...[T]his involved a young executive called John Kaye, who was installed in the second season by the network with some fanfare, supposedly to give the Smothers Brothers a more sympathetic ear in program practices but in reality, conjectures Ken Fritz (Tom's manager), to get close to the core group and give the network early warning of whatever foul subversion the brothers were plotting. Says Fritz: "He wanted to be a double agent — the guy had 'spy' written all over him." The brothers decided to pull Kaye's string...
– Tony Hendra, Going Too Far: The Rise and Demise of Sick, Gross, Black, Sophomoric, Weirdo, Pinko, Anarchist, Underground, Anti-Establishment Humor
Tom enthused about [John Kaye] to the New York Times, saying of CBS, "They gave us a much younger and more sympathetic man from program practices to pass on our material." Ken Fritz recalls Kaye as a "real Joe College, Ivy League-y kind of button down guy," and that both CBS and the Smothers Brothers hoped Kaye would be "the guy who would bridge the generation gap." Instead, he proved so stuffy and out of touch that Tom engineered an elaborate prank designed to embarrass him... Tom and the writers set a trap by instructing everyone ... to roar with delight whenever anyone uttered the nonsense phrase "rowing to Galveston" ... Fritz remembers Kaye coming over to him, finally, and saying, "That's got to go — 'rowing into Galveston.' And we said, 'Why?' And he said, 'You know why.'"
—Dave Bianculli, Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
In the summer of 2003, after the paperback edition of my second novel, The Dead Circus, was published, I was asked to do a reading at Skylight Books in Los Feliz. Although Skylight was a favorite haunt of mine and, along with Book Soup, one of the best independent book stores in Los Angeles, I had grown to dislike reading my work in public, not so much out of shyness but in my belief that most readings are long-winded displays of writerly self-regard, something of which I am capable but try not to inflict upon my family and friends. But my publicist persisted, waving away my objection, explaining that my attitude was selfish and, frankly, "slightly snobbish." She went on to say, in a voice that was cold and reprimanding, that I was being both negligent and short-sighted, and that "only someone who was extremely stupid would turn down the opportunity to promote and sell his books." I remember feeling insulted, but I also knew she was right, and eventually I caved, explaining to Kerry Slattery, Skylight's owner, that I'd be happy to read with one condition: I wanted to share the stage with Hubert "Cubby" Selby, Jr.
Kerry was delighted. She knew that Cubby and I had a longstanding friendship, and that most of his books, including his critically acclaimed first novel, Last Exit To Brooklyn, were published by Grove Press, which was, coincidentally, also my publisher. But that wasn't the only thing that bonded us: we were both recovering alcoholics who had raised our sons by ourselves.
Kerry asked me to call her after I spoke to Cubby so she could set a date. "Ri...read more