Southern Tier Comedy Shop
I have a face that people want to hit
By Jim Pfiffer
Readers, here’s your chance to get back at me for anything I’ve written that you didn’t like.
My friend, Sid Whitney, the director of the Chemung County Family Fitness Center, asked me if I would be a celebrity target at a pie-throwing fund-raiser at the center at 11 a.m. Sept. 27. (With friends like that ...)
Joining me as pastry bull’s-eyes are Joe Knickerbocker and Rob Cook, who work at the center, Katie Boland, the director of Meals on Wheels and Justin White and Mike Wood from The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler counties.
For $5 a pie, you can hit us in the face with a whipped cream pie. The money raised will help the 15-year-old nonprofit center keep our community members healthy, fit and thankful that they aren’t the ones getting pie-faced.
You can throw a pie in this face and there's nothing humorist Jim "Pfif" Pfiffer can do about it IF you pay $5 at a Chemung County Family Fitness Center Fundraiser being held Wednesday, Sept. 27 in Elmira.
I have a good friend, Stoney, who calls me “pie face.” I don’t know why, but it’s nicer than other nicknames my “friends” gave me.
During my career as a reporter and columnist with the Elmira Star-Gazette newspaper, I was a celebrity guest at many unusual fundraising events. I got hit with water balloons, dropped into water tanks, played basketball on the back of a donkey, got locked up in a cardboard jail and entombed in a cocoon of Silly String.
That’s nothing compared with the attacks I suffered from angry readers. As a cop reporter, earlier in my career, I wrote about the dumb, dangerous and “you gotta be kidding me?” things that humans do, like the intoxicated moron who was burglarizing a home, and stopped to play a video game on the living room TV. When the police arrived and arrested him, he was still sitting on the couch playing Nintendo. When they tried to handcuff him, he asked them to “wait a minute,” because he was just about to move up to the “B rank” in the bowling game he was playing.
People got mad when I wrote about the bad things they did. Although I was just the messenger in publicizing people’s stupidity, I suffered retribution. I was screamed at, slapped, punched, spit on and had a drug-deranged dude stick a gun to my head. It turned out to be BB gun. Didn’t matter. I still nearly wet my pants.
Then there’s my regular civilian life, where I’ve been verbally abused, punched, slapped, kicked and had drinks thrown in my face. Much of it was deserved due to my wise-guy mouth and poor decision-making.
One time I was assaulted because of my face.
An intoxicated stranger at the Branch Office bar in Elmira started a fight with me because he “didn’t like my face.” When the fight ended, he didn’t like his face.
Apparently, he scanned the crowd in the bar, spotted me and his inebriated brain thought “I don’t like the looks of that guy’s face. I’m going to punch it.’
There have been many other instances when my face was struck, sucker punched, slapped and smacked.
I was brought into this world with a puss that people like to hit. Even the hospital delivery room doctor slapped me, twice, and then slapped mom for having me.
So, a pie in the face to raise money for a good cause seems fitting.
Pies are excellent food-fight projectiles. Their size, heft, slurpy custard insides and whipped cream toppings make for gratifyingly fun projectiles to toss into faces.
That’s why the Three Stooges featured pie fights in many of their short films. The onomatopoeic sounds of “splats,” “slurps,” and “plops” in the face, added to the amusement. Pie-throwing was a comedy standard, going back to vaudeville.
There is hilarity and satisfaction in watching an elegant and crusted dessert splatter on someone’s face. It’s similar to laughing when someone trips and falls or a guy gets hit in the nads with a foul ball. Humans find humor in pain and embarrassment, as long as we aren’t the ones suffering the pain and embarrassment.
Years ago, a journalism co-worker, Jason, and I competed in a fund-raising pie-eating contest at Elmira’s Wisner Park.
After the contest was over, there was an untouched lattice-crust-laced blueberry pie sitting in front of me, just begging to be thrown in someone’s face. It’s as if the pie was talking to me.
“Hey, Mr. Reporter,” the pie said. “Don’t let me go to waste. Why don’t you smush me in someone’s face? You’ve wanted to your whole life. Don’t be a wuss. Do it! Do it now!”
The pastry was right. I had waited all my life for this moment.
I grabbed the pie, and with all the Three Stooges bellicosity that I could muster, I smashed it into the face of the totally unexpecting contestant next to me.
I can still picture the pieces of blueberry filling and crusts dripping from his bewildered and then angry face.
I knew it was wrong as soon as I did it and I’ve always regretted it. Years later I apologized to Jason. He was a good sport and forgave me, but said he still gets the willies whenever he enters a bakery.
While I rue that high-flying pie decision, there is still a part of me that fondly recalls the Moe, Larry and Curley satisfaction of hitting someone splat in the face with a pie.
You may ask, “Was it really worth it, Jim?”
My honest response:
“Nyuk. Nyuk. Nyuk.”
About this Feature
To contact and learn more about Jim's illustrator Filomena Jack, and to see her artwork, go to www.FilomenaJackStudio.com.
Editor's note: The original column includes a Three Stooges video that Southern Tier Life does not have license to use.