Saturday, February 16, 2002

Sylvester Stallone filed a $17.3 million lawsuit against a manager who urged him to hold onto Planet Hollywood stock as the share price fell and the company went bankrupt. Stallone also filed a lawsuit against Bruce Willis because, at every Planet Hollywood opening, Stallone had to listen to Willis sing.

The manager claims he thought Stallone had sold the stock because everyone said he was short. A little stock broker humor there. See, being short is an investment term for not owning - or even owing - a stock. And Stallone is a midget. Get it? Short? A prime example that humor is like a frog; you can dissect it, but it will die.

I was a stock broker and a Wall Street bond broker. (Worked one half a block from the former WTC - still can't believe it's not there) As a Wall Street investment type, I was a tremendous comedy writer. Whatever images you have of Wall Street Brokers sequestered in oak-paneled libraries, smoking pipes and dispensing wisdom can go right out the window. Picture a bunch of hungover, rumpled, gas-ridden guys in a messy room filled with phallanx of phone banks and computers yelling things that would be far to disgusting to be uttered in a minor league baseball club house.

People always remark that it must be a big switch from Wall Street bond trading to comedy. Not at all. Timely joke telling was my badge of honor and a real asset for my clients. On Wall Street, jokes are like all timely information; you are judged by how well-connected you are. Tell a big shot client an old joke and he will label you as woefully out of touch.

Jokes on Wall Street circulate so quickly that I remember thinking that there must be a guy at each huge firm, like Soloman Brothers, who does nothing but read papers and write jokes. Man, I thought, what a great job that would be. Well, guess what? That is pretty much what I do. Kinda cool, huh?