Tuesday November 27th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL
Being an entertainer in general comes with all kinds of unexpected difficulties, but comedy has a set of unique problems that go beyond even those. One thing that can be especially tough is the process of staying in a funny mindset when funny is the last place one’s mind is at a given time.
It needs to become a habit, and something that can be turned on and off at will. That’s not easy, especially when life does what it tends to do to upset one’s personal apple cart. I remember very vividly having to do comedy shows as I was going through the horrific process of being prepared to testify against my lifelong best friend in a bank robbery trial. I still don’t know how I did that.
There were weeks of daily preparation for the actual trial, and I had absolutely no choice but to show up and do what I needed to do – which happened to be the most painful experience in a life jam packed with them. I used to have nightmares about that trial, and when it actually took place it was a surreal moment I wish I would have never experienced. Who could be funny after that?
I had to find a way, and I did. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have been paid to be able to squeak out the meager existence I’ve been able to squeak. Club owners didn’t care about my personal problems, nor did the audiences. I was paid to get laughs. Period. And I did. But I wasn’t laughing myself.
That’s where I am now on a slightly smaller scale. I’m not facing having to testify in any court trials any time soon, but the stress of keeping myself booked and all the other issues I’m dealing with is keeping me more than occupied. I’ve got the stress of a dozen, and I’m feeling the strain.
The IRS problem is going to be a major issue. I got two letters today telling me I owed a total a lot higher than my accountant told me. With all of those penalties and interest tacked on, I’m in a much deeper hole than I first thought. How the hell am I going to get out of this? It’s a tight spot.
I’m not finding much funny right now, at least not off stage. I was able to pull off strong shows in Springfield last weekend, and the audience would never have known anything was wrong. The way I learned to do that was from having to do it during the bank robbery trial and other times of turmoil throughout my life. But one can only do that so long, and I’m really growing weary of it.
All it would take to really bring my spirits up would be a run of quality shows somewhere. I’ve paid plenty of dues, and I can pull off the shows. Comedy clubs, cruise ships, theatres or a mix of all those venues would be fine. I just want to work and practice a craft I’ve spent my life to learn.
A successful run of quality shows would wipe out my tax debt in no time, put me in a fantastic mindset and also be a treat for the audiences who come to see the shows. I’m ready to give them a great one, as I’ve spent decades on the road polishing it. All they have to do is come and laugh.
It all seems so simple, yet at the same time as far away as scientifically possible. How will I get a chance to make my mark? I don’t know, but when I do I’ll be ready for it. I just need a break to get it all in motion. As the United Negro College Fund says, “All I ever needed was a chance.”