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TRACI SKENE has appeared on VH-1's Standup Spotlight, A&E's Comedy On The Road and Lifetime's Girls Night Out, all of which has done her absolutely no good.

Traci Skene


Traci Skene

SHECKYmagazine Chief

Who Thinks Ed's Cool?

I watched Ed last month for the first time since its much-hyped debut. Ed is a good show. I like Ed. I can't say that I am one of those Americans who NBC claims is having a love affair with Ed, but it is enjoyable in a quirky independent film kind of way: Northern Exposure with bowling, Twin Peaks without the cherry pie, Maximum Bob with get the idea.

I hadn't been avoiding Ed--or E.D. as I like to call it--for reasons that had anything to do with the show itself. Ed originally aired on Sunday and Sunday is the night my husband and I spend with our good friends who are willing to let us eat their food and drink their wine. For those of you who are keeping score, that would make Monday the day I frequently awake with a slight hangover.

Eventually Ed moved to Wednesdays and since I rarely drink midweek--unless of course our friends call again--I was actually able to fit Ed into our viewing schedule. But then tragedy struck. For reasons only the TV Gods understand--not to be confused with the TV Guide--our beloved televison was unplugged accidentally and when our beloved television is unplugged accidentally it ceases to work even after the plug is deliberately and lovingly placed back in the socket. In the past, the idiot box coma has only lasted for a few days. This time, however, the patient is not responding to treatment. Ever the optimist, I refuse to pull the plug, making my television the Karen Ann Quinlan of household appliances.

During this trying and difficult time, my husband and I are forced to utilize a 5-inch black and white television we affectionately call the "belly telly" because we usually watch it when we are lying down in bed. I also use it when I am working out, which is how I found myself as an Ed viewer for the first time in months.

Like any good drama--or bad drama for that matter--Ed has a main plot and several subplots. One of the sublots revolved around Ed's friend--whom I will refer to as Ed's Friend--and Ed's Friend's wife--who is now known as Mrs. Ed's Friend. In the story, Mrs. Ed's Friend decides that her husband must dispose of any object he hasn't used in the previous five years. Ed's Friend then sets about to save his favorite items before the five year moratorium is over. In one particularly humorous scene, Ed's Friend is wearing a Dukakis T-shirt. I have a "Geaux Perot" T-shirt, bought at Perot HQ in Lafayette, LA. I can relate.

In yet another case of art imitating life, we here at the McKim/Skene household were in the process of discarding our under-used belongings at the same time this particular episode of Ed aired. Just like Ed's Friend, we have a terrible habit of collecting things that shouldn't necessarily be classified as collectables. (In our own defense, we do have a lovely collection of 1950's memorabilia, which I guess would make us Rat Pack Pack Rats.) Deciding what stays and what goes is a laborious and often emotional task particularly when you discover articles from the past which conjure up memories, both good and bad. One such item was our comedy calendar from 1991-1992.

Many times, we have stated unequivocally in the cyber-pages of that the standup comedy bust occured in 1992. Looking back at our 1992 calendar made me realize how frighteningly correct we've been all along. The contrast between 1991 and 1992 is so startling and so heartbreaking it's a wonder that any of us have recovered to this day.

Nineteen-ninety-one was one heck of a year for us. We were living and showcasing in Los Angeles, but we found ourselves working in New York, Boston, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Reno, Atlanta, Montreal, Washington D.C., San Diego, Hawaii and many markets in between. My husband appeared on a few TV shows. We vacationed in Mexico and Australia. We were happy and, according to the notes I made, we were also healthy. Apparently, I was running for 60 minutes several times a week. Knowing myself the way I do, it is hard for me to believe that I could actually cover that much distance without the aid of a wheeled vehicle. You must understand, I am an endomorph and since I don't dissipate heat well, I can usually only run for six miles at a time-- if I'm being chased by a 20-foot-tall lizard. My husband is an ectomorph. He can run a 10K while drinking a six-pack of beer.

Sadly, just two weeks into 1992, the gigs start getting cancelled as the clubs closed. Punchline in Columbia...gone. Stevie D's in Boston...closed. Catch A Rising Star in Reno...closes, opens and shuts down again. One-nighters disappeared faster than a shih-tzu at bathtime. Ironically, 1992 was also the year I appeared on three different television shows. At each taping, I had a sinking feeling that none them would do me any good if there was no place left to work. Depression set in. The workouts stopped. Life seemed bleak.

By mid-1993 we had drained our savings acccount, packed up a Ryder truck and driven back to New Jersey. Once again, my life closely mirrored Ed. Except when Ed's life fell apart, he moved back to his hometown of Stuckeyville and bought a bowling alley. When our lives fell apart we moved back to Suckeyville and couldn't even afford to bowl.

Nearly ten years later our standup careers are dangerously close to being back to 1980's level. Work is easier to secure. We find ourselves appearing at many of the places that we had worked during the boom. Like Ed, we've made the best out of returning to the place where we grew up. We've overcome adversity, created new opportunities and gotten by with a little help from our friends. Maybe in our 2001 calender I'll write "Watched Ed while working out" in all of the Wednesday slots. I'll just leave out the part about having had to watch it on a 5-inch black and white TV. Some things are better left forgotten. HOME Back to the Top