The Man Behind The Man Behind The Dummy

When Jay Leno and “The Tonight Show” dropped some comedy writing friends and I last June after 10 years, I started searching for more freelance comedy writing possibilities. (we were told it was because we were non-union) Then one day, I stumbled across an ad in Craigslist.  No, not THAT kind of ad.  This basically said, “Comedy writer wanted”.

It turned out to be a search for a comedy partner from a ventriloquist named Mark Merchant.  The guy is making a nice living appearing in places all over the world with his cast of characters.  You can even get a little sample of him here on YouTube.

Bottom line is, we connected.  He lets me know a week or so before his next gig, gives me the scenario (cruise ship, convention, etc) and turns me loose.  I aim a bunch of jokes his way and he works in what he can use.  The coolest part is that he’ll follow up each performance with a review of each joke he uses. (“this one killed” or “the response on this one wasn’t great, but I loved it”)

In the time we’ve worked together, he’s appeared on several Crystal Cruise gigs, a national transgender convention, an 80th birthday party for the dad of the CEO of a company, to the latest adventure this Friday night–when he’ll be the main performer on a Celebrity cruise: a nudist cruise.

I’ve sent off the first batch of jokes–I’m pretty sure more will come to mind–but they included:

  • You know, this is so weird. My speech teacher back in high school use to tell us, “If you’re feeling nervous, just imagine the entire audience is naked.”  Now you are and I’m STILL nervous.
  • I was talking to one couple earlier tonight and frankly, they weren’t having a very good time.  She was nervous about their first nude cruise together…and it took her 3 hours to get ready for dinner.  I said, “3 hours?  Why?”  He said, “She couldn’t decide what NOT to wear!”
  • You know what the one this is that you don’t have on a nudist cruise?  Pickpockets!
  • Do I really want to know where you keep your room key?
  • On this cruise, I’m not really seeing the world, but I’m pretty much seeing everything else.
  • I find the idea of a nude cruise fascinating.  I’m looking at an entire cruise ship, full of people excited about exploring new ports.
  • Oh, to have the sunscreen concessions on THIS cruise….
  • Buck naked?  I’ve seen you.  More like fifty-cents naked
  • As I look around at this audience, I’m reminded of Egypt..You mean because of all the freedom….No, I was thinking of their former leader, My Bare Rack!

And so on.  Remember, I’m actually writing for several characters, it’s just that one guy does all the work.

Anyway, just a little peek into one of my little corners of the world.  I was just thinking.  You know, on most cruises they have a Formal Night.  How does that work on a nude cruise?

Tim Hunter

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