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.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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