The Cupcake - April 19th 2003

The CupcakeSaturday, 19th April
Ok. So I’ve been really slacking in my journal this past week. I’m doing a college next Saturday so I’ve been scraping around town at clubs trying to tighten up my act.

Last night was the grand opening of Joe Franklin’s Comedy Works. It’s a new club in the city (44th/8 Avenue). A separate comedy room in the back of Joe Franklin’s restaurant, run by my closest friends, and I was happy to be part of the sold-out show. Special guests in the lineup included Pat Cooper, Jackie “The Jokeman” Martling, and of course, yours truly.

Every comic had a hand in contributing to last night’s gala. My friends Adam Hunter bought the supplies, Dave Rubin built the stage, Mike Tsirklin made the sign. I really wanted to do something special. So what did I do? I bought cupcakes. Originally I wanted to buy a cake but getting an inscribed cake takes three to four business days, and I sought salvation at the famous Magnolia Bakery.

You would not believe how hard it is to get homemade cupcakes at this bakery. Firstly, you’re only allowed to buy 12 cupcakes at a time. If you want more you have to pre-order. (There’s apparently an over-saturation of cupcakes, and they don’t want to flood the market) Secondly, Magnolia cupcakes run about $1.75 each, so I’m looking at $26.25 worth up cupcakes. I bought fifteen assorted cupcakes and placed the order two days ahead of time.

Cut to two days later. I’m running late, sprinting down 8th Avenue with two boxes of cupcakes. I entered the room, out of breath, staring into the curious eyes of my fellow peers. Granted, it’s only 7:30 pm, and there are only twelve comics in the room. I opened box #1 and placed it on the center table. I guess it’s my own fault. I’ve always held these unreasonable high-expectations for myself and held my cupcakes in the same light. Almost like this deep-rooted fantasy where the frosting would spur a massive feeding frenzy of people diving across the room, clamoring for a taste.

Nobody touched a cupcake. They just rested in the open cardboard box with the lid popped open like some kind of open casket funeral. Fifteen minutes passed. I was thinking, “Maybe nobody saw the cupcakes.” I figured that it’s all right. After all, it was early evening. I rationalized that when the time is right, the people will eat.

Around 9:30 pm two hours had gone by and nobody had touched a cupcake. At this point in the show, the boxes had moved underneath a table where the comics sit in the restaurant area. I was scheduled to perform in ten minutes and my mind was in some type of cupcake quandary. Why isn’t anyone eating the cupcakes? “Do they think I did something to it? “Do they know it’s for everyone?” Here is actual dialog between me and a fellow comic:

“Tarun, are you ready to perform? We really need you to kill, there’s industry her --“

“Yeah sure, sure. Cupcake?”

“I’m all right. Look, we need you –“

“Fine, whatever. I need to be alone.”

It really was bothering me. I picked up the box, neatly re-arraigned the cupcakes in straight lines and floated around the restaurant. Originally, the cupcakes were just for the comics but now it was fair game. Customers, waiters, anyone who wants a cupcake could have one. I walked up to Billy and Al, the head managers at Joe Franklins. Cupcake? I could see the apprehension.

My heart was beating so fast I swear I thought they could hear it. The inner monologue in my head was screaming. “Take it! Take a cupcake!”

Billy was first; he took a bite of the chocolate. A smile stretched across his face and he gave a thumbs up. Al was next and thanked me for my kindness.

Slowly but steadily more people gravitated towards the delicatessens with open hands. Comics, friends, I felt like a savior who just liberated a small town and was distributing parcels of food to hungry villagers. “Take one my child.” Cupcakes, cupcakes for everyone.

My set was good that night. I was satisfied with my performance, and I was once again more than willing to entertain a room full of tourists who had no clue who I was. After the audience filtered out of the room, I sat at a table with my friends. A lone cupcake sat in the box. The wrapper was half-off as if someone started to eat it but had a pang of guilt and dropped it back in the box on its side. A slab of frosting was removed but otherwise it was all right. I wrapped the cupcake in a napkin and stuffed it into my pocket.

As I write this, the cupcake sits in my refrigerator. I don’t know why I brought it home. I don’t think I’m going to eat it. But as a comic, I feel that the hardships and sometimes-solitary lifestyle, I can relate to the cupcake left in the empty box in many ways.

I'll throw it away when I'm ready. After all, it's just a cupcake. 
Tarun ShettyComment