Joe Klocek - "The California Confederacy"
GLYNN WASHINGTON, HOST:
Thank you Caitlin Gill. Look this woman up wherever Internets are found. We'll have the film version of the story on our website, snapjudgment.org.
Now, our next storyteller makes fun of California. That's all right 'cause California can take it. He's hilarious, brother. Book him for your next world tour, Mr. Joe Klocek.
JOE KLOCEK: I am a standup comic. And I get an email for a gig in the Northern California town of Redding. If you don't know Redding, Calif., I think the best way to describe it is it's where 1972 went.
KLOCEK: The email starts out with this disclaimer, quote, "please be advised this venue prominently displays a Confederate flag. It's not indicative of their philosophy there. I've booked many diverse shows at this venue. Have fun." How could I not take that gig? I get up there, and I'm standing outside the place. There's a doorman. I've never met him. He's never met me. First words out of his mouth to me are, you know, I can always tell when black people are around. Whoa. Yeah, so can I. They're black. Are you a psychic racist?
KLOCEK: And I walk into the place, and I look up and, yes, there's a Confederate flag. But above it is the biggest American flag I've ever seen in my life. I want you to think like Chevy truck commercial, halftime at the Super Bowl, America big. And then under it is the Confederate flag. And hanging on either side of it are those naked women mudflap silhouettes. Classy, right? Hanging at the bottom of the Confederate - disco ball. This is the most confused dream catcher ever. Does it come together in some way? Is there a meaning, you know? America - if you're different, we don't want you. Women are objects; gays are OK.
KLOCEK: I don't think that's what it meant. Right before I come on stage, the owner comes up to me and says, don't make fun of the Confederate flag. Let me tell you guys something maybe you know. If you want a comedian to not make fun of something, don't tell him to not make fun of it. Ten minutes into the show, I look out at the crowd, I look up at the flag and then I go, what's up "Dukes Of Hazzard" fans? That's when everything changed.
KLOCEK: This low, mean sound came out of the crowd. They hated what I had just said. And I was too busy worrying about that because out of the darkness, objects started coming at me. At first it was just a fry basket and then some fries and then there was, like, a fork. And then there was a rock - a rock? Someone brought a rock in here? Why is there a rock? More stuff is coming at me. They're yelling stuff at me - you suck. Get off the stage. Your family tree probably looks like a pretzel. More stuff is coming at me. I'm dodging a boot, a belt buckle - a belt buckle? And they're getting me. They are getting me, and I am backing up, and then I remember I'm a comic. I am a comic. These are my words. This is truth. I am not going to back down. There's no way I'm going to back down. And then they all come together to chant. We're number one. We're number one. We're number one. We're number one. Really? 'Cause that flag means you're number two.
KLOCEK: After all the tables got put back right and the cops left and I got paid somehow, I walked out of the building. And I'm headed towards my car. And like somebody who had just been in an accident, all the adrenaline drains out of me. And I suddenly realized I almost got killed back there. Those guys wanted to kill me for jokes and words. And I could feel my body shake. And I silently resolved to never put myself in that position again. I'm almost at my car when this guy gets directly in front of me. I call him a tether drunk. You know what a tether drunk is? They look like this. It looks like they're going to fall but they never quite do. Yeah. I'm getting dizzy just trying to keep eye contact. And he gets in my face, and he goes, I don't like what you said about the flag, boy. And I can feel that comic rage rise again. And I'm just like, why are you so proud of it? I don't take people back to my house and show them my collage of losing lottery tickets. Take it down.
KLOCEK: Yes, but you weren't there that night, were you? And I could see in his eyes he's going to throw a punch. And he starts to, but he's so slow and so drunk that all I have to do to avoid the punch is literally just go - his fist goes past my head. He pulls it back, and I straighten up. And what makes this amazing is what this guy said next. He just looks at me and goes, all right, you're pretty fast, matrix.
(LAUGHTER) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.