| Flabbergasted Penn - 6/10/00
I guess 30 years in showbiz
isn't enough to prepare you for everything. Yesterday was a
matinee, so we were lousy with kids. It was a good show, we
were rocking along. It was near the end of the show, we
were at Broken Bottle Juggling. I had just broken the third
bottle and I was up to "the way they break is a non-linear
equation." As I paced the stage, I got over stage left and
a little girl, about 8 years old was walking up the stairs
from the audience onto the stage. She was tentative, but
not stopping. My first inclination was to wave her back,
say I wasn't picking someone from the audience right then,
but I didn't have time, she was on the stage. She looked at
me and I leaned over with broken bottles in my hand.
"My Mom sent me up here to tell you to watch your language."
What? Well, in about 3 minutes from then I had that hunk
coming up about language, and the difference between
obscenity and blasphemy and the, "If I get cut, I'll take
you on a scatological, sexual, white-knuckle ride through
the old testament featuring the violent, non-consensual sex
acts of deuteronomy 14 through 27 described in the graphic
street language of the late, great, Tupac Shakur." So, I
went into that. With that on autopilot, I had time to think
of what I would do next. I went into this thing about,
"What kind of parent would see a huge, mentally ill man
standing with broken liquor bottles in his hand and send a
child to have a talk with him about his language."
It was just so nutty. I said a kid forced to do that was
going to grow up to be Hillary Clinton (even I'm not sure
what I meant by that, but it sure seemed right). I kept
doing callbacks to it for the rest of the bit. When I was
about to juggle the bottles and pretended she was tugging on
my pant leg while I was juggling, "Pardon me, sir, could I
talk to you about your language?" It was pretty funny
stuff, but still so disconcerting.
During the Flag closer, when I'm talking about freedom of
speech, I added, "And not just problems from an imprudent
parent, but also the government." Because I worked it in so
much, and because it's such an important idea to the show,
and because I had hunks all ready to go, the audience was
sure the little girl was a plant. After the show the people
who were sitting next to the little girl and her mother said they saw
the mother standing in the aisle and pushing the little girl
toward the stage. They were really appalled. I couldn't
get over it. I was freaked into the next show. It's some
sort of violation I wasn't ready for. I mean, it's a
super-heckle. As Robbie said, "The perfect combination of
gall and cowardice." How goofy.
The closest thing to a punchline on it was that the family
came up to Teller after the show to get an autograph and the
grandmother said, "this is the `imprudent parent.'" They
were proud, they had helped the show. It's just amazing.
I've never even heard of something like that happening
anywhere ever. What next?