The Joker


Through a strange turn of events last year, I found myself, for a few months, occasionally in the company of a fairly well-known professional magician. Now it’s true that keeping company with this convivial fellow usually meant keeping up with him at the neighborhood bar. For the sake of convenience, let’s call the magician Peter. I haven’t seen Peter for a long time since then, unfortunately, but he was quite a raconteur, and here is one of the best stories he told me.

Peter had a small role in the Batman blockbuster movie in which Jack Nicholson played The Joker.  Every day on the set, Nicholson would bum cigarettes from him. Peter gladly gave up his cigarettes, happy to have the opportunity to talk to Nicholson. But as this mooching of cigarettes went on day after day, Peter, no mean moocher himself, started to get ticked off. Finally he couldn’t stand it anymore, and he blew up at Nicholson, saying, “Here you are, an extraordinarily wealthy man, yet everyday you come to bum cigarettes off me! How can you look yourself in the mirror everyday, and keep doing that?”

And Nicholson, perfectly calm, looked Peter straight in the eye, and flashed that killer smile of his. Slowly, killer smile still intact, he said, in his most Joker-like voice:

“It’s Good To Be Jack.”

PS Here’s a little postscript to the story (disclaimer: it’s quite possible that either my memory or Peter’s memory is hazy on the details of this part, but for the sake of the story, we’ll ignore that).  As the filming continued, Nicholson kept on bumming cigarettes from Peter, and Peter, ever so reluctantly, kept on giving them to him. At the end of the shoot, however, Nicholson walked over to Peter and handed him a bag. Peter, puzzled, opened it: in the bag, were several cartons of cigarettes, and an engraved gold-plated cigarette lighter.

It’s good to be Jack.