As of Friday, I made it through another year making a living by doing comedy! On February 1, 1987, I performed my first paid gig at the mighty/tiny San Francisco Comedy Club called the Holy City Zoo. Sixty-one people paid two bucks each and I got 10% of the door.
Yes, my payday was $12.20 that night.
Now, in the blink of an eye, it’s 32 years later. Okay, so 32 is not the milestone of 30 or 35 years, but in many parts of the world, a 32nd-anniversary gift is copper or lapis lazuli. (Feel free to send me cookware or gems.)
Thanks to the gone-too-soon John Cantu, a show promoter who always had the biggest laugh in the back of the room. He told me that I could do this. John said if I kept improving, performing comedy as a living wasn’t outta the realm of reality.
Around that same time, comedy professor Jim Richardson provided necessary stage time and needed knowledge in a competitive and classroom setting (and is still doing so) alongside long-missed Jim Samuels, the super-pro comic who owned the Holy City Zoo for a bit. Jim Samuels would review performance tapes of aspiring comics for pennies and gave helpful suggestions on what to keep and what to adjust. I remember the times he said, “It’s a good set—you can get work with that.”
And then there’s fellow funny man Jim Farrell who thinks like three people all by himself. To this day, he is one of the best backboards to throw a joke at.
I could go on and on (and I do know people who are not named “Jim”), but this blog post would be a record-setting length. I must give a shout-out to my wife “T,” who is so much more than an amusing muse and to my daughter, a kind insightful critic who is her own kind of funny. (And she gave me stage time at her wedding.)
It’s been 32 years, 50+ countries, 49 states* and thousands of people in audiences, plus friends in the business—and outside the business. I hope I don’t take any of them, or the gift of creativity, nor a single shred of laughter for granted. I don’t know if I’ll be onstage 32 years from now, but I’ll take what I can get. Thanks, laughter, you’re about my favorite sound. Here’s to hearing more!
* I will take any gig in South Dakota! Call 818/762-3068.