Chicago Comedian Paul Frisbie

Paul Frisbie: Mama Would Be Proud
Every once in awhile it occurs to you -- even while you're still doing it -- that you're smack damn in the middle of something that will eventually qualify as being "the good old days." 

I had a job like that, way back in my very early twenties.  It was nothing fancy.  I was attending the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois, and I ran the bar attached to a restaurant called "Mama Would Be Proud."  And Mama's was a magical place.  Mama's was always busy, it had the best bar and restaurant crew in the region and morale was always high.  (We could even beat the other bars and restaurants at softball.)

We liked our jobs, and we liked one another.  Mama's was one of those places where people didn't call in sick -- you had to send them home.  And we didn't just work together; we hung out with one another afterwards.  All you had to do to join the club was get your name on a Mama's timecard.

The bar at Mama Would Be Proud was an independent entity, with its own clientele.  But for both the restaurant and bar employees it was our headquarters and our clubhouse.  We named it "The Armadillo Saloon," after a rather ineptly stuffed and mounted member of the species that stood on the back bar.  I'd acquired the unsightly -- but holy -- object from my college roommate after he got himself married and was no longer allowed to keep such things in the house. 

The Lobster Hoax:  A Tale of the Armadillo Saloon
Armadillo Saloon regulars frequented the attached restaurant just often enough to know that lobster wasn't on the menu.  But they didn't frequent it often enough to know that the restaurant owners occasionally liked to run lobster as a special of the day.

That meant that on Lobster Day I could borrow a live lobster from the cooks, turn it loose on the bar, and tell the regular customers that the thing was a pet. They didn't know lobster was the special.  As the lobster had himself a look around, knocking over beer bottles and whatnot, I would explain that I had purchased him with terrible intentions, but didn't have the heart to murder him when the time came.  So now he was my little buddy.

It was a different lobster every time, of course.  And the cooks inevitably murdered them all.  But there are still people in Champaign, Illinois, who will tell you -- to this very day -- that I keep a live lobster as a pet.  If you doubt them they have a ready answer:  "But, dude -- I've seen it!"

The Armadillo Comix
About once a week I'd draw an "Armadillo Comic" and hang it on the wall in the waiter's aisle.  The characters were the bar and restaurant staff, and the jokes were so inside that I don't understand half of them myself anymore.  Some I do remember, and they make me smile.  For example, a waitress we called "Tuffy" once announced that she was fed up with donating to the "kitty" tip system.  "Kitty," she announced, was clearly a completely arbitrary word.  Effective immediately, she said, she would be donating to what she now referred to as the "tree toad" system.  (You had to know Tuffy; you had to be there.)

So, for any of you old Mama Would Be Proud or Armadillo Saloon orphans who happen to be stumbling through this website, here are a few of the old Armadillo Comix.  I hope they jog loose a few happy memories for you -- they certainly have that effect on me.

-- Paul Frisbie

The Armadillo Comix

Jonathan Larry Seagull

Free Therapy

Da Cheef Visits Smuggler's Inn

KLB Gets a Do

The Holiday Spirit

The Tonight Show

Toad Tales

Uncle Ricky

Science Issue #3: Water

Science Issue #1: Gravity Makes the Sun Go Down

Da Cheef in "Bubble Trouble"


Pasta Mike in "Cousins From Cleveland"

Da Cheef in "Timing"

Adventure Travel Issue: England

Uncle Ricky in "Go Carts to Hell."

Jean Claude Takes a Dive


Paul Frisbie -- Chicago Comedian