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Bonnie McFarlane is a standup comic and writer based in Los Angeles.

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As a comic, I've always taken that make-the-audience-happy-thing very seriously. Perhaps that's why I've tended to have a bit of trouble with it. But one night, not that long ago, I got the biggest applause break of my career and I was just barely responsible. I'd convinced a chick to get onstage and show her big melon breastsesses to the crowd. Convinced is the wrong word. I asked. She jumped onstage, pulled up her shirt and plopped each tit out of its cup, -thunk, thunk- then shook her torso so her tits could quake and collide. It made me wince, but the audience seemed to like it. The more she jiggled, the more hooting and applause there was until the noise level was double decibel digits louder than anything I'd ever managed to accomplish on my own. Even when I was bombing it never got this loud. Tits was bringing the house down and it felt good to be standing there next to her, basking in the glow of another woman's self-exploitation. I wanted more.

I did the "ask chicks in the audience to get up and show their boobs" a few more times but it wasn't always as easy as with that first ho. For the record, a chick showing her belly button is a lot less effective. (Though it still elicits greater audience response than anything I've ever said.)

I realized I couldn't count on amateurs from the audience. What I needed was a professional stripper. Hell, I'd get two. I'd have them strip down and make-out for nothing more than the sheer joy of applause, while I stood next them doing standup. That way, I reasoned, those in the audience who liked watching naked girls kiss and fondle could watch my ho's in action and those who liked weird, offbeat humor could engage in what I was doing. It was a win/win, win/win, win.

I just had to find me some strippers.

I'm sometimes hard on guys, but let me just say, when I needed someone to take a day off work and hit some strip clubs with me, only my guy friends were willing to do it.

Though I have to admit, as a woman, it's not terribly easy to sit and watch strippers up close and personal like. I never want to appear like I'm leering, but I don't want to seem disinterested or judgmental either, so I figured the best course of action was to make a lot of eye contact and sort of cheer them on, "Great high kick!" "Your pole work is insane!", "Your pasties are adorable!"

In the dark dinginess of a strip club, asking these girls to be in a comedy act seemed a bit ridiculous but I'd already told everyone I was gonna do it so I sorta had to get on with it and ask. Two shots of tequila later, I was getting a lap dance from a Russian girl with huge cans and she kept slapping me across the face with them. I don't know if guys like this, but I found it a little hostile.

"You wanna be in a comedy show with me?" I asked. "Oh, sure, sure" she said and kept- uh, I'm gonna call it, dancing. I was finally able to explain what it was that I did and what I wanted her to do and she was so agreeable and into the idea, I felt a little foolish for even thinking this would be a hard sell. "You'd be making-out with another girl, so maybe you know someone?" "Oh, no, no. I don't do that," she said looking over her shoulder at me as she grinded (ground?) into my lap. "Even if I did, it would cost you soooo much." Cost? Yeah, I'd forgotten to mention I wouldn't be doing that.

The problem with daytime strippers, the ones who'd be available for my show at night, were… well, let's just say that after a day of watching day strippers, my body image improved. There were pretty ones and ones with good bods, but there were precious few pretty ones with good bodies. Take away the lights and the pole and these girls look like slutty, single moms from Poughkeepsie. (I've never been to Poughkeepsie, but I've heard it used in several sitcoms as an acceptable put down place.)

After I asked the hottest strippers in a club, I couldn't wait to leave. Not just because they all said no, but because I figured by that time word had spread and they were all in some back room going, "Did the fucked up chick ask you about doing some comedy show?" "Yeah. She got chicken wing sauce on my go-go boots."

Four strip clubs later and only 9pm, I decided to check out a topless, go-go club. These girls, I figured were cheaper, more desperate, more actress wannabe-ish and that was something I could trade on.

I'd been drinking so this time I boldly went downstairs to the dressing room and barged in. Surrounded by about a dozen women in various stages of undress, all eyes fixed on me, I began what may in fact be a personal record for longest spiel. I launched with, "Hi, I'm Bonnie McFarlane, Standup Comedian..." and then moved into my credits, credits I intend to have, how funny it would be, why they should do it and closed up with, "Janeane Garofalo plays the club sometimes." A small voice came from behind the heavy-set girl with enormous areola, "I like Janeane Garofalo. I'll do it. A "pretty redhead stepped out from behind the Ms. Big Nips. "I'll get my girlfriend to do it with me." "It's no money," I reminded her. "That's cool." She said. "Here's my email address." An email address from a go-go dancer. How perfect. I thanked her and then left as the other go-go dancers discussed their take on Janeane Garofalo. "I think she'd be pretty if she didn't use so much product in her hair."

That night I went home, emailed my stripper and fell asleep smiling.

Ah, if only life were that easy.

Two days before the show, I still hadn't heard back from, so I email her again. Great, I was stalking a stripper.

The day of the show, I went over to my comic friend, Anne's place and we rolled endless calls to every comic we knew. Comics are always bragging about how they almost fucked a stripper so I figured one of them would be able to shoot me a couple of sluts for the show. It's true, they all knew a stripper. But that stripper was out of town, or in a mental institution or pregnant with their third kid. Not once, incidentally, did I hear, "Oh, she's a lawyer now."

Finally with minutes ticking away before the show, Anne called the last comic on her rolodex. I didn't hold out much hope. The guy was a nerdy, raunchy, wack job and I'd never, ever seen him with a girl. He had me a stripper in seven minutes flat. Course, I'd have to pay the whore $40, but I was desperate.

An hour before show time I had one stripper confirmed and a bi-curious comic on the fence. After a bit of negotiating I convinced her to do it for a couple of shots of tequila. That's the great thing about comics. They'll work for booze.

Waiting for the stripper to arrive felt like a blind date. I approached one sorta slutty looking woman and asked if her name was Cherry Bomb. She curled her lip, shook her head and marched off. I wonder how much her lip curled when she watched the show and realized who she'd been mistaken for.

Cherry Bomb arrived about ten minutes late and the bi curious comic was already tanked. She was gobbling tequila shots like Charles Bukowski on a weekend bender in Tijuana. We were ready to roll.

"Hi, I'm Bonnie McFarlane, Stand Up Comedian..."

The strippers were great. No one laughed at my jokes, which was the joke. I'd succeeded in making the whole audience happy.

Lap Dances: $ 110

Strip Club Drinks: $67

Strip Club Chicken Wings: $18

Stripper Price: $40

Strippers drinks: $49

And it only cost me $284.00.

Thank you. Good night. HOME Back to the Top