Anybody here ever done a comedy show in Shingletown?
You know, comedy for Clampers.
If you don’t know who the Clampers are, you’re lucky.
And if you do know who the Clampers are, you know what I mean.
Clampers is short for the original Latin, E Clampus Virus, which translates literally into
"Drunk guys in red t-shirts throwing darts and telling Obama jokes".
The Clampers started as a benevolent organization that raised funds for widows and orphans in the early mining days. Currently they use the money to bail each other out of jail and build monuments to sawmills.
They are mostly in the foothills and mountains, and they’re usually harmless, but I actually have a reason to be scared of them because I accidently stole one of their red t-shirts. I didn’t mean to, but I wound up with it and now I’m afraid to give it back.
We were doing a show in Manton and while we were setting up (and by setting up I mean making sure none of the guns hanging from the ceiling were loaded) I found a Clamper t-shirt stuffed behind the dead bear rug.
I figured this will be a good local bit--I’ll just change some Irish jokes to Clamper jokes.
"Two Clampers walk out of a bar...Hey, It could happen..."
Stuff like that. So I did it and it went okay, but after the show these two Clampers surrounded me. (Clampers are usually big enough that it only takes two of them to surround you.)
"Hey funny man--you’re not supposed to wear a Clamper t-shirt unless you’re a Clamper."
I thought they were going to kick my ass. But they just wanted me to join.
"Funny guy with a dirty mouth like yours would make a helluva good Clamper. On Tuesdays, we throw darts and tell Obama jokes all night. You really oughta join.”
I lied and told them I would, left the shirt where I found it, crawled out the women's room window, went home and forgot about the whole thing.
Until a few months later when we were playing in Shingletown. Which, by sheer coincidence was the last time we’ll ever play in Shingletown. In fact we’re not playing in any town that’s named after a rash ever again. Scratch Measleville and Chicken Pox Valley right off the list.
So while we were setting up the show (and by setting up I mean sweeping the empties off the pool tables we could use it as a stage) I found a Clamper t-shirt stuffed in the mouth of one of those singing fish. Now, I’m not a religious man (even when I hear a fish sing), but I know a sign when I see it. So I wore the t-shirt and did some Clamper jokes. Wouldn't you?
After the show the same two guys catch me crawling out the women's room window.
“We told you before, funny man--you can’t wear a Clamper t-shirt unless you’re a Clamper. Now you got no choice. We gonna’ ‘nititate you boy! We gonna put you in a bikini, and make you wear a crown of thorns soaked in axle grease, and make you sing a stupid song."
Sounded exactly like my first year at Mercy High School.
Then they added, “We’re gonna paint your face black, and make a beard outta shaving cream, and then you’re gonna have to crawl across broken beer bottles in your underwear singing 'Sweet Home, Alabama' while we pee on you!“
All I could think was, “Do these guys have any idea how much rehearsal something like that is gonna take?"
I hate working with amateurs. Sometimes I think the only difference between a Clamper and a frat boy is that a Clamper will at least roll you on your side when you pass out.
So I shouted "Oh my God, the keg is empty!" and escaped in the confusion. But I forgot to leave the red t-shirt.
I guess they're really mad now. The Grand Clamper issued a fatwa against me.
I’m not too worried though. There’s only one or two of them that are allowed to drive anymore. The initials on their baseball caps (ECV) are Latin for DUI. Clampers may seem scary in the bar when they’re all together, but they’re not so tough wobbling home alone on their twenty-year-old ten-speed with the flashlight duct-taped to the upside down handlebars.
No offense to my Clamper friends, who have a great sense of humor and know where I live.
Posted 2/1/10, but performed in Manton and Shingletown for years...
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