Fool me twice, shame on me!

I was lucky enough to pal around with Other Cafe owners Bob, Chip, and Richard when the comedy club was hitting its stride in the late ’70’s, which meant that I was exposed to quite a bit of Cafe-related prankery. On one occasion, the Cafe was closed to the public on a Sunday night so that Bob could throw a private dance party for staff and friends. Bob invited me, encouraged me to bring a cassette of dance music, and also insisted that it was a pajama party — something he had always wanted to do. (Bob was a big fan of Hugh Hefner’s 1960’s “Pajama Party” TV show.) I invited a few friends, and at the designated time my group strolled down Cole Street in our robes and pj’s, eager to experience the Cafe under potentially very frisky circumstances. Upon arrival at the club, I flung open the door and stared blankly at a room full of distinctly non-pajama-clad party people. NOT a pajama party — the joke was on me! After a half hour or so, I stopped worrying about explaining myself to others and simply enjoyed the freedom of dancing to my musical program in silky pajamas.

A few weeks later, Bob invited me to join Frish (his wife at the time) and him for a spaghetti dinner at Bob Sarlatte’s house. (This was during the period when Sarlatte actually received people at his home, before dubbing himself “The Genius.”) A dinner at the Sarlattes’ was something which Bob and I had imagined for a long time, given the enormous potential for laughs, so I only hestitated for a moment when Bob added that we were going to surprise Sarlatte by showing up in our pajamas. On the appointed evening, Bob and Frish arrived at my apartment in pajamas for the drive to Sarlatte’s house, putting any lingering fears to rest that I was going to be victimized again. During the drive, we giggled in anticipation of Sarlatte’s reaction to our cheekiness. We pulled up at the Sarlattes’, got out of the car … and then I heard behind me the frenzied laughter of Bob and Frish, which I instictively knew was trouble. Sure enough, they peeled off their pajamas to reveal normal clothes underneath, leaving me to face my favorite comedian in pj’s. Burned again, by the same joke!

A happy postscript to this story: Some time later, Sarlatte dropped by my apartment after performing at the Cafe for a late night session of beer drinking and plumbing the depths of my record collection. The wheels in his head began to turn, which ultimately resulted in another special dance night at the Other Cafe, in which he performed as Casey Kasem and I spun the records he introduced. I would hope that “The Genius” remembers this night as fondly as I do.

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