2020 is already shaping up to be a pretty bizarre year for me. Barely over a week in, a couple of strange coincidences have occurred that have histories spanning a long number of years that I felt would make for good writing material. This will not be the kind of post I typically write for this blog, but it’s a new decade. Why not try out some peculiar
filler prose to exercise my creative tendencies?
We have arrived in 2009. Shrouded in the desolate loneliness of the early morning hours, I lay in my bed in the basement of my father’s home. The only thing between me and the doorless opening that led into the major living area of the basement, which for whatever reason remained doorless for the entirety of my five years of visiting there, was an old-fashioned TV set on top of a wooden drawer. Per my preferences at the time, the channel was almost exclusively set to Comedy Central, where comedy was among the only things on cable that interested me enough to keep my thoughts away from the horrifying imagination that convinced me of demons coiling me in my sleep. Being 15-16-years-old made this slightly more pathetic.
On this night, I recall a man onstage during the channel’s traditional Comedy Central Presents block that typically covered up-and-coming comedians that have potential to make it to higher pastures. Most of his special was a blur, as a lot of these specials were for me when trying to lull myself into enough of a trance where I unwittingly fall asleep. Among his performance was a particular instance that stood out to me, where he motioned to his feet and said something along the lines of, “Just because the soap water runs down it doesn’t mean it gets it.” A moment of recognition took me, slowly coming to understand that I did that very thing. I let the soapy water run down my legs, but I never actually put the effort into scrubbing my feet. Those “cinder blocks” that men had for feet he had alluded to… were mine.
After that night, those words haunted me with every trip to cleanse myself for the day. To rub myself down as far as I could, only to constantly come to grips with my poor soles, drowning in water that does little to actually clean it. Even to this day I think of it, with each trip to the shower typically consisting of a “Wash hair → Wash body → Wash feet” formula for success. For as much as my parents instilled into me, there never seemed to be any emphasis on the health of my feet. It took the comedic jab of a complete stranger on television to get me to realize the error of my cleanly habits.
I never remembered his name. In hindsight, he would’ve been simple to find. “Comedian men feet joke” on Google has him appear as among the first choices, but I never had the mind to search for it. Not once over a ten-year-plus span did I even think of looking him up, scouring for more material, or bothering to even re-find that now-ingrained skit. His comment about the cleanliness of feet had become synonymous with my bathroom exploits, only arriving to mind within the moment of truth and served to guide me through societal guilt to alter my own laziness.
New Year’s Day, 2020. I am now 26-years-old. I wish I could say my life was in order, but aside from the fortuitous position of remaining in relative comfort (living with my mother), I’m still searching for my position in society. On a typical day, I watch a sufficient amount of content online, whether reviews, commentary, informative, or the occasional comedy bits to take the edge off. Among my recommended videos tailored to me by Youtube’s generally bullshit algorithm, I was recommended a comedy skit by John Mulaney, who I find decently funny. Sure, I’ll click. And anyone who knows Youtube will understand that by doing so, any video whatsoever by this same user that is in any shape or form similar to the video I had clicked on will now appear in my recommended videos tab for the next seven years.
The channel in question is called “Netflix Is A Joke,” which seems to focus on taking highlights of various Netflix comedy specials and putting them up as an appetizer for people to watch on Youtube. After a couple Mulaney videos, I decided to scroll through the videos available on the channel. Who knows? I could distinguish whether I found various comedians funny or not (it’s usually not). Lots of Dave Chapelle, lots of Jo Koy, lots of Mulaney, etc. Continuing to scroll along, I eventually came to a specific title I thought could be funny:
For about twenty seconds, I let this man talk and open his skit. Then I paused. The way he spoke, his mannerisms, his hair… there was a weird bout of nostalgia that rose up in me. In that moment, I knew, but I looked it up on Google to make absolutely sure. “Sebastian maniscalco feet joke,” and wouldn’t you know it, there he was. The familiar stage and youthful presence that had grabbed me by the heart over a decade ago and has since haunted me every time I stepped foot in the shower. It was him, who for over a decade escaped my radar and yet remained one of the most impactful comedians I had ever seen, if only for the uncanny ability he had in controlling my daily habits. That bastard.
(The skit described starts at 7:02.)
Completely unprovoked and by sheer coincidence, Mr. Maniscalco now has a name and physical body within my mind. His one claim to fame that has kept his spirit alive within me can finally expand into further territory, as I can actually watch other material from him. In some ways, it’s a new beginning, when all that I’ve ever known is from that one Comedy Central Presents special, teeming with amateur bombasticity. He was recently cast in Martin Scorsese’s new film, The Irishman, so it’s safe to say the guy’s made it in the business. But I’ll always remember him as the nameless cynic who blasted men for not giving a shit about their feet.
And I’d share a lemon loaf with my partner. Why not?
Thank you for your time. Have a great day.