So close, yet so far. The folks at "The Late Show with David Letterman" figured Washington was a funnier stop than Baltimore for their ratings-pumping, four-city "Friday Nights on the Road" tour. Mobtown is left to wonder, What if? What if they had chosen us? What if one of Letterman's writers were assigned to write a show to be taped in Baltimore? What would he be thinking ?
"What were they thinking? Baltimore? This is their idea of how to beat Leno? This is somebody's idea of how to freshen up the act? Have they seen this place? They want, what? Stupid Crab Tricks?
"OK, OK, it can be done. The research guys think Baltimore is funny. Baltimore is hilarious. It has, for example, uh, Cal Ripken Jr. A million laughs. Better, it has Roberto Alomar. We can work with that. We have. We've done Roberto Alomar jokes. We've done everything. We've thrown stuff off buildings. We visited two Bangladeshis in their shlock store and made fun of their accents. When that wore out we brought them onstage and made fun of their accents. When that wore out we schlepped them around the country, posed them in scenic settings and made fun of their accents. We attached mini-cams to chimps. We had people gargling ping-pong balls. Schnauzers flying across the stage catching Frisbees. We ridiculed every Pakistani cabbie in New York. We're tired. We're getting our butts kicked by Leno and Koppel.
"And now we're in Baltimore.
"Just one night. For a night it can be done. OK, OK. It opens like this: Intro music. Dave comes out, bows extravagantly from the waist":
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Dave, but you may call me Iron Man
"For openers, it'll do. Gotta build it up. Onward":
It's a treat to be here in Baltimore. You know, we always like to bring a little gift when we come to a new city, just to show our appreciation. So, on the way down here we stopped in New Jersey and kidnapped Jeff Maier. AND WE'VE GOT THE LITTLE SNOTNOSE TIED UP AND GAGGED BACKSTAGE!! YOU WANT HIM???
"They'll eat that up. Assuming they still remember Jeff Maier is the kid who turned Jeter's fly ball into a homer. It's not quite Joey Buttafuoco. We did Joey Buttafuoco. We did Joey Buttafuoco like Bob Dole did Russell, Kan. We flogged it senseless. We got weary. We all aged. Dave got closer to 50. Leno passed us. He stayed in Hollywood. We wind up in Baltimore. The big landmark on the skyline here is a tower that says Bromo Seltzer. Maybe we can work with that. But first, this":
You have to know your baseball to get by in this town. Just before the show I'm taking a walk downtown and I feel a couple drops, you know, on my head? So I start opening my umbrella and a guy stops me and says, 'It's all right. That's just Roberto Alomar taking infield practice '
"Another Alomar joke. Another Menendez brother joke. Before you know it, people are talking about you as if you're 'Saturday Night Live,' which is to say the Jurassic Period.
So, I'm downtown and I'm looking up at this big landmark they have here, a giant tower that says Bromo Seltzer on it. The Bromo Seltzer Tower. It's so inspiring I jump right into a cab and ask the driver to take me to the Metamucil Memorial
"Maybe, maybe What the awck else did research come up with? Oh yeah, Boogie Weinglass. Dave'll love that. Boogie, Boogie. Bring out Larry "Bud" Melman as Boogie Weinglass. Introduce every guest as Boogie this, Boogie, that. Save that for the body of the show. Meanwhile":
Here we are in Baltimore. Charm City, they call it. City of H.L. Mencken, irascible columnist. Earl Weaver, irascible ex-manager of the Orioles. Peter Angelos, irascible Orioles owner, who just fired a great baseball announcer, then called him a liar. Imagine. Charm City? I don't know. I'm thinking, Baltimore -- City of Cranky Short Guys
"Too long? Too many words? Something terse to follow. Have to get Schmoke in here. Schmoke. Schmoke. Dave can do that thing where he repeats something over and over and it wasn't exactly funny in the first place but maybe by the fourth time the crowd hears it they're laughing just so he'll stop. Like faking an orgasm. Schmoke, Schmoke, Schmoke "
So, the mayor here, Kurt L. Schmoke, recently sent a delegation of police officials to New York City to get ideas about how to make Baltimore safe from crime. We hear Mayor Schmoke also gets dating tips from Mike Tyson
But Baltimore has an innovative way of dealing with its serious problems -- they make them into TV shows. On NBC, there's 'Homicide,' which is set in Baltimore. For next fall, there will be a new drama series for CBS called 'Really Annoying Panhandlers '
"All right. Enough.
"Top 10 -- have to face it. Time running out here. Pit Beef, the research guys say. Do something with Pit Beef. Fine. First we have to explain what the heck it is. Top 10 Explanations of Pit Beef. Forget it. Too local. Everything here is too local. Top 10 Things to Do With a Crab?"
From the Home Office in Cockeysville -- Top 10 Things Overheard in Obrycki's Crab House: