David Brenner was a popular stand-up comedian for decades. He holds the record with 158 guest appearances on Johnny Carson's, "TONIGHT SHOW." The Comedy Central Network placed him #53, in their, "TOP 100 STAND-UP COMEDIANS SURVEY." In the fall of 1976, he had his biggest opportunity. He was to be the star of NBC's new sit-com, "SNIP."
"Snip," was a take-off of the hit Warren Beatty movie, "SHAMPOO" with Brenner also playing a hairdresser. NBC produced five episodes but at the last minute, without citing a specific reason, they pulled the show. However the common belief was that the portrayal of Brennan's openly gay boss was too far ahead of its time. This reversal of fortune was such a shock that "TV GUIDE," still included the program in their September 30, 1976 issue.
The "Snip" pilot never aired in the USA. However, a few episodes aired in Australia and got good ratings. But it too got sucked into the unknown maelstrom and was cancelled within a short time.
Brenner still enjoyed a great career. I remember him joking a lot about growing up in Philadelphia as well as life in his adopted home, Manhattan. In my opinion, his most memorable line was his solution to the New York City Sanitation Department strike. First, he primed the audience with descriptions of sidewalks piled high with great masses of trash heaps. Then he got into its stink and the vermin it attracted before saying, "But I never have any problem getting rid of my garbage...I just gift wrap it and leave it on the front seat of my car."
My friend ZYMBOT should have heeded Brennan's message. In the summer of 1984, Mr. Z bought a Saab.AMONGST OUR CLIQUE, A BRAND NEW SAAB WAS A MAJOR STATUS UPGRADE.
Flowglo, (Zymbot's wife) and all his friends, never saw that fire-engine red car. The reason was, on his virgin trip home from the showroom, our hero stopped off at a Hagen Daz for a celebratory ice cream. In the assumed safety of his own neighborhood, (Park Slope, Brooklyn), the genius left the car running and double-parked as he indulged his fat attack. So much for the home field advantage, when he returned, his face was as red as the Swedish nightingale that he'd never see again.
Six weeks later in early October, the collateral damage of a distant hurricane wrought havoc to New York City. During that afternoon, Zymbot, an antique dealer, drove his replacement, beige Saab through rain torrents into the Tribeca section of lower Manhattan. His luck seemed to change as the raw, violent storm magically subsided and vanished. The thick black-gray clouds parted and gave way to blue skies and a clean, crisp breeze. He turned onto a narrow, busy side street and approached his destination. His good fortune fully blossomed as a boat-like Cadillac vacated the enormous, rare and primo parking spot out front.
Zymbot resisted the instinct to grab his beat-up umbrella. He realized it wasn't raining and if it started back up that he was only fifteen feet from the door. Plus, on the way out, he'd be better off if his hands were free to carry his fragile purchases. An hour later when the last of the merchandise was safety stowed in the trunk and back seat, Zymbot went back in to schmooze a little more. While chatting, the lights flickered and a loud crack of thunder was followed with a sudden downpour.
When Mr. Z. came back out, he was initially glad that it wasn't raining. Then he became shocked to see his passenger side window smashed in. He stood in bewilderment, scratching his head trying to assess the situation. A light drizzle limited him to a brief scan of the empty street. When his booty of semi-valuable goods were accounted for, he weighed his options.
Zymbot accepted the breakage as a random act of vandalism as the rain became steadier. He decided to immediately replace the window. Homeward bound, at the crest of the Brooklyn Bridge, the skies opened up. He turned the windshield wipers onto the hyper-setting as a harsh crosswind tingled the right side of his body with cold raindrops. A wild idea came to mind; to rig his tired, old umbrella as a shield. However, upon a quick scan of the floor where he had left it, all he found was broken glass.
Had Zymbot listened to David Brenner's schtick, he would have at least known to keep the car door unlocked, sacrifice the umbrella and avoid a broken window.
The Saab was driven with plastic covering the window for three weeks because that model was so new that the dealership had trouble locating the proper replacement glass.
On the last Sunday on October, the autumn foliage was in its prime. Together with my wife Sue, another couple, plus Zymbot and Flowglo, I drove the whole motley crew ninety minutes north, to West Haverstraw, in upstate New York.
Our outing was a three-part mission. First was to get out of the city and enjoy the scenery. Second was to go apple picking and lastly, have a country picnic.
SUE'S PHOTOGRAPH CAPTURES THE CONFUSION REIGNING SUPREME AS MIKE, FLOWGLO, DARYLE AND ZYMBOT CAN'T FIGURE OUT WHICH DIRECTION THE APPLE ORCHARD IS.
The orchard owners charge a nominal fee to get in and then you pay by the pound on the way out. To expedite the fun, everyone is provided with a long apple picking pole. This device has two key characteristics; a claw-like twisting mechanism that allows you to remove the fruit from high branches plus a basket to catch it in. WITH THE APPLE PICKING POLES, WE FORMED A GIANT "W" LIKE IN THE MOVIE, "ITS A MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD." BUT THE OUTER ARMS OF THE "W" WERE CROPPED-OUT OF THIS SHOT. AT LEAST WE STILL HAVE THE BURIED TREASURE IN THE MIDDLE.
Sue and I took home five pounds of apples. Mike and Daryle had a bigger family and took home more. Zymbot and Flowglo decided to give them as gifts, so they filled two bags. TO REDUCE THE COST, ZYMOT TRIED TO SMUGGLE OUT A McINTOSH AND A GOLDEN DELICIOUS IN HIS PANTS...UNTIL FLOWGLO BUSTED HIM.
Zymbot pretended to be catatonic after Flowglo's embittered tongue lashing over the his "apples in the sweat-pants" antics.
We finished our country excursion near West Point, New York with an open air lunch at Bear Mountain State Park.
STILL PREYING ON OUR SYMPATHIES AFTER BEING SUPPOSEDLY EMASCULATED, ZYMBOT TOOK A LITTLE SOMETHING TO EASE THE IMPLIED PAIN. AND EVEN WORSE, HE WASN'T SHARING ANY WITH THE REST OF US.
Zymbot got back his repaired Saab the next day. Flowglo took one bag of apples in her car and he took the other. On that Tuesday, Zymbot was frustrated when he struck out on an antique call on Yellowstone Boulevard in Forest Hills. But he was absolutely livid when he found the new window smashed in and his five pound bag of apples...missing!
October indeed brought Zymbot many changes. From Saabs of fire-engine red to beige...to a luckier, new Oldsmobile of black. It was just about that time that Mr. Z started losing his hair. And even a thousand David Brenners couldn't make that funny.