Little Elvis on the Sunset Strip
On a side street off Sunset Strip outside the Hustler store we ran across a little Elvis. Thus did he appear to us, and precisely thus was he introduced to us by his doting mother. Hello, Little Elvis.
Little Elvis (or, Argentinian Little Elvis, to distinguish him from any once or future Little Elvi out there) was waiting in the wings with his mother for an appearance across Sunset Boulevard at The Cat Club, a tiny joint run by former Stray Cat stand-up drummer Slim Jim Phantom. The Cat Club has no wings of its own, and Little Elvis's mother explained to us that Little Elvis "likes to make an entrance."
Fortunately, Little Elvis also likes to strike a pose for the camera:
All the Irish girls love a Little Elvis
Mamacita Elvis asked whether we'd like to see Little Elvis's appearance at the Cat Club. HELLyeah we would! When? In half an hour, she said, he was scheduled to open for Slim Jim Phantom's band and a couple others, and would go on immediately following a bunch of open mike comics. That was the other reason Mamacita Elvis liked to keep Little Elvis on the streets before the show instead of in the club -- apparently the comics would crack wise on the waiting miniature King-of-Rock-'n'-Roll-In-Waiting.
There were long lines of people waiting on the sidewalk, but they were all waiting to get into other clubs. We walked into the Cat Club and found maybe a dozen people, if that. All of them were attempted comedians there for open mike night.
Anyone who doubts that comedians are bitter, bitter people should watch how a group composed exclusively of struggling comics performing for each other will sit on their hands and let each other twist in the air and bomb. Maybe it's considered tough love or something (especially considering that what these struggling comics seemed to be struggling for was anything resembling an act), but would a little encouragement hurt? The one joke that got a big laugh was a variation on one older than Joe Miller's corpse. I think it involved the Olsen Twins. I remember that the punchline was, "the one that swallows."
(Back on the street afterward, we chatted with one of the comedians, an Iowan farmboy -- I'm guessing -- who fell short of comedy success only by his unfortunate lack of a sense of humor. We figured he probably wrote home that night: "And Maw, the best part is, here I am in Hollywood, & it costs only a hundred dollars to get on stage!")
In the empty silences following the jokes, Babs took to yelling out "the one that swallows!" The comics seemed appreciative; even heckling is a form of response. You could see why this was a crowd that would pick on a tiny Argentinian in an Elvis jumpsuit. Reflecting upon seeing Little Elvis's entrance during his set, the final comic cracked, "I didn't know what the hell was going on -- I thought it was auditions for Neverland Ranch." At least that got a laugh out of his peers.
True trooper Little Elvis nearly wrenched his back trying to wrench applause from a row of comedians wishing they'd thought to wear snazzy jumpsuits.
Applause or no applause. Little Elvis didn't care. Little Elvis has his own inner applause meter. With the doggedness of the post-comeback, pre-druggie Big Elvis, Little Elvis pelvised his way all over the stage, earning grudging cheers from his sadsack audience.
A final sneer for bitter comics from Little Elvis. Then -- as mysteriously as he had arrived -- Little Elvis had left the building!
Oh. Wait. No. There he is.