|BOB TAYLOR'S IS LOCATED IN THE NORTHERN OUTSKIRTS OF TOWN. I DIDN'T PLAN IT BUT I PARKED FACING DOWNTOWN VEGAS.|
After dinner, in our darkened car, I presented Sue an engagement ring and fumbled out my marriage proposal. Within seconds of her acceptance, Labor Day fireworks lit the near-distant skies above the Union Plaza Casino.
We always took those unexpected yet timely pyrotechnics as an omen of success...and we were RIGHT!
This past Saturday night, I performed stand-up at the Comedy Hideaway, in Atlantic City. This experience was exhilarating, challenging and fun for me. And judging from the public's response and the positive vibe I got from the professional comedians who also appeared on stage, I did a good job.
I closed my schtick by quoting Julius Caesar, (and honoring him on his birthday) by calling out to Sean, (my Latin consultant), "Veni, vidi vici," (I came, I saw, I conquered).
|JULIUS CAESAR (100 BC - 44 BC) WAS A ROMAN POLITICIAN AND GENERAL. HIS BIRTHDAY IS NOT ONLY JULY 13th BUT THE MONTH "JULY" WAS NAMED IN HIS HONOR.|
In addition to Sean...Tom, Matt and Heiner played key roles in either encouraging me to go on stage or providing technical assistance to improve the final product. But one person out shines them all, my son Andrew.
The biggest question I have been receiving is, how, when and why did this sudden urge to perform stand-up come from?
The greatest influence in getting me on stage is stellar crime novelist Charlie Stella. We had a chance meeting about twelve years ago after not seeing each other in twenty-five years. He appreciated that I have led a colorful life. He especially liked my Vegas adventures and called me, "a natural story teller."
My confidence was catapulted by his praise, so I began writing out my experiences. These jottings developed into a twenty-piece series of "Standing Dead" short stories. Through Charlie's enthusiasm for my work, he encouraged me to refine my craft.
Later, he became my most consistent follower of this, my "MORE GLIB ThAN PROFOUND," blog. Now that my blog ideas have slowed down, it was a natural transition to find a new story telling vehicle.
It should be noted, I am not bashful but I never sought the spotlight. However, I now have an incredibly large arsenal of vignettes that I enjoy sharing (in intimate settings) with family, friends, coworkers and casino customers.
At my job this past April, I was dealing Pai Gow Poker, to one player. Woven into the game, I told this gentlemen several humorous tales. I could tell I was on a roll and that his was rapt on every word I said.
A buddy of his came by. I got a sense from their conversation that they were in some level of show business. When the friend left, I asked, "What do you do for a living?" He said, "I do stand-up, at the comedy club upstairs." I said, "We have a comedy club?" He said, "Yeah, for about a year and a half." I joked, "That's the best kept secret since the development of the nuclear bomb."
I went on break and this fellow was gone when I got back.
Three nights later, on my drive home from work, I recounted that meeting. I got the idea that if I entertained a professional, I might be able to do stand-up myself. I began thinking of a routine.
During the first week of May, I approached the comedy club manager, (Matt Bridgestone), of the Blue Velvet Theater. He was busy ushering the paying customers to the hostess, (it was a sell-out).
When I got his attention, I wanted to see if they ever have an "open mic night," for amateurs. His answer was no. Although there are many more small details, he did agree to giving me five minutes. I asked for twelve minutes. It was insane, he didn't hesitate and said, "Okay." As he went back to crowd control, he encouraged me to look around inside.
|THE BLUE VELVET THEATER WAS A GORGEOUS, STATE-OF-ART COMEDY VENUE. THIS PLUSH SHOWROOM HAD A SEATING CAPACITY OF 100 AND SCREAMED-OUT...MAJOR LEAGUES.|
I still hadn't sold myself on the idea of following through on this, "mental masturbation." When my wife Sue and I visited my son Andrew at college, (he was on the verge of graduating), I broke the news that I was considering doing stand-up. He enthusiastically, said, "When? I'll go!" His roommate Tom sealed the deal by saying the same thing.
From that moment on, I made a commitment to make this dalliance into a reality. At the same time, Andrew and Tom through social media, got the word out.
My big moment would be Saturday July 9, 2016. I chose that date because:
- The theater is only open on Saturdays
- I would be on vacation that week
- I'd have two months to prepare, rehearse and advertise
I waited until mid-June to touch base with the comedy club manager. He was doing me a favor so I didn't want to be a pest. I can only imagine the look on my face when I read his return E-Mail, "The Blue Velvet Theater has closed." I was about to shit my pants when I continued reading, "But I have another spot...here in town."
I didn't let this drastic change diminish my swag.
Indirectly, one of my best ideas was to use Frank Sinatra's song, "NEW YORK," for my walk-up music and as my close. It not only framed my performance but because I continually heard it in my head for two months, it became my anthem and a tool that kept me focused on the prize...succeeding.
My son Andrew not only helped record the needed musical segments but he acted as my sound man during the event, (up the street there is an all-nude cabaret). Both places are owned by the same person...to save a salary, one sound man runs back and forth between both. Who can blame this man for spending more time at the nudie show.
At the Comedy Hideaway, my audience was about twenty-five people, (seven-eighths of them were my people). The line-up of comedians included six professionals and me. I went on next to last, before the "head-liner."
The nervousness never overcame me, until I went to pee during the third act. I looked in the mirror and couldn't remember my first line. Later, I felt numb as I reviewed my cues with Andrew. We were still chatting when I was caught off guard by the emcee introducing me, (one of the other comedians didn't show up).
This last second switch worked to my benefit. I had no time to over-think the process as Andrew started the soundtrack and patted me on the back. While waiting for the exact phrase, "If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere," I inwardly repeated my mantra; be poised, have fun...and off I went.
|THEY SAY, IN OUR SEARCH FOR PERFECTION, IT'S A NATURAL TENDENCY TO DWELL ON OUR MISTAKES. I HAD MESSED-UP OR FORGOT SO MANY KEY LINES. BUT I HID THEM WELL ENOUGH THAT THE AUDIENCE APPRECIATED WHAT THEY DID SEE..AND WHAT THEY SAW WAS GOOD.|
The audience's positive response made my odyssey worthwhile. I felt empowered and after my set was over I remembered to thank the manager, Matt Bridgestone, (even though he wasn't there).
My body felt like jelly long after I was over. I languished over my screw-ups until, on the way out, the professional comics gave me sincere congratulations...and were amazed that it was my first time.
As my entourage and I stepped into the street, the darkened Atlantic City skyline exploded in brightness. The fireworks that had been cancelled on the 4th of July magically signaled to me that I had succeeded. And from the feedback I've gotten from Andrew's video and general word mouth...the firework omen was correct again.
That night's joyride didn't end. We adjourned to the Black Cat Bar in the next town, Absecon for the after party. Three other couples joined us who had missed the show.
|THE "A-TEAM," CAPPING OFF MY PERSONAL TRIUMPH WITH GREAT FRIENDS, AT THE BLACK CAT BAR IN ABSECON.|
We adults all have heavy responsibilities. It's infrequent that we have special moments all to ourselves. At no point did I ever think doing stand-up was anything more than a wild hair up my ass but through the greatness of the people I surround myself with, it became far more rewarding and a personal highlight of my life.
A special thanks to everyone who came, supported me or cheered me on from afar. Andrew's friends who came a great distance like Heiner F., (all the photo credit on Facebook goes to him). Tom K., (public relations and promotion), Matt H., (who came against the odds of an early start of a new job the next morning) and Sean F. (Latin consultant)...even though at the party I had to remind him that Veni, vidi vici meant; I came, I saw, I conquered.