Editor’s note — excerpts of this report were retracted before going to “print” for reasons we can’t explain, and even if we could we couldn’t possibly go into it now.
A few blocks away from Fergie’s last night, as my girlfriend I were walking to what we thought was a comedy show, we were stopped by what I believe to be a cloaked Druid. He said I wasn’t allowed to report on the minutes of the Ministry of Secret Jokes – the contents of the meeting couldn’t be revealed to the world. After a few quick rounds of “Riddles,” the Druid and I reached an agreement — instead of my notebook, pen and phone, he’d allow me to go with a quill, some parchment, and an hour glass.
Instead of Standard hours and minutes, time will be displayed in FHG’s or “Full Hour Glasses” as well as minutes broken into 57ths.
0 – Full Hour Glass – I get to Fergie’s early. I test out the hour glass and realize its bogus – 57 minutes worth of sand instead of the standard hour.
FHG – 5/57 – I receive a “Secret Booklet.” I open and read ahead, although I’m sure I wasn’t supposed to. I don’t finish reading all of it, feeling guilty for skipping ahead.
FHG – 8/57 – Beer 1 — Anchor Porter arrives.
FHG – 11/57 – An order of nachos is brought to our table. With it comes the first mystery of the evening — the guacamole that is supposed to be on the nachos has VANISHED!
FHG – 23/57 The room is packed. Standing room only. Some sit on the floor.
FHG – 42/57 – The nachos are as finished as they are going to get.
FHG – 47/57 – Gregg Gethard tells Emily and I story about him almost getting hit by a car at the West Orange Library. While he does that, someone [REDACTED].
FHG – 48/57 – Beer one finishes, and remains finished for a while.
FHG – 53/57 – Less than a thumbnail of sand. We are welcomed by the twice-familiar Andrew Nice Clay. We begin a call and response swearing-in led by Mr. Nice Clay. I say and saw things I thought I would never see or say.
1 FHG – I flip the hour glass for the first time since I sat down, 57 minutes into the show.
1 FHG – 2/57 – The swearing-in ceremony concludes. I’m in the Ministry.
1 FHG – 4/57 – [REDACTED]
1 FHG – 7/57 – Andrew Nice Clay takes note of an outsider named “Tom” in the table nearest to the stage. He makes Tom uncomfortable by showering him in compliments, which in-turn appears to make Mr. Nice Clay uncomfortable.
1 FHG – 10/57 – Andrew introduces the host of the evening Doogie Horner. But it doesn’t look like Doogie — it looks like Steve Gerben in a beard! I can’t tell what’s real or what’s fake! The Ministry is playing with my head! What evil trick has the waitress slipped into my California Porter!
1 FHG – 12/57 – Dressed to the 9’s, David Agyekum is introduced. The somber tone of his voice lulls the audience into a trance, peppered with outbursts of hysterical laughter.
1 FHG – 16/57 – The crowd “awww’s” one of David’s punchlines, which immediately turns into a raucous belly laugh. On the other side of the room, I notice [REDACTED].
1 FHG – 17/57 – David exits, and Brendan Kennedy is introduced.
1 FHG – 20/57 – Brendan Kennedy compares old sailors to hipsters. A lot of hipsters find this funny.
1 FHG – 25/57 – Rob Baniewicz, Author of The Game* is introduced.
1 FHG – 27/57 – To a midi rendition of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper,” Rob reads a selection from his book. The men in the room all learn a lesson.
1 FHG – 28/57 – The line between reality and surreality are blurred — the tables are turned, and an audience member takes center stage. A woman named “Rachel” is asked questions by Doogie Horner while Ministers Aaron Hertzog, Prof. of Jokeulus and Luke Giordano, Prof. of Ha-ha-lgebra take notes. Also — Beer 2 arrives, an Anchor Porter.
1 FHG – 33/57 – Luke and Aaron take turns explaining that they are going to abduct Rachel and use her survey answers to form jokes for a three minute stand-up set. Yes, I said abduct.
1 FHG – 35/57 – Rachel is abducted.
1 FHG – 38/57 – [REDACTED]
1 FHG – 41/57 – I realize that Tommy Pope’s manic delivery is testament to the fact that he too is realizing how the world, when viewed through the eyes of the Ministry of Secret Jokes, is a terrible and troubling place.
1 FHG – 49/57 – Traveling Ministry Member Trey Galyon from Brooklyn takes the stage.
1 FHG – 51/57 – I buy myself an Anchor Steam. Beer 3.
2 FHG – I flip the hour glass, as the show passes the 117 minute mark.
2 FHG – 3/57 – [REDACTED]
2 FHG – 12/57 – Trey leaves as audience-member-turned-brain-washed believer Rachel returns and is joined on stage by the sacrificial scapegoats Paul Triggiani and Brian Craig.
2 FHG – 14/57 – Fighting the trance, Rachel rattles off two of her own “jokes” before reading the note cards with actual jokes on them.
2 FHG – 15/57 – Rachel delivers a joke about Charlie Sheen that gets jeers. As retribution for the poor offering, the scapegoats attack each other. The blood-thirsty audience cheers seeing justice served.
2 FHG – 17/57 – Rachel slays the audience with three jokes in a row, all winners. The scapegoats are saved from total annihilation. I wait for a 4th beer that never comes**.
2 FHG – 18/57 – I can tell something important is about to occurs. Steve Gerben and Pat Barker are introduced. Steve Gerben addresses the fact that he had a tooth pulled, and can’t speak with out it hurting.
2 FHG – 20/57 – A peculiar ritual known as Omniana is introduced. It’s hard to explain Omniana, but you can basically think of it as [REDACTED].
2 FHG – 21/57 – Shortly after drawing cards from a mystical deck, things get really out of control. What I’m about to tell you doesn’t make any sense, but I swear I saw it with my own eyes. Human Pat Barker morphs into a coal-encased monstrosity with three sets of flapping wings and drill for feet. He has become the Serif of Coal! As he takes flight, the man that once was Steve Gerben shape-shifts into a dinosaur. He is the Metareptile, a being that can morph into any reptile it chooses! Space and time shifts, and we are no longer in Fergie’s, but on a lonely barren plain. Sensing the impending danger, a herd of wild buffalo stampedes west, and large, grotesque birds take wing towards the east.
2 FHG – 24/57 – From the hand of Fate***, favor is given to the Metareptile.
2 FHG – 24/57 – In hushed awe, a gladiatorial battle begins.
2 FHG – 25/57 — 39/57 – The Serif of Coal soars high above, clashing down at an alligator, that turns into a Tyrannosaurus Rex, then into a couple snapping turtles, finally settling on a Velociraptor. The Serif attempts to stick its drill-feet into the T. Rex’s “stupid” head.
2 FHG – 40/57 – By Horner’s Hand, we are pulled from the fantasy battle world and slammed back into the upstairs of Fergie’s. The Ministry respond — driven hysterically mad by the preceding battle. When the crowd slowly regains control, it is obvious that only the Metareptile is deemed the winner.
2 FHG – 81/114 – “I’ll see you in 2013.” -Pat Barker, to Steve Gerben.
**Fergie’s is awesome. The place was packed, and I was too awe-struck to go to the bar myself.
***Fate was played by Becca Trabin
Joe Moore is a comedy fan and sometimes-performer. You can follow him on twitter.