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@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
A couple months ago, my aunt, uncle, and cousin came to see me open for Colin Quinn, which was a great show for a number of reasons. While the audience was very complimentary post show, my favorite compliment came from my cousin, who said, “it’s just crazy watching you up there, you’re so much like your dad in your delivery.”
One of the best compliments you could get from another comic is that your voice is unique. A lot of comics (especially starting out) sound like another comic, usually ones they idolize. I’m never prouder when a comic I admire tells me I don’t remind them of anyone. But my voice does mirror another: the people who raised me.
On my last trip down to Florida in March, I really couldn’t stop laughing. I first went to the west coast to see my little nephew love and my sister, had great shows in Tampa, and then went to the East coast for a few days (which was extended due to NY snow) to spend time with my folks. I was giggling practically the whole time, and by the second or third day, my dad goes, “are we really that entertaining to you?”
Yes. Yes, indeed.
My folks and I are both Sirius XM subscribers. I pay for only the music package, which I think is well worth it, because I spend many hours in my car, and I’m a music junky, and FM radio is just fucking awful. Anyway, my Dad presses me about how much I’m paying. I don’t even know. I tell him some number, and he goes, “what? That’s crazy. Do you know what I pay?”
“No, but I’m sure you’re going to tell me.”
“Wow. That’s a good deal,” I say without any real excitement or interest. But he goes on.
He goes on about how he was paying a different amount, canceled, and then they called him, offered him a lower rate, and he asked them for even lower. And he got it! Anyway, I’m broke as hell, but I hate talking to people on the phone so much, me doing any of this seems rather unlikely. But I tell him I will, because it annoys the shit out of him if he thinks I’m overpaying for something, and it’s boring me to hear his stories about canceling and renewing subscriptions.
Now, it’s the next day. My folks are all stoked that a blizzard is about to hit New York and I’m staying an extra day. I’m ambivalent about it, as much as I enjoy an extra day in warm weather with my family, I like working and want to get back to it. I’m on their couch, Macbook on my lap, doing a joke pass on a script to send to my writing partner. I’m really focused on my work when my Dad approaches me with a handful of papers. It’s his Sirius XM bills for the last several months. And he’s showing me the amounts he paid, and how the amount decreased. My head is in editing mode, and sometimes if my brain is in one gear it takes a moment for it to switch so I’m temporarily stunned. I couldn’t believe it! Not his bills or that he saved all them (I could very much believe that, my dad is super OCD and organized with paper work). I couldn’t believe he was showing these to me, as the mundane conversation of “how to knock down your Sirius XM bill” was already in the trash bin of my memory.
I just starting cracking up. “Dad! I didn’t not believe you! You didn’t have to back up your story with hard evidence.” And then he laughed too, realizing the absurdity of it all. I don’t know if this anecdote is lost on you, the reader, maybe it’s one of those, “you had to be there” moments, or “you have to know my Dad,” but I laughed for like seven minutes straight. My folks are out of their goddamn minds in the best possible way.
In the evening, my Dad announces what he’s going to have for breakfast. “I’m gonna have two scrambled eggs, salt, pepper, an English muffin, maybe half an English muffin.” I look around. It’s just me, him, and my Mom. My mom is playing some computer game before Jeopardy comes on, not listening at all. I’m listening, but he’s not talking to me. Geez, I thought I was crazy talking to myself alone in my apartment. These two talk to no one when someone is around.
“Who are you placing your breakfast order with?” I asked.
“No one, I just look forward to breakfast. It’s good to have something to look forward to.”
Again, I start laughing. He failed to see why that was so funny but laughed at me laughing. Then, my mom chimes in, and apparently the key to my parents very successful marriage is they basically ignore one another at least half the time.
Now, I don’t talk to my parents on the phone that much. I should call them more, I know. My good friend and fellow comic Dennis Rooney calls his mom every day, and he unintentionally made me feel like a real shitty daughter when we were on the road together. My Dad’s not a phone talker either. My Mom is, but my Mom and I actually write each other letters like it’s the 1800’s. Like me, my parents are both dry and quick to judge for the sake of a quick joke, but they are actually really good people.
In Florida, and there’s a lot of widows (not surprisingly) and because my Dad is quite the handy man and a swell guy, he’s the first to be neighborly and lend a hand. This is an excerpt [verbatim] from a recent letter from my mom, after they went used car shopping with their widowed neighbor so she wouldn’t get ripped off….
“Dad was being iffy about getting her a used for from a used car dealer. I was like, ‘she’s not our kids, damn it, just let her buy the f’ing car already.'”
I laughed my ass for ten minutes. I keep going to throw away the letter but it still makes me laugh, picturing my Dad at this used car dealership being all anal and OCD as my Mom rolls her eyes. God, they are funny.
And this part of the letter also makes me laugh:
It says: “Anyway, she finally gets the car. Then yesterday, we hear loud horn beeping, someone pressing on the horn. It was her, she said the car wouldn’t let her out the door. Dad said, “well, you are in drive, maybe it should be in park.” Then she says, “Now it won’t go in reverse.” Dad says, “Well, because you shut the car off.” Well, this is what we are dealing with. Honestly, you could write a sitcom about this woman.”
Whenever I leave Florida, my Dad always asks me what my favorite part of the visit was. I usually have some smart ass answer, but the truthful answer is usually surfing, if Mother Ocean provided good swell. “My favorite part,” my Dad said, “was when I was riding that wave and I looked over and you were riding it too.” Yeah. And then I yelled, “party wave!” Like a total kook. That was fun. But are you sure it wasn’t your pre-planned scrambled eggs and half an English muffin breakfast?
The summertime always makes me especially nostalgic for my family, grilling in the backyard, drinking in the sun, and watching the stars at the fire pit at night.
Happy Father’s Day to the person who gave me my comedic voice, neurotic sensibility, and love for adventure.