It's long after the club has closed, and the Funny Man stands on the circular stage, one of the nicest he's ever seen, even though it's too dark to make out much more than its purple plastic cover bunching over oak boards. The seats are all empty, cushions collapsed upwards and into their seatbacks, the only things in the world the Funny Man knows of that collapse upward.
He makes a joke about it. Two people in the front row chuckle, and he bends to his haunches, looking them in eyes that aren't there for a follow-up. Laughter ripples in the seats around them.
He's working the crowd, feet already shuffling, smoothing out the purple plastic cover. It becomes his playing field, his circular baseball diamond, and he paces the bases as he likens politics to foul balls. The Funny Man raises three fingers in a gesture like no one else he knows has ever done, saluting into an imaginary outfield, and back rows clap with amusement. The Funny Man has never been comfortable with audiences applauding rather than laughing at comedy; he is there to be enjoyed, not agreed with. Yet he can't deny the warm feedback, the adulation radiating from a packed house. No one is even complaining how dim it is.
He asks, who decided to run a show in the dark? And the two people he started on in the front row are wheezing with laughter and clutching their ribs. He riffs on the dark theatre, the darkness of night, scary places that aren't lit well enough, for minutes upon minutes, until he regrets not having set up a camera to record a special live from the dark circle with its purple plastic cover.
Then he riffs off wishing he had a crowd like his for his live-to-tape special. Then he riffs off live-to-tape. Then he riffs off of Youtube, Son of America's Funniest Home Videos, and then what the Daughter of America's Funniest Home Videos would look like, and how the internet leaves no man unconnected. It's on that word, "unconnected," that a car alarm blares up through a window and his audience dampens, and thins, and three blinks later, dispels down the drain of imagination.
Four blinks later, there are no cushions that collapse upward. There is only the private theatre of his kitchen. He steps off the circular dining table, dropping to the floor and straightening the plastic table cloth. It's purple. It's not made of cloth, he thinks. He thinks that would make good material.
He has not forgotten how to be alone.