A Crisis Buffet

Wednesday July 7th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

I said I wanted to make Wednesdays my booking day each week, but this is ridiculous. I ended up running around most of the day trying to make deadlines, and the level of stress I was operating under was somewhere between conniption fit and full tilt cardiac arrest.

I finally received a call from the cruise ship booker who said she wants to try me out for an audition run next weekend. I’ll be out five days and need to have thirty minutes of very clean material and thirty minutes of pretty much whatever I want, within reason of course. That’s no problem. The problem was getting paperwork faxed back to her by 5 o’clock.

She sent me all kinds of new hire paperwork I was required to fill out, and of course my printer was out of ink. I usually keep a spare cartridge around, but for whatever reason not this time. I had to get in the car which was of course out of gas, and go fill up. The pumps were full, and I had to wait for the slowest bunch of gas filler monkeys I have ever seen.

Then my card didn’t work in that pump, so after three tries of swiping, I went inside and had to wait for some halfwit to scratch off lotto tickets before I could ask the fresh off the Taliban recruiting poster, non English speaking pissed off at life clerk to run it through. It took another several minutes to get him to understand English. My patience evaporated.

I filled the tank, and of course it was one of those slow fill pumps that after a couple big slices of watermelon I could urinate faster than. Then I dropped my gas cap directly under the car and had to crawl underneath to reach it, which I couldn’t. I had to move my car so I could get out and snag it, but then the next car was trying to squeeze in behind already.

Today had a full moon style weirdo vibe and it seemed like a movie was being filmed as it was one insane obstacle after the next. The interwoven synchronicity of it was eerie. When I’m not in a hurry, this never happens. The one day I’m on a deadline – it’s a crisis buffet. It was uncanny how many things were out of whack today, but I had to press on.

I sped over to Office Mega Max Outlet Warehouse Depot to get my printer ink. Out. Of course. I laughed in the guy’s face, got back in the car and then got stuck in traffic behind a preoccupied lard ass minivan mom babbling on her phone about her son Egbert’s soccer prowess. I wanted to jam that cell phone up an orifice of her choice, but I was in a hurry.

I really can’t stand that feeling of high stress, but I’ve had it a lot in my life. I needed to get this done, because the booker was going on vacation tomorrow and wouldn’t be back until next week when I’d already be out at sea. And, of course she was in Florida and that means I lose yet another hour to the time difference. This was a movie script and a half.

I got the ink, raced home, put the cartridge in my printer, ran off the stack of documents and raced to my bank to use their fax machine. I got there and of course the pen I had was out of ink. No joke. Then, I didn’t have the fax number so I had to go home and get it and that put me through the roof. It’ll be funny soon, but today it was raw, uncut pure stress.

I finally ended up filling out the paperwork, getting it faxed to the booker with maybe a three to five minute window to spare. She called and said she got it, and was actually very calm and friendly. I thanked her for the opportunity and apologized for the close call, but she said it wasn’t an issue as long as I got it to her today, which I did. But it wasn’t easy.

I hope this isn’t an omen of things to come. I like to avoid these stressful situations if at all possible, but this one was unavoidable. There was an opening, and she thought I could fill it. I’m sure a lot of other comedians could too, so I’m not complaining. This is my big chance to crack a whole new market, and I know I’m going to do fine. I’ve paid my dues.

It’s not bragging at all, I’ve earned this shot. I talked to a few people I know who have a history on the ships, and they all told me the same thing – just show up and do whatever is asked. That’s exactly what I intend to do, and not be a problem off stage. That’s the place most of the problems happen from what I hear. I’ll keep my mouth shut and be invisible.

I’m not looking for trouble, and I know how many comics behaved at clubs for all these years. There’s a certain percentage of idiots who come in and strip mine anything positive about a gig, and the next time through there are all kinds of rules made because of them.

I’ve never been like that and don’t intend to start now. I need to follow directions to the exact tee, and stay out of the way the rest of the time. That’s why it was so crucial to have this paperwork in by the end of today. That’s what the booker needed, and she said it in a very nice, clear but firm way. If I didn’t get it in, I wouldn’t be able to get this booking.

I got it in, even if it was by the skin of my teeth. I received a confirmation email saying I’ll get my itinerary for the run from her assistant, and I’ll be flying out of O’Hare airport late next week. Other than that, I have no idea where I’ll be going. It could be Haiti and a tar ball tour around the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico for all I know. That’s ok, I’ll do it.

This can’t hurt me in the least. I’ll pass the audition and be as nice as I can to everyone I meet. I’m not going to come in as the cocky diva, and I’m not egomaniacal enough to get any ideas that I’m important in any way. I’m eye candy for passengers for two short sets. I get that. Between the food and ports and activities and everything else, I’m just a speck.

That’s ok. It takes the pressure off. I’ll get to see some places I haven’t seen before and I’m never sad about that. I paid for a passport, so why not put it to good use? I just might end up enjoying this and clicking with the lifestyle. Or, I could totally hate it and this is a day I’ll look back on with scorn. I doubt it though, how bad can it be? Famous last words.

I had dinner with one of my former students, Judson Graham. He’s trying to pursue the comedy business as a career, and asked if I’d coach him through his first year. I told him I would, only if he agreed to listen and then offer an endorsement when the year is over. He has a lot of raw potential, but he’s very bright off stage and I think he’s got a lot going for him as far as intangibles go. He’s smart, good looking, Jewish and focused sharply on his goals, all I never was. That’s why I’m thrilled to get a cruise ship shot this far into it all.


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