Kermet Apio's Laugh Corner
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I just returned from a week in Hawaii participating in a five day Coast Guard safety course at Barbers Point. In order for me to work on NCL cruise ships in Hawaii I am required to complete this training. In other words, I am not allowed to stand on a stage and tell jokes unless I learn how to fight fires and deploy lifeboat davits (don’t worry if you don’t know what a davit is. Neither do I and I completed the course). So now I have my MMD card (which stands for Merchant Marine Something that starts with “D”). Everyone who works on an American flagged ship must have an MMD card, which is one of the only things I have in common with the guys on the TV show “Deadliest Catch.” They risk their lives in sub-arctic temperatures while pushing the physical limits of their bodies. I talk about my life at room temperature while pushing an audience’s limits of patience.
Before all of this I needed to take a physical. My fear was that I would not be allowed to proceed because the results of said physical. How much have you let yourself go that you’re too out of shape to be a ship comic? “Kermet, you are not allowed at the buffet until you pass weigh-in.” The physical was more thorough than I ever imagined it would be. I won’t tell you exactly what happened, but I could easily have a restraining order put on that doctor. It was only a few seconds but the painful memory will last for many many years. I was wondering if maybe he thought I was the magician and was looking for doves. I’m sure neither of us wanted to be where we were at that moment but, like I said, it is required for me to tell jokes. I passed the physical but have yet to receive a formal apology for the episode.
Classes were from 8:00a.m. to 4:00p.m. out at Barbers Point on the west side of Oahu, and those of you who have driven on Oahu know that when you want to be somewhere by 8:00 in the morning, you need to leave the night before. So I had to get up at 6:00a.m., get ready, then drive to a location and be there for eight hours. That’s insane! Who does that? And why? It really made me appreciate comedy and the one-hour work day that starts after dinner.
I learned the proper reaction if there is an actual emergency on a ship. Up to that point my planned procedure basically involved lying in a fetal position and having a good cry. But even with the new information the chances are small that I will apply any of the training I learned. The higher percentage chance would be that I would have a long haired wig and a baby doll and be on the first boat out of there.
The most fun part of the training was the fire fighting. This was great because my only experience with firefighting was the time I tried to barbecue bacon. We got issued firefighter’s gear, including helmet, boots, uniform, air mask, and SCBA tank (which stands for Self Contained Breathing something that starts with “A”). We got to use a real fire hose pumping out water at 100 psi (I have no idea what that is) and put out huge fires. It was truly the most macho thing I’ve ever done. Up until then the most macho thing I had done was kill a mosquito that was biting me. Bare handed. No tears. That’s right. No tears.
By the way, wearing a full fire fighter’s outfit while standing near a blaze in the driest part of Oahu in August rivals any plan Jenny Craig has. That’s what she should do, as soon as you sign up for her weight loss program you are enlisted as a volunteer fire fighter. In a few days you’ll be 40 pounds lighter AND helping your community. Slowly but surely this column is going to save the world.
We also had CPR classes, which means that if you and I are hanging out and all of a sudden you need CPR, I can save your life. That is, as long as my instructor is standing over me correcting my mistakes and your body makes the same clicking noises the mannequin did when I did things correctly. Also, the mannequin had no arms so there is a chance I may squash your elbow with my knee. Lose the battle, but win the war. Am I right people? And by the way, pretending to need CPR just so I give you mouth to mouth is absolutely not cool. Do you hear me, doctor who gave me the physical?
Five days later I was the proud owner of a certificate stating that I can go tell jokes. I am now on the bottom tier of the Coast Guard, which means that theoretically President Dubya could call me into service, which means that I would be Canada’s newest Hawaiian comedian. So if you take an NCL cruise in Hawaii just remember that the comedian is well prepared to save your life. Of course, that same comedian forgot everything he learned in high school by sophomore year in college.
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