That is a joke passed around the comedy circles because comedians will typically take whatever stage time they can get, no matter how bad it might be. It’s a sickness, this need to perform under any condition.
Stand up comedy is a strange business, to say the least. Once “bitten by the bug”, your life will change forever. Dramatically. Priorities shift, causing people to quit their jobs, get divorced, go broke… It really doesn’t matter, because the person will forever need their stand up fix.
This Wednesday past, I headlined a show for the first time in more than two years. For those who are unfamiliar with the terminology, the headliner is the main act. You must perform for a minimum of 45 funny minutes, with at least 20 minutes that makes strangers to laugh hard.
I became sick several years ago and began having seizures. It was really bad. I had to go on disability, give up my driving privileges and become home bound. I couldn’t even take a short walk without passing out. I was a prisoner in my own house.
After going through so many therapists, doctors, psychiatrists and neurologists, I finally found a team that works together very well. They all agree that “Exposure Therapy” (so far, I haven’t been arrested) is the best way to overcome the fear of doing things that used to put me down instantly.
It works. Not for everything, but enough to make life livable. My journey back to the comedy stage has been very slow and painful. A trek that has required endless help from friends and family, with the lion’s share falling firmly on my wife’s shoulders. I’ve learned that it is very difficult to be a caretaker, especially when you have to work a full time job, too.
So, we first had to drive by a local comedy club until I was comfortable enough to do it without having a seizure. Then I had to do the same thing, walking into the lobby, going into the green room, showroom and finally to get back on stage to do three minutes of comedy.
Eventually, I was able to do seven minutes, then 10, 15, 30 and now 45 minutes. I need to do more 30 minute sets to get the flow of my material back, but I’m so thrilled with the progress and the possibility of headlining a few times a year.
We’ve had to do the exact same method with stores, movie theaters, restaurants, etc. So many times, I would end up in the care of paramedic teams. Now, it has been a couple of months since that has happened. I’ve become aware of things that I’m unable to do, even with the therapy. More importantly, I try to live in the present and focus on things that I can do, like writing this daily blog and author books. Check them out here.
So, I’m almost ready to headline frequently, and I am so grateful for that, and thankful to everyone who has played a part in helping me recover at least part of what I lost. In the meantime, the journey continues.
See you tomorrow.
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