Sunday, March 02, 2008

There Once Was A Comedienne Named Rodney Redux....

I was rummaging around You Tube last night and found these unbelievable clips. These are the videos that went with the audios I heard twenty years ago while working in Queensland, Australia. I wrote this not so well written piece when I first started this blog. I won't edit it, but what I really thought amusing was just how ingrained Rodney's song has been in my head all of these years. Clip one is Rodney's act with his guitar. Clip two has him doing limericks with the audience. See... And some of y'all thought I was making this stuff up...

--There Once Was A Comedienne Named Rodney -- 2006

This is Rodney Rude. For those not in the know, he is a comedian and an old Australian staple--like vegemite and beer-- amongst the younger, looser, freer set down under. He is older now, and retired recently. The news of his retirement gave me a reason to google and I got this picture out of it. Whoever took this picture-nice picture. It is your picture and not mine. Please don't arrest me.

When I was traipsing through Australia, I was of the age that would meet others of the age that would keep a few Rodney Rude cassette tapes in their collection of AC/DC tapes.

"You ever hear of Rodney Rude, Yank?"


And then "Yes, yes, yes, many times..."

Never quite too many, though...

Carpentry and comedy tapes go well together. If you can figure out how not to forget your measurements between the time you measured and the time you marked (sometimes climbing down a ladder and waiting for a turn at the cutting table) then you can listen to funny people all day and laugh and work and whistle and sing and bang bang bang make lotsa noise and get sweaty and stinky and eat lunch with sawdust in it and have stuff hanging in your hair all day with nobody caring or bothering to point it out and you can blow your nose with one finger on a nostril over the side of the deck rail you just built and your socks don't have to match and you can have dirt underneath your fingernails and a three day growth and drink out of an old plastic jug you have never washed except when you first got it and spit on the pile of sawdust on the floor...

Ahhhh... Heaven on earth...

And while all this is occurring you've got Rodney Rude filling the soundtrack of your day, telling rather rough jokes and laughing himself into your psyche.

(It has been over fifteen years since I heard a Rodney Rude tape, and I can STILL hear his trill laugh in my head whenever I think of him. And you know what? It is very comforting...)

When I did carpentry in Australia, The boys called me "Yank" for quite sometime. This went to Seppo on occasion (short for "septic tank", which rhymes with Yank) and jumped around to other nicknames, all, endearing and heartfelt, to be sure.

One of the boys, who had finally determined that I was a good guy and a good friend, stopped what he was doing one day and asked me earnestly --

"Hey Yank. You don't mind us calling you Yank, do you? I mean..."


But no, I had a flippant flippancy burst out of my mouth and I paid dearly for it for years after...

"You can call me anything you want," I said. "Just don't call me Dickhead."

Another of my "pals" heard this, and I was forever to be branded by my own hand.


Yep. That was my nickname in the carpentry world of Australia.

"G'day Dickhead. How's it goin' mate?"

That sort of thing.

I even received a Christmas card several years later, from a few of them who had gotten together enough change for a stamp and sent it to me via my home address. It simply said, "Merry Christmas, Dickhead."

God, I loved those boys...

Anyway, what I wanted to tell you has nothing to do with those boys at all. Or my nickname. Or Australia, for that matter. I wanted to tell you about the night Rodney Rude came to a college auditorium in Auckland, New Zealand, and I went with a group of Kiwi gals to go see him, and I somehow got to have fifteen seconds of fame without meaning to, and I represented my home country proud.

Rodney played a guitar and sang funny song snippets. He told trashy stories and short, nasty jokes. Sometimes, he came at you with something from left field and you couldn't believe he broadsided you that way. Never saw THAT ONE coming...

Almost twenty years has passed and I still remember Rodney Rudisms and can tell some of his better jokes. He tells the story of "Head", an Australian born without a body-- just a head. His parents didn't know what to name him, so they just named him head. On his seventh birthday, his father grabbed him by the hair and pulled him to him.

"Come here, Head. I got a present for ya."

"Not another fuckin' hat, is it?"

At thirteen, head joined the school swimming competition against all sage advice. He was placed up on the starting block. The gun went off. Head dove in like all the other kids. And sank to the bottom.

The other kids were splashing and racing down to the other end. The crowd was screaming. Head was still just laying on the bottom. The kids all made their turns, kicking and stroking and splashing... Head was still at the bottom. Finally, someone noticed and pulled Head out by his hair.

"What happened, Head?"

"Ahhh fuck! I got a cramp!"

When head turned drinking age, he got taken into a pub for the first time. He was set up on a stool and he shouted to the surprised bartender.

"Bartender. Give me a beer!"

The bartender got him a pint.

"Now, put a straw in it, and put the straw in my mouth."

The bartender did as requested.

Mumbling, Head said, "Now, do me a favor and get the cigarettes out from under my collar. Now put one in my mouth. Now light the bastard..."

All this was done by an amused bartender. Head, now mumbling further, said--

"Now. Do you have darts at this here establishment?"

The bartender nodded yes.

"Now, get a dart and put the dart in my mouth, FEATHERS FIRST!"

The bartender squeezed a dart into Head's mouth between the straw and the burning cigarette.

"Now," said a horribly mumbling Head, "Throw the fucking board at me!"

That kind of humor.

And at the end of his show, to wind things down, he would sing limericks. Then he would get the crowd to sing limericks. Then if they were good, the crowd and Rodney would laugh, clap, and cheer. If they were bad, Rodney would kick them gently in the arse and tell them to "get the heck outta here!"

I was with A. Anyone remember A? A had it out for me. She owed me one. Or several.

While everyone was enjoying this limericking finale, my little brain went to work and I wrote a limerick in my head. I thought it was amusing, and turned to A and said--

"I just thought of a funny one. I'll tell you when we get outside..."

A took this as a signal. She took this as an opportunity. She took this entirely way too far and stood up and waved both hands and said--

"This Guy is a Yank! He's got a limerick!"


There was an auditorium of foreigners all looking at me!

There was nothing I could do. I had been outted. I was under the spotlight. There was nowhere to hide.

I reluctantly and with a beet-red face got up on the stage. I've never been a front of an audience type of guy. I prefer the snarky backrow approach to life.

Rodney took the Yank thing and ran with it.

Half of this moment is a total blur. He asked me questions. I warbled out answers and he made fun of my nervous warbling. People were laughing at my nervousness. They were laughing at Rodney's pokes at my country. They were all laughing directly AT ME and certainly not with me.

Finally, Rodney got tired of playing with me. He was ready to let me off the hook and back into the safety of the sea of people. He said--

"OK. Let's hear your limerick."

I had almost forgotten it. For a brief moment, I was paralyzed by embarrassment and nervousness. Then, thank god, it returned. I was to redeem myself. I was to overcome the last three minutes of sheer red-faced terror. I was to do myself and my country proud. I was to have--


I started out crackly, but as I went on, my voice grew stronger and stronger. Something about being pummeled up against the ropes of your pride and I knew I had to fight back. My voice got stronger and clearer. By God, I even think I hit a proper note or two. In an imitation of Rodney's own sing-songy rendition of the limerick genre, I sang out in a bold and rebellious moment--

There Once was a comedian named Rodney

Whose jokes were thought to be funny

But I found them quite rude

And often quite crude

Can someone give back, my money?

That tore the house down...


Jeannie said...

good one!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think comedians provide an essential service, like physicians and firefighters.

Shirley said...

I'll bet Rodney didn't see that one coming.

Billy said...

Great limerick!

I found your story very engaging. There are people who come through our lives who we never forget. The reasons vary, but some people just stick with us.

Get a few dozen more stories like this together and you've got a book. The carpentry, Australia--great stuff all around.

skinnylittleblonde said...

lol, well, you did get the last one there. I bet even A didn't see that one coming!