Transcript of 2nd Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Darius Booth, Wednesday, October 12, 1998 at 3:00 pm.

Mr. Booth: Hello, Doctor Balis. I'm still here, so...
Dr. Balis: It's good to see you again, Darius. Please, come in.
Mr. Booth: Yes. Thanks. I wrote my resignation letter--I was going to quit, remember?
Dr. Balis: I do remember; you seemed quite set on the idea.
Mr. Booth: I'd made up my mind. I put a lot of work into this letter. It ended up being quite good, just under twenty-three pages. It's this sort of thing: "It is my sad duty...due to circumstances of a personal nature...interdepartmental conflicts...possible interdepartmental atrocities...I will always have a place in my heart...two weeks henceforth...for ever and ever, Darius Booth."
Dr. Balis: I see. Did you hand it in?
Mr. Booth: No! Ha! And I don't think I will for the moment. I finished printing it out on Thursday afternoon. I left it that long because of our first meeting. I wanted to think it over. I thought perhaps Doug might pull his head in. Fat chance. He seems to get worse every day.
Dr. Balis: So why didn't you hand in your letter of resignation?
Mr. Booth: Once, about a month ago, I left a dermatologist's pamphlet on Doug's desk. I was just trying to help--his entire epidermis is undergoing some sort of apocalyptic upheaval. And do you know what he did? He left the pamphlet right on top of his in-tray, where anybody walking past could see it. He can be malicious, all right.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Booth: I couldn't eat for days. Finally, during one of his lotion-laden trips to the bathroom, I had to sneak over and remove the pamphlet. Of course, he never said a thing. The whole thing was was too awful. Does he come here? Sorry, I know I shouldn't ask that.
Dr. Balis: My patient list is confidential, as I'm sure you know.
Mr. Booth: Yes, of course. Totally. I was just thinking out loud. If he doesn't come here, then he must go somewhere else. He probably has a whole team of doctors working round the clock--a United Nations of eminent surgeons scratching their heads and pulling on layers of latex. Oh, the disrepair!
Dr. Balis: So why did you change your mind about handing in your letter of resignation?
Mr. Booth: Hmm. By the time I'd got the whole thing collated and bound, my boss went home. So I had to pack it away for the next morning.
Dr. Balis: Did something happen that night to change your mind?
Mr. Booth: Yes. Have you heard of The Cha-Cha?
Dr. Balis: I think you mentioned it last week.
Mr. Booth: It used to be called something else, I can't remember what. They changed the name to The Cha-Cha a few years back to try and go up-market. Sadly, it kept on a fairly rapid decline anyway. It's been in the same location for a long time, but the surrounding area went from a pretty happening club scene to Multimedia Gulch. So now, it's a bit cut-off, a bit isolated.
Dr. Balis: And what is this place exactly?
Mr. Booth: Technically, it's a pub with comedy nights on Thursdays and Fridays. But I'll be honest with you, Doctor Balis, The Cha-Cha is a dive. It's worse than a dive. Perhaps it once was a dive, but at some point it bottomed out and began to turn nasty. It has odor rather than ambience, fog rather than light. The people who gather there may have already died, with their death gurgles and fate-sealing burps. It's a cramped, dark, humid yeast-hole.
Dr. Balis: It sounds dreadful.
Mr. Booth: Oh it is. But it's funny, in a degraded way. It reminds me of Big Jill's first pub, the Boxing Dice.
Dr. Balis: That was in Australia?
Mr. Booth: Oh yes. Big Jill is very patriotic. She would never leave Australia. Big Jill has often said: "I like it wide and brown." And that was that. Ha! We had this running joke: whenever we would arrive at a party or nightclub, I'd go, "So, Bigs, how do you take your men?" And she'd reply, "With drought and flooding rains, like my country." Ha! She was amazing. I thought it was all just joking around until I accompanied her on one of her northern sojourns. You should have seen her in the tropics, Doctor Balis: from Cape York to the Kimberly...dear God; in the very height of monsoon season; into the very heart of the tempest! No! No! She could never leave Australia! Never!
Dr. Balis: All right, Darius. Just relax. Sit back and take a few deep breaths.
Mr. Booth: Yes, yes. Sorry. I'll just...goodness, this is turning into a two-hanky session.
Dr. Balis: Would you like a glass of water?
Mr. Booth: I'd never seen so much water, Doctor Balis.
Dr. Balis: Hmm?
Mr. Booth: Up north. And it was so loud. Half the time, I couldn't hear a word she said. I'm sure that was where my perspiration problem began--on the northern sojourn. Do you think I should see a doctor about it? It's probably some sort of gland thing.
Dr. Balis: If it's troubling you, it's a good idea to talk to a physician. But it's not unusual for high stress levels to lead to excessive perspiration. Maybe part of the solution is to reduce your stress...
Mr. Booth: By not talking about Big Jill?
Dr. Balis: No, not at all. This is the place to work through your issues and to find areas of your life that cause you anxiety.
Mr. Booth: Yes. Get a perspective. Good one. But I'd rather not talk about Big Jill, if that's all right. I still have the rest of the day to get through.
Dr. Balis: Okay then, why don't we return to your resignation letter.
Mr. Booth: Oh yes--the good news. That was Thursday night at The Cha-Cha. I'd scored a five minute try-out after the main act--Bertie Buckmeister's Pecker-boy routine. It was some R-rated ventriloquism revival thing. What an appalling act to have to follow. I nearly went home. All that manic head swiveling and lock-jaw grinning...awful. There was lots of stuff about how Pecker-boy had a constant woody, how he slept with a nubile sapling and got a Dutch-elm disease of the pecker, how he hated having Bertie's hand up his wooden ass. Appalling. Anyway, the geezers were spluttering lung-fulls of mirth all over that place.
Dr. Balis: Isn't it a good thing to have the crowd laughing before you go on?
Mr. Booth: Ha! Well, theoretically, yes. But during my five years in the business, I've found that the audience can easily be lured into what I call "the laughter shallows."
Dr. Balis: The laughter shallows?
Mr. Booth: In the laughter shallows, the people are primed for the quick and the dirty. All they want is a sudden knicker-ripper and a surprise dildo attack. If I had a laugh for every time I've heard the house brought down by: "So anyway, after I fucked her," I'd be on my way. Well, that's for sure.
Dr. Balis: That bawdy style of humor certainly has a popular following, but there are many varied tastes when it comes to comedy, Darius. Perhaps you're performing in the wrong environment...
Mr. Booth: What I do is stand-up comedy. Ergo, it is not only the right environment, it is the only environment.
Dr. Balis: And you have no doubts about that?
Mr. Booth: None. But listen, you're not letting me finish. Thursday night, the Punters were in. Bertie and Pecker-boy took their final curtain-call and left. I waited for the audience to compose itself and started for the stage. Suddenly, Pecker-boy reappeared from behind the rear curtain and gave a couple of lewd and woody waggles. I had words with the manager and waited for the audience to compose itself again. Finally, I was able to take the stage. I always use the first minute to reorientate my audience. I move through a series of intricate hand and facial gestures matched with contrasting high and low-pitched screams--a parody of evolution, with a few digs at the creationists. It has a funkiness and a raw sense of the elemental. It's supposed to create an alternative landscape, a place where comedy might suddenly emerge from a mysterious worm-hole, rather than spring wittily wrapped from the latest box of breakfast cereal.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Booth: Does it sound funny?
Dr. Balis: It's hard to tell if a comedy routine is funny just from a verbal description. It sounds interesting.
Mr. Booth: You should come down there and see for yourself.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Booth: Anyway, at the first minute pause, all I could hear was the smoke seeping into the carpet and heavy drinking.
Dr. Balis: That must have been very disappointing...
Mr. Booth: "Dying" is what we call it in the trade. But you can stuff that. I mean, please. After I've worked in the Big Jill's inner circle, how could I possibly be afraid of "dying?" Ha! They wish.
Dr. Balis: Did things improve after that?
Mr. Booth: Well, during the second and third minute of the act, the usual howls of protest and sudden exits started to gather momentum and challenge the rhythm of my work.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Booth: But just into the fourth minute, when I made a series of stark comparisons between meteorology and sex, well...
Dr. Balis: What?
Mr. Booth: I, I'm almost certain I heard laughter.
Dr. Balis: That's good news. Did it build?
Mr. Booth: It was just three syllables worth: "Ha, ha, ha." But it was unmistakable. I mean I know laughter. No one knows laughter like the man in a quiet room. I've heard all the trick-giggles, fools-guffaws, and belly-laughs that turn out be treatable conditions. I've had what was technically a laugh before, but it was worse than no laughter at all. It was laughter that delineates scorn, hate, contempt, goodbye. And, worst of all, is the laughter that came from what someone in the crowd has said.
Dr. Balis: But you think this may have been different?
Mr. Booth: I'm almost one hundred percent certain it was. It was a simple, unaffected laugh, perfectly placed at the end of my punch line. It came to me as plain and wholesome as a kiss on the cheek. It was mine.
Dr. Balis: Well, that's encouraging. But perhaps you should be cautious about placing too much emphasis on this one...
Mr. Booth: Yes. You're right. I did overreact. And I made a mistake I've always been scathing of in others--I tried to milk that laugh. I tried to ad lib about the ebullient thundercloud piercing the unsuspecting troposphere. It was a big mistake. The room was pretty much cleared by the time I took my final bow. I immediately wandered straight to where the laugh seemed to have come from. It came from the back, near the jukebox and the outer reaches of the men's toilet. But it was so dark. Even up close and peering, the geezer just didn't come into focus. Maybe he'd already left by then.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. Do you feel that this sign of encouragement can make your job at SII more bearable?
Mr. Booth: Hmm. That's the idea, isn't it? Maybe if I transfer to another department, away from Doug, and then get a bit of something going at The Cha-Cha...who knows?
Dr. Balis: Will you be performing at The Cha-Cha again?
Mr. Booth: Yes! I spoke to the manager after my gig. He's a strange little man with orange hair. We had an argument about how many people had left the premises during my act. He kept repeating over and over, "It just wasn't funny." But I was able to hit back with, "So what was that I heard after my Thunder-is-Heaven's-little-anti-rape-evangelist punch line?" He said there was no laugh. I asked to see the owner. That was when he finally agreed to one more spot--the same time next week. Same time next week! Get it? Last week, right here, you said that! You could be my lucky charm, Doctor Balis. This is the first time I've snared a second booking at the same venue.
Dr. Balis: Darius, surely you don't think there is any connection between...
Mr. Booth: No, I don't mean it literally. But if Big Jill taught me anything, it was to never snub at the infinitely subtle and mysterious messages abuzz in the universe.
Dr. Balis: Well, I'm afraid we're out of time for today.
Mr. Booth: No worries. But would you?
Dr. Balis: What?
Mr. Booth: We in the business tend to be very superstitious. Could you say the same-time thing again?
Dr. Balis: "I'll see you the same time next week?"
Mr. Booth: You bet your pantaloons you will! Ha! See you then, Doctor Balis.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye, Darius.
Arrow, Straight, Left, Earlier Arrow, Straight, Right, Later

Button to Dr. Balis' Notes Doctor Balis' Notes on this Session

Button to Darius Booth's Transcripts Transcripts of Darius Booth's Communications
Button to Darius Booth's Patient File Darius Booth's Patient File

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