Copyright 2015 Jesse Gersten | All Rights Reserved.

To Catch a Sicilian Predator


Interesting night performing at some random pizza place in Berlin, CT last night.

First thing I noticed was the single autographed headshot on the wall. Who might be so important as to be the only celebrity adorning the wall of this palacia de pizzeria? Sinatra? DeNiro? John Gotti? Dustin Diamond? If you guessed any of those celebrities, you’d be wrong. In fact, if you guessed at all, you’d be wrong.

The autographed 8×10 was from none other than eighties boxer Marlon Starling. That’s right, the pride of Hartford. Well, him and the Geico Gecko. For those of you who aren’t boxing fans from Hartford, or relatives of the boxer, Marlon Starling was most famous for his career coming to an abrupt end after getting knocked out cold by a punch thrown after the bell. I was told that the owner of the pizza place was friends with him, and that he might come down to watch the show. First of all, being friends with Marlon Starling is about as impressive as being friends with the mechanic who works on malfunctioning bears in the Country Bear Jamboree. Secondly, I’d be more confident in a baby kangaroo with Down syndrome actually getting my jokes. Plus I could store both my set list and my Corona bottle in his little pouch for easy access if the stage had no stool.

One of the comics looked just like the guy from Weekend at Bernie’s. It may have actually been him. He wasn’t as funny, but that’s not his fault because there aren’t many things funnier than dead guys wearing sunglasses, flopping around and getting into all kinds of zany adventures. If only my life could be so exciting after I die. Reminds me of the time I told a big Grateful Dead fan that the group should keep touring with Jerry Garcia’s corpse being held up and maneuvered with strings attached to his arms and legs by some sort of magically crunchy puppet master. The horrified look on his face made me wish that I’d charged admission.

Throughout the show there were a couple of guys in a large group in the back who were heckling everyone. They would yell out random things that didn’t really make any sense. In fact most of what they yelled out wasn’t even in English. I was guessing they were maybe Serbian or Croatian. It turned out that they were Sicilian. Their English was so bad that they literally must have gotten off some sort of raft just hours before the show and then wandered the state until they found something they recognized, which ended up being pizza.

My set went well and my new joke about Stevie Wonder sitting courtside at the NBA All-Star game worked, so I had a good night.

After the show the Sicilians conversed with the comics a bit. One of them asked me if I was Italian. I said that I was Jewish, but being from Middletown, which has about 10 Trillion Italians, made me partially Italian by default. He said, “Oh, so you be-a half-a Italian, yes? I said that I was, but only from the waist down. I told him that my upper half was Jewish, which was why I ended up being smart.” He replied by saying, “Oh, so you be-a Italian, yes?”

He then approached a smaller comic and asked about getting drinks. He said, “I like-a young-a boys.” I turned quickly; expecting to see Chris Hanson coming in with a camera crew, telling him to, “take a seat”. But not before the young looking comic would tell him that he had to put the laundry in the dryer, but to have some sweet tea that he just made.

Above the stage on a shelf was a big stone turtle. Between that, a girl who looked like a princess, and Mario & Luigi, there was definitely a Super Mario Brothers theme going on. The theme music was going on in my head the whole time I was onstage.


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