In the mid-1960s, in a nightclub in New York, a young Woody Allen was doing a stand-up routine. About halfway through, as was his custom at the time, he let various members of the audience get up on stage and tell a few jokes. Usually, this worked pretty well -- the audience appreciated the gesture and Woody could have a break backstage. Tonight, however, it was going terribly, as a fashionable young couple had had control of the microphone for far too long and, worse yet, they weren’t even telling any jokes! Instead, they were boring on about a wonderful investment opportunity that they’d been lucky enough to take advantage of and telling everyone how they, too, could change their lives through the stock market.
Backstage, Woody Allen was pleading with his manager to do something about these jerks who were ruining the evening and bumming everyone out. The manager said, “Woody, what can I do? You invited them up there.”
Not long before I went to bed, I glanced at the cover of a CD of Woody Allen's 1960s stand-up routines while I was looking for something else. I think that that was the only time Woody Allen had occurred to me that day. No, that's not quite true: I also moved a pile of books on my desk, one of which is a biography of Woody Allen that I got in a charity shop. Also, now I think about it, I found an old e-mail that I'd written to myself to remind me to watch a strange YouTube clip of Woody Allen interviewing Billy Graham in 1969. (It’s in two parts, the first of which is here.) So that's three times.
The financial scheme that the couple had done so well out of is clearly inspired by the idiotic spam that I’ve started to get every day alerting me to some secret stock market knowledge. “HOT STOCK ALERT! THIS ONE IS STILL CLIMBING THE STOCK CHARTS!” The great thing about these e-mails is the names of the fictitious people who are supposed to have sent them to me. Today, for example, Werner Cyr wrote to tip me off to the same thing that Rod O Early was awfully excited about in a similar e-mail. My favourite so far, however, is Refugio Carver, who said, “What's the first rule of investing? Buy LOW sell HIGH!” and wanted me to get in on the ground floor of a deal involving Ever-Glory International. It’s probably worth recording all the names somewhere for use in a novel set in the world of high-risk day trading. In any case, I got an e-mail from Refugio the day I had this dream.
I’m not sure, but I think that the stock-market couple were based on the couple in “Annie Hall” who Woody Allen stops and asks how they manage to be in a relationship yet look so happy. The woman replies, “I'm very shallow and empty and I have no ideas and nothing interesting to say,” and the man says, “And I'm exactly the same way.” I haven’t seen Annie Hall in years, though.