The Sweetest Laughter

Tuesday September 27th, 2011 – Chicago, IL

For the first time in way too long, it was a comedians’ night out. That’s one of the perks of the business outsiders don’t get to experience, and I’ve always loved it. It’s a chance to let the guard down and recharge the batteries with people who share a bond in lifestyles.

There are few sounds on earth sweeter than that of a comedy audience laughing, but one of them is fellow comedians laughing out loud at something another one said. Comedians are notoriously hard laughers, even if we think something is funny. We just don’t show it the way civilians do. Most of us will point, nod and say “Hey, that’s funny.” But that’s it.

Getting a comedian to laugh out loud is like getting a rabbi to eat pork chops. It happens once in a while, but when it does it turns heads in disbelief. The rabbi really has to have a craving for pork to get him to do it, just like a comedian has to hear something hilariously funny to trigger even a small physical laugh. Our ability to be surprised has been numbed.

Tonight Tim Benker, John DaCosse and I met at Tim’s house to drive to the very same Zanies club I just got through working last week. Normally, that would be the last place I would ever go on a night off but we went to hang out with our friend Dwayne Kennedy.

Tim and John and Dwayne and I have been doing comedy since the early ‘80s and have now each acquired the moniker of ’old school veteran’ whether we want it or not. We’ve all been around the block more than once, and we’ve earned our stripes with hard work.

Zanies has been a big part of all of our lives, and a chance to hang out for an evening of relaxed fun without having to be preoccupied with doing a show was too enticing to pass up. We exchanged stories, insults and laughs in the car, and it continued when we arrived at Zanies and were joined by Dwayne and Bert Haas who booked us all for all these years.

Living the comedy life for any length of time is not for everyone. It takes a severe toll in several ways, and only someone who has lived the life can fully relate. There’s unfairness and petty politics and an overabundance of rejection comedians have to deal with that can be stressful and downright unpleasant. Having someone who can relate to it is a comfort.

After the show we all sat around and exchanged stories and made each other laugh hard. All of us have been through the comedy wars, and nobody in the group was trying to steal the spotlight or anything like that. It was just a group of road seasoned veterans having an opportunity to enjoy each other’s company and there was a friendly vibe the whole time.

Each one of the guys in that room has a special place in my heart and I like and respect them all. The camaraderie we shared must be like what pro athletes talk about they enjoy so much about playing sports. There’s an extra close bond that only those involved feel.

I’m glad I spent my life pursuing my dream of being a comedian. Hearing laughs from an audience is a thrill. Hearing them from other comedians is better. I’m one of the guys.


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