I was in the “shaving needs” aisle of a small grocery store when it hit me and I started FREAKING OUT.
My nerves on end, adrenaline pumping relentlessly, my feet disconnected from the floor.
I felt like a character in a Twilight Zone story where the world moves at half your speed.
People at the grocery store seemed to be stuck in slow motion.
“Don’t you know what day it is!” I felt like yelling. “Why are you acting so… NORMAL?”
Friday the 13th, 2017.
The day I returned to the comedy stage in front of 2,000 people, including family, friends and colleagues who’d flown in from around the world to see it.
Even though I’d been working every club stage in town to prepare the jokes, it was somehow just now dawning on me how terribly WRONG this could go.
During my time as a road comic the audience was not equipped with live cameras in their pockets, so you could tank in freedom.
This time there could be livestreams to capture every minute of my humiliating demise.
At the same time, I couldn’t friggin’ wait for 8:00 pm.
I’d fantasized, visualized, and “intentionalized” this set on endless loop for 3 months straight…
I was ready to go live with it.
All thanks to Billy.
You wanna know how to spot a true friend? They’re the ones who refuse to stay quiet when they see you struggling.
Instead, they PUSH you… Forcing you to confront the danger you’re avoiding.
Billy Gardell has always been that friend for me.
He sensed I needed comedy back in my life and pushed me to do it. And do it big.
“Come open for me in St. Pete, man.”
“That’s nice of you, Bill. But there’s no way.”
Too busy with the busyness.
I hadn’t been on a comedy stage in 12 years.
No room for stand-up in my life now.
I had all the knee-jerk excuses.
Robert Gibson is another friend with an amazing sense for what people need, and a brazen honesty that will challenge you to be better.
One conversation with Robert, without discussing it directly, convinced me I HAD to take this on.
A new filmmaker friend, Chris Loar’s enthusiasm at the idea made me see that it wasn’t so much the show, but the JOURNEY that made this special. So he mic’d me up and followed me around with a camera every step of the way.
The great comic, Danny Bevins, became my most important friend; coaching me back, standing by my side, and soothing my nerves before the show.
Parris Lampropoulos was the first friend to buy a ticket and book a flight. I was shocked. Then it snowballed…
Suddenly, the best gathering of copywriters from around the world was happening in St. Pete on January 13th, all to see a comedy show. I was overwhelmed by their support (still am).
I’ve always trusted Michelle’s instincts and opinions above all. She and the kids were all for it, and sacrificed a lot of time and attention from dad while I trained for the big fight.
But right then, in the grocery store, with everyone around me moving painfully slow – it was just me.
And when the theater went dark, and my name rang through those speakers, I knew I would be all alone under that spotlight.
No one can save a comic up there.
You “kill”, or you “die”, or something in between, but the outcome is all on YOU.
That is the greatest gift that results from friends and family pushing you to run towards the danger; the things you learn about yourself in the process.
So, be thankful for the people in your life who challenge you. You may not always like it, they may not always be right… but they are the ones who love you enough to SPEAK UP.
And they are the same ones who will always SHOW UP.
It really is the journey.
Don’t get too busy to live it.