Friday February 25th, 2011 – Finally At Sea
One of the most difficult things to maintain on the road is a consistent sleep schedule. It wasn’t an issue when I started, because I was young and able to absorb punishment like a rented mule. I could and did pull all nighters frequently, and never thought twice about it.
Doing it two nights ago rocked my world. We had not one but two ‘Welcome Aboard’ shows to do last night, and I’ve never been asked to do that before. I only had to do a few minutes on each show, but I found myself yawning between jokes and ready to nod out.
I don’t ever remember that happening before, and I took immediate notice. I know I am physically tired from all the road work I’ve been doing lately, but it’s more than that. I am mentally exhausted also. I’ve been at this road thing my whole life without any significant break, added to the fact that I’m getting older and the result is I’m just plum tuckered out.
Not only that, it’s been a constant roller coaster of long drives and switching flights and less than healthy greasy road grub coupled with greasier cheap hotels with flimsy beds or worse yet, comedy condo couches. Even worse is trying to grab a couple hours of shuteye in the passenger seat of a car or on a plane. I don’t think humans were meant to do that.
I’ll admit, I’m not bulletproof and it’s finally getting to me. I fell asleep after the shows last night and woke up at 8:00. I panicked for several seconds, because I wasn’t sure if it was 8am or 8pm. With no windows in my cabin to check, I thought I might have missed a show. I couldn’t tell if I was on foot or horseback, and that’s not good either. I’m a mess.
I’ve been trying to exercise a little, but I think I need a lot more than that. I need to get a proper schedule and maintain it for a significant period of time to condition my body and try to make the best of whatever time I have left on this planet. Just because I never drank or did drugs doesn’t mean I didn’t abuse myself for a lot of years. Now I’m paying for it.
I can’t imagine what it would be like if I did drink or do drugs, but I’ll have all kinds of my comic peers who will be able to tell me soon enough. The ‘80s were the big explosion of the comedy boom, and a lot of us who started then are still around today. I’m by far not the worst off, and there are a few that I can think of that should have been dead years ago.
Good health really is a gift, and we don’t know how big a deal it really is until it’s gone. I can feel myself slipping slowly away from where I should be, and I need to stop it NOW or it won’t end well. I gave the road life a quarter century, now I need to wean off of it or if nothing else, a few months of a much lighter schedule is in order. I need to scale back.
I’ve been thinking about what I want to do, and reaching out to people I want to develop teams with to accomplish goals. I’ll have someone to answer to, and not just wander with no solid direction like I’ve been doing most of my life. I know a lot of really great people, and it would mean a lot more building something meaningful with them than being out on the road toiling alone for people who couldn’t care less about me. It’s time to restructure.
Everything is completely different from back when I started anyway, and I do mean everything. The comedy business is different, I’m a different and better (or at least more experienced) person and life itself has changed. The internet generation has created both challenges and opportunities for all of us. Reassessing is something we all need to do.
Gone are the days when someone gets a job at age 18 and retires at age 65. Times were different then too, and I wonder how many of those people were actually happy? Maybe a life of too much structure is a bad thing too. I wouldn’t know, I’ve never experienced it.
What I have experienced is the living of the dreams I had when I started in comedy, and not a lot of people can say that about anything they ever try. I really didn’t have anything I wrote down, and that’s probably why I didn’t go farther than I did. Still, I’ve done well.
I had a picture in my mind when I was starting that I wanted to become a headliner and travel from coast to coast making a living as a comedian and nothing else. I wanted to get on national television as well and be like all the comedians I used to worship back on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson when I was a kid. Technically, I‘ve attained all of it.
I do admit, a lot of it wasn’t like the mental brochure I wrote for myself, but I absolutely did do all the things I’d pictured and then some. I did make it to headliner, and a solid one at that. Even my enemies will say I’m a strong comic, and it’s not an issue. I also played a lot of big time places from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas to major clubs from NY to LA.
Radio was a surprise direction, and if you had told me when I started I’d be on morning shows in Lansing, 93QFM in my home town of Milwaukee, Reno, Salt Lake City and the legendary Loop in Chicago, I would have given up any inner organ you wanted to make it happen. I didn’t expect any of those, and again it was something most people never get.
I did have some rough spots in there too, and working Negaunee, MI and Spearfish, SD were never on my dream list – but I did do those and hundreds more. The fact is, I carried out my initial dream and made it happen over and over and over again, and now I need to find something new to focus on and make both a bigger and much clearer dream to chase.
The reason I never took comedy any farther was because I didn’t dream big enough. It’s a common problem with many, and I admit it stunted my career growth. I also had a lot of other problems to overcome, but I’ve really done a lot to work through those also. I’m the very best edition of myself I’ve ever been, and it’s time to reboot, reshuffle and reinvent.
What is it I want this time? That’s a good question, almost too good to answer. It’s easy to look back on comedy and see what went wrong to the point of overlooking the several things that went extremely right. Too late to fix the bad stuff, the cement has hardened.
Whatever direction I do go, I want to spend the rest of my life giving and helping others have a better life. I know that sounds corny, but I mean it. Yes, this is a planet filled with idiots, but that’s not all that’s here. There are good people too, and I want to find them all.