The Afternoon Show

As a child, I loved the Three Stooges. I laughed at their slapstick humor. Because I was such a big fan, I read a book about them. While reading the book, I learned that they first began on Vaudeville. For those who don’t know what Vaudeville is as I did not know when I first read it, here is the definition according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaudeville

a theatrical genre of variety entertainment popular in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s. Each performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill. Types of acts included popular and classical musicians, dancers, comedians, trained animals, magicians, female and male impersonators, acrobats, illustrated songs, jugglers, one-act plays or scenes from plays, athletes, lecturing celebrities, minstrels, and movies.

    The Three Stooges Courtesy of google.com

The Three Stooges Courtesy of google.com

I recently wrote about my commute to work (http://larrydbernstein.com/breakfast-on-the-go/) which includes a ride on a New York City Subway Train.  At the early hour of 6:45, the ride to work is generally sleepy save for a few odd characters.  The ride home on the other hand is much more lively and crowded.

I typically board the A train in the East New York section of Brooklyn at around 2:45. I find a seat and start off with something to read. Typically my reading time is cut short as my eyes get heavy, and out I go. I am traveling through neighborhoods where it would be wise to keep my eyes open and be alert.  Thankfully, nothing has ever happened to me during my naps. By the way, some of the naps have been so sound that I when I wake up, I forget if I am going or coming to work.

When I am awake, I am often treated to a show whose only ticket required is a seat on the train. Now, the performances are very uneven, but I suppose, as they say, you get what you pay for.

I have heard many different musical performances from rap to gospel to R&B to reggae. Some of those performances inspire the line from Billy Joe’s Piano Man – “Man, what are you doin’ here?” and others leave me looking for the gong (remember the Gong Show) to end the performance.

The Gong ShowCourtesy of google.com

The Gong Show
Courtesy of google.com

Is comedy your thing? There is one homeless comedian who I have heard on and off during my commute for many years. He has some funny lines, but many of them have not changed since the first time I heard him. He always ends by asking passengers to clean up as one would expect him to clean up if he visited their house.

Then, you have the fights. Some are verbal and some are physical. While some are into boxing, it is not my style. I worry the fight will turn deadly violent. The vocabulary used during the verbal fights would make a jailor blush.

Then, there is dancing. There are some dancers who could dominate Dancing With the Stars while others look like they are stumbling off a bar post rather than dancing. Every performance ends with a handout and a request for generosity.

Dancing With the Stars Courtesy of Google.com

Dancing With the Stars Courtesy of Google.com

Of course like any show, there needs to be snacks. Don’t fear there are candy men  regularly walking through the train selling Famous Amos Cookies, Fruit Snacks, and Nature Valley Granola Bars (you know how I feel about those). These guys always have some sort of rap that includes them saying they are selling the candy to make an honest dollar.

Now, there are more types that appear on the train – beggars, fortune tellers, preachers, jugglers, and more.

In truth there are plenty of days when the ride home is pretty quiet save the music from the mp3players, loud and excited school kids, and business men in suits. However, you never know when a show will break out. Vaudeville lives.

26 thoughts on “The Afternoon Show

  1. Your journey’s are certainly never dull! I had to smile as I imagine you sitting there wondering if you are coming or going 🙂

    • I’m sure if you saw me it would look very funny. I am rubbing the sleep out of my eyes while looking very confused.

  2. that sounds like a great ride home…A little bit of everything…I used to commute for a year when we moved to the suburbs and I remember I passed my time reading / or thinking / or just staring out the window (on the way back). There was something cleansing about it.

    • It can be interesting though sometimes it is plain annoying. I want to sleep and not be bothered.
      I read on the second leg of my commute.

      • Yes, I get the annoyed bit. Sometimes you just don’t feel like being entertained and just want your peace & quiet.
        1 1/2 hours commute each way, is it worth it? How long have you lived in the suburbs?

        • I have lived in the suburbs for nearly 6 years.
          Is it worth it – well, I would prefer something closer. However, this is the way things have worked out. So, I do what I have to do.

          • I asked you because I used to live in the city and moved to the suburbs when N. & I got married in 2006.

          • We moved to the suburbs in 2007. I have stayed at the same school. I have tried to switch a few times but it has not worked out.

  3. First of all, I loved the Gong Show as a kid! They really need to bring that back! Also, growing up in Wisconsin I have only ever rode the subway a handful of times in my life. Once in Atlanta as a kid and then I spent a week in Washington D.C. as an adult and rode the Metro by myself touring around the city. That was quite an eyeful for a small town girl like me! I definitely get your correlation between that and a Vaudeville show!!

    • Remember the unknown comic? I forgot about him till I was looking for pictures to put in. Anyway, it was a goofy show.
      Anyway, we clearly come from different backgrounds.
      I am glad the correlation worked.

  4. With all these performances going around you, you are still able to take a nap? 😉 Taking the metro in New York city and taking the metro in Montreal is very different, even if there are some similarities. I remember taking the metro in New York twice years ago with my parents in the weekend and I remember people dancing 🙂

    • Come on now parent. Are you telling me that you get enough sleep since you became a parent and don’t fall asleep in odd places? Well, maybe it is a guy thing.
      Anyway, you can see from your own experience that anything can happen on these subways.

  5. oh wow… I must admit, that is probably more variety than I could handle!! Having always been in the suburbs, public transportation is just not in my vocabulary. I’m even afraid to take a taxi by myself.. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve never taken a taxi by myself! The bus and trains scare me – what if I get off at the wrong stop? What if the driver doesn’t stop? How can I be 100% sure I’m even on the right bus? Kudos to you, that’s more excitement in your afternoon ride than I have all month!! But, you must tell me… how many times have you bought a granola bar off the rapper??

    • Little nervous there – relax woman. What’s up with the taxi phobia? You need a bigger vocabulary
      I never end up buying the granola on the train, but I do think about it. I don’t know why I don’t buy it. I think I bought candy a couple of times.

    • Thank you so much!
      If you have a magazine in mind, I would be happy to follow that advice and give you the credit.

  6. Love The Three Stooges! I also was transported to your “little slice of life” by your descriptions – very vivid and something that I think I would actually enjoy – even though I’ve never been on a subway in my life.

    • Cool.
      I think many people who experience this would enjoy it – at least once.
      Living in or around big cities my whole life, it is almost shocking to hear of someone who never was on a subway.

  7. Great post. How entertaining for your ride home! Although I’d be slightly nervous each day that a violent fight would break out. I was in New York when I was 17 and my friends and I took the train somewhere (can’t remember where we were going), but we were treated to a nice old gentleman peeing into a paper bag. That’s my memory of the New York subway.

    • I am a little nervous each day. However, I am even more tired.
      Your subway experience sounds so memorable and special. As I always say, everything goes on the subway.

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