Tonight is the biggest show of my life. Where there was once worry and stage fright, now there is calm.
The quiet of the theatre is something else. It’s the calm before the storm. The crew and I work all day setting up lights, sound and projections. At 6pm everybody takes their dinner break, and when you get back, you get ready for the show.
I like to stand on the stage in those few minutes before they open the doors. Looking out over the empty 1,500 seats that will soon be filling with people and trying not to be overwhelmed by how far the journey has taken me since it all began five years ago. To stand in the same spot where Charlie Chaplin stood and wonder what he thought in the same moment.
After they open the doors, I sneak around the front and sit at the back and watch people come in. I chat with a middle aged couple about their day, and help an older woman down to her seat while the ushers were busy. No one gave me a second glance because they didn’t recognize me out of context. Why would I be sitting in the audience of my own show? I walk back to the dressing room and sit alone and wait until it’s time.
Five years ago I was living in a big city with big dreams and nobody would hire me. I decided to try stand up because it was easier to get three minutes of stage time at an unpaid open mic than it was to get an audition for a play. I worked small clubs writing terrible jokes, and then one day gave up. I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t work this hard for nothing. So I wrote a one man show. My mom paid for me to fly home, and my friend Charles lent me $600 to rent a theatre for a night. I didn’t know if anything would come from it, or if anybody would come out to see it. But they did. Boy did they ever.
More than 100,000 people have come out to support what I do since all of this began. While I have worked hard and taken some risks, I still wonder if I would be where I am if some things hadn’t happened. What if I had never done Atomic Vaudeville and met Jacob Richmond? What if Christina Edwards hadn’t watched my video, taken a risk and given me my first real shot? What if Zoe Rabnett had never asked me to be at Just For Laughs? Where would I be? My guess is still selling furniture at the Bay. As it stands, I have a strange and wonderful career, a wonderful wife who encourages and inspires me, and what I can only assume is the world’s largest lucky horse shoe planted firmly betwixt my cheeks.
When this dream comes to an end, as I’m sure it will any day now, I will be thankful for the time I had. For the people who came out to see my shows, and the endless amount of people who helped me to make them happen. And to those who said I couldn’t or shouldn’t – I’m glad I didn’t listen. Thanks for the five wonderful years … who knows what the new year will bring?