Chapter 10

The Regular Guys Trailer
Behind The First Street Stage
The Fremont Street Experience
Las Vegas, Nevada 

“Oh, hi Larry, I didn’t know you were in here,” Neil Foster said as he entered a hospitality trailer behind the First Street Stage. Toby Flotsam had started playing and there was about an hour left in the old year. Lenny, Ann, Morty, Rachel and Sara had all left to watch The Emoticons and Larry was planning to join them as soon as the small army of hangers-on dispersed. Most were there to see The Emoticons of course, but tonight The Regular Guys had been deemed important enough to warrant a small, scatter band of groupies of their own and Larry preferred to avoid them.

Lenny, typically, had dived right in, signing autographs and generally enjoying the celebrity he had earned.

Larry, who was lying back in a comfortable chair with his feet up while resting a drink on his stomach, opened an eye suspiciously.

“Looking for a place to fornicate, Mr. Foster?”

Neil laughed.

“No, it’s getting a little loud out there. I can’t take too much of that.”

“A friend of Toby Flotsam can’t take too much loud noise?” Larry asked.

Neil laughed.

“You guys did a great set tonight,” he said. “Even if everyone had been sober you’d’ve had them laughing.”

“Thank you,” Larry said graciously. “It was a very good night.”

Larry was being modest. The 10 p.m. show had gone even better than the 7 p.m. show. Of course, everyone in the audience was at the Fremont Street Experience for the express purpose of having a good time, and most were drunk so making them laugh wasn’t exactly the biggest challenge in the history of comedy. Even had The Regular Guys gone out and recited the Nicene Creed over and over they probably would’ve made at least half the audience laugh.

Neil went to the bar and poured himself a drink, then went and sat on the couch across from Larry, also sitting back and closing his eyes. Neither said much for a while.

“You two look completely at home up there. Outside of being funny, of course, it’s plain you’re at ease with each other.”

“It’s been like that from day one,” Larry said. “It took a while for us to hit our stride, but everyone has to walk before they run. This felt right from the start.”

“It shows,” Neil said. “It would probably help your career if you had some fights though, or maybe an arrest or two. Substance abuse recovery always helps. Remember, there is no such thing as bad publicity nowadays. The type only determines if you’re on Entertainment Tonight or Celebrity Justice.”

“You’ve known Toby long, I take it?” Larry asked with a smile.

“Oh boy, we can’t remember not knowing each other,” Neil said. “We met in kindergarten.”

“Get out of here,” Larry said, unable to relate. He had already lost track of people he’d met last week.

“No, really. I couldn’t tie my shoes and he could, so he helped me.”

Larry was kind of envious. Not too much, that wasn’t in his nature, but perhaps a little. Or maybe intrigued was a better word.

“That’s a nice long friendship,” he said admiringly.

Neil nodded contentedly.

“How long have you known Lenny?”

“Just yesterday by comparison,” Larry said. “Not too long, really. Maybe a couple of months before we started appearing together.

Neil laughed. “You finish each other’s sentences. I would’ve thought a lot longer.”

“It only seems that way,” Larry said.

“So, where are The Regular Guys headed from here?

“That’s an interesting question, Neil. I think Lenny really wants to hit it big. I mean, like Toby Flotsam big.” Larry crossed himself in deference to His Majesty Toby Flotsam. “I’m not completely averse to that, but doing a good show every time out is fine with me.”

“Excellence is its own reward,” Neil said.

Larry nodded. “I think you may be right, Neil.”

Neil shrugged dismissively.

“I never wanted to be a comedian though. I first did it to impress a girl at an open mic night.”

“Sounds like a good reason to me. That’s why Toby first picked up a guitar. In fact, history will record that I was his first drummer. We did it to impress girls. The only problem was I couldn’t play the drums. Did your miserable attempt work?”

“No. In fact, it failed miserably. I would’ve done a better job of impressing her had I valeted her car properly.”

Larry laughed at the recollection. He hadn’t been very funny that night, though his line about livening up auto racing by throwing in some cross-traffic had received mild laughs.

“Why did you stick with it?’

“At first it was something to do, really. But I got a little bit better each time and I liked that. Then I met Lenny and we were pretty good from the start and we kept getting better. And here we are.”

“I understand that abstract feeling. It’s why I officiate. It feels like what I should be doing. I’m just a hack high school official right now, though.”

The two sat there considering the matter for a while.

“So where do you two go from here.”

Larry suspected Neil wasn’t referring to his impending vacation plans or The Regular Guys next gig.

“I don’t know. In some respects, it doesn’t matter. There is nothing to accomplish. We go out and do a good show and that’s really the only thing we have any control over. But good things seem to happen when we do that.”

“But in other respects?”

“Well, it does matter of course. We put a lot of work into a show. And you want to see a return on that work. But the bottom line is like you said, excellence is its own reward.”

Neil’s phone rang. He glanced at it.

“It’s Her Majesty, Princess Sara,” he announced.

Neil answered the phone, listened for a few seconds, said ‘Okay, be right there’ and hung up.

“Our ladies are waiting and seem to be demanding a male presence. They are prepared to wait a few minutes for us, but after that they aren’t making any promises,” he announced.

“Well, we should accommodate them, then. They are looking pretty foxy.”

“Indeed they are. Come on, I’ll lead us to the VIP area.”

Morty’s Suite
The Golden Nugget Hotel And Casino
Las Vegas, Nevada
One Year Later

The New Year’s Eve With The Emoticons DVD was released later that month and a funny thing happened: the segment with The Regular Guys took hold. It was played left and right on music video networks, pirated on the Internet and even played on radio stations. The Regular Guys found themselves in demand like never before. They did late-night talk shows and cable specials and played Las Vegas regularly.

And one year after their New Year’s Eve appearance in Las Vegas, they once again found themselves standing amidst a maze of trailers behind the First Street Stage. Like last year, they were still opening for Toby Flotsam, however, unlike last year they weren’t late substitutes for someone more famous. They were there on their own merits. And while they weren’t exactly co-headlining with The Emoticons, who had had another #1 CD the past year, the show was billed as The Emoticons and The Regular Guys instead of The Emoticons with The Regular Guys mentioned in small print towards the bottom which could be seen only if you happened to be looking for it.

And, like the year before, their New Year’s Eve show was one of their best of the year.

In the middle of the next afternoon, New Year Day, Morty was meeting with Lenny and Larry in his suite. No one had had much sleep, and Lenny was – in what was not being billed as the Upset of the Year – hungover. Even Larry had stayed up till dawn, an event on par with planetary alignment.

“Men,” Morty began. “Another great gig. Everyone connected with downtown is pleased. Another obscenely large crowd that drank, ate and dropped the kids’ college money at the tables. That’s exactly what they wanted. And what they paid well for.”

Lenny and Larry smiled. They had paid well for The Regular Guys talents, more than twice as much as last year, and everybody got suites this time, too.

“And The Emoticons were thrilled too. You had the audience primed and ready to go insane for them.”

Lenny and Larry both nodded.

“And the crowd was laughing their combined heads off.”

With Morty stating the obvious, both Lenny and Larry got the impression Morty was building up to something; they had no idea what though.

“And you two should be pleased. The Regular Guys were very funny last night. As usual. But you don’t need me to tell you that.”

Morty, in fact, was building up to something.

“Guys, The Golden Nugget wants to put you in their showroom. As headliners.”

Lenny stood up and threw his arms up in triumph.

Larry looked right at him and smiled broadly.

“Now, obviously, this offer is very significant. Not everyone in this business gets offered to be a headliner in this town, especially at a hotel as venerable as The Golden Nugget. And I will be rather surprised if you don’t take it. However, as your agent, it is my duty to review your options with you.”

Lenny sat on the edge of his chair, with a look in his eye one usually associated with the insane. He didn’t really want to review options, and if Morty were to be derelict in his duties as agent for The Regular Guys and force him to sign the contract without reviewing all possible options, he would get over it.

“The Golden Nugget is offering a six-month contract. It calls for six shows a week, for three weeks a month, and those weeks are somewhat negotiable.”

“Now, the advantage to this offer is one, guaranteed work for six months, though I could, with little difficulty, muster up enough work to keep you busy the next six months anyway. And two, you don’t have to hit the road, which come to think of it may or may not be an advantage. Larry, in particular, has always struck me as one who enjoys going from hotel to hotel, and I suspect that while you, Lenny, may not favor it, I never got the impression you disliked it.”

Neither said anything; they knew Morty was being rhetorical and would invite comment when he was done.

“Now, money-wise, you would be slightly better off on the road, assuming I worked your fannies off. And of course, an advantage to staying on the road is you can work as much or as little as you want to. You both enjoy taking two to three-week vacations here and there and that would not be possible with this contract.”

Larry would hate to see his several two to three-week vacations leave. He felt the time off kept gigs from becoming a grind and kept their act fresh. Very seldom were there times when The Regular Guys did not want to take the stage and when those times did, invariably, pop up, there was usually a vacation around the corner to be looked forward to.

But Larry was flexible. Not only was The Regular Guys act under construction, so was their career. Besides, the contract called for a six-month term, not a lifetime obligation of debt bondage. If, at the end of six months, they weren’t happy The Regular Guys could always hit the road again.

It was a good thing Larry was flexible because there was, of course, zero doubt as to what Lenny’s feelings on the matter were: headlining Las Vegas was the culmination of everything he had ever wanted.

Morty sat back and took off his glasses.

“I invite comment,” he said.

Lenny, his life’s dream there for the taking in the form of the six-month contract lying on the table, got right to the point.

“We’ll take it.”

“Don’t you want to discuss it with Larry?” Morty asked, toying with Lenny. In fact, the whole reviewing of options segment was done intentionally to torture Lenny.

“Oh,” Lenny said, genuinely surprised. “Sure. Larry, we’re taking it right?”

“I guess we are, partner,” he said, smiling broadly.

“You maniacs!!!!” Ann shrieked as she hit Lenny on the arm repeatedly. “Headlining Vegas!!!! I am sooo proud of you!”

They were in Lenny’s suite at The Golden Nugget. Lenny had planned on napping and then, perhaps, let Ann have her way with him, but now those plans had changed. He was still planning on having his way with Ann of course, but the nap had been put on hold.

Ann turned to Larry, held out her arms and hugged him. She thought back to when she had first met them, having just pulled Lenny over to issue him a speeding ticket and started to weep somewhat.

“Oh, you guys…” she said.

There was a knock on the door. Morty walked to the door, opened it and let a room service waiter in. The waiter set up a champagne service for four.

Morty popped the cork and poured.

“Okay, you two, let’s not get too cocky. The contract is only for six months, but you two have a tendency to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves, so we’ll see where this goes from here. Cheers!”

Lenny drained his glass in one gulp; poured himself another, drained that, belched, and smiled.

“Cheers!” he said.

The Regular Guys gig at The Golden Nugget in Las Vegas didn’t start until April, and The Regular Guys certainly were not overburdening themselves during February and March. Morty had booked them a little, mostly on weekends, and just enough to keep them fresh.

Both enjoyed leisurely vacations. Lenny and Ann spent a couple of weeks together in Hawaii, and he also visited his mom. Larry had returned to Colorado, which he was getting more and more used to, and Rachel even came up for a week or so.

“Partner,” Lenny said while they were having dinner together one day. “I think Morty’s right. I think this is just the start for us. The past has merely been an appetizer; the main course is still to come.”

Larry was relieved to hear that. Privately he had feared The Golden Nugget gig might be the top of the mountain for The Regular Guys, and Larry had always had an abstract thought that the top of the mountain, wherever that might be, would mark the start of the end of his interest in The Regular Guys. Part of the attraction of life for Larry was always having something to work towards and part of him always felt that, when the time came, The Regular Guys couldn’t go any farther, he might just call it a day and go and try something else.

Larry, however, was not ready for that to happen yet, for a lot of reasons. The first was he and Lenny kept getting better on stage. Two, he really liked Lenny and still enjoyed being around him every day. Three, being on stage continued to be a pleasure.

True, there would come a time when The Regular Guys would get as big as they were going to get, but Larry hoped that time was not now, or anytime in the near future.

Larry, typically, had never shared these thoughts with anyone, and he wasn’t about to share them now.

“How so, partner?”

“I’m not entirely sure, really. Could be playing The Strip. Or maybe somebody will build an arena for us. That would rule. They do that every now and then. I don’t know for sure. I just feel this is the start of something really big, like we’re leaving one realm and moving into another.”

Larry was glad Lenny felt this way. The Regular Guys had been getting offers for movie and television roles for quite a while. These did not interest Larry in the least, and as long as Lenny kept thinking of The Regular Guys as a dynamic, thriving entity with something to accomplish, they wouldn’t interest him much either; it was plain Lenny completely enjoyed being a Regular Guy.

“That’s a great attitude my friend,” Larry said. “I don’t want to get satisfied and complacent.”

“Well, we’ve never really been successful enough to be complacent. The challenge now is to make these six months last a lot longer.”

Larry was very satisfied the way this conversation was going.

“Right now Larry, we’ve been launched into orbit around the earth. The Golden Nugget gig is the International Space Station. Everything we’ve done to this point has been the space shuttle ride up. Got it?”

“Roger,” Larry said, closing his eyes with his hands out as if piloting an imaginary spacecraft.

“Okay, once we’re at the International Space Station we’re going to dock with another space ship that will take us on the next segment of our journey.”

“Do we have a flight plan filed with NASA yet?”

“Of course not. Don’t be silly. We weren’t even sure where we were headed when we lifted off, except I was pretty sure it was flat on our keisters.  So we’ll lift off from here and see where it takes us.”

“Good. Could we go to Saturn? I’ve always wanted to see an outer planet.”

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