He also owned, for sixteen years, a chain of a dozen comedy clubs – branded as The Laff Stop – that were the first clubs to actually pay rising young comics to stand up on stage and make the paying customers laugh. His maverick style led to the famous (or infamous) LA Comedy Club strike of 1978-79. The end result of that was all of the clubs had to start paying the talent who brought in the paying customers, with their cover charges and two-drink minimums.
In those sixteen years, Callie’s clubs entertained more than two million people – an average of 1,500 per week – and gave rise to a list of comedy greats that’s longer than your arm, assuming you’re not a professional basketball star.
His career in comedy led him to become the nation’s unofficial archivist of jokes – or at least joke books. Five thousand joke books gave Mike the basis for creating not only the first series of published joke books of the 21st Century, but a series of books with a distinctive design. One joke to the page – that’s about 220 jokes per book. Each joke was selected from dozens of candidate jokes, then “perked up,” taking advantage of Mike’s long-standing gift for shaggy dog stories and one liners.
“Each of these jokes must meet three criteria,” Mike explained. “They must be Easy to Read, Easy to Tell, and Easy to Laugh At.”
Oh, and they also have to be dirty, offensive, politically-incorrect or in some other way completely in bad taste. This isn’t your grandfather’s joke book. And it sure isn’t your grandmother’s joke book. Most of these jokes are skewed toward men because, quite simply, because Mike has learned that men like to be grossed out more than do women.
The books contain one joke per page, and – in the index – there is a listing of all the punch lines. No jokes, just punch lines. Some of these punch lines are so funny that you’ll be laughing at the index – and I bet that’s never happened to you before. Nobody has done this in a joke book – and after you see it, you’ll wonder why nobody thought of it before Mike Callie.
As Mike puts it, “these jokes have stood the test of time. They are funny, of course, but they are also clever and quirky. However, most of all, they really are in Bad Taste. There is something here to offend anybody, regardless of what makes them thin-skinned and quick to cry foul whenever someone dares to joke about them.
“In fact,” he explained, “if you are a faith-based multi-ethnic and multi-gender reader, these jokes will offend you more than once. God help the member of the Gay Nazis For Christ who gets his sweaty little hands on one of these books – he may not survive the experience.”
In the future, more of Mike Callie’s Bad Taste joke books will have to live up to (or live down) the legacy of these remarkably funny, remarkably offensive series of joke books.
Your guilty little secret pleasure can be found here – in the joke books you’ll never admit to owning, even as you can’t put them down.