That Time I Ticked Off Soupy Sales … and His Wife!

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!

Drew Friedman’s rendition of Soupy Sales

A Little Mischief

All my life the night before Halloween was referred to as Devil’s Night. In some places it is called Mischief Night. Other places call it Goosey Night, Mat Night, or Cabbage Night. Whatever you called it, it was usually a night that kids/teens would go out and prank people. Usually those pranks were pretty harmless. Recently, Devil’s Night in Michigan (Detroit, in particular) became a night that folks would go out and set fires to abandoned house and buildings. It is now referred to as Angel’s Night as many patrol neighborhoods in hopes of stopping those fires.

I was not an innocent little teenager, as I would occasionally go out on October 30th and cause mischief. In discussing with a friend the many pranks associated with Devil’s Night, I did many of them, but not all of them. How many of these were you involved with?

Toilet Papering

Of all the pranks we came up with, I admit, this was my favorite. We TP’d houses even when it wasn’t Devil’s Night! You can read about that in a past blog. We had a group in high school called the TP Bandits. I swear we bought hundreds of dollars in TP in 1988! When we were done, we left works of art! The sheer beauty of TP blowing in wind …. ah, what a sight!

Soaping Windows

Probably one of the cheapest and least menacing pranks was soaping windows. You’d go into your bathroom and home and swipe a bar of soap and go up and down the street drawing smiley faces on car windows. Sometimes we’d write “hello” or draw things on home windows, but not usually. I can see where this might not be so harmless today. I have a feeling that most kids today would write hateful things on car windows. The nice thing about this prank was a car wash or rain would take care of the soap.

Ding Dong Ditch

I’ll be honest, I never heard it called “Ding Dong Ditch” until recently. We would usually just say, “Hey! Wanna go ring doorbells?!” This prank is more annoying than anything and if you were slow, you’d get caught. Basic idea – ring the doorbell and run. I would imagine that the Ring Doorbells with cameras make this not as fun. It really is a dumb prank. This is almost the same thing as …

Knock and Run

This prank is basically the same thing, except you knock on the door and run. I have a feeling this came about because of homes that had no doorbell! I’m not sure I’d have the guts to do this, but when I saw this picture I laughed. Imagine doing this to your own home!

He probably needs a longer hockey stick…..

Egging houses

A bit more expensive and a lot messier, this was a prank I only did a couple times. A buddy of mine busted a window by whipping an egg at it, and I think that was when I decided that “egging” was not my favorite prank. Most people just egged cars, but some threw them at doors and houses. It was always messy and I remember my dad hating having to clean that up. Some people took this prank in another direction and used tomatoes!

Forking

This is a prank I never really understood. Forking a lawn is just what it sounds like – someone puts a bunch of plastic forks in a lawn. I would think you’d need a whole lot of people to pull off this prank in a hurry, otherwise, it is gonna take you a while to get it done. I don’t know about you, but if I am pulling a prank like this or TPing, I wanna get it, get it done, and get out before I get caught! This is one of those pranks I never really understood.

The Flaming Bag of Poop

This is probably the cruelest of all the pranks. It is gross. Someone puts dog poop in a paper bag and lights it on fire. Then, they knock on the door or ring the doorbell and run away. The home owner comes to the door and stomps on the bag, getting poop on their shoe. This prank has shown up in Adam Sandler movies, on Saturday Night Live (in Matt Foley and Martha Stewart sketches), and on the Simpsons.

For the record, I never did this prank. I can’t even imagine wanting to pick up a piece of dog poop!

Smashing Pumpkins

I guess this prank is pretty mean, too. I know how hard my son worked on carving his pumpkin. If he woke up Halloween morning and found it busted up, I can only imagine how upset he’d be. I am not sure that this is really a Devil’s Night thing, as I think most pumpkin smashing happens after Halloween when the gourds are a bit more … mushy.

Did I miss any pranks? Let me know!

I hope that when I walk out to my car in the morning it is egg and soap free!