Eddie Brill Blog

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I talk in my sleep.

How do I know?

I heard myself.

I guess I was talking so loud in my sleep, I woke myself up, and heard the last line of my dream, as I was waking up.

I heard myself loudly exclaim, “AND THEN I SAID I THEN!”

Huh???
And then I said I then???
Perhaps I was dreaming I was King of the Prepositions.
Or maybe, Neil Diamond.

My mom told me that when I was very young, I often talked in my sleep.
She would bring a tape recorder into my room and attempt to record some of the things I said.
Most times, it was just mumbling with a few words scattered here and there.
I guess like anything, I had to build up to full phrases.

When I was 12 years old, and residing in Florida, I made a return trip to my Brooklyn roots to visit my childhood friends. Eddie DeLena, Dougie Schiffmiller and myself all stayed at Dougie’s house. It was really nice to get grounded again by spending time with the folks you palled around with since you were three.
We reminisced and told a million stories.

I was exhausted from traveling and fell asleep before those guys did.
The next morning, Dougie and Eddie told me that I had talked in my sleep.
Twice.

The first time, I turned over and faced them to say, “I’d like another parfait please!”
I guess I was dreaming I was having dessert at the NY ice cream eatery Carvel’s, because that’s the only place I had ever heard the word ‘parfait’ used before.
The interesting occurrence was that not only did I want this tasty ice cream treat, but I was asking for ANOTHER. Even in my dream, I had trouble maintaining my weight.

The second thing I said was not as pleasant.
Dougie’s mom, Mitzi, a nurse, came home from work on the late side. Mitzi was an incredibly lovely person. Cheerful, beautiful, funny and a big heart. She looked into her son’s room and saw us, and was genuinely excited to see me. She hadn’t noticed that I was fast asleep, and said hi to me.
Without missing a beat, I shouted, “FUCK YOU!”
And then fell back asleep.
I could only imagine the unfolding drama that I missed out on.
First the shock.
Then the awe.
Then the uncomfortable laughs.
While I innocently enjoyed my tonic REM sleep.
Most likely searching for my third parfait.

Toward the end of my freshman year in college, I kind of moved into my best friends’ dorm room. Their dorm was right in the thick of campus and mine was about a half mile away.
One day I was sleeping in the bed behind them as they watched television. At one point, I awoke, sat straight up, looked them right in the eyes and in my best voice-over voice, announced:

“GAME SHOW SHOPPERS, GAME SHOW!!!”

And then laid back down and fell back asleep.
My friends laughed for long while.

Wonder what the dream was about?
Game show shoppers game show???
A game show, that featured shoppers of game shows?
Talk about a niche market.

I came up with a comedy bit in my sleep.
One time I had a dream that I was onstage at Caroline’s Comedy Club and Dave Attell walked into the showroom with a few friends. In the dream I was bummed that I didn’t have any material he hadn’t heard, so I started to ad-lib. It was mostly word-play. Whatever I was doing in my dream was to the delight of Dave and the crowd.

When I woke up, I wrote down the only joke I remembered.
“He doesn’t know his ass from his elbow.
Well in that case he better get himself a short-sleeved shirt!”

I looked at it later that day, and thought for a moment.
Needs to be tightened with a better punch.
I also realized that I had to change it to long-sleeve to have it make more sense.
I tried the joke that very night at a gig in Connecticut.

“He doesn’t know his ass from his elbow.
Well, get him a long-sleeved shirt!”

It killed!
I laughed too. Only because I couldn’t believe that the joke I dreamt, went over so well.
The more the audience laughed, the more I laughed.
At two different things.

Woo Hoo!
I wrote a joke in my sleep!
And it got laughs.
Now I could tell people who say I sleep too much, that I was busy working.

I also remember a dream gig in the picturesque mountains of New England with comedians Tony V and Lew Schneider. We only had one show but decided to spend a couple of days and make a vacation out of it.
We got to stay at Lew’s family getaway log cabin home at Lake Sunapee in western New Hampshire. It was snowing and we were in a hot tub drinking champagne on the front porch, with the snow falling just a couple of feet from us. That first night we got pretty hammered and watched “the Last Waltz” on one of the best home theater set-ups I’d ever done seen. The huge screen and sound system were built into the walls, spectacular, and worthy of the incredible soundtrack of that powerful documentary.

The next morning they were up too early and we headed to the Whaleback Mountain Ski resort. I’d only skied once in my life, about fifteen years prior to this trip, and was very tentatively thinking about trying it again that day.
The ride was only about a half hour, and by the time we arrived I had convinced myself to bow out and to sleep off my hangover in the back of the 4X4, while they finessed the white powdery mountains in Enfield, NH.

I passed right out and my dream was very intense.
I was in a movie. With Gene Hackman. It was an espionage thriller.
Intrigue. Suspense. Action.
Gene and I saved the day.
The dream even had the ending movie credits and I saw my name appear after Mr. Hackman’s.
I was woken up during the credits by the sound of Tony and Lew returning from their adventures.
I must have looked dazed, because Lew asked me if I had a weird dream.

I said, coming out of a hazy fog, “I had a dream with Gene Hackman…”
And then I uttered, without missing a beat, “I tried to get Robert DeNiro but he wanted too much money.”
The guys laughed hard.
I smiled.
I knew I had a new joke.

I later added a couple of lines.
“I had a dream with Gene Hackman.
I tried to get DeNiro but he wanted too much money.
But I got a three dream deal with Hackman.
Two afternoon naps and a nightmare.”

Man oh man I was excited.
I kept trying it out onstage, and unfortunately it wasn’t getting the laughs I expected.
I didn’t give up.
I believed in the joke.
Yet, couldn’t squeeze a laugh out of it!!!

After awhile, I thought that this was more of a joke for Steven Wright, and that it just didn’t seem to fit with what I was doing onstage. Steve and I went to college together, and we act like little kids when we hang out.
We love word play.
We are very silly and we laugh a lot.
A lot, a lot!!!

Once he asked me how big my NYC apartment was.
I told him that I only had a studio, and then after a slight pause, I ad-libbed, but I have a couch that turns into a three bedroom apartment.
We both laughed and he asked me if he could try that onstage, and of course I said yes.
I was honored that he asked.

So I called Steve to offer him the Hackman joke. He laughed and told me it was too good and that I should keep it. He said the problem I might be having is that a lot of my material came in chunks of one topic, and that the dream joke was all by it’s lonesome and it threw people off. He recommended that I write a slew of dream jokes and slot the Hackman one somewhere in the bunch.

So I took Steve’s advice and I went to work on dream material.
I wrote bits about talking in my sleep.
About sex dreams with people you didn’t know and also sex dreams with people you knew.
About my girlfriend having a dream about me sleeping with her best friend and the horrible day I spent with her as she had trouble forgiving me in our awake life.
I created my dream “chunk” and I put the Gene Hackman joke somewhere in the middle.

One night, at a club called “Duck Soup” on Tremont Street in Boston, I tried out these dream jokes. They did ok. Most importantly, the Hackman joke got it’s biggest laugh. Still work to do.
After the show, Steven Wright came backstage, I didn’t know he was in the room at the time, and he said, “SEE???
And we laughed like teenagers.

A friend of mine named Gwynne Thomas used to work for Tri-Star pictures and in 1988 accompanied Mr. Hackman as he made an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman. Gene was plugging his new film, co-starring Danny Glover, called “Bat 21.” Gwynne told him my joke and he LOVED IT! He even signed a pic and had her give it to me.
Sweet. Reet. Petite.

One night, I had an audition for the Letterman show when he was still at NBC. Robert “Morty” Morton was watching a bunch of us.
When I did the Hackman joke, it went over very well.
The crowd roared.
What made it sweeter, is that I heard Morty's laugh the loudest. Friends sitting near him told me that he practically fell off his seat. I thought I might have gotten the show based on the strength of his reaction, yet it wasn’t quite my time.

Eventually, I did the Letterman show when Dave was at CBS and I put that joke in my set. It got a bit of a laugh, yet didn’t kill, and in the next breath, on national TV, I ad-libbed the next line.
“I had a dream… that the last joke would go over better.”
BOOM!
It brought down the house.

It was a dream come true.
...

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