Then she changed him to a funny man, and I switched to happy laughter; then sadness when the man fell down and hurt himself. The photographer took pictures of all of this, and they show a surprising range of emotion. The caption under them reads, Alphonse wants to be an actor. It might just as accurately have read, Alphonse wants to please.
A couple of days later, everyone at the theater made a fuss over me and showed me my picture in the paper. I watched my father as he proudly held up the article and showed it around. Id been told not to lie, yet we all knew I didnt smoke (I drank a little beer with the comics, but I didnt smoke). Now here was my father, proud of the gimmick hed come up with. The picture of me holding the pipe was a clever way to announce that the company had come to town. For him, saying I smoked was no different from coming onstage in a sketch and saying, Well, here we are in sunny Spain. He and the audience all knew they were actually in Toronto. It was just a show, a way of capturing attention. And if you could capture attention, that was an accomplishment. It was the accomplishment.
Excerpted from Never Have Your Dog Stuffed by Alan Alda Copyright © 2005 by Alan Alda. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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