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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

An Extremely Gifted Comedian

I'm not looking forward to Christmas this year. Please don't think for one minute that I've become Grinch-like in my no-where-near-old age. I don't plan to make crumedegeonly observations about holiday road rage, fat-free eggnog or Pokeman vs. The Three Wise Men. I'll leave that to Andy Rooney.

I'm dreading Christmas for very practical reasons. This year, Christmas Eve and Christmas are on the weekend--Friday and Saturday to be exact. For a standup comic, that means only one thing: the comedy clubs will be closed. If the clubs are closed, we don't work, which translates into a forced unpaid vacation.

To help ease the anxiety of my fellow comedians (I can't be the only nutty one, can I?) I have compiled a Do's and Don'ts Guide for everyone who has a standup comic on his or her holiday gift list. Nothing makes Christmas more special than receiving the perfect present. Most of these gifts can be purchased for under $20. Of course, if you decide to give money you may want to cough up a little more. While it may be the thought that counts, in this case, you may want to think bigger thoughts. (And nothing makes losing a weekend of work more tolerable than receiving cold hard cash.)


CALENDARS: Most people don't realize that standup comics are never more than 12 inches from the nearest calendar. Comics need calendars the same way Darryl Strawberry needs a hooker and some crack. And while we always appreciate a free wall calendar from our local liquor store, we really prefer pocket calenders, also known as 2-Year Planners or Career-At-A-Glance. Make sure the pocket calender has a personal data section so that, under the heading of "Notify In Case of Accident, " we can write the name "Dick Hertz."

PRE-PAID CALLING CARDS: When on the road, a comic's biggest fear is missing an important phone call back home. For this reason, standup comics obsessively check their messages. Sadly, only Michael Jordan and his MCI animated buddies can afford to make a calling card call more than twice a day, so a pre-paid calling card would give a comic unlimited opportunities to hear that there are no new messages on his server. Of course, if a comic uses your thoughtful gift to check the messages, receives a call from Steven Speiberg, gets cast in a movie and makes millions of dollars, you'll probably never hear from that comic again, but remember: it's the thought that counts.

*Pre-paid calling cards are also the perfect gift for the emcee who has recently fallen in love with a waitress.

GIFT CERTIFICATES: Comics on the road spend an inordinate amount of time at the mall. It's not that comics are incapable of finding interesting ways to fill their days, but when you play Atlanta for the sixth time and you've already attended a Braves game, toured the Coke Museum and taken the requisite trip to Stone Mountain, you just sort of run out of ideas. A certificate to a music or book store is always appreciated since comics need ways to occupy themselves while on a plane, at the hotel or when they are working with a comic whose act they despise. Better yet, a certificate to a movie theater would also be perfect since it's difficult for a comic to pay money for a movie that stars some other comic-turned-actor who you once worked with in Poughkeepsie.


HUMOR BOOKS: If your comic loved one has been in the business for more than 2 years, please refrain from buying him any humor book with the words "How To" in the title. It's like buying the game Operation for your nephew, the cardiac surgeon, because you think it might help sharpen his skills. Please, no "How-To Become a Standup Comic" no "How-to Sell Your Humor" no "How-To Convince Your Relatives That Standup Comedy Is A Legitimate Profession" (Oh, wait, that would be a good one.) In fact, stay away from humor books altogether. One man's funny Dave Barry story is another comic's hideous nightmare. Since comics find it impossible to pretend something is funny, this only leads to awkward silences and relatives saying "You don't like anything!"

FUNNY CLOTHES: Don't buy any garment for a comic and suggest that they wear it on stage. Believe it or not, comics spend a lot of time trying to decide which articles of clothing might work best for them. It's as much a part of their acts as the jokes. You may think the Yosemite Sam tie is hysterical, but your comic loved one may not agree which only leads to awkward silences and relatives saying, "You don't like anything!"

LIVING THINGS: Keep in mind, that comics spend a great deal of time away from their homes. So, unless they have a significant other who can take care of such things, stay away from any gift that can die, which means no animals, no plants, no chia pets. That golden retriever puppy might look cute on Christmas morning, but after his master's 5-week road trip, the $20 gift certificate to the taxidermist will look real good.

Happy Shopping! On a personal note I never like to receive jewelry (I just wind up losing it on the road) perfume (It bothers the other passengers on the plane) or chocolate (I eat enough road food junk as it is.)

Of course, don't forget about the power of money. Last Christmas, my dad gave my husband cash, which he used to purchase a scanner. It was from this scanner that SHECKY! was born. So, it is possible to find the perfect gift that may actually change a person's life-or two people's lives, in this case. If all else fails, just buy some fake dog doo. That's always good for a few minutes of laughter and a few minutes of laughter is better than none at all. HOME Back to the Top