I don’t usually watch TV during the day since there is nothing on, but today I was bored, so I flipped around the dial for a while. I came upon Sesame Street and started watching it. I hadn’t seen SS in years. It’s funny, because they still use many of the same bits they ran when I was a little kid, I guess kids can’t tell that some of that film is 25 years old with kids running around in plaid bellbottoms and afros.
Anyway, after the grainy old film of the afro kids they showed a new sketch with an old guy in a train engineers outfit and a handlebar moustache. I forget what the characters name was on the show, but I know for a fact that I was looking at Professor Putter. Professor Putter is a kids act that does kiddie shows all over the NY area and probably other places, I’m not sure, what I am sure of is that I had a rather nasty run in with the good professor several years ago.
I moved to NYC when I was 19 to persue a career in comedy. I had no idea what to do or where to start, so I got a part time job working the door at Stand Up NY, one of the comedy clubs in the city. I was such a good employee that after just a few weeks I was made the assistant manager, So I was now working there during the day as well. Many city clubs make extra money by hiring kids acts and booking kids shows in the daytime when there would otherwise be no money coming in. One of the acts was Professor Putter.
On my very first day working the day shift and dealing with little kids, I met PP. He seemed like a nice enough guy and got along well with the kids, but you could tell that there were some dark clouds looming behind his bubbly, upbeat persona. He was a guy in his 50’s who still hadn’t made it, was stuck doing kids parties for the rest of his life, and I think it burned him up inside.
After the kiddie show we packed the chillins onto their bus, the Professor took off, and my boss, the club owner went out for lunch. He told me that under NO circumstances was I to let anyone into the club while he was gone. I started cleaning up and getting ready for the night show. After about a half hour, the door buzzer went off, it was the Professor at the door. He’d finished his week long run at the club, but had forgotten to get paid on his way out, he was back for his cash.
I explained through the glass door that my boss was out, and I couldn’t let him in, I didn’t have any money to pay him anyway. For some reason, hearing this made him snap, he thought he was getting fucked out of his money. Throught the door he started screaming at me about what a little piss ant I was, what a shit fucking club this place was, how sick and tired he was of dealing with those filthy little fucking kids, and how we had better pay him the fuck up, and on and on and on. FUCK THIS, AND FUCK THAT, AND FUCK YOU, AND FUCK YOUR COCKSUCKER FAGGOT FUCKING BOSS!
10 solid minutes of the finest stream of profanity I have ever heard. He put Sgt. Hartman from Full Metal Jacket to shame, it was a very impressive rant. I’ve never seen anyones face turn so red, I thought he was going to keel over and die on the spot. Just then, as if on cue, it started to rain, not just rain, but pour, the sky was just pissing, and Professor Putter was stuck out in it. This did nothing to improve the good professors disposition, he kept ranting and raving, but now his act took on a sadder tone. Water dripped off of his soaked handlebar moustache, his professor hat sagged and drooped, his hair was matted to his head, and his makeup started to run down his face. A more pathetic soul you have never seen, but still he railed at me throught the glass door.
After another minute or two of this I couldn’t take it any more, I started giggling, then laughing, then finally I fell to the floor my stomach hurt so bad. This seemed to break the professor, his shoulders drooped, the fire went out of him. He just turned around, walked across the street, and sat down on the steps of a brownstone to wait for my boss to return.
10 minutes later, the boss was back, a very wet Professor was paid, and I went back to getting ready for the next show.
Somewhere along the way the Professor finally made it to the big time, all the way to the bright lights of Sesame Street. I wonder if he ever thinks back to that cold, rainy March day outside of Stand Up NY, I know I do. And if you ever happen to catch Professor Putter’s act on Sesame Street, just remember, the Professor is a mean, nasty bastard.