Harris: And I’m joined on the guest microphone now by comedian Brett Leake, who last year stepped in at the last minute to give a terrific performance at The Paul Harris Comedy Concert for Children’s Hospital and who is in town tonight to work at The Improv. On his way to The Improv, he was able to work his way through traffic to get to our studio. I appreciate that, considering you’re coming up from Richmond.
Leake: Thank you, delighted to be with you. Yeah, I came up from Richmond. I don’t understand the road rage. It’s getting out of hand on the beltway. Why are people in such a hurry? There’s nothing going on. Slow down! They’re waiting for you to get there so you might have plan. Here’s what you do. You don’t fight road rage, you go ahead and use it to your advantage. Let’s say you want to get into the right lane. Put your blinker on to the left and when people go to cut you off, the right lane is empty! That is genius with a J, Paul.
Harris: You’re always thinking. That’s why we like you.
Leake: I’m a thinking man. Here’s something else I saw on the way up here. This window tinting craze has gotten out of hand with all the colored mirrored glass. It really looks silly on a little car. The Ford Festiva limousine? I wonder which leggy starlet will be stepping out of this hatchback. If you spend all this money to look cool, you have wasted your money because we can’t see through the tinting to tell that it’s you!
Harris: That’s a very good point.
Leake: Thank you, Paul. There are some things that are funny and some things that are just very good points. That was a very good point, Brett Leake, thanks for coming up to give us good points. I don’t understand all the features on my car. My car has a warning light for the battery. When the battery’s weak the light comes on…draining the remaining energy from the car. If the light goes out the battery’s stronger…or dead! You make the call. My cruise control has a decelerate button. I can slow down without the brake lights coming on. I know that’s a feature the cars behind me appreciate. “Honey that guy we’ve been following is coming right at us! Lose him, we’re being followed from the front!”
Harris: So you don’t think that Detroit and Tokyo are working for our greater benefit?
Leake: They’re not doing me any favors, let me tell you, mister. I say get off my back. On a long trip the passenger gets more tired than the driver. So next time you’re nodding off at the wheel, think how fortunate you are. In my car we put the sleepiest person behind the wheel, that keeps everybody awake. On the way in, I saw a Salvation Army eighteen-wheeler. Who gave them that? I gave them a belt. Who gave them a truck for heaven’s sake? I want my belt back! Those guys are loaded. Back to you guys, you can gripe about something.
Harris: Brett Leake is at the Improv tonight and Friday and Saturday. What happened to Thursday night?
Leake: A corporate group thought that another comedian would be more appropriate, so I’m going to go home and read a book.
Harris: Another comedian who we all know by the name of Bob Somerby got the gig.
Leake: Bob stinkin’ Somerby gets everything. Sure he’s funny, but give me a chance! Brett Leake wants to tell a funny line every once in a while!
Harris: What will your topic of conversation be?
Leake: We are going to have a lot of laughs tonight, it’s going to be a funny show. I’m going to do the ‘A’ material this time, no more fooling around. When I start getting pulled from shows for Bob Somerby, I turn it up a notch. You are going to get some quality entertainment if you come down and bear with me one more time. Here comes showtime. Here comes professional show business. Thank you, Steve Martin. Sometimes the audiences even in DC, as cosmopolitan as it is, require a little set-up to me. I have a type of muscular dystrophy. Unless you’re a Christian Scientist, in which case I’m a hypochondriac. As soon as you get my mind straight, my body will follow. I’m working on it. It’s an important part of my life but I don’t complain about important things because I don’t have the little things figured out yet. There’s an expiration date on cheese like if it goes bad it’s our fault. Why was it aged for eight years if it’s not going to make it through two weeks in my refrigerator? I’ve got an idea. Age it for seven, give me the extra year! You can’t tell when Limburger goes bad — it stinks when you buy it. Buy it and throw it away immediately. It went bad in the cow, for Pete’s sake. Things are getting out of hand because even bottled water has an expiration date on it! Okay, I’ll play. What’s going to happen to bottled water, turn to tap? H-3-O? We get a lot of our bottled water from Canada, isn’t that a neat trick? We create their acid rain, they put it in a bottle and sell it back to us. I say we can take ’em. And while we’re up there, we’ll fix their bacon. It’s ham and it’s expired. Here’s the problem with American bottled water. That screw pattern on the top of the bottle is the same one you find on a hose. I think I’ve located the spring! It’s on the side of my house! Bottled hose water?! I could have made this from scratch.
Harris: So you’re saying it’s all a big scam.
Leake: That’s what I’m saying. That’s exactly what’s hiding behind these numbers. Talk about useless numbers, how about that cash value on coupons of 1/100 of a cent? Well, come to Poppa! Four hundred thirty more and I’ll have a nickel. Here’s what you do. Use them as currency. They say it’s currency, so play along. Gasoline costs a dollar twenty five point nine? Impress the attendant with exact change — a dollar, quarter and 90 Velveeta coupons. Tip the attendant! “These three are for you, get something nice. It’s for cheese, you better hurry.”
Harris: Brett is one of the smarter people to guest on our show.
Leake: That doesn’t say much for the other guests. I will certainly avoid those people.
Harris: You actually recoiled when I said that.
Leake: I did, I don’t like being referred to as smart.
Harris: Why is that?
Leake: Because you learn some things about the brain that are absolutely fascinating. Do you know we only use 3% of the brain and yet over 50% of our body heat escapes through the head? You know what that means? If we were any smarter we’d be freezing! What kind of choice is that, smart and cold or dumb and hot? All I know is that if I get chilly, I do something stupid fast. There’s 3% working for you, Paul. I don’t need the other 99%. Hey, another math joke! Come on, fellas, stay with me.
Harris: I never understood the whole heat escaping from the head thing. Putting a hat on, how is that going to make your legs feel warm? It doesn’t warm me up. I don’t get that whole thing. And as a balding man, I’m particularly concerned about this.
Leake: You’ve burned off a few follicles, haven’t you?
Harris: You know, that’s what it is. Too smart!
Leake: You’re a brainy guy, aren’t you, Paul? And your smart guest can’t keep up with you. You’re not running up to 4%. This is the fella with 4% over here. This is MISTER 4!
Harris: Oh sure, Mr. Show-off.
Leake: School was not a pretty sight for Brett Leake. Science fair projects? My mom got an A. She waited till the last night. I told her to get on it! “Mom, the other mothers have already started.” I felt bad for the kids that failed history class, because if history repeats itself, they’re going to get another F. I got a C in Latin. I thought that was bad until I looked it up in Roman numerals. One hundred! Swish! That explains all those X’s on my paper, each an additional ten points. Smokin’! Ooh, 2% of the brain, I’m dropping fast.
Harris: I took Latin in high school and I never realized that. Never did the math myself.
Leake: I was amazed that people would actually cheat off me in summer school. Do they not know how I got in here? Make your own F, not mine! Are they afraid they’re going to get a G? Only class I did well in was English, my hand writing was so bad they couldn’t tell I was wrong. “I before E except after C?” Is that your puny rule? I’ll dot ’em both! Sure they caught on, but then I put one dot in between. Two wrongs do make a right. Hey, look who’s back up to 3% of his brain! I went to college, I got a degree in economics. So when I’m out of work I can figure out why. You know what I never did? I never used college-ruled paper because it did no good at all.
Harris: Is that the one with the pink line down the side?
Leake: I’ll tell you all about it right now, you just sit tight, mister. College-ruled paper, I never would have used this in college, it did no good at all. It’s 3 in the morning, I have a ten-page paper due by 8, I am not using paper with more lines on it. I used elementary school tablets — 4 lines, 10 pages, 23 words. It looked like flash cards going by. Look who’s running his brain up to 5%! Thinking Man!
Harris: Yeah! I’m glad you came in this afternoon.
Leake: Use 4% of your brain and come to see Brett, not 2% of your brain and see Bob Somerby. You understand?
Harris: Battle of the brainiacs, and you were here! Thanks, Brett.
Copyright 1997, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Doug Houser.