The Sky and the Clouds: The Tale of My First Bomb

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I like doing comedy, and with that comes bombing. Doesn’t matter if you’re on stage or telling a joke to friends, you’ll bomb at some point or another. I still remember the first time I bombed, mainly because it occurred in front of a professional athlete.

I’m a Philadelphia Flyers fan, have been my whole life. For Christmas when I was eight, my parents got me tickets to the Flyers Wives Fight for Lives Carnival. For those that don’t know, it’s a big fundraiser put on, as the name implies, by the wives and girlfriends of the players. All the Flyers are there for you to get pictures and autographs (if you bought a ticket in advance).

As a Flyers fan, the Flyers Wives Fight For Lives Carnival is as good as it gets. I was beyond excited, and when they day arrived I made the most of it. I got my picture with Alexi Zhamnov and autographs from the likes of Mark Recchi, Donald Brashear, and Simon Gagne. I even congratulated Simon Gagne on his successful penalty shot from the day before. He said, “Thanks, buddy.” That was obviously not the bomb.

I was riding high, meeting my idols. It was one of the greatest moments of my life to that point. Still, I managed to do something that, to this day, sends douche chills shooting up my spine.

A little bit of background first. In those days, the Flyers’ AHL farm team was the Philadelphia Phantoms, who played across the parking lot in the Flyers old home, The Spectrum. Due to the proximity, the Phantoms also attended the carnival, signing autographs and taking pictures. The whole nine.

Enter: Kirby Law.

I guarantee that, unless you really followed Flyers hockey back in 2004, you have no clue who Kirby Law is. He was a pretty decent player who found some success with the Phantoms, earning his way to a couple of stints with the Flyers before being dealt to the Minnesota Wild organization, and ultimately finishing his career in Russia and Switzerland.

At the carnival, he was seated in one of the concession stands which had been converted into a makeshift autograph booth. Standing in front of that booth? An eager eight-year-old Matthew Reigle with a Phantoms puck in one hand and a sliver Sharpie in the other.

I approached the booth, and handed my puck and Sharpie to Kirby, who got ready to sign the puck for the adorable young version of me (Those who know me now may not believe it, but I was a goddamn adorable youngster. I’ve got photos to back that up).

Now, back then I was a VERY quiet, shy kid. I was polite though, so greeting an adult was never a big issue. I had been greeting hockey players all day. I was fielding all the old standbys, from “what’s up?” to “to how are you.” I was only eight and I was greeting people like a seasoned veteran. But, for some reason I got cocky when meeting Kirby Law, maybe it was because he played in the minors so I thought I’d showboat a little, I don’t know. I decided to go for a joke.

“What’s up, buddy?” Kirby Law asked me.

“The sky and the clouds,” I responded.

(Ugh. Did you feel that? That was a douche chill.)

Kirby must have thought that his ears were deceiving him (and, oh, how I wish they were), so he said, “What was that?”

Instead of cutting my losses, I, like a degenerate gambler, determined to get this winger from McCreary, Manitoba on my side, doubled down and repeated my hacky, unfunny line.

I repeated, “The sky and the clouds.”

Kirby made a face that I would describe in today’s vernacular as a “dafuq?” face. He handed me my puck, and I returned to my parents, shell-shocked by my first experience making an ass out of myself.

Looking back, I find the whole story pretty funny. I can only hope that Kirby Law has recounted the story of the hilariously unfunny kid who tried to crack a joke that day, and at a young age learned what it’s like to bomb.


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