Life’s curveballs are a reality that can and do derail a chosen path.
The last two times I appeared publicly was three years ago, delivering eulogies two months apart, for two people closest to my heart. As my audience shed tears and shared laughter at my words, my grief was life changing.
I retired from writing and the stage and joined my partner in what he blissfully calls “hermitville”.
Not coincidentally, my last two columns for The Good Men Project dealt with both of losses:
Even so, my one steady in life is, and has always been, work. I decided to add a third job to my busy schedule. For 19 months I worked every day at something. This was intentional. I needed to keep busy. I did not want to have time to feel. I was exhausted from living below ground with my loved ones. I needed to live above the surface and work forced me to do just that for X number of hours per day.
My new third job required one hundred percent of my energies, talents and spirit. I was a host at a busy casino restaurant. During that time I met thousands of new people, entertained many, befriended staff and customers alike. Not one of them knew or would believe I had even a moment of depression. Most found be funny.
Eventually, my depression invisible to all, lifted.
Pain drives my humour. It doesn’t hurt that I find the absurdity in everything. When something goes wrong, or someone says something unkind, or ridiculous, I never get upset. I go, THIS will make a good story, and it usually does.
Jump to three weeks ago. I woke up on a Tuesday morning wondering if I had written down any of my stories, humourous or not. I did a search on my computer. I had not. Even though I had performed many of them when dining with my friends, I had not even emailed one of these stories to a friend.
Imagine a writer, or a comic losing his material and having to start from scratch.
So I wrote down a story. Later in the day another, then more. Looking at my document I saw a thread of stories.
And then I remembered that, although I’d done a lot of different things in my life, I had one last item on my bucket list. I’d wanted to do stand up for decades.
I looked to see if I could find a place. Went to our local Yuk Yuks web site. Amateur night last Wednesday of the month. Emailed asking how does one audition for end of June time slot.
Received a reply that the last amateur night for THE YEAR was two weeks away (May 29).
Sink or swim, I knew that waiting until 2020 was NOT an option.
There was no choice. The pressure to come up with material, memorize and deliver is something I did daily as a host. My life has always been a stage and I always preferred writing my own lines.
But stand up? Fifteen days to write and perform, as yet, unwritten material! Why risk drowning in the ultimate whirlpool? I’d lived below the surface so long, I felt I already had.
Jumping in, God, I hadn’t felt so alive in years.
You be the judge.
Yuk Yuks Comedy Club Amateur night, London, Ontario, Canada:
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