|Don's tale of his first professional job across the river from his hometown of Windsor Ont, was priceless. (Note: His Dad was a Newf.)
The television was putting the boots to live performance - some acts made the leap from Vaudeville, others by virtue of their live essence couldn't. Presumably, Frank L'Abuse, the Mad Waiter couldn't.
Drumming up attention has always been part of show biz. According to Don, Frank L'Abuse had a unique strategy; dressing up as a classic hobo he endeavored to get himself arrested by assailing the bevy of bargirls sunning themselves around the hotel pool. When the management called the police, L'Abuse had seen to it that the local press would be on hand for the denoument - Hotel Management calls Cops on This Week's Headliner.
The Mad waiter's routine started up with some interactive performance art. Met at the door by F L'A as le maitre d', patrons would be lead to their table through a most rigorous pathway - up across the stage, into the kitchen etc. The waiter had false food that he spread all over the floor, and when he came back as the busboy it was wise to distance oneself from the flying debris. But all this was merely the appetiser. Don was hired as a sauce to the main course.
Not only had L'Abuse a tightly scripted patter, it was supported by very distinctive sound effects, many made with instruments of his own making.
To hear Don tell it, these cues came flying off the page in a flurry of bad jokes - on the first night, he was caught badly napping, still waiting for confirmation that he should hit the gong now, he'd missed five other cues.
L'Abuse was not amused; 'Fire the one-eyed kid' was the verdict. 'Please Mr. Abuse, give me one more chance.', groveled the fifteen year old from across the river. The entire next day went to cribbing the score, and even improving some of the sound effects. Apparently, the show became a cult hit among detroit's burgeoning gangster population.