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from Two Candidates Walk Into A Bar by Nick Edinger

Chapter I

The Setup
Holy shit, this stupid comedy book has parts?!?

Chapter 1
This was the last happy night Amal would experience until two years later, after the 2024 presidential election. He spent most of that night at an Arizona comedy club, looking for, and dreading the sight of, a politician.

Amal Beck entered the Chandler Comedy Club, on that night, a bit earlier than usual. He was scheduled to perform in 45 minutes. Most evenings, he would walk into the comedy club, choose the least-squeaky chair available, then spend exactly 12 minutes writing out bullet points on the attending drinkers, regulars, and nervous newcomers. Amal’s comedy routines required a keen audience reading. But this time, he only had one audience in mind: Representative Theodoard “Theo” Fulton (R-AZ). Amal planned to parody him tonight. But first, he had to find him.

So instead of a seeking a least-squeaky chair, Amal strode over to the polished bar. He could get a better view there. The bartender wiped his hairy hands on a rag, saw Amal, and reached for the vodka bottle on the top shelf. Amal waved his hand like he was performing a Jedi mind trick. “Not right now,” he said. He sat at a stool. No matter how deliberate he made his motions, how crisp his voice came out, he always sounded reedy. He hated that. Amal cleared his throat, and rested his chin on his fist.

He scanned the bar. A sea of tables and chairs covered the room. The stage, at the far end, only boasted a battered mic and a curtain with several stains impressed on it. Amal had created those stains close to a year ago, in a neo-surrealist comedy routine that equated moral guardians with custard pies. The joke made sense to Amal at the time, just like with all his old jokes. Other comedians at Chandler Comedy Club didn’t talk to Amal that much, but on occasion one of them would ask, in delicate tones, “Can’t you do any normal stand-up?” Well, today was a normal night for normal stand-up. Amal was going to try political satire.

It was Henry Cockburn who suggested that Amal give politics a try. Henry was at the Chandler Comedy Club too. Amal searched the room for Representative Fulton, and he saw Henry chatting with some of the new patrons at the far left end. Henry, stocky yet with a youthful face, threw his arms all around to make a ridiculous point, for the amusement of a man wearing half a shirt and a short woman wearing a cap.

Henry had spent all last year teaching Amal about the U.S. political system. When not talking about pop culture, or trading memes with Amal, Henry gave heroic, grandstanding speeches about the importance of politics and how comedy is the greatest force in both culture and government. Amal agree...

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