Comedian Lewis Schaffer spent yesterday – New Year’s Day – at my home.
In the afternoon, we went to the nearby Hare Krishna temple.
“Women are finding me increasingly attractive the older I get,” Lewis Schaffer said soon afterwards.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because they think, if I’m on stage, I must be somebody saying something important.”
“Like a cult,” suggested my eternally-un-named friend.
“People think” continued Lewis Schaffer, “I’m going to pay attention to that person because other people are paying attention to that person.”
“I once asked (the late comedian) Malcolm Hardee why he was a babe magnet,” I said, “because he didn’t exactly look like a Greek God. And he told me Because I’m famous… but only in Greenwich. So they only find me attractive in Greenwich.”
“Yes,” agreed my eternally-un-named friend, “if he was in Scarborough or somewhere people didn’t know him, people would just see Malcolm as a weird man who was a bit rude. But, when you got to know him better… his actual persona… when I worked with him… there was something very relaxing about him.”
“When women met him, “ I said, “they thought Ugh! Never! Not with a barge-pole! but then, when they got to know him, I think they felt he was somehow sweet and loveable and I think they wanted to mother him… and went to bed with him.”
“Mmmm…” said Lewis Schaffer. “Am I likeable? Am I kind?”
“You do have a bit of kindness,” said my eternally-un-named friend.
“I’m not interested in other people,” said Lewis Schaffer. “But I used to bring framed pictures of myself to people’s houses when I visited. I would give them as a gift.”
“Were they surprised?” I asked.
“Yeah,” said Lewis Schaffer. “They thought it was funny, but they would keep the framed picture of me. Adam Bloom kept one standing on the top of his refrigerator for years and other people have kept them in their houses.”
“You didn’t bring a framed picture with you when you arrived yesterday,” I said.
“That’s because Borehamwood is bleak,” said Lewis Schaffer. “There’s nothing to do here on New Year’s Day except go to a Hare Krishna temple. Anyway, I can’t find framed pictures here in London the way I could find them in New York, where they were dirt cheap.
“Here, they’re expensive,” he added. “I need to make money. This is the year I’m going to make money. This is the year. Nobody can do what I do. I can go to a place, do a show and be on stage for three or four hours.”
“Fidel Castro could do that,” I said.
“He could,” admitted Lewis Schaffer, “but I’m a Jew and Jews need to make money.”
“Can’t you meet a rich woman who’s got a house?” asked my eternally-un-named friend. “You could move into her place, then you rent out your flat and that’s your income.”
“Don’t think I haven’t thought about that,” replied Lewis Schaffer.
“The dating sites look really good for men,” said my eternally-un-named friend.
“Do they show rich women?” asked Lewis Schaffer.
“You just figure out which ones are rich and have a good wage and a good house,” explained my eternally-un-named friend. “Obviously, you’ve got to like them. But you could be quite happy, maybe.”
“That’s a terrible idea,” I said, “If he’s happy, it will screw-up his act.”
“The thing about women,” said Lewis Schaffer, “is they’re reticent about giving away their money to loser men. And a bigger problem is I would have to show affection for these women and I don’t feel affection for anyone.”
“Except Lewis Schaffer,” I said.
“Especially not for Lewis Schaffer,” said Lewis Schaffer.
“My osteopath is gay,” said my eternally-un-named friend, “and his partner has a horse and he says the best place to meet women – thousands of them – is to join a horse club.”
“Yeah,” said Lewis Schaffer, “but then they fall off their horse and their neck is broken…”
“Ideal,” I said. “Insurance.”
“…and then you gotta take care of them,” concluded Lewis Schaffer.
“Look on the bright side,” I said. “You might fall off the horse, break your neck, be paralysed and then they’d have to look after you.”
“Anyway, I don’t need to hang out with horses to meet women,” said Lewis Schaffer. “I know lots of women in my local area.”
“But aren’t they a bit nutty?” asked my eternally-un-named friend.
“All women are nutty,” replied Lewis Schaffer.
“I mean in South East London,” said my eternally-un-named friend.
“Are they better in North London?” asked Lewis Schaffer.
“There are more Jews in North London,” I said.
“In your blog,” said Lewis Schaffer, “don’t mention me being Jewish.”
“Can I mention you’re Lewis Schaffer?” I asked.
“I think there’s something in the water in South East London,” said my eternally-un-named friend.
“I just need money,” said Lewis Schaffer.
“They might have a house with two bathrooms in North London,” added my eternally-un-named friend.
“But I do feel,” said Lewis Schaffer, “like I need to do something new this year. Like actually make an effort.”
“You were doing four shows a week last year!” I said.
“Five if you include the radio show,” Lewis Schaffer corrected me.
“They say you’re a comedian’s comedian,” my eternally-un-named friend pointed out, trying to cheer him up.
“Yeah,” said Lewis Schaffer, “there’s only one person who likes me and it happens to be a comedian. You know what they say… If you can make just one person laugh… you won’t be invited back… Am I comedian’s comedian? I look at some of these comedy bills with three comics on them and they’re all the same sameness. Every single show is the same type of comedian telling the same type of joke. Why wouldn’t someone want to put me on a show just to fuck-up the show for a little change of pace?”
“I’ve written about it in my blog,” I said. “You should read it; people do.”
“I read that blog,” said Lewis Schaffer, “about the samey sameness of comedy bills. You were right. And there are two ways to go. One is the alternative type of comedy which you champion. And the other way is me, who comes from another planet.”
“Well,” I argued, “you are alternative.”
“I’m gaining confidence,” said Lewis Schaffer, “because now I feel I can ask a booker to put me on a show in spite of any comedy limitations I have – and I’m pretty sure I have much fewer than I used to have. And when I come on a show, it adds variation: it’s What the fuck has just happened? Do you agree with that?”
“I think you’re the definitive alternative comedian,” I said, “because, when audiences see you, they think Is there an alternative to this? Can we go somewhere else?”
“Stop trying to be funny, John,” said Lewis Schaffer. “Do you agree with me?”
“Alternative comedy – as I’ve written,” I said, “used to mean you had jugglers, magicians, stand-up comedians and mad people. You’re not mad, but you come under that last category: you’re not a traditional stand-up. You are not eccentric or mad, but you’re… different.”
“I’m different? What does that mean?”
“I have no idea,” I said. “Maybe you could rent a horse. Do you want a cup of tea?”
“OK,” said Lewis Schaffer.
Here is a video on YouTube of Lewis Schaffer performing at the Bloomsbury Theatre three months ago…