My Friend, the Piano Player

This is a joke that I inherited from a fellow named Chris Murphy, a former bandmate. I’ve been telling it for years, but I’ve never changed it too far from the original telling I used to hear from Chris. I find it a lot of fun to tell, and if I weren’t sick and stuffed like a portobella mushroom on Vegan Day, I’d provide an audio version of it—but alas, today is not that day. This is a joke about my friend, the piano player.

I have this buddy; plays piano like a dream. He had fallen on a bit of a hard streak and couldn’t find any work—not until one fateful day, just passing by his favorite restaurant downtown; he noticed they had a sign in the window, like a beacon from heaven: Piano Player Wanted.

Turning on his heels, he goes into the restaurant and, sign in hand, asks for the manager of the place. Manager greets my friend and before even giving him his name, buddy’s holding out the sign, telling the manager that he’s the man for the job. That he can play anything, and he’ll keep the guests coming back night after night. Impressed by the vigour, the manager leads my old buddy into the dining room and shows him to the piano.

Like the consummate professional that my pal is, he confidently walks over to the instrument and sits down. A few servers busied themselves setting out the silverware and water glasses for the evening ahead, paying my friend no mind. It’s just another audition. With a small flick of the wrists, he bumps his cuffs back and begins to play a soft melody that builds and grows with natural breath. The servers at the back of the room begin to slow their work and turn their heads, surveying the man at the ivories for the first time in the moment. He was transfixed upon his keys, like there were no one in the room. He played beautifully and left the room breathless.

When he was done, the manager let the song settle in the air for half a second, before leaping out of his seat and clapping wildly for my friend. “Brava! Brava! How wonderful! Magnificent! You must tell me who the composer is!? Was it Chopin!? Was it Bach!? No, no, silly me, it must be Brahms???”

And, with the sly little crooked grin he has, my buddy looks him in the eye and laughs. “Nah, man. That’s all me. I call that one, Bend Over and Show Me Your Shitter.”

The manager is flabbergasted, his eyes dart around the room. He’s still floating, lighter than air from the music. He puts the vile title out of his head and asks him to preform another song. Again, being ever professional, my friend doesn’t say another word, just turns on his bench and goes back to the keys. His body begins to ebb and flow along with the gorgeous tones leaking from his fingertips. The servers stopped working all together, waiting with baited breath to see where this piece would take them. The emotion in the room swirled around the piano and tears rushed to the surface of every eye. Once finished, my friend doesn’t move. He just puts his hands in his laps, eyes still closed.

The manager, elated once again, peppers the performer with questions again. “It has to be Mozart! That was the most beautiful piece of music I’ve ever heard in my entire life!” And again, my buddy just smirks and replies,

“Once again, my friend, you’d be wrong. That was me, I call that piece, The Wide Gaping Gashes of Your Mother.”

Stunned and bewildered, but unquestionably in the presence of greatness, the manager hires my friend on the spot, on the condition that he never introduce any of the music and that he doesn’t talk to any of the guests. The deal worked for both of them, and he was told to come back Friday night.

That Friday night, it was clear when my buddy showed up that the manager had spent the week promoting him as some sort of savant. It seemed like the entire city had packed themselves into this little joint. He’s wearing his brand-new tuxedo, bought especially for preforming in his favorite restaurant, and he’s thrilled to be working again. All of this combined with the energy of those people in that room led to one of the most electrifying performances of all time. People forgot to eat their dinner because of him. Steaks went cold, champagne went flat, and soufflé collapsed into itself because of my friend’s music. He stunned the crowd, and he was only at his first break.

He left the stage to see a crowd of hungry, wide eyes. Blushing, he sheepishly made his way to the bathroom while meagrely greeting his admirers. On his way out for a cigarette, he’s stopped by a woman who says,

“Excuse me sir… I hope I’m not bothering you, but you are just a revelation. I have never heard anyone ever touch a piano in the way that you do. It’s a privilege to hear you play… uh, but, do you know that your fly has come undone, and your cock is hanging out?”

With that devilish little grin, he looks her square in the face and replies:

“Know it!? Lady, I fuckin’ wrote it!”