didn’t want to open the show with a thud, but eventually went with my new stuff and even dusted off a couple golden oldies. The set went fine and my work was done only 12 minutes into the show.  More and more people came to the Grisly Pear as the show went on, and I missed out on the liveliest, drunkest crowd. Sucks when that happens. 

It was no matter any how, because now it was game time.  The comedy show was in the back room, behind the bar, so I had no place to watch the game. I could, however, hear the decidedly pro-Celtic crowd rip-roaring at the bar TV, and as I listened I had that distinct feeling of missing out, like when all your friends talk about how awesome that party you skipped was.  I had to watch.  Problem was, I wanted to be a professional, so the post-Michael Reardon era Comedy Party USA would still book me. 

My first plan of attack was the classic I shouldn’t have broken the seal bathroom strategy. This is the one where you go to pee every 4 minutes and then stand in the bar to catch a few glimpses of the game. Your friends assume you are on cocaine or worse - you have diarrhea - but it’s a very effective strategy regardless. After a quarter and a half of this, I was beginning to look absurd. I switched to plan two: texting my brother for constant updates.

Usually this is a poor way to watch a playoff game, but when your brother is Harry Quinn, it’s a delightfully oddball experience. Only months ago, my brother was a devout anti-texter. (“If I want to talk to someone, I’ll just call them” – Idiot.) Now he’s a mad-text lunatic, and I couldn’t be happier, especially at playoff time.  He’s the most frantic, simultaneously excited and infuriated play-by-play guy ever.  He’s as excitable as Marv Albert around a pile of lingerie and an unbitten woman’s back.  Random gametime texts from Harry include:

  • “This is so bullshit. The refs are throwing the game on purpose. The NBA wants …HOLY FUCKIN SHIT LEBRON WAS CALLED FOR A TRAVEL!  IT’S A MIRACLE!”

  • “Fuck…Fuck. Damn. Hell. Wait….KGGGGGGGG!”

  • “Would you kill a close friend if it meant the Celtics won the finals?”

And so on. 

You got to love his passion, and in the end it inspires me. I skip the penultimate comic to watch the climax of the game (I return for Mike, the finale, of course) and jeopardize my connection. They might not have noticed however, a lot of people were drunk.

As you probably know, the Celtics went on to win, pulling off a sizeable upset considering the Cavaliers were the odds-on favorite and the Celtics were washed-up geezers.  I couldn’t miss that.  The Celtics (sentimental hogwash alert) mean too much to me. 

I think as you grow older, once the unqualified adulation for athletes that you have as a child wears off, what draws you back to sports teams is a sense of loyalty.  I used to feel that for all four Boston teams, now I just feel it for the C’s.  People often identify a team with a specific period of their life. Nostalgia for that time can convince a fan to keep coming back to the team.  For me, it was the 2008 Celtic’s Championship run. I was a Celtics fan before then; I started getting into the C’s during their Paul Pierce-Antoine Walker-Walter McCarty glory days (sigh) but it was this run that solidified me as a lifetime fan.  The 2008 playoffs coincided almost to the day with the two months I lived in Birmingham, Alabama, one of the more trying periods of my life.  The job sucked, I was homesick, etc. etc. Virtually the entire time I was in Alabama, I had a Celtics playoff game to look forward to and that kept me sane.  I used to walk to an Applebees in Ensley, the shittiest ghetto in Birmingham, because I had neither a car nor a television, and I'd watch the game with total strangers. Just about every night.   I made friends with all the other Celtics fans, discounting the one who threatened to stab me if I hugged his girlfriend again. (She was also a Celtics fan; Pierce just hit a go-ahead three. We were caught in the moment.)   

I remember for the Celtics-Lakers series, Applebees was split in half, Boston fans bar-left and LA fans bar-right. The TV on the Celtics side was a few seconds ahead. I used to cheer with the Boston fans after a big basket and then run over to the LA side and relive the basket, this time rubbing it in their face. It was great.  For those two months alone, I’ll be a Celtics fan forever. 

That’s the loyalty. The Red Sox used to have it, but they lost it, maybe forever. Something about that entire 2004 World-Series Winning Curse-Breaking Yankee-Beating team being wholly juiced up on steroids… thing. That did it for me.  When I was a kid, my two pastimes were professional wrestling and Major League Baseball. I think I always knew pro-wrestling was a fake sport; I was never ready to find out baseball was too.

I flew off on a tangent there, I know. Forgive me.  Hope you enjoyed it anyway.  If you did, you’ll be happy to know there are a lot of blogs brewing in my head. They will probably come soon. Just don’t expect one tomorrow. The Celtics are on.  


  1. I have to admit... as much as I loved the '08 championship run, I am enjoying this year more so. In '08 we were the favorites, it was our time. This year (as much as I hate to say it) it WAS LeBron's time, AND HE BLEW IT! We stumbled into the playoffs, battered and tired. People were writing us off against the Heat. We're old and we still beat the Cavs damn it! All of this coincided with the Bruins becoming only the fourth team in sports history to blow a 3-0 series lead (fittingly enough, in game 7, the bruins were up 3 goals to none, and we lost the game 4-3). Also there's a lot in my personal life ending, I'm graduating college, I'm moving out of my home, LOST is ending; all of these coupled with the bruins, can turn anybody on their head. But, at least, during this crazy time I will have the Celtics! Ah, the Celtics, the team that pulled off the most famous case of regicide in world history! Thank you!

    p.s. - the night we clinched against the Cavs, right before the game I looked at my roommate and said "I want to beat the Cavs more than winning the Finals. We could get swept and shut-out against the Magic next round, but I'll still be happy knowing we beat the Cleveland LeBrons"

  2. Harry habitually writes comments that are better than the actual blog post. Show off.