Comedy is tragedy plus time. Sometimes comedy is more instant, like slipping over a banana peel. That’s tragedy in an instant. The best comedy is forged in tense, uncomfortable moments and then ready for enjoyment only after the tension has waned and all parties involved are far enough away from the debacle to look back with a jovial tone that almost approaches fondness.
Last night was one for the books. My good friend Jimmy D and I happened to be in Chicago at the same time. We go months without seeing each other in L.A., where we both live, but every time we’re in a another city simultaneously, we trip over ourselves to link up. So Jimmy drags his wife out to the outskirts of Chicago to do 7 minutes on my show. The show was a barrel of laughs but only a warm-up for what was to come. Jimmy’s a big time foodie. In fact every time I talk to Jimmy, I’m given homework. A new list of all the places where I “must” go and eat. I like food but just point me to a half way decent Thai or Chinese spot and I’m happier than a pig in Pad See Ew.
We’re in Chicago, aka foodie Heaven. Jimmy had already texted me pics of places I “just have to try.” Obviously I hate being told what to do and I will make a point to never eat at those places. Don’t tell Jimmy I said that though. He thoroughly enjoys enlightening me and I thoroughly enjoy ignoring him.
So we’re hanging after the show. I’m going to nosh with Jimmy and friends. (kinda sound like the name of a show or maybe a telethon.) Anyhoo, there’s no escaping the eatery action item list when you’re with Jimmy. Next on his list was Gibson’s Steakhouse. I’m pretty sure our way of life as Americans hinged on our small group trekking to this steak house and downing a steak the size of my Ipad.
Gibson’s is exactly what you’d imagine a high end steakhouse would be. Solid wood, waiters in sparkling white jackets, even the lighting was setup to subtly let you know that you’re about to spend a grip. A waiter came out with slabs of beef on a tray and gave us a well rehearsed spiel on each piece of meat. I feel bad calling him a waiter. He was more of a steak specialist. He went on about the sirloin vs. filet, the rib-eye. He told us they sear the meat on a grill set to 1800 degrees*. The presentation took almost 5 minutes. More homework. After he was done I asked if I could order one of the “demo slabs” he had been touching all night and using for his sales pitch. I figured his fingerprints all over it had to be worth a 50% discount. I also figured 1800 degrees would kill his coodies. He said no one had ever asked that before. I told him it was like buying an opened box TV from Best Buy. He walked away.
He came back and Jimmy and his wife each ordered a steak big enough to feed a village. I ordered a cheeseburger. The table teased me but the waiter assured me the hamburger would be cooked on the very same 1800 degree grill. I also don’t like paying more for a steak than I would for a pair of sneakers. The table looked like a clash of spending and eating styles. On one side a vegetarian and a spend thrift, partaking a hamburger and crab meat dip. On the other two all american meat eaters plowing though blocks of all american grade A beef.
I thoroughly enjoyed my burger. It was juicy and tasty and set at a price point that made me not too discerning. I wasn’t dropping a car payment so perfection wasn’t something I was seeking. Jimmy, however thought his steak didn’t live up to its billing. Pun intended. Jimmy’s wife wasn’t thrilled with her steak either. I told him to complain right away but he forged on and kept eating. He ate his steak like as if it was a puzzle he was taking apart but still needed all the pieces to fit. I think he wanted his steak to look untouched while he continually “touched” it. Like it was magically getting smaller for reasons other than Jimmy’s mouth. Jimmy probably was 5 bites beyond the point of an acceptable “send back” of his steak but that didn’t deter him. Jimmy called over Alex, the manager guy in a suit who had stopped by to make sure everything was okay a few minutes earlier. He had given us his card. As if our interaction may extend beyond the restaurant. Maybe we would call him with meat inquiries or follow him on twitter to stay current on all things beef. We could retweet his carnivorous quips.
Jimmy explained to Alex that although he had eaten 3/4 of the steak he was very disappointed. Disappointment is apparently uninspired eating over 20 mouthfuls. Maybe because Jimmy had blown past the point of no return or maybe because he wanted to kill an ant with a sledge hammer. Whatever the reason, Jimmy proceeded to qualify himself as a steak connoisseur. Jimmy explained how he’s been to all the great steak houses in New York and LA. He mentioned restaurants by name. He mentioned the owners of those restaurants. “I go to Peter Luger’s spot all the time. You know Peter Luger?” Jimmy explained that at each establishment he had had the rib-eye. Jimmy’s the name and Rib-eye is his game. They use to call him Jimmy Rib-eye back in the old neighborhood. If I didn’t know he was talking about steak I would’ve thought he was speaking on a mob deal gone bad and the guy he was talking to was about to get whacked. “Alex, you broke my heart. You call this succulent?!” Alex responded as if he was about to get whacked and jumped to take care of Jimmy’s demands.
It was very uncomfortable but Jimmy stayed the course and made his case and Alex bought out two more behemoth steaks, this time not seared in 1800 degree temps and cooked Medium rare instead of medium plus. Jimmy was pleased. Not sure I could say the same for his digestive track that had basically just been enlisted to process two brontosaurus size tablets of flesh.
The tension was eased when the replacement steaks were delivered. We were all far enough away from the tension to have a good laugh at Jimmy’s dropping of steak names. That was a first. Our guffaws reverberated through the steakhouse as the staff waited for us to finish our pecan pie ala mode. (Did I mention they were actually closing at the time Jimmy D filed his complaint?)
Haiku For Jimmy:
While replacement steaks are noshed
Jimmy D eats world
- 1800 degrees fahrenheit is 982 degrees celsius
Thanks again to Gibson’s Steakhouse. A real class act.
Check out Jimmy D: