I began my career as a fun- ny folksinger (yes, there was a time when that was an actual job description) then dropped the guitar for an act which was less stand-up than one-man sketches and conceptual humor.
Although I opened for Talk- ing Heads, Billy Joel and The Persuasions, some of my gigs were less prestigious.
At a community college, I was sent to the cafeteria and told to set up in the center. As hundreds of kids arrived for lunch I was told to play, but with no stage, spotlight or sound system, I appeared to be a mentally-unbalanced hippie singing next to the soda machine. Kids would come over and listen for the amount of time it took to get their Dr. Pepper.
At another college, I was brought into a nicely-appointed lounge with a beautiful sound system… but no audi- ence. “Don’t worry,” said the person who’d hired me. “Just play, they’ll come.”
So I started and, in a while, kids started coming in, each holding a cookie. They looked odd: ashen, walking stiffly, dazed. They sat down, gazing into the middle distance, never responding, then gradually their faces regained color, they ate their cookies, stood up and left.
Eventually I realized I’d been hired to provide the entertainment for a blood drive.
In 1976, Boston Magazine named me its first “Best Comedian In Boston”. It barely detracts from this glorious honor that at the time I was the only com- edian in Boston. (In 1977 a kid named Jay Leno moved in and the rankings changed. Although that same year The New Yorker called me “witty”. So, y’know, there’s that.)