We watch... so you don't have to.

You're Not The Boss of Me

I'm telling you people right now -- mind your manners. That guy behind you at the supermarket with just an onion and a can of Soup-For-One? Let him go ahead of you. That dim-bulb broad next to you at the cineplex who won't shut up during the movie? Hold your tongue and let her be. That kid with the funny hair and the poor hygiene and the backward social skills who's just begging to be made an example of? Take a deep breath. Count to 10. Let it go.

Because I'm here to tell you right now, ladies and gentlemen, it all comes back to you eventually. Every unkind word, every cross put-down, every snide witticism you've ever made will boomerang on you, whapping you smack dab in the nose like a defective Frisbee. Karma may not look too swift on the uptake -- sort of like the substitute teacher you can trick into letting the class out early -- but it's all an act. One minute, you're riding high, thinking you've pulled a fast one on thick-headed Karma. The next, you're cooling your heals in detention, scraping gum off the bottom of desks for the next 20 years or so.

Karma knows. Karma sees all. And when you least expect it, Karma's there with the bill, politely insisting on settling all accounts.

I say this as someone who's paid for his sins. I say this as a man who sowed seeds of discord, only to reap their bitter harvest. I say this -- and it makes my cheeks burn with shame to admit it -- as a total jerkwad.

I say this as someone who's just listened to Tony Danza sing "Everybody Loves Somebody."

Frequent readers of TeeVee and Tony Danza biographers will know that our little Web site has long had it in for the boxer turned thespian. Go over to our search engine, type in the words Tony Danza -- it's OK; we'll wait until you're done -- and odds are you won't find too many instances of that name being invoked with the reverence and admiration a star of Mr. Danza's magnitude deserves. In fact, it's safe to say you won't find any instance of us having a kind word to say about the former Taxi star. In fact again, you could probably conclude TeeVee has enjoyed more than its share of laughs at the expense of Tony Danza, and even more in fact, you might could say that I'm the one who's led the charge against all things Danza-rific.

And I also happen to be the one who's paid mightily for his insolence. Because on a pleasant July evening in this, the two thousandth year of our Lord, I found myself at the Alameda County Fair, sandwiched in a standing room only crowd, eagerly awaiting an evening of song, dance and showmanship courtesy of Mr. Tony Danza.

I can only guess as to the many thoughts racing through your mind right now. An evening of what? With who? At the where?

I understand your confusion. Tell someone that you've gone to an hour-long performance by Tony Danza, and you're bound to get some odd looks. After all, sitcom stars of the caliber of Mr. Danza are not exactly known for their live performances. What's the show about -- dramatic readings from old Who's The Boss scripts? One-man renditions of his greatest scenes from Taxi? Ribald tales of off-camera tomfoolery on the set of "Cannonball Run II?"

Or, as the great man himself put it, after opening with a rousing rendition of "As Long As I'm Singing"... "Everyone comes here with one question... What do you do?"

Besides cash checks for appearing in bad sitcoms, I guess.

As it turns out, Tony Danza does quite a lot. He sings... not at all bad, even. He dances... rather well, in fact. And he engages in on-stage patter that's almost charming enough to make you forget about the string of Geneva Accord-violating work he's done on the small screen. Almost.

Take this joke, told by our man Tony after he finished up a jaunty medley of Dean Martin tunes: It seems Saddam Hussein discovers a genie who's willing to grant him just one wish. Saddam pulls out a map of the world and tells the genie that he wants to be ruler of every land. "Come on, Saddam," the genie says. "Can't you come up with a wish that's a little bit more reasonable?" "All right," Saddam says. "I would like to see Tony Danza finally be appreciated for the wonderful actor that he is." The genie looks at Saddam. "Let me see that map again," he says.

Which is funny until you realize, "Hey... I've had to watch Tony Danza act."

"He's not circumcised, you know." My girlfriend said this to me, right before the show was to start. The moments prior to a live Tony Danza performance are a time for quiet reflection, for putting yourself right with God just in case you die mid-show and the last thing you hear is Tony's rendition of "Day In, Day Out."

At this moment of private meditation on the wrongs that had landed me here, I did not want to converse with another person. I certainly did not want to discuss the state of Tony Danza's foreskin. And above all, I certainly did not need to get this piece information from my girlfriend, who, I've since discovered, knows quite a bit about these matters.

There is a time and place for your girlfriend to tell you all about the status of Tony Danza, vis-à-vis circumcision. That time is never, and that place is in the deepest depths of Hell. As it happened, we were at the Alameda County Fair, which is apparently close enough.

The deal, my girlfriend says, is this: There is a campaign afoot against circumcision of newborn infants. Tony Danza is one of the celebrities who has leant his name to the cause. I'm taking the girlfriend's word on it, as the thought of verifying any of this is simply too horrible to contemplate. You type the words "Tony Danza uncircumcised" into your search engine, and you wind up in areas of the World Wide Web where it's not a good idea to roll the window down.

You go into a Tony Danza concert expecting... well, expecting it to be like one of his sitcoms. Joyless, mass-produced, hopefully cancelled by a sheepish network executive about 15 minutes into the proceedings. Then it turns out that the show is not only not terrible, it's actually passable entertainment.

Tony kibitzes with the crowd. He dances up a storm. He sings a little bit of "Soliloquy" -- Rodgers and freakin' Hammerstein's "Soliloquy" -- and you're not driven to race home and throw your "Carousel" soundtrack CD into the trash masher. And then, after a Louis Prima medley, Tony turns to the crowd and says, "We've had a lot of fun out here, folks, but I'd like to get serious for a minute if I may and talk about the horrors of circumcision..."

No... no, he doesn't say that at all. Sorry.

Even when Danza does bomb in his live show -- and feel free to thank your Maker tonight if you've never had the misfortune to see Tony Danza attempt to rap -- he does so with a kind of self-deprecating appeal. "They can't all be gems, folks," he said after one clunker.

Tell me about it. I saw the first episode of Hudson Street.

Tony Danza is so appealing in his one-man-show mode, you begin to wonder why he even bothers with television at all. Clearly, he enjoys the song-and-dance routine. And he's certainly better at it than he is fumbling his way through the latest tedious sitcom about a dull-witted single father with a clutch of smart-mouthed children. More important, if Tony Danza's out playing the county fair circuit and Harrah's Laughlin and Kiwanis' Fourth of July Parade, that means he's not on television. That means you and I aren't subjected to The Tony Danza Show or Who's Still The Boss or whatever kind of tripe network TV churns out. Why keep putting out bad TV shows?

And then you look around at the crowd watching Tony Danza on stage. And you have your answer.

The Alameda County Fair amphitheater was jam-packed that sunny Sunday afternoon and not, as you might imagined, with an angry mob demanding its money back for the 1989 cinematic train-wreck "She's Out of Control." No, the people there seemed to genuinely want to see Tony Danza. They cheered and applauded and hooted and hollered. One woman in front of me -- a dead ringer for Geraldine Ferraro -- could barely contain her glee that here was Tony Danza, taking time out of his lavish Hollywood lifestyle to add a little excitement into her humdrum life. She whistled. She clapped her hands high above her head during the music numbers. She even crooned along with Tony, apparently not understanding that the performer is up on stage singing so that the audience doesn't have to.

And then it hit me: Tony Danza's string of horrible sitcoms is all her fault.

Yes, you horrible Geraldine Ferraro look-alike. It's your fault that Tony Danza keeps appearing on my TV set unbidden. And the couple in the matching Harley-Davidson jackets who tapped their feet in time to Danza's version of "Sing Sing Sing" -- you're to blame for Tony Danza getting out-acted by both an orangutan and Mel Tillis in "Cannonball Run II." And all of you people who cheered whenever Tony mentioned Who's The Boss -- the blood of his upcoming role in Family Law this fall is on your hands.

Because TV executives are not terribly bright people. They see shows that make a splash on another network, and they copy them. They see an actor or a producer who manages to eke out a hit with one show, and they try to catch lightning in a bottle twice. They see a cheering crowd give Tony Danza a standing ovation at a county fair, and they decide there's an untapped desire to see more of the apparently under-appreciated actor -- in sitcoms, in dramas, in "The Garbage-Picking, Field Goal-Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon."

And you know what? Those executives are probably right.

So we're doomed. Doomed to be stuck with Tony Danza and his unsinkable TV shows for the foreseeable future. Vox populi! The people have spoken.

Or most of them have, at any rate. There was one young child there, a little tousle-haired boy, the son of the two nitwits in the matching Harley-Davidson jackets. This kid was having none of the crowd's enthusiasm for all Danza, all the time. The medleys? Bo-ring. The arch anecdotes about Katherine Helmond? Yawn. The tap dancing? Nice, but certainly no threat to "Pokémon."

"Moooooooooooooom," the kid finally moaned under his breath, his patience exhausted. "How much longer is this going to be?"

Oh... only for every fall TV season for the rest of your life, kid. Unless you're lucky, and someone starts talking about circumcision, that is.


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