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April 14, 2006


Pat Freaks - Marty Picks Up The Pieces

The boxes kept coming... one or two a day until we could pull the plug on our save-a-buck Chinese joke transcription scheme.

After several confusing phone calls I was able to get some kind of explanation as to what went wrong.

Turns out the thousands of tapes we sent to China of all the comedians telling jokes were watched or listened to by workers who translated the English into a variety of dialects from Mandarin to Cantonese to Pinghua. This, in turn, produced thousands of audio tapes with all the jokes in some form of Chinese.

The audio tapes were then sent to stenographers who speedily translated and transcribed what they heard through headphones back into English. According to my contact at China Snafu, the translating company that came in as the low bidder, they had been using several hundred people working in shifts round the clock for weeks and were nearly done with our job.

After explaining that what we received was unusable I negotiated a compromise payment.

"I’ll give you $500," I said.

"No. One thousand dollah."

"Six-fifty," I countered.

"Eight hundred dollah."

"Seven hundred."

"Seven hundred and fifty dollah."

"Seven fifty it is," I said.

"Prus shipping! Prus shipping!"

Pat would be happy that the whole mess would cost us less than a grand. Those Chinese drove a hard bargain.

Thank god they worked cheap.

That settled, I set about trying to figure out how to use the material with as little additional work as possible. Letter C.)’s suggestion to make them all Confucius jokes was looking pretty good. has a nice ring to it.

Pat, the silent partner in the majority of our development deals, was busy with his day gig taping Wheel of Fortune, so I dove in and attempted to re-write what I could.

The task was overwhelming. I never knew so many jokes existed.

During my heyday as a standup comedian I had a repertoire of maybe two dozen killer jokes at any one time.

Now I was looking at dozens of boxes filled with reams of paper that must represent well over a million punch lines. It just wasn’t possible that they could all be funny.

So to cut back on potential work I separated the jokes into stacks: one pile for well-known and respected comics and another for also-rans, which we could probably get away with excluding.

Andrew Dice Clay, Carrot Top, Steve Harvey and Soupy Sales were among those who didn’t make the cut.

Out of curiosity I flipped through the Andrew Dice Clay booklet...

"Old woman who live in shoe have many offspring. So many that internal birth organ descend to ground."

Wait a minute. This stuff was actually funnier than his original jokes.

A light bulb went off in my head.

All we needed now was a funny Asian guy to do the material and we could clean up.
Letterman...The Tonight Show...Comedy Central...America is ready for an Asian comedian. But who? Who could it be?

I called my agent to see if he could get a meeting with William Hung.

A.) Is that the nerd from American Idol?
B.) Dude, his fifteen minutes were up two years ago.
C.) I heard he committed suicide. You better try to get George Takei. He’s funny and he’s gay.


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