Home > 2011 Posts > Lazlo, The Hardest Working Man in Show Business

Lazlo, The Hardest Working Man in Show Business

Now that James Brown has passed on, someone had to do it – become the hardest working man in show business. Not too long ago on a cold, rainy night in Passau, I found that man.

The crowd was tough and tired. The mixed group of Brits, Aussies, Canucks, Germans and a few Yanks was beat after a long, stressful day. Even tougher: Lazlo may speak English, but none of his audience ever found out. He may also speak German or Polish or Czech or any other European language, but we never found that out either.

What he did seem to speak, was a vaguely East-European nonsense language that played minor background harmony to his broad, frenetic gestures and wild facial expressions. Did I mention that he had a white mustache with long handlebars? And almost-lederhosen? Oh, and he had a dozen different instruments hanging from hooks on a huge Improv Box that contained a zillion things worthy of Jonathan Winters in his wonderful, twisted prime.

Lazlo began with no introduction at all. And the crowd met him with a stony silence. Looking back at those first couple minutes, I would have thought that Charlie Sheen’s one man show had a much better chance than poor Lazlo. But unlike with Mr. Winning! … Duh!, I did feel sorry for this guy.

Somehow though, in ten minutes – conjuring ancient, secret spells of the performer’s art – Lazlo had at least half the audience clapping and laughing. By the fifteen minute mark, he had us all cheerfully whirling around in his cyclone of delightful absurdity. By the time he left the stage, we were all breathless from clapping, stomping and hooting together with this funny, incomprehensible man. We had laughed so hard that our cheeks hurt.

Walking along the street back to my hotel in the rain I still couldn’t help smiling. How had he done it? Few of us in the audience knew each other before his show. None of us had felt even close to laughing when he came on stage. But we all had left the room – even the most disagreeable and curmudgeonly among us – with the pleasant, contented looks of people just returning from doing what most made them happy.

Lazlo is not only today’s hardest-working man in show business, he is a therapeutic magician who transforms gloomy strangers into happy friends in under 90 minutes. Eat your heart out lame sitcoms!

Given what I experienced that night in Passau, maybe Lazlo could be NATO’s last, best shot for the Libya fiasco. You remember Libya, it used to be in the news before it wasn’t.

Nah. I like the guy far to much.

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