1982 The Atlanta Punchline
1982 The Atlanta Punchline

From Ritch's new book, Kicking Through The Ashes:
My Life as a Stand-up in the 1980's Comedy Explosion. Due out in early 2016

The Road Dog Shakes
by Ritch Shydner

In the early 1980’s, the cash flowed into comedy clubs and the club owners did just about anything to keep the comics happy. It was common for comedians to draw against their pay during the week, often to purchase drugs. It was almost a tax deductible business expense, like gym equipment for a professional football player. For some comics enraged and enflamed nerve endings are equivalent to an athlete’s finely tuned muscles.

One Sunday night in 1983 I was in the office of the Atlanta Punchline as the co-owner, Ron DiNunzio, counted out my week’s pay. His partner, Dave Montasanto, fielded a call and quickly put it on speakerphone.

John Fox, the ultimate wet road dog, was calling from the Punchline’s franchise in Columbia, South Carolina.

Dave asked how the week went.

John said, “Great."

He then proceeded to the nature of the call, “Dave, I need an advance.”

Dave shot Ron a puzzled look and then shouted into the speakerphone, “What are you talking about? Didn’t you get your pay tonight!?”

John was almost insulted by the question, “Didn’t I just say I had a great week? Now are you going to send me some fucking money so I can get home, or not?”

The Legend had spent about twenty-five hundred dollars on cocaine that week.

I hated to work a club immediately after Johnny Cocaseed. The waitresses always had such high expectations.