THE WORLD OF STAND-UP COMEDY can take you to places and situations you never would have dreamed of – while sober.
In the late 1980s I was doing a lot of performing in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was not unusual to be able to get stage time in four or five places a night. Some of those venues were very nice, others were not. Some places paid performers in cash while others…ahem…did not. I preferred cash. Some performers accepted drugs, a place to sleep, food or even close personal, albeit temporary, relationships in payment.
I always sought out those places that paid in American legal tender – cash – preferably in small, unmarked bills. Never take a check. I’m still owed money by some producers who have since died. I think some of them kicked the bucket to just avoid paying the comedians.
It wasn’t that many years ago, on a Christmas Eve, when they seared themselves into both my memory and my gag reflex. Let me explain.
THIS PAST JUNE we had the opportunity to spend a week in Omaha. While there we found ourselves caught up in one heck of a fight on a Saturday night. It was a bigger deal than I had anticipated and noisier than I could comfortably tolerate.
It was a World Championship Title fight for the Lightweight crown and it took place at the Century Link Center, just across the street from where we were staying at the Hilton hotel.
I should have become suspicious when the Baseball College World Series crowd moved out on Saturday morning and several hundred trainers, boxers, fans and hangers-on from all over the western hemisphere moved into the hotel. I haven’t seen that much scar tissue since I performed at a California biker bar in the mid 1980s.
Exercise is good for you, but it is something that I tend to avoid. I saw my doctor just yesterday and he asked me what I did for exercise. I told him that I stumble.
A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO my doctor decided that I needed to have a Colonoscopy. Are you familiar with that most fun of all medical procedures? This where they insert a camera … A CAMERA… up into your body through your rectum to look for “anything unusual”. If you can look up into someone’s butt and know that something is “unusual,” you’ve been doing that for much too long.
BEING HUMAN BEINGS, such as we all are, to the best of my knowledge, we tend to, on a fairly regular basis, do dumb things.
Of course, there are different Levels of Dumbness.
Looking back to your Senior Prom and remembering how difficult it was trying to teach a sheep to slow-dance.
Making anonymous obscene phone calls to 911
At Christmas, giving your wife or Sweetheart a gift card – to the local Dollar General store.
Trying to impress your date by ordering in French – at Taco Bell.
Going into a Biker Bar and ordering an Appletini.
Going to college and majoring in Theater, with a minor in Political Science.
I did that one myself. Smart move. I still had the cap and gown on when I realized that the only things I was actually qualified to do were to either stage a coup or turn Ecuador into a musical.
But, perhaps, the dumbest thing I have ever done, aside from various interpersonal relationships with unstable, but attractive women, was the time I held hands with an 800# Gorilla.