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It was day two of a two week run in Indiana and I was standing in the back of the room waiting to go up. The night before, while on stage, I’d gotten into it with an open mic guy who was sitting in the front row taking notes during my set. Which means he was stealing my jokes.
Yep, front row. At least sit in the back where I can’t see your dumb ass.
Also, I had to break up a fight between audience members because no one who worked at the club seemed at all interested in doing it. So, I said, to two big-ole hammered farm boys, “You, aren’t going anywhere. And, you, are not kicking anybody’s ass. Both of you sit down right now.”
And you know what they said? Nothing. They just sat down.
I have found that if you speak to an intoxicated man the way his mother would, he will immediately behave. I don’t recommend this if it’s someone you feel romantic about because it kinda sets a disturbing tone. However, if that’s your thing, then have at it.
So, as I stood watching the opening act being verbally pummeled by the audience, I decided that my life as a full-time road comic was finally approaching its end.
Never saw that coming.
But, after way too many years of slugging it out on the road, I was over it. Not stand-up, but definitely the lifestyle.
I’d grown weary of living out of a suitcase, driving all night to get to the next gig, sleeping in my car or some disgusting comedy condo and staying in shitty, scary motels. I no longer wanted to deal with drunks, rowdy audiences or idiots who only wanted to hear dick jokes and thought it perfectly civilized to yell, “Show us your tits!”
Who raised these people?
I was physically and emotionally worn out but didn’t realize, or maybe just didn’t want to acknowledge, how much until that very moment.
Plus, I was always broke.
I was so sick and tired of never having any money, fighting with my boyfriend because of it and worrying about how to pay my bills. And also, getting to choose between eating or putting gas in my car.
In case you were wondering, the whole “starving artist” thing is way more romantic when you’re talking about it over a big, fat, juicy steak as opposed to a pack of stale peanut butter crackers. Hence the F-word, followed by an exclamation point a few sentences ago. For the record, I don’t exclamation point lightly. But then again what lady does really?
The older I got, louder became the siren’s call of having a pot to piss in or two nickels to rub together.
Perhaps someday I’d even own my very own Frigidaire. “What must that be like?” I’d ponder yet dare not say aloud.
At twenty-two, I gave up any chance of normal by pledging my undying love for stand-up. I made my mom cry, burned the boats, plus all the other stuff you do to prove you ain’t fuckin around, and then headed off in my Canary yellow 1974 Ford Pinto to make the world laugh one comedy club, hotel lounge, and one-niter hell gig at a time.
Oh, and also to assuage some unspoken ache.
I am too good enough, you’ll see!
They never see.
In a nutshell: After several years of roaming around the country and not living anywhere, I moved to Los Angeles in my late twenty’s. Met my ex-boyfriend. We lived (out of wedlock, much to my mother’s chagrin) in a great apartment at the beach for about a year. He got a job offer in San Francisco. I dramatically refused to go.
We moved into an apartment in Tiburon. That’s in Marin County across the Golden Gate Bridge. We had an amazing view of the city and Alcatraz. Alcatraz sits in the middle of the Bay. There’s a light on top of the prison that goes around every six seconds warning ships that it’s there and so please don’t smash into it.
My boyfriend would sit on the couch and time the light as it went around. He’d say, visibly agitated, “It goes every 6 seconds. It’s making me crazy.” I would respond, “Let’s not blame the light, shall we? How about you just go sit in that chair instead?” His job ended five years later and we returned to Southern California. Eight years later our relationship would follow suit.