75q: Ron Nessen / Patti Smith
Billy Crystal Stand-Up
... Ron Nessen
... Billy Crystal
Ron Nessen: Ladies and gentlemen, here is Bill
[Applause. Young Billy Crystal enters. Nessen,
Billy Crystal: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for
that warm welcome, uh, very often, new comedians like
me, uh, we have a rough time, especially in big
concerts. Often, we'll get no billing. The audience
will have no idea there's an opening act. And it's not
fair. I come out, three thousand people have timed
their drugs for the headliner. Whoa! Can be difficult.
But, uh, I started performing when I was a little boy.
My family was in the jazz recording business. We owned
a label called the Commodore Jazz label. We recorded
all the great people like Billie Holiday, Eddie
Condon, all the great old players and my dad used to
produce them in concert and that's where I was brought
up, backstage, and these old players were my friends.
Uh, it was a great period in my life. They always
called me "Face." "Face" is a hip jazz term for cute
kid or really pretty lady. They always called them
"Face." And I hadn't seen any of them in about fifteen
years till, about two months ago, I was passing a
little club in the Village, recognized the name of a
real old great friend of mine. I went to see him. Sent
him a note. And we had a real sweet reunion backstage.
[Lights go down, shrouding the studio in darkness.
Jazz saxophone plays a mellow tune. A lone spotlight
shines on a stool on the walkway that juts out into
the audience. Crystal, imitating an old jazz musician,
walks into the spotlight and sits on the stool.]
Billy Crystal: [in character, raspy voice] Yes, yes,
yes, yes, yes. The Face! Yes, yes, yes, yes. This is
heavy. This is heavy. Yes, yes. Can you dig it? I knew
that you could. Yes, yes, yes. You're lookin' so nice,
Face. Just so nice to see ya. ... I'm okay. I'm
feelin', uh, copacetic. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Can
you dig it? I knew that you could. Yes, yes, yes, yes.
Yeah. You been doin' so many things. I been seein' ya
poppin' up on the tube. It's lovely to see ya,
absolutely charming. Hey, Face, do you remember the
first joke I ever did tell you? You do? Do it with me.
It's about old Zooty. Yes. Do it. Zooty goes into the
barbershop and he says, Hey, man, how much is a
haircut? And the haircut man he says, "Haircut's two
dollars." Zooty says, "Wow! How much is a shave?"
Says, "Shave's a dollar." Zooty says, "Wow, baby.
[points to head] Shave it!" Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
That's lovely. Yes, yes. Can you dig it? I knew that
you could. Yes, yes. ... I'm okay. I'm giggin', I'm
giggin' all the time, all the time. I had some problem
with my teeth a while back. Yes, yes. Didn't have
none. Yes, yes, yes, yes. It was low, it was low. I
had to get some new dental work done on my chops, yes,
so I had no bread, you know, so I had to hock my horn,
you know, to get my teeth fixed. Yeah but then I was
lookin' good. I was lookin' sassy. Like Jaws, yas,
yas, yas, yas. Can you dig it? I knew that you could.
Yes, yes, yes. ... What? Huh? No. That's - that's
cool, I thought you was gonna say something. I was in
Italy. Yeah, I - I was there with old Pops Ben
Webster. We had a lovely time. Love the Italian folks,
they's charming. Absolutely lovely. We went to a
concert that was given by Romano Mussolini. Yassss,
yes, yes, yes. He's the son of Il Duce. Yasss, yes,
yes, yes. Can you dig it? I knew that you could. Yes,
yes. Romano, he don't play too good. He stunk up the
joint. And we was nervous 'cause we know, we's gonna
go backstage and he's gonna say, "Hey, Pops, what'd
you think about the set?" And Webster, he's too kind
to tell him that he stunk up the joint, you know what
I'm talkin' about? Yes, yes, yes. Sure enough, we
watch him. He's lousy. We go backstage and he says,
"Hey, Pops, what'd you think about the set?" And
Webster, he don't know what to say and he goes, uh,
"Hey, man, it was a drag what they did to your
father." We just laughed and laughed, yes. Can you dig
it? I knew that you could. Yes, yes, yes. [turns and
talks to someone behind him] What? I'm - I'm comin'.
[sadly, to Face] I gotta go do the second set. Yes.
Ain't nobody there but we gonna do it anyhow. Hey,
Face, it was so lovely to see ya. Absolutely charming
to see ya. Keep it together. Yeah, don't ever stop.
It's happenin' now and it's so lovely to see. Yeah.
Never quit. Maybe ... get a teaching gig to fall back
on, you know, just in case the gig don't happen, you
know, you know what I'm talkin' about? Yes. Can you
dig it? I knew that you could. Yeah. It can be a sweet
life, Face. I got all that I need. God bless us, still
got my old lady. And my horn. And you know I got the
music. Hey, Face, wherever you go, just remember that,
well ... love you madly.
[Saxophone winds down as Crystal waves goodbye, wipes
his brow, and remains seated quietly on the stool.