Lue Deck – comedy polymath learned his trade from the one and only Mitzi Shore.
There’s an old joke.
Murray and Saul, two old Jewish men, sit on the park bench. Murray turns to Saul. “Saul.” “What is it Murray?” “If you had 20 million dollars, would you loan me 10?” “Of course I’d loan you 10 million dollars. I don’t need 10 million dollars, let alone 20. I’d give you 10 million dollars. Don’t ask a stupid question!”
A few minutes go by.
“Saul.” “What is it Murray?” “If you had 2 office buildings, would you give me one?” “Of course I’d give you an office building. I don’t need an office building, let alone 2 office buildings. Don’t ask a stupid question!”
Few minutes more.
“Saul.” “What is it Murray?” “If you had 2 watches…”
“You bastard! You KNOW I got 2 watches!”
Lue Deck – Comedy Polymath
If you had to choose between two doctors. One was a specialist who had full training and certification for being a general practitioner, as well as learning and perfecting his or her specialty. That’s one doctor. The other doctor had basic training and certification as well but was also a trained and certified specialist in a dozen medical areas. He’d be your dentist, for example, but also was an expert in hearing and blood pressure. I would choose the second guy because anyone who has a sense of medicine knows that the body is all related to itself. That’s what comedian Lue Deck is. A really funny dentist. No, that’s a joke. Lue Deck is a comedian who has done it all and done it all excellently and learned and worked with the best in the business. And that is usually an expectation of a comic polymath.
Starting as Comedy Store doorman and MC, Deck cut his comedy teeth at the legendary club under the tutelage of the one and only legendary Mitzi Shore. There, he created The Comedy Channel, was the in-house Improv director, a Comedy Store activist, a Paid Regular, in charge of Video and personal assistant to Mitzi. As an act he holds the world’s record for performing in 100 cities in one year, 10 years running! He’s opened for everybody from Carrot Top to the Dixie Chicks. Performed extensively on USO tours in 17 countries, over 100 cruise ship gigs. As a writer, Lue Deck is a CSPAN Essay winner. (Featured in 10 major newspapers across America), was a featured stand-up in “I’m Dying up here!” by Bill Knodelseder, which was turned into a very interesting Showtime series by exec producer Jim Carrey. His own book, “Stand-up Decoded: Be as funny as you think you are!” is a popular E-book published by Xlibris.com. Like I said, Lue Deck – comedy polymath
Lue has also been a dear friend to this comedian and writer. I thought it time he got a little extra spotlight, as usually, and especially in “this town”, it’s hard to get out of the shade of the latest giant comedy monsters casting their overwhelming shadows across us all. I caught up with Lue as I was awaiting trial for attempted laziness.
H-Dog – Tell us about working for Mitzi.
Deck – She knew the ingredients to a successful act. You accepted her advice or left! By the time you could do what she wanted, you could sell your act. Working for her was relentless. From doorman to mc to act, she would pile opportunity and responsibility on you until you couldn’t handle all of it. Video director to consultant to personal assistant. You gave her your thoughts and followed her crazy orders. Looking back, she was right on 95% of her decisions. NOT counting her choice of lovers!
H-Dog: What was it like being the opening act for Ollie Joe Prater?
Deck: It was like driving a Wells Fargo stagecoach for a real life Yosemite Sam! We did 87 cities the first year. He liked one-niters because they paid more. Never saw another act who was wanted by ALL the bookers any week! He was the most explosive, reliable, and sold out acts we ever saw.
H-Dog: What was The Comedy Store like back in its heyday?
Deck: It was impressive, like Cape Canaveral shooting comics up every night, 3 or 4 stars destroying crowds. Then, one would beg you for a drink coupon on a late Tuesday. Robin (Williams, of course) knew I didn’t use coke so he’d hide his stash on me. Anything to suddenly be his pal. After I had an office, names would seek ME out to hide there! Andy Kaufman, Richard Pryor, Rodney Dangerfiled. I had to kick Sam Kinison out of the dungeon several times!
H-Dog: You’ve done a lot of cruise ship gigs. Did you ever any kind of quarantine situation like we have now?
Deck: Common to a miss a stop on a 3 stop tour because of dysentery. But, nothing like this! But, cruise ships have always been Petri dishes!
H-Dog: Your radio show “Poor Lue’s Almanac!” was nominated for a Peabody Award. Congratulations! Tell the Hollywood Dog about all that.
Deck: Well, first of all, thank you. In 1997, I was laid up with a broken back and was only selling jokes to Jay Leno. Sold 1 out of 60, 2 out of 40. I had 97 jokes not doing nothing and so I copied Poor Richard’s Almanac model from Ben Franklin. I used Publisher to go digital. Then when I got better and went back on tour, I sold my Almanac for 10 bucks to radio DJ’s. Which led to an offer from Net Radio Live to do 25 episodes before streaming. They nominated me, but I lost out to Bernie Mac.
H-Dog: Tell us about entertaining out troops with the USO and The Department of Defense?
Deck: They were all overseas tours. I found my grandfather’s grave at a gig about 20 miles northeast of Manila. Which was a grounding moment for me because I hardly knew him.
H-Dog: I understand you were the first comic to perform in North Korea!
Deck: Same spot as Trump and Un! Also in building, where the armistice was signed. Tour guide invited me step across the 38th Parallel, which when I did, the entire tour group yelled “BOO!” I jumped on the table, scared the guards, making them all pulls guns! I “surrendered”! Everybody laughs at my playfulness.
H-Dog: You married a cop? Did she have a sense of humor?
Deck: Her gun was bigger than mine! Google “The Cop & The Comic!” Or look in my book or on my timeline! The evidence wont’ stand up in court!
H-Dog: You were also the first comic to perform in Cuba?
Deck: ’93, my ship stops to do harbor scanning, we went at pier to exchange freight, food, cigars, but no disembarking. At a freight hanger door, I made friends with customs & teamsters by making them laugh. I begged them to let me go to end of pier & touch real Cuba, and so the Cuban customs guys let me. I dashed, told three jokes, and sauntered back, until the dogs rushed up the pier & chased me back into my ship. applause from all but the dogs!
H-Dog: You bio says you innovated the cruise ship toilet lizard. Would care to expound?
Deck: It’s a visual trick with suction toilet. I tell the crowd after show, to go to their room get toilet paper, baseball sized ball on toilet, stream out 10-12 feet, then flush! Tail streaming disappears down toilet, whooooosh! Now, imagine: the flaming lizard!
H-Dog: I would, but I’m too busy crying over what a waste of toilet paper, especially these days! What position did David Letterman play on The Comedy Store Basketball team? You were center, right?
Deck: Starting center and Dave was outside forward; he wasn’t the best at rebound, but had a great shot. Jimmy Walker was good, so was John Witherspoon. We played at the Forum during halftime at a Lakers game.
H-Dog: Who was the opposing team and did you win?
Deck: Pizza Hut and yes we won.
H-Dog: Pizza Hut vs. Comedy Store! That’s hilarious. Moving on. You performed in four states at the same time? How does that work?
Deck: I was offered this gig to perform at a private party at the Four corners landmark, the demarcation quadripoint where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah meet. I thought it be cool to leave stage and do 5 min from the landmark.
H-Dog: Okay, my favourite fact about you is that you smoked ganja on Bob Marley’s grave?
Deck: Yes, but buried in 9 mile, up mountain from Ocho Rios. They buried Bob in his front yard inclined with a face visor, so you could see his face, he could see the sun. Been moved to Zimbabwe.
H-Dog: Finally, and I wanted to thank you for your time.
Deck: It’s been my pleasure!
H-Dog: What did Mitzi Shore mean to you and to comedy?
Deck: Mitzi deserves it as a leader in the biz, suffragette, and unique prominence in a man’s world!
H-Dog: Thanks again, Lue Deck. You’re a great man, comic and friend. And certainly the doctor I’d choose!
Deck: Keep positive!
H-Dog: I’ll try my best. (*puts mask back on)
Lue Deck – comedy polymath is the author of the definitive book on stand-up. Available online somewhere.