That Time I Had to Do Stand-Up on a Cruise Ship After a Passenger Went Overboard
Halfway through my gig on an ocean liner, a guest mysteriously disappeared — and I had to keep everyone laughing.
Illustrations by Jackie Ferrentino | Edited by Michael Stahl
It started as it often does in showbiz: I had to make a room full of old Jews laugh.
It was during a showcase of performers trying out for gigs on cruise ships at a theater in Miami. There was a doo-wop group, a “human statue of liberty,” a boy band, a flamenco dancer, and a piano player from New York who sang in Yiddish. The audience consisted of 500 extras from the movie “Cocoon,” several of whom according to the showcase coordinator were “survivors.” Bussed in by cruise lines, they were used as a litmus test for picking performers. If Saul and Esther liked you, then, like a tuna sandwich with low-sodium mayo, you would be considered palatable fare for the passengers.
The crowd was ornery, and each act struggled through their shouting of phrases like “speak up!” That was until the Yiddish-singing piano player, slotted to go before me, took the stage. This guy annihilated so hard that at the end of his set, an old lady in a su…