Matthew Bookin

Old Joke

 

In the winter of 2002 my sister’s fiancé froze to death while he was sleeping black-out drunk on our front porch.

 

He was wearing homemade pants that looked like they’d been stitched together from several different quilts. All they found in his icy wallet were a few skee ball tokens.

 

He always used to walk to the Wawa down the street from our house when my sister was at work. He’d come back with a Cherry Coke for me and a 16oz can of Red Dog for himself and he’d sit and watch me play Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. Whenever I’d wreck trying something like a nollie underflip into a casper 360 he’d say, “Hey hey hey! Next time, Matt. Almost had it.”

 

It’s impossible to get my sister to talk about him now.

 

His dream was to be a character comedian and he traveled here from Kaliningrad to accomplish it. He wasn’t very funny, as I remember. His monologues would drag on for way too long and there was something desperate about all of his characters. His English was pretty ramshackle, so maybe something was lost in the translation.

 

The characters he created are as follows:

 

dumpster king

 

rehab baby

 

heavily medicated cat lady

 

youth minister who unsuccessfully uses parables

about Batman to relate to at-risk teens

 

weed dealer who believes he’s been possessed by an entity

that has up until this point only identified itself as “Uncle Skin Man”

 

estranged older cousin who is probably your real father

 

craigslist roommate with a lisp who recounts in intimate detail all the times

women he thought he was in love with snorted various narcotics off of his

erect penis

 

writhing pile of legless welsh corgis

 

cop wearing a top hat

 

surgeon wearing a top hat

 

karate instructor wearing a top hat

 

single mother sitting next to a rotary phone

 

unemployed graphic design artist who married too young

and now secretly spends the allowance his wife gives him each week

to pay a college student in Stockholm, Sweden

to eat strawberries in front of her webcam

 

humorous mailman

 

beam of pale moonlight

gently creeping across the living room floor

of your first love’s childhood home.

 

His name was Artyom Kadnikov. He was my friend.

 

As the only other dead Russian comedian presently in the room, I’d like to take this moment to remember him.

 

 

 

Matthew Bookin lives in Buffalo, NY.

@mbookin

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