The great comedian, Soupy Sales, was born today in 1926. In honor of his birthday, I thought I would share a story I don’t talk about often, because it still makes me sick to my stomach to think about it.
Back in 1989, I was working at WKSG, Kiss-FM in Detroit. I was doing the overnight show and often hung out afterward to help the morning guy, Paul Christy. I had contacted Soupy’s manager and asked if he could cut a few lines for my show. (My favorite was: “Hi Everybody, this is Soupy Sales! Whenever I’m in Detroit, I never miss the Keith Allen Show. I don’t listen to it and I don’t miss it!) In a few weeks, Soupy sent them to the station on a cassette for me along with a note with his phone number. He said to call him If I ever needed any more lines.
A few months later, we were all in the studio and Paul noticed that Soupy was going to be playing a show in town that weekend. He asked me if I still had his phone number. I told him I did. Without missing a beat, he said, “Give it a call and find out where he is staying, so we can get him on for an interview.” Now, it was like 6 am, and the show had just started. I gave him a look and he was dead serious. “Go make the call!”
Paul was my boss. I didn’t want to make him mad, so I was off to the production room and made the call. I’m not sure who I thought I was calling, but I guess I hoped it was his office. It was his home number! His wife, Trudy, answered the phone and it was obvious I woke her up. I told her who I was and why I was calling. She gave me the name of the hotel where Soupy was staying and she assured me that Soupy would get a hold of me. Oh, he did.
That afternoon, I was at home and the phone rang. When I answered it, it was Soupy. He was not very happy. It was obvious that his wife had called him wondering why some schmuck had called her at home at the butt crack of dawn! He gave me a “talking to!” My heart sank as my comedy hero yelled at me for bothering his wife so early. I felt awful.
After it all sank in, I knew I had to make it right. I sat down at the computer and wrote two letters. One to Soupy and one to his wife. I explained how I was wrong for calling so early. I explained how I was just trying to do what my boss had asked me to do. I apologized profusely in both letters. I felt so bad for being disrespectful and for what happened. It was the absolute worst feeling! I cried as I wrote those letters. I felt so bad about the entire incident! Even writing about it now brings back that feeling of “nausea” I had when it happened.
I friend of mine knew the hotel that Soupy was staying at. He said that he would take the letters there for me. He dropped them at the desk and that was that. I would have taken them myself, but the last thing I wanted was to run into Soupy, who at that time I had never met yet. I already felt like crap, and I certainly didn’t want to meet him under those circumstances.
Fast Forward a few years:
Soupy was playing a show at Pine Knob. My buddy Vic and I were going to the show that night. Vic knew Soupy because he worked in New York and often worked near where Soupy lived. That night, before the show, Vic wrote a note on his business card and sent it back to Soupy’s dressing room with a security guard. Next thing I knew, we were being escorted back to see Soupy. Soupy got up and shook hands with Vic. Vic introduced me and when Soupy heard my name, he looked at me and said, “Didn’t we have an incident a few years ago?” I once again felt my heart sink, but Soupy chuckled and said everything was ok. He said he appreciated my apology and proceeded to chat with us as if nothing had happened.
What a relief to finally know that Soupy (and his wife) did get my letters. That was the thing that worried me for years, never knowing if they had actually got to him. He was so gracious and pleasant to me that night. I am glad that I had the chance to shake his hand.
Happy Birthday, Soupy! Thanks for the laughs!