Joe Hieronymus

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Pay-To-Play, A One-Act Play

Posted by joehieronymus ©®™ on June 11, 2015

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

MAYO: cashier, mid-40s
OFFICER MUSTACHE: veteran bad cop, mid-50s
OFFICER KURDT: rookie good cop, early 20s
OLD MAN ROBERT: hack comedian, late 70s

Set in a small Midwestern town’s comedy club lobby. It is Saturday night, a little after 10pm. The scene opens with the two cops being greeted by MAYO. Offstage, we intermittently hear bits of OLD MAN ROBERT‘s act, but we do not hear the audience laughing.

MAYO: Oh, thank goodness you’re here!

OFFICER MUSTACHE: What seems to be the trouble, Mayo?

MAYO: I tell you, it was awful. Violence, disruption, anarchy–

OFFICER KURDT: Slow down, Mayo. Please just tell us what happened.

MAYO: There was a person.

(OLD MAN ROBERT: …I hate my wife…)


OFFICER MUSTACHE: What’d they do?

MAYO: They didn’t want to pay!

OFFICER MUSTACHE: No kidding? The nerve!


(OLD MAN ROBERT: ...wish she was dead…)

MAYO: Yeah! You see, this is our open mic for stand up comedy.

OFFICER KURDT: Hold on a second. You charge people to see local comedians try out jokes?

OFFICER MUSTACHE: And some asshole tried to sneak in?

MAYO: Well, uh, no. They walked right in the front door. And yes, we charge $5.

OFFICER KURDT: Okay. Then what happened, Mayo?

(OLD MAN ROBERT: …she is so ugly…)

MAYO: I said they had to pay the $5 and they said they were signed up to perform on the open mic. I told them comedians either had to pay $5 or bring someone who would pay $5.

OFFICER KURDT: So they were a comedian?

OFFICER MUSTACHE: Goddamn, shit-head punks! Probably rich, too!

MAYO: Yes, officer, they were a comedian. I think they were visiting from out of town because they didn’t understand our pay-to-play policy.

OFFICER KURDT: Yeah, about that. Let me get this straight. Your business charges people to see comedy? And your business charges the people who perform comedy, too? And if the comedians can’t pay, you extort their friends?

(OLD MAN ROBERT: …won’t have sex with me…)

OFFICER MUSTACHE: Hahaha! That’s a right good deal right there!

MAYO: We are a for-profit business. We have weekly shows and classes. I mean, the open mic is only once a month, but if we didn’t charge the comedians tonight, we’d be missing out on, like, fifty dollars! We couldn’t keep the lights on!

OFFICER MUSTACHE: You poor thing. There, there.

OFFICER KURDT: Okay. So, the comedian from out-of-town did not pay to perform in front of an audience that had been charged admission. Then what happened?

MAYO: Then they asked me to justify charging comics to pay to perform in front of a paying audience. It was awful! I mean, I realize there wouldn’t be a show–er, uh, open mic–without the comedians, and then there wouldn’t also be a paying audience, but it’s the only way our business can figure out how to make that fifty dollars!

(OLD MAN ROBERT: …she is so stupid…)

OFFICER MUSTACHE: Fucking jackasses, asking you why you get their money. You are a business, they should just pay. No questions.

MAYO: I know! Thank you, officer.

OFFICER KURDT: Alright, they called you out. I still don’t know why you called us. Did they commit a crime?

MAYO: Well, then they started verbally attacking me. And the language they used! Rude words like “heinous” and “criminal” and “exploitation.” I felt so violated. Like, they were taking advantage of me because they did not want to be taken advantage of.

OFFICER KURDT: Mayo, I understand you’re upset. But so far the actions you’ve described aren’t actually a crime on their end. Your business model, though–

(OLD MAN ROBERT: …hate when she talks…)

MAYO: But then they just left! They stormed out the door and slammed it!

OFFICER MUSTACHE: Slamming doors? (Slams fist into palm.) Why I oughta–

MAYO: And they were leaving so quickly, they ran into our sign and it fell over. I think they broke it.

OFFICER MUSTACHE: Property damage? Now THAT’S a crime! When will fools learn that nothing is as important as property? Especially if it is business property?

OFFICER KURDT: They were in such a hurry to leave that they tripped on the $5 Open Mic sign? You mean, those two pieces-of-wood that say Coca-Cola all over them? The sandwich-board out in the middle of the public sidewalk?

(OLD MAN ROBERT: …but seriously though, folks. I hate my wife…)

MAYO: Yes, our vendor gave it to us. Now we have to fix it.

OFFICER MUSTACHE: Looks broke to me. Someone’s gonna have to pay.

OFFICER KURDT: You mean…to stand it back up?

MAYO: Officers, that’s why I called you.

OFFICER KURDT: Mayo, again I’m afraid they did not commit a cri–

(OLD MAN ROBERT: …wish she was hot…)

OFFICER MUSTACHE: Let me handle this, partner. Mayo, can you describe what the comedian looked like? Were they a woman? Or say, an unarmed minority? Did they look like they might be gay?

OFFICER KURDT: Wait, what?!

MAYO: Um, no. They looked like how the majority of comedians look. Straight, white and male.

OFFICER MUSTACHE: Aw, damn it all to hell. Sorry, Mayo, I don’t think we have enough to press charges.

MAYO: Really? B-b-but they–

OFFICER KURDT: And honestly, I think you should reconsider charging comedians to tell jokes at your bringer open mic. But I guess that’s your business. Good night, Mayo.

(OLD MAN ROBERT: …and did I mention she won’t have sex with me?)


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10914 bennington road

Posted by joehieronymus ©®™ on December 7, 2014

I was born and raised the youngest of a family in a working class neighborhood of Kansas City. My single mother worked as a nurse supporting my sister, brother and I. Her demanding schedule necessitated frequent babysitting, but we were stil very close with one another.

We were good kids, albeit a bit untamed, in a loving family. We watched and memorized catchphrases from Different Strokes, Dukes Of Hazard, Fraggle Rock, Good Times, Mork And Mindy and superhero cartoons. I wanted a happy meal every weekend and usually was given one. We spent hours with Frogger and Pacman on the Atari 2600.

We could play outside in our neighborhood with all the other boys, girls and dogs all day long until well after dark. We shared dirty jokes, toy guns and Star Wars figurines. I often wore my weird Superman Underoos over my clothes in public, but absolutley no one cared in what was certainly a diverse population.

My older brother’s first best friends were two black boys a couple blocks away. Mine were a white girl next door and a Vietnamese kid a few houses down. We were all welcome in each others’ homes. This seemed natural and normal to us as children of the Star Trek generation, yet we were curious.

I remember how patient my mother was as we peppered her with all kinds of ridiculous questions only very little young persons come up with, but one of her answers regarding race remains vivid after all these years.

My brother had asked if his best friends were any different from us in our white family. My mom, ever thoughtful, took a moment before replying.

“We all bleed red.” She paused, then continued. “We might look a little different, like people with blonde or brown hair do, but we’re all the same on the inside.” Pause again. “But we aren’t always treated the same because mean people think they’re better than other people. Those people are wrong. Don’t listen to them and be friends with anyone you want, no matter what they look like.”

My mother passed in 1984, succumbing to lung and brain cancer. Her answer, “We all bleed red,” reflects not only her compassion and empathy, but her career in administering treatment to physical trauma as a nurse at a hospital.

To become a better ally, I challenge myself to continue listening and learning about both the history and ongoing adversities, aggressions and injustices facing people of color in this nation. I know racism and bigotry is taught. Looking back at my early personal experiences, I must thank my mom for not teaching it to us.

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live at helium, june 10, 2014

Posted by joehieronymus ©®™ on June 15, 2014

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live at curious comedy theater, may 2014

Posted by joehieronymus ©®™ on May 19, 2014

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stupidity for dummies

Posted by joehieronymus ©®™ on March 4, 2014

An economic historian named Carlo Maria Cipolla is famous for essays about human stupidity, such as The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity. He studied and viewed stupid people as a group, as opposed to individually. Cipolla concluded stupid people, collectively,  are exponentially more powerful than organizations like the Mafia and the industrial complex which, without regulations, leaders or manifesto, somehow manage to operate to great effect and with incredible coordination.

These are Cipolla’s five fundamental laws of stupidity:

“1. Always and inevitably each of us underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.

2. The probability that a given person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic possessed by that person.

3. A person is stupid if they cause damage to another person or group of people without experiencing personal gain, or even worse causing damage to themselves in the process.

4. Non-stupid people always underestimate the harmful potential of stupid people. They constantly forget that at any time anywhere, and in any circumstance, dealing with or associating themselves with stupid individuals invariably constitutes a costly error.

5. A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person there is.”

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because i drink to forget

Posted by joehieronymus ©®™ on January 15, 2014

Previously I posted my jokes in written form from my first two years of performing comedy. This is an update of what I have written in the year since. Enjoy.
  • Thank you for being here. It’s so much easier when you congregate all together like this. It’s way easier than me trying to find each one of you. I don’t even know where most of you live. Ding dong! Time for jokes!
  • My name is Joe Hieronymus if you have a current subscription to Twitter’s magazine. If you are on the karaoke circuit, you may know me better as Joe Mama or, if the list gets too long, Joe Daddy Too, because I want to sing two Nirvana songs.
  • Kurdt Cobain used to call into radio stations to request his own music. I’m pretty sure that’s how Nirvana became famous. I’m going to start doing the same thing. Going to comedy shows and shouting, “Hey! Tell a Joe Hieronymus joke!” That’ll be my path to fame.
  • If you are missing any fingers or toes, you can count on me.
  • This is a haiku.

Maybe you don’t like haikus.
Well, you just heard one.
That’s called “Snarky The Haiku.” Sorry. Here’s one more:
How catastrophic
is it for claustrophobics
inside outdoor stores?

  • Ever try to tell a fart joke and have it come out as a poop joke? Yuck.
  • Honey buckets are NOT honey buckets. As disappointed as you or I may be to learn that information, you have to consider the literate bear out there. Wandering around wondering, “Rawr! Why did I even go to second grade? Rawr!”
  • I think the bravest Americans are those who mastrubate without porn.
  • Whenever I type on the internet I used to use all lowercase letters as a not-so-subtle protest against the inherent evils of capitalism. It didn’t work. Now I’m just another grammar Nazi.
  • I love baseball. Whenever I am watching a game and get too excited, I have to start thinking about sex.
  • The more you get into butt plugs, really the more butt plugs get into you.
  • The best part about dating a praying mantis is I don’t have to buy her dinner first.
  • I met my dream girl. She told me to wake up.
  • Is that book, He’s Just Not That Into You, is it about having sex with a man who has a really tiny penis?
  • I hope my last words are “Oh, you must be my new butler.”
  • I am debating whether or not I should apologize for not being Bill Murray.
  • I’m so indecisive. Wait. No, I’m not.
  • Instead of talking about what’s wrong with me, let’s save time and with a shorter list about what’s right with me.
  • A girl held the door open for me today. Take that, patriarchy!
  • I hate gossip. I mean, even my butt talks behind my back. It stinks.
  • It’s so rude we only talk about elephants when they are not in the room.
  • Turtles get away with so much sassiness. Oh, snap!
  • Hey. Are you thinking about something right now?
  • My humility knows no bounds.
  • If I were to be completely honest, I’d be a horrible liar.
  • The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was a rabbit out of his hat. I thought it was an empty hat. Hail Satan!
  • No other segue here other than “Satan Claus!”
  • I see these children lining up at shopping centers to sit on Santa’s lap, but where were they on Veteran’s Day?
  • I told a kid Santa didn’t exist and they said I will never see Nirvana live. Guess who cried?
  • Hey. Here’s a thought…Different joke, same punchline: If you like brief incomplete thoughts, then you are going to love…
  • Don’t worry. my reverse psychologist said, “Everything is going to be ju-u-ust fine.
  • I wonder how vegans feel about getting butterflies in their stomach.
  • Famed food author Hummus S Thompson was renowned for his garbanzo journalism.
  • I was dissing hipsters before dissing hipsters was cool.
  • Insomniacs hate me. They’re always asking, “How do you sleep at night?!”
  • Went on a date with this girl named Payback. Contrary to popular belief, she was real, real nice.
  • People often ask me for dating advice. I say, “Don’t…date…me.”
  • Pythagoras was once in a love triangle, but everyone involved was a square.
  • One word that is not in my vocabulary is schmalalubbin.
  • Airbrushing blows.
  • I want to go on a vacation. I think the first place I’ll go is the airport.
  • Superman is the first superhero. Thank goodness his authors did not have him flap his arms when he flew or else we would have no more superheroes.
  • In the museum of bad ideas: short-sleeved sweaters, the name She-Hulk and monotheism.
  • Right before the shortest Bible verse, Jesus cut onions.
  • There are too many number. Think about it. There’s one, then two, and three, four, (sigh) five, six, seven, c’mon eight? Nine? Ten?! Eleven? Twelve! You guys, that’s a really hard bit to commit to all the way to the end.
  • I’m more of a “It’s none of my business, man” businessman.
  • Relish is an arrogant name for condiment.
  • Deciphering the real meaning well-written rant can be a real cross word puzzle.
  • My best acting credit is when I hide my feelings from the girl I love.
  • I tried to teach my dog how to read. He just kept pooping on the newspaper.
  • Can we stop calling fourteen year-old boys “fresh men”?
  • When riding in a helicopter, don’t sit in the ejaculation seat. It just gets messy.
  • I want to change my last name to King. I am Joe King.
  • Somewhere out there on the internet is a real smug person…who is absolutely right.
  • I have a friend who says he is bi-polar. Well, sometimes he says he’s manic-depressive. Depends on his mood.
  • According to research, Airplane! is the funniest film of all time. It gets three laughs a minute. I will make you laugh at least nine time with the three minutes I have been allotted.
  • Wherever you fall on the issue of gun control, I have a compromise. Keep your guns, but instead of bullets, we use shrink-rays. That way if someone is giving you grief, you can shrink them.
  • Went to the doctor. He said, “Open up and say ‘Ahh.’” He diagnosed me with a depressed tongue.
  • Olive oil is made from olives. What’s baby oil made from? Extra virgins. How can you be extra-virgin? Is my shirt extra-medium?
  • The best address for a homeless person is “Hello!”
  • Equally important to consider is not getting a wad in your panties.
  • Video poker currency should be aluminum cans.
  • Call me old-fashioned, because I am muddled sugar, bitters, whiskey with a twist.
  • Forgetting was invented before reminders.
  • Don’t mean to get political here, but my least favorite Canadian baseball player is Larry Walker. Hey! Fuck you, Larry! Might seem like an unprompted attack, I’m just saying let’s bring home the troops.
  • If anyone objectifies my body, they can kiss my butt. My fit, firm, sculpted butt.
  • I need to rectify my jokes about butts.
  • I don’t know if it’s exist I think it is inherently funny when women wear fake moustaches, but I know it is sexist we call it penetration rather than enclosure.
  • I m sorry to bring a a subject that is a dead horse to so many, but is on all our minds: wood glue. I know what you’re thinking: “What wood glue?” or maybe “What would Jesus glue?” Probably himself. If I insert a good carpentry joke here, then you could say I nailed it.

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live at the boiler room

Posted by joehieronymus ©®™ on January 14, 2014

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live at alberta street pub

Posted by joehieronymus ©®™ on January 13, 2014

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my comedy biography

Posted by joehieronymus ©®™ on December 1, 2013

Joe Hieronymus is irresistible*. His humor is honest, intelligent and absurd. Hieronymus’ style slyly traverses politics, pop-culture and social mores with a ridiculous love affair with language. He imaginatively includes everyone while hilariously skewering all topics. Widely regarded as one of the funniest and friendliest comics alive, he is known for his own brand of “Joe Hieronymus’ jokes.” Hieronymus hosts, performs, produces, volunteers, writes and makes friends in Portland, Oregon.

*(Hieronymus does not typically participate in festivals as part of a plan to cultivate mystery, but changed his mind because audiences kept laughing and approaching him after shows saying how much they admire him and his work. He feels he owes it to the comedy world to perform. What a guy, huh?)

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Posted by joehieronymus ©®™ on October 15, 2013

Hi ladies and Eric and Matt. Is it okay if the I talk to my boyfriends first? It’s just…I miss them so. Cool? Thanks, I will write specifically to you in a minute.

Hey E. I miss you. How is Em? She is writing her thesis right now, yes? How are the cats and dogs? Can your cats go to your bookstore? I know you are fairly busy, but are you keeping up with baseball? Of course you are.

I wish I was watching some of this Cardinal-Dodger playoff series with you and Matty. It has been three really good games so far. In all honesty I am hoping it goes seven. Both former Kansas City Royals Carlos Beltran and Zack Greinke1 are still fun to watch. Yasiel Puig2 reminds me of when you gave me a much-discussed album in 2001.3 As in, “Oh, this is the music I have been reading so much hyperbole about in Spin magazine?” What I am saying is Puig is doing for major league outfielders what The Strokes did for hipsters. Did I mention he plays for Don Mattingly and Magic Johnson in Los Angeles? He’s practically in Hollywood already. Someone please text Barbara Streisand because a star is being born.

Speaking of stars being born, here’s to you, Papa Matty. I am excited to meet your new son. I heard you might not name him Joe. No big deal. Ha. Hahaha. Ha…Ha. Anyways, how are D and Hattie? How many chickens do you have not counting the ones before they hatch? Can your chickens go to Eric’s bookstore? Oh yeah, before I forget…how are the football Chiefs doing? Ha. Hahaha. Ha…Ha4 I heard rumors of trading for former college basketball star Tony Gonzalez. I have missed him. I miss you.

Okay, celebrity sisters. I am a fan of all your work. Well, most of it. Well, I have not heard most of it. But what I have listened to seems nice and better than opera. First, Miley, you have so much talent and your fans sincerely care about your success, which I think is cool. Sinead, you have mine and millions’ respect and admiration for always keeping us not only thinking but also…thoughtful. Amanda, your modern perspective is intriguing and comforting. I cannot call myself a feminist because I am sure someone will get upset, but I am glad the three of you are at least provoking and having a discussion. Also, have you heard Alison Gold yet? What do you think? Finally, would you pitch to Hanley Ramirez instead of around him?

Look, all of you. Keep up the good work. I will watch your careers with great interest.5

Love, Joe

PS — I am sorry, but this letter has footnotes.

1Um, I spell Greinke correctly and already know his on base average this year was .409 without looking either up, by the way. Am I bragging or am I just sad?
2I can spell Yasiel Puig now, too.
3Included was a bonus Rough Trade label sampler with Hope Sandoval and Sufjan Stevens songs. The Moldy Peaches were also on it, but Juno outright ruined The Moldy Peaches for me.
4Of course I know the Chiefs are 6-0.
5My apologies for closing with some of the last lines of the worst Star Wars film, but it is just coincidence. Not the force or anything like that.

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