Sunday, October 23, 2011
So I am what Marc Marons called in his keynote speech "ALL IN"...... He spoke of how this life takes its toll and the sacrifices and torture we willingly endure because of this calling of sorts. This need to stand in a room and to be heard with the goal of making people laugh. I spoke to a dear comedy friend recently and he said, "we get paid not only for what we can do in front of an audience but also for all that we have sacrificed to be who we are and able to do what we do".
Some comics are better at keeping life balanced than others. I was fortunate in the fact that I had a family and husband to support me and our children. I remember talking to a female comic 8 yrs ago and I said how grateful I am to have a home and some comforts in life. How I see comics far more brave living on thin air and risking it all for comedy. She mentioned that when that I go home to a house and family . She spends night after night on a stool infront of a mic while her eggs are rotting . She now must be about 40?? I think of her all the time and what she was willing to risk. Is she famous NO? A normal person would say she bet wrong. I say she made her choice and comedy won. As it often does when your "ALL IN"
This life shapes you into something else your weren't before. Its like water falling on a rock one drip at a time you dont even see it happening till its too late to change most of the time. Even something as simple as years of waking up after most of the world has spent a third of their day awake. People know not to call till 10. If you have to be somewhere at 8 AM its like getting up in the middle of the night. I found myself never wanting to make plans with people because you know if you get a gig you will have to cancel so you never make plans and soon you dont have to because no one remembers you. Trying to find who you are on stage as you less and less know who you are off of it . Add to the mix if you have demons, addictions, and dysfunctions and its a very different sort of life. Sure we have a kinship with each other as comics but in the end what we do is very solitary. Most of the time we drive long hours alone, spend our days alone and its us on the mic alone. Demons grow if not kept in check in that environment of isolation and aloneness ... like mold on deli meat left to long in the fridge. For me smoking returned after quitting for 17 yrs my weight blew up again. I smoked out of nerves and boredom shortly after starting this. My relationship with food got crazy. Its not good to eat dinner in your car at 1 am alone I learned. You dont make the best food choices. I have since lost weight and quit smoking ( 8 yrs later). But comedy is an easy place for the worst to come out and take hold. If I didn't have to drive I am sure I would have been drinking too. The few times I have had a hotel to stay at if it was in the venue I have gotten plastered. I forgot I quit smoking too that night. God only knows if I was a road comic what would take hold. I am a determined person you have to be to do this. However weaknesses seem to thrive living this life too. Its a constant with me to try and stay in balance. Most of my work is fundraisers and corporate and private parties. I am alone 1/2 of the time. My husband often will drive me just so I have company.
I love when I get to do shows with other comics. My favorite part is the diner after where we can talk shop and just hang out. I miss the early years at the mics when I would be with dozens of other comics. My favorite part of bouncing around in NYC was seeing so many other comics and catching up. Driving 3 hours to a gig and home that night is not the same. Its not all fun and games. Its called work because it is.
All this said... I could never live the old way again. I remember as a kid in Jr high. I would walk in the cafeteria from table to table trying to figure out where I fit. I spent most lunches smoking in the girls room with the bad girls. I was far from one of them and didn't fit in here either but at least these girls were interesting. I never found my table to sit at in college, a work as a young single, as a wife and mother in the burbs or any where until I started my journey as a stand up. When I met my fellow comedians I knew I was home. It was the first time I felt I was where I belonged. I loved that Marc Maron mentioned all ways we go through this to find an audience ... from the coffee houses the mics to the bar shows and elks clubs with no guarantee of anything. From the open mic comic to The guys at the top who are doing this because were "ALL IN" We are a fellowship for sure. I love comedians who are "All in" because we are in this thing that only someone with no other choice would never want to do. I have seen people give up being doctors and lawyers and marriages and friends and health insurance and financial security and much more for this thing we have to do. It is pathetic and beautiful all at the same time. Sometimes something is so ugly that its humanity is a thing of beauty.
Lastly, I respect Marc for saying all he had to in front of industry. It needed to be said. Bless you Marc.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
walk down the sidewalk with out a Tsunami of people pulling you down the street in the opposite direction of where you were headed.
Less people in my mind means less audience.
Fortunately I have been getting booked steadily... although I have had a few shows get cancelled just a day or two before due to lack of ticket sales.... come to think of it.
One thing that I have found to be true is... If you have any talent and some funny in you....... hard work eventually does pay.
This past year was very difficult, filled with the emotional and physical traumas. I would have to get onstage and be funny when my world was anything but. I pushed through all of it , I had worked so hard to get where I found myself and didn't want to let myself down or loose the momentum I had struggled so hard for.
Often I felt trapped. In the past year I did 300 or more sets. I was beginning to see some progress. I had begun to headline in rooms outside of the city more and more. In clubs outside of NYC I moved from a MC /opener to feature. In the city I was getting spots on Friday and Saturday nights more often. I found during this time I didn't write as much as I had hoped to. Some how I still managed to get a new 20 over the year. My mantra as many of those of you who know me and read my blog is..... "All I can do is try to get funnier". That really is my goal. Some how I truly think that if you are very funny all the rest will find you. You still need head shots and a bio but it will find you.
So this past year I saw myself inching a few steps forward.... but am I getting funnier??? Because for me that is what I truly wish for and work for. Progress is a good indication.... I search for signs of progress.
How do you tell? How do you actually know if you are getting funnier? I looked for small signs of approval where I could. The Audience??? Maybe. I trust them but don't trust myself to gauge them and their liking of me.
Lets face it some audiences are easy. I often after a show would stand in the lobby like Sally Field in the movie Soapdish...and wait for the audience to leave the building.
Some times I would think .... I rocked and not ONE person would stop and say nice job. Sometimes an audience member would shake the hand of the comedian next to me and act like I was not there. Other times I would think that was a solid set ... not a kill but solid or that was just okay. Then after the show... Back in the Lobby I am getting people asking to take pictures of us together ..and wanting to buy me a drink. GO know?? I thought.... some audiences are just nicer than others. So the audience is only going to tell me so much. Since I was not getting standing ovations..... I would continue to look for other signs of getting funnier.
Bookers and Club managers etc. should be a place to look for signs that you are improving. Yes and no. Some Bookers and Managers make it easy to see you are improving. They tell you that they like your work and they reward you by booking you more or move you up from feature to headliner . The pay you more or at all. I have one place I perform ... they all hug me and tell me they love me.... I get booked 4 to 5 times a year. I also have my very best sets when I work for them. They send me nice emails and sometimes write on my social networking walls. Maybe I do so well in thier shows because I feel so much support . Some places I work will seldom give you any indication that they like you or that you are progressing. You rarely will hear anyone in management tell you .... Good Job. You find out if your doing a good job when they Book you and to them this should say it all. We book you we like you. So you look for other sighs that they like you. Is your name printed on the avails sheet this week or do you have to write your name in? Is your photo on the wall? etc Its like being married to a guy who doesn't tell you he loves you but his actions are how you know. He works 3 jobs ,he makes you tea when your sick. He is someone you can count on. I have had this year several Booker's and club managers move me up weekends from week nights. From Opener or MC and from feature to headliner, I have gotten emails after a show thanking me and telling me that I was good. I have been asked back again. These must be the signs of progress I tell myself.
Friends... you ask your friends , Am I getting any better at this? If they are a civilian.... they will look at you like your nuts and say some version of a polite lie. Not really , it just is if they say anything, I'm not going to believe them, they are my friends. Same goes for my husband. This question is like.... do these jeans make my ass look big??? What can he say? I cook his food and could poison him.
Comedy Friends... How pathetic do you sound to them asking???? Do you see any progress here am I funnier? They will most likely be of no help. Other comics they should know! So, if they say to you great set you can feel good about it. You think... Wow so and so liked my set. It feels fantastic but some times you hear a Comic say to another comic who has very little going for them( just say a sucky comic Robin) who just tanked and is clueless to the fact that he did just tank..."Good set "!!!
One night one of the guys who barks at a club ran up to me on the street. Robin Fox your my favorite!!! Of all the comedians in the club you are the best one. I see them all And you are the best ONE!!! I tell everyone come see this hysterical NJ Woman Comedian she's amazing! I am thinking... Wow! really. I'm speechless, this is cool, he should know he sees them all! WOW! According to him I'm the Best ONE!!!!! Enough about me.... Who are you? How long have you been barking etc I ask? He tells me that for years he was an accountant.... then things got really bad and he had a massive break down...and he had to be hospitalised for a while. But now with medication he is doing fine and loves barking, barking is the best job in the world. So in other words.... All the voices that live in his head ....decided I'm the funniest!!! I'm awesome. wow. He is my favorite barker..... Because another motto I have is, If you like me.... I LOVE YOU!
Bookings.... In search of signs of progress... Is my calendar full? am I playing in better rooms??Am I making more money?? Am I funnier?? Am doing harder sets and doing well? Doing well when no one else is?? Being able to follow a high energy comic and still do well. Being able to do crowd work.... I'm liking it in fact. Some of the Top comics in the city actually talk to me now? Progress I see some progress. Hard work is paying off.
Sunday I did a show in Montclair for one of my favorite Booker's. One year ago I did a show for her my Late brother Craig saw me co headline and perform for the very first time. I had a very strong set. One of those sets where you know you impressed the room and yourself. Just solid. Then of course I pick it apart and say well if so and so was there maybe you wouldn't have done as well.. You were the best of a so so show. But then again... I made the show really good . Don't ask me, I'm biased. I have a hard time trusting my opinion. I fear I might be delusional. Look.... I have thought I looked great some nights and then someone will take a photo and a day later send it to me and I am mortified that I THOUGHT I LOOKED GOOD THAT NIGHT. So what else am I wrong about?? I'm gonna trust me....what do I know? At this show on Sunday I did 45 minutes. I had a really good set!! Really good. Solid. I zigged and zagged . As great as my set was the year before when my late brother saw me perform this was in another level of good. I felt them liking me. I handled a talker with panache and I just fell into that warm and wonderful place called the zone. I could do no wrong. Everything just clicked and worked. I had to wait for the laughter to subside to continue my set several times. I actually thought I heard rolling laughter. After the show the Booker hugged me. The bar keep wouldn't take my money and people were coming up to me to shake my hand and say nice things. Could it be? I know. I feel it. I AM FUNNIER THAN I WAS A YEAR AGO.
No one has to tell me. I get it. Hard work pays off. Good for me! Wow. With this god awful year .... I got funnier. I just know I have. I own it.
I still have far to go. I am not half as funny as I still wish I was. I want to make people laugh that uncontrollable laugh. The one that you almost forget why your laughing your laughing so long. The Tantric Laugh is what I call it. Or the Multiple orgasm of laughter... Where you feel like they are bypassing your thoughts and just are hitting the laughter button in your Brain. Sam Kinnison did that for me. Jessica Kirson and Rick Shapiro have done this too. Its an organic thing... It is somehow you learn how to trip the brain. I want to be able to do this. Once or twice I have seen people just loose it when I perform. They have laughed so hard they cant stop. I want to do this all the time. I don't know if I have this much talent. Then again. I love and adore many comics who never made me laugh like this. So who knows?
This past Weds night I had 2 spots. Later I was invited to Comix for there Holiday Party. It was the first time I had been invited and not a PLUS ONE. A Plus One is when someone else is invited and they take you. Progress. Several years ago Sal F. took me to a party. I was doing comedy about 2 years. I stood there trying to look like I fit in. I recognised everyone at this party. Bill Burr and Dave Attel, is that Wally Collins over there... I knew most of them no one knew me... It was an odd feeling and I stayed for a very short time feeling like a fraud for being there. Fast forward to 2 years ago when Adam brought me to the Carolines Party as his plus one. Once again there were a bunch of heavy hitters there. There were a smattering of newer comics and Big Guns Like Gilbert Godfrey and Tracy Morgan. It was exciting and as a 4 year comic at the time I was thrilled to just be there. I spoke to just a few people and still felt like I was sitting at the children's table. I did network and had a really great time. Still I felt like I was a voyeur and an outsider.
This year when I was invited to the party at Comix and could bring a Plus One. I invited my friend Tom. He met me at my home club where I was to do 2 shows.
I was feeling great... I was still feeling High from the great set I had on Sunday and I couldn't wait to hit the stage. I had a new joke that I had been opening with over the past 8 shows and it was hitting solid every time. I hit the stage and start the first part of the three part bit. The room was young which hasn't been a problem for me. There were two middle aged
couples one on the side and the other right in front. I do the opening line and silence. Hummmm.... I do the second part, a polite chuckle... Fuck!!!! were tanking here. I am in for a penny in for a pound and have to do the third part now sure they are not with me..... and Yes ..... a laugh from Tom and the two older couples and DEAFENING SILENCE. So its safe to say this plane is in trouble. I move on to some material that I know is solid and the plane is nose diving. I am in the BOMB ZONE. I decide that I'm doing this set for me. I stay happy and animated. I push .... the plane lifts a bit.. I pull a few short jokes with hard punches. I cant hear the silence is so loud. I embrace the bomb. I haven't bombed this hard in over 4 yrs. I haven't had a really shitty set in months. I was due. I was so due. I do a bit of crowd work and it hits soft and then a joke and it falls flat. I say goodnight and leave the stage with my ass in my hand. I have eaten it raw. It was a big hairy bear claw of a bomb. Best of all I was so sure I was going to get up there and show my friend Tom how amazing I am.... Well he saw me suck... I stood outside the room and wanted to see if the next comic would fair any better... he did well . So it was me. They hated me. Soon it was time for me to do the second set of the night and It went much better. I was afraid. I would give the set a B-. In all honesty I liked the way I did the bomb set better. Oh well it was one bad night... I was due. If I'm a pro I have to learn to eat it like a pro. It stung but It comes with the job. Thank God its the exception to the rule. I needed the humility of a bomb.
We left the club and drove down to Comix I got a spot across the street.NICE!! I walked to the door person and said my name. I'm Robin Fox and this is Tom my plus one.
I walked into the bar. It was so different from any party I had been at before. I knew most of the people there and amazingly most of them knew me too.
Some of the City headliners greeted me and we talked and laughed. I had some comics say some very nice things about my work to me. I had a few comics invite me to work with them. One comic a TV headliner asked me to be her guest at a club she was doing this weekend that I have wanted to get in at. You' ll come she says .... Ill introduce you.
I spoke with old friends and made some new ones. No more was I feeling like the little kid sitting at the kids table. I had a feeling that I had arrived in a new place. I felt I belonged.
I was proud and grateful all at the same time. I enjoyed the night and didn't want it to end. Life is good.
Many years ago I was went to a wedding of my parents friends daughter I was their Plus One sortof but not really. The Bride was a PA on the original Sat Night Live. She had married one of the head-writers. The mom had invited me to come to the cocktail party before the reception. Just the Cocktail party and ceremony. Not the Reception. My moms friend knew I was a huge SNL fan. Gilda might even be there!!! ( She wasn't she was ill) There would be several of the original cast members from the show there and other celebrities. I was a huge fan and was excited to go. I was in my early 20s. I stood online to get a drink next to Jane Curtain, Al Franken was eating pasta and spilling half of every bite on the floor while he struggled to hold a drink and eat standing up. I spoke to the brides brother and he introduced me to Storm Fields the HOT Weather man in NYC at the time on WABC-TV. He is the son of Dr. Frank Fields who reported weather in NYC for over 40 years. I wasn't a comic at the time.... but I was always hiding behind being funny. I liked to make people laugh it was something I could do well and I felt gave me a social edge. I had a group of these guys laughing . Storm was laughing and asked me who I was. We got a drink and we just hit it off. I was coming out of a horrible depression at the time. I was what I thought obese... I was 165 lbs and a disgusting size 12. Ugggg Id do anything but diet and exercise to be that size now. I used my humor as a cover for my lack of hotness and it worked. Storm and I sat together during the ceremony and whispered snarky remarks during the ceremony. We got the giggles and were afraid we would draw attention to ourselves. I still remember some of the lines I said that got a laugh that night. As we walked out into the lobby I said goodnight..... I'm like Cinderella Its time for me to go. My parents are the ones invited I'm going to drive home now.... I was invited to just come oggle all the stars and now I must say good night.. I wasn't sad to go .... It had been so much fun. More fun than I had had in a long while. I was satisfied and ready to go home. Storm was flabbergasted!!!!! What do you mean your going home. That's ridiculous. I never heard of such a thing! Look I was suppose to bring a date.. I will talk to the brides mom you'll be my date. (it wasn't a date.... I was to be his PLUS ONE) The world stood still. Jane Curtain walked by she mentioned to Storm she would see him at the table. Wow I will be sitting at Janes table. No I should go. I cant. Storm grabs the mom and says. I was suppose to bring a date would you mind if Robin filled in for her and sat with me. The moms face looked shocked and put on the spot. Storm smiled his movie star smile and she told me to ask the matre de to find me a seat at the table. I found her and Storm asked her if they could add a seat at his table. She said it was filled to the Max but she could put a seat for me at the one to his back if that was okay. I say no... really thank you but ... I should go.
He insists. He asks the others if they mind.... they all say sit. So we talk back to back and my table continues to fill up. The woman at the table who said sit sit... was Rosie Shuster. Tom Davis was next to her . Al Franken was to my right a very skinny woman who looked like a wire hanger with legs was to my left and next to her sat Lorne Michael's.
Lorne is looking right at me.... Who are you he asks??? I'm Robin. I'm the stand in. (gulp) I explain all that occurred and he nodded his head the rest of the table all smiled and actually were very nice. I just listened and laughed... they were all smart and quick. During the salad everyone was listening to each person talk and Tom Davis mentions he is buying a classic car. A 1965 Impala... I mention that I in-fact drive a 1964 Impala. Classic in the fact that my parents kept cars till they died. I tell him how truck drivers pull me over and want to buy my car. He asks me if I drove it there that night and I explain I came with my parents in their car. I remember at one point saying something and the entire table laughed. The conversation turned to the Ruttles special that Lorne had produced and aired earlier in the week. Lorne asks what was on ABC and CBS against us. No one knows. I do. I say something funny.... about being a human TV guide. Everyone is smart , funny, and they are warm and nice to me. I feel like I fit in with these people in some organic way. Rosie is especially funny and nice to me. I am not thinking if I can get a job with them or how can I use this to my advantage. I'm just enjoying the surrealness of it all. I'm just in the moment. The groom comes to the table and stands behind Lorne and puts his hands on his shoulders. He spots me and his face makes a scowl. Who are you! In unison they say... Shes the stand in. Envelopes are passed to the groom. He leaves. A few minutes go by and people are dancing. Storm taps me on my shoulder... I turn around Its not him Tapping me. Its the matre de. She whispers in my ear. I'm so sorry but the person who was suppose to be in your seat is in the lobby.. I'm going to have to move you to another table. Mortified. I try to process. I get up and say excuse me and walk out of the room. The matre de says let me find you a spot if you wait here. I decide to leave. It was too good to last. Oh well it was fun while it was fun now its not. I tell the matre de don't bother I'm going home. I go outside into the parking lot it is made of gravel. I start to cry.
I know that the Groom was angry and wanted me out of his A list table. I feel foolish. Just then the brides mom is standing at the door calling my name. Robin Robin come back. I wipe my tears and say I'm sorry Misses B. I'm going home . I didn't mean to ruin things. It just happened . It wasn't my Idea to stay. I shouldn't have stayed I'm sorry. She grabs my arm and says NO you cant leave now.
She and my mom have been friends for over 30 years. She drags me back. I just want to go home. She says didn't you feel out of place with those people??? There very different?? There not like you You must have felt out of place. there not like you. There a very different ilk of people..... Yes she said Ilk.... I say, you know what Mrs.. B. I liked them.. and you know what... the only difference between those people and me that I could see was that they have arrived and I haven't. SIDE BAR-------Because what I didn't know at the time was.... they were comedic people. I felt some kind of connection for the very first time . A connection I didn't feel again for decades later when I became a full time standup comic. I never felt that connection at the PTA or with the girls I car pooled with. Every night when I'm in the clubs sitting between shows talking with other comics I feel this connection. I'm with my ilk.
Mrs B pleaded with me to stay. I for some reason gave in. The Matre de then took me to my new table. It was the children's table. Dinner was over. I wasn't served my meal. Two bratty kid were arguing over the name of a liquor that tasted like lickerish. Its Demore no its Kulah . I feel totally humiliated now. I am NOW sitting with children. In in an angry voice say IT'S AMARETTO. Winning the argument between the two 11 year olds. I look over across the room to the table where I had sat earlier. No one was sitting in my now empty spot. I had been extracted. Then Rosie one of the writers saw me and got up and walked to my table of shame. Why are you here? We all didnt know what happend to you. I tell her what the Matre de had told me. She says oh "the groom must have freaked out." Come back everyone wondered where you went and want you to come back. I told her I couldn't. She then sat down at my table. One of the other women from the table whos name I cant recal came over too. I told her about the parking lot and how I just wished I had never come. Just then Storm walked over and asked me why I was at the Kids table. I told him what happened and scolded him saying it was all his fault. I wanted to leave and he insisted I stay and now look what happened. He put out his arm and said I'm sorry.... the groom was a jerk.... can I make it up to you with a dance. He led me to the dance floor I still felt humiliated and yet I was proud of myself for holding my own. The only difference between me and these people I told myself again is that they have arrived. I wondered if I would ever arrive. I took comfort in the fact that even if I never arrived .... I had met these people and knew that they were not much different from myself. We finished the dance and I went home.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
The other day last minute I decided to go to Costco for just a few things. When I went to look for my card I realised it must be at home. I went to the counter to get a day pass. First let me say this dont go to Costco on the weekend.... Its a mad house. I stood at the end of a line of 4 people with three people behind the counter working as fast as they can to service us all. Just as Im waiting sure enough some idiot just walks up and cuts the line. No one says anything. I now have to decide if I should be the Bitch and say something. Sure enough I speak up... Excuse me but we are all in line over here. Well I was in line over there. Sure enough there was another line for just the one guy on the side of the counter and he told her to go over to our bank of service people. Sorry. Not to be made to feel like I was out of line to the others waiting I say.... you know they should have a rope like at the bank or numbers like at the deli. Nothing. Am I the only one who doesnt like waiting???
Monday, August 11, 2008
My first show I hosted and it went better than I had hoped. I was on my game and actually had fun up there. All the fear went away with the first joke hitting hard. The second show was a 6 minute spot. I got up and I did my first joke to a mild response. The room was packed I felt nervous. Then during my second joke a kid yelled out " Nice Tits." I said " Did you just say Nice Tits? Well your the first in 2 decades thanks." I went into my next joke and his remarks and the feeling of not being in control of the room got to me...and unnerved me. I went to think of my next joke and got stuck in my head and not the moment. Then I blanked out. Nothing was in my arsenal of jokes. I stood there frozen. I then said" I'm feeling a little Rusty after being away for 6 weeks due to a death in my family and hey I'm old. Then out of no where I just abandoned my set and talked about how people showed up at the memorial who never ever came to my kids bar and bat mitzvahs, or my parents 50th or 60th anniversaries etc. Then I out of no where.... I made up a funny line about funerals and it got a good response. I said to the room and on that happy note I'm gonna say good night. Then I see the mc isnt in the room.... I then say or not. I ask the room to all at once on the count of 3 say the mc's name. Still no mc... So I launched into my dirty set and ended my misery. As I exited the show room I went up to the manager and told him, My first show I hosted was wonderful this one was not my best work. He told me not to worry and that I am just back and it will come back ..... just relax. I looked up and there was Carl my husband with our new puppy in his arms. He had driven me in for my first night back in the city and stand up. He knew it might be a rough night and was right.
Let me say that puppies are an excellent way to prevent depression. I can never curl up and stay in bed all day , he needs to eat , to play, to go out, to play, to play , to show me how much he loves me. Sammy has been the single reason to smile many a day. Even so I hurt from the bad set. It lasted into the next day.
I was shaken and fearful of a show I was to do Sat. night. It was a private show booked by a club manager in the city. I mentioned to the Booker that I had been off for a while. He told me he knows I'm a pro and that I am a perfect match for this show. I had 2 weeks to prepare and I would be fine. Well with 2 days to go before this show I wasn't so sure. I was being paid a very well to do a half hour. I would be doing this show alone. I took this gig the day after my brothers memorial and was full of self doubt and fear when I booked it.. Now after the rough night I was even more fearful. I was extremely irritable all day Thursday and Friday. Thursday I got a phone call that would add another ball in the air.
I was called by a local organization and asked if I can book a comic to do a half hour for high school and college kids. It was the staffs year end party, for a day camp. I am not right for the gig and I had to think of someone to fill the show. It will take a special comic to do this show. I thought right away of Johnny Watson ,who I knew could do a show like this with one hand tied behind his back. Putting this thing together was far harder than I thought it would be. Johnny had a gig out of town he was trying to re arrange and I needed to find someone else just in case he couldn't do the show. It took me two days and hours of emails and phone calls to make it all come together. In the end, Johnny couldn't make it and I booked Rodney Laney. I asked several other comics and it was stressing me out and making me wish I just passed on the entire thing. I know Rodney is perfect for this show and I am sure he will be well received.
My daughter was home from the city and needed to use my laptop. She went on to her Myspace. She then didn't sign out. I signed on and by mistake entered the wrong email address and locked myself out of the site.....and I couldn't access my contacts and the rest of my page. I told myself not to panic and then something snapped inside me. I had a complete and total melt down. I'm talking hysterical ..... not able to cope and crying and screaming my head off. Finally, I figured out what I needed to do to get back in to the site and calmed down. I was shaken by my loss of control and outburst. I scared my college aged daughter. She told me I had to take it easy and maybe was pushing myself too fast and hard.
During the day I spoke to a woman named Pat who books me from time to time here in NJ. She is one of the nicest bookers I know. I told her how fearful I was doing the one woman show the Sat. to come. She gave me some good advice and told me that I would be fine. The day of the show she even sent me an email wishing me good luck on the show that night. You have to be grateful for people like this in your life.
Later that day My teen age son came home from work and was in a bad mood. I was in a bad mood. Then Carl came home in a bad mood and me and my son had a fight. He spoke fresh to me.... as most 16 year old boys can do at times... but my patience was long gone and missing. My husband mixed into the argument and made it far worse. We now were all at it. I decided to leave the house and get a cup of coffee and cool off. I drove up the street and parked my car and waited to calm down before I risked driving . I called Linda Belt a dear comedy friend and asked if she was booked this weekend. I wanted to bail out of the gig.... something I have never done before for this reason. It would be totally uncool for me to cancel but I was sure I was going to be spending the weekend in a mental hospital. The pressure of a one woman show riding only on me and being this upset following a blanking out onstage had me paralyzed. After not doing stand up for close to 8 weeks the subtleties of my jokes were missing from my brain. I could remember the jokes but not all the meat. I was upset, what was wrong???? It felt at that moment like everything.
Linda listened and told me she did have personal plans that night but she would break them to help me out. I knew if I backed out of this gig it would be a bad career move. I didn't know what I should do. Just the fact that this woman was willing to break her plans and drive 6 hours from Ct to help me calmed me. The kindness was a huge emotional band aid. We were on the phone for close to 2 hours.
We even got off the topic of my shitty few days and my fear of doing the show. I found myself at one point in the conversation feeling much better and feeling like I was okay. Linda is a total pro. I like to think in this respect we are the same. Just talking to her reminded me of what we both do. I consider her a total equal and somehow hearing her calm steady voice and confidence re-booted my emotional state and judgement. I told her not to break her plans. That I would just do whatever I needed to to prepare and not only do well ....but ace this show. I have to say to anyone doing stand up, its so helpful to know you have a friend like this in comedy. A wing man, a person who will have your back and that you would do the same for in a heartbeat. If you don't have one make it a goal if you do have someone like this cherish them. I had found myself in the calm and fun and caring of a friend. I had gotten lost in the pressure, and fear of failure and the family frustrations. I was able to see myself outside the drama. I was able to know I would and could be okay. ( or at least that is what I told myself)
I went home and locked myself in my room. I was to begin again getting ready for this show. I put my personal life and emotions on hold somehow. The gig was a 40th birthday party. No other info was available to me. I took out my 2 main comedy marble notebooks. I read them cover to cover. I notated the jokes I wanted to put in the set. I then drew up a set list. Then I wrote half of the set that was giving me trouble in long hand. Long hand- tattoos in a sense the jokes to the front of my brain. I then looked at the clock hopped in the shower and did my set out loud in the shower and timed it for the half hour, later I said it again. Then I wrote the set list from memory and checked the master list. It was all there.
The next day I avoided my family and wrote my set list on my hand so I could look at it all day. I did the set again on the way to the grocery store and said the rest softly to myself holding my cell phone next to my ear pretending to talk on it as I continued to finish the rest of the set as I shopped for food. Yes Im a " Tella-Phoney" I glanced at my had a few times... as I drove home trying to drill it into my brain. I glanced at it and recited the list as I did laundry and made the beds. I ate dinner and read my book and the longhand versions of the jokes. As I drove to the gig I said the set out loud again....
I left 2 hours ahead for a 50 minute drive. I wanted to get there and relax and go over my set and notes. On arrival I checked in with the husband of the birthday girl. Okay it wasn't just women as I had been told. I can still do most of the jokes. I then asked about his wife. Was this a surprise party? Did she know? Who was in on the deception? Are your parents here? Is there anything out of bounds?? No F words... no problem. Nothing gross. I told him my gross and graphic joke..... he laughed and said it was funny. I shook his hand and told him I would be out by the bar and to call me when he needed me to start. I stuck my head in the room . Men and women 35 to 50. I can do this. I felt so prepared that all the fear and dread had left me.
I opened up with crowd work. All in the moment and new. Nothing canned. I asked knowing the answer.... Did you know this was a surprise party? I asked who was in on it? I made a joke how she will never ever trust these deceivers again. I said how can you trust them?
I then made a joke about them keeping secrets .... what else aren't you telling her etc. I then commented how fit she was for 40. Turns out shes a fit model. Sorta like a body builder but not so extreme. I said can I ask you a personal question. What size are you? She got embarrassed and wouldn't say. I made fun of her. She's ashamed shes just a 4 and not a 2. I know how you feel being a 14. I feel your pain. I had her and her husband.
I moved into my set and it was flawless. I forgot to be nervous. I was back. I couldn't have asked for a better set or response. I was filled with pride and relief. People came out to the bar and were full of compliments. I drove home happy. Sunday I hoped that things would calm down on the family front and they did. We all kissed and made up.
Last night I returned to the city for a full night of stand up. I left with lots of time so as not to stress if there was traffic. Turned out there was a ton of it. I was listening to the car radio. I was in a good mood. Just then the Pretenders - I'll stand by you - was on the radio. I was just turning the helix on the way into the Lincoln Tunnel when the singer kinda crys the lyric...... I started to cry!!! It took me by such a surprise. I wasn't feeling emotional. I cried my way through the entire tunnel. As I hit the other side I felt better for having cried. I cried because I was remembering my brother seeing me perform in the city. He would come and shadow me the entire night. He loved coming with me. He would root for me and pump me up. I needed him tonight and he was gone.
I was booked on the 7:30 the family show. I was nervous. It was an 10 minute set and Its different every show. I like to do the set not as a firm set like my weekend show was. I have an arsenal of material and choose each joke as I go. Feeding off each response from the joke before. It went very well. I was hosting the 9:30 and the 10:30 double hosting. No stress here.....NOT. I went to the manager and asked if this was a mistake and he said, no its easy. That's 3 hours of hosting. I decided to do a strong 8 minutes right upfront with limited crowd work. It worked! I just made the jokes seem more conversational in tone. Was it a killer set ....No, but it opened the room. I did a few one liners in each show in between comics amounting to little or no time.
Then I did a 10 minute set on the 11:30 it was a solid fun set. My Pal, Laurence Mallroony who I met from Philly's funniest contest a few years earlier was on the show. He watched the set and said .... Solid. I felt it in my bones. It was. As I got ready to leave the club I was squaring up things at the front desk when the opener for the 12:30 hadn't shown. I asked should I hang around you need another comic? Yeah! Let Robin open shes strong she can do it with no problem. Oy.... dont jinx me. Laurence opened the show. They were a typical thuggy 12:30 show, young rowdy crowd. They were shouting out and a sure sign of things to come. Before the show even started they were going up on the stage and fooling around. Fear returned.
Couldn't leave well enough alone Robin!!! Had to open your mouth and now do this. I came up with a game plan. I would address the rowdy girls who were celebrating a birthday. The loudest one had very large breasts. Not fake ones just large ones. Grandma large not Pam Anderson large. I get up and say Happy Birthday !!! I sing ? " Its your birthday ... happy birthday.... How old are you? She says 27.... I say you looked young ,your boobs are still perky...... the room roared. She had announced to the mc that they were like double ffs. I went on to say that considering how large they were them being perky was quite a big deal. Then I shamed the audience. I said like you didn't see them walking in the room 10 minutes before she got here Noooooo!!!! I was in the zone. They were with me and I was with them. I did a take no prisoners set. Raw and tight.... I did new stuff and old .... I zigged and zagged .... I had an A plus set. Then as I left the stage the mc high fived me and said Way to go Babe. I walked past the next comic who is a good pal and he said......... How am I gonna follow that??? I said," Very well... that's how".
I drove home ..... from my other home on the stage. It was good to be back.
Friday, August 1, 2008
My mom our entire life would say that there is nothing worse than to have to outlive your own child. I think she is right and her words were prophetic.
Sad as it was there was some kind of strength in us all being together. We all still knew we had each other and that somehow together we would make through this.
Friday since there wasn't as normally there might have been a funeral.... life when on around us as normal. Normal wasn't what I needed and after living a day of pain and unending grief. I decided that since Shiva would be delayed. ( Shiva is like a wake after the burial without the body in the room. It lasts several days and friends and family and love ones come to pay their condolences. Once again it is a way to help the mourner know that life will continue and that they have much good still in their lives even with the devastation a loss of a loved one brings.) I told my mom we would let friends and family know that we would instead of Shiva start having condolence calls at my moms home starting the next Monday evening.
At first we were going to have to do it at my home 18 miles from my parents home. I didn't want to have it at my parents house. Here was the problem. My mom is 83 and my dad is 87 and needs a walker. My mom takes care of my dad and a 4 bedroom house. She keeps the house very tidy, everything is in its place and with 80 plus year old eyes to my mom it appeared to be clean. It wasn't. Every light switch was black, the kitchen cabinets had a film of grease and the refrigerator door was filthy. The carpets all looked vacuumed with lines from the machine yet the rugs had dirt and stuff all over them. My mom hadn't replaced the bag and was just running over the dirt. The bathrooms were horrible. Mold on the shower ceiling and the shower door looked frosted and it wasn't. There was a smell throughout the home. Old people house smell. It would make me ill to be in this house. Every drinking glass had a film on it. I would cry when I would go there and argue with my mom to let me or some cleaning people come in to do a deep clean. Mom would be horribly insulted and say that her home was clean. So when It was decided that the Mock Shiva was going to be at moms home I had to have a talk with her. The only conversation that was more difficult was the one when I told her about Craig's illness. She got very insulted and said no. I had to take out the big guns and tell her that she had no say in the matter. That she would have to trust me on this .....her house was dirty and if we were to have people in it had to be cleaned. I pointed out the dirt and she balked that it wasn't dirty. That she had just cleaned it a day or two ago. Finally I told her that I wanted to pay for it .... she said that that wasn't the point she had the money. Then I told her mom do it for me. Make me happy. It hurt me to tell her ... your house is dirty, but it is and that she should just trust me on this. She backed down.
Monday morning 4 women showed up at her home and spent 5 hours cleaning. That's 20 hours of cleaning a so called "not dirty house" My mom the first hour sat on the sofa depressed. Some time during the second hour when the women got on step stools and cleaned her 15 feet by 8 foot wall of mirrors she came around. These women performed a miracle of sorts. I cleaned while they did to get my mind out of my head and spent an hour wiping down the filthy refrigerator door and cabinet fronts. The cabinets were beige and by the end of the day they were back to off white. My mom was amazed when she went into her bathroom and saw the difference right away. She actually was happy. The house smelled like it did when I lived there as a kid , clean and with a faint scent of pine. My mom went up to the kitchen sink and said. What did they clean this with... I wash this sink everyday it looks brand new .....and it did. It took a 26 year old 15 minutes of scrubbing to do it and that is what they used....
Most of my parents friends showed up during the day. My husband notified our friends and to my joy so many of them came by each night. Jeanie Knoll and her husband Matt stopped in the first night and I was so touched by their kindness. Relatives showed up too. It was funny some of my relatives showed up for this occasion who never would come to a happy event like an anniversary party or a Bat Mitzvah. Why are people like this.?? Is it that they are there for you when your down because no one wants to have to be alone when they face a sad time? Are they putting it in the bank for when its there turn to mourn so they know you will return the favor when they need you? Or is it that when you have a happy occasion that they cant share in your happiness and are only there for you when your miserable? I guess its a case by case situation.
Tuesday night was especially nice. Sean Eli and Adam Sank drove out to my parents home to pay me a condolence call. They both came with food, Shaun with cookies and Adam with a huge bowl of buckwheat soba noodles that he carried on his lap for an hour. I loved that they came. First of all Sean has always been a good comedy pal of mine and is a good guy through and through. Adam is the love of my comedy life. He is the Gay son,kid and brother I will never have and always wanted. He met my whacked out family at their fullest form. I had a relative that for years I have suspected to be gay. I was able to have Adam track his Gaydar on him. The scan was negative. Just hours later I was to find out my relative was in love with a woman and just bought a big boat and was planning to sail into the sunset with her. My relative is short and over weight..... so maybe the reason he didn't have a woman in his life was he wasn't successful enough to attract the kind of woman he would want till he was in his 50s? Well good for him! I wish him years of happiness and if he gets married to her will be sure if he invites me to dance my ass off at his wedding. At some point in the evening Sean and Adam and I went into the dining room for some desserts and were talking with my family. I mentioned that I had cancelled all of my July gigs and half of Augusts too. I just don't feel funny. I hate comedy at the moment.
Adam looked at me and said..." Your coming to my last show at Therapy this Sunday right??! It wont be the same with out you. He said he'd understand if I couldn't but if somehow I could he really wanted me there. It felt good to be needed but that wasn't enough. The truth is I am so sad to see Adam go. How could I let him leave and not be there at this show? How could I turn him down? I told him I would be there but didn't know if I would be any good in the state I was in.
Thursday was the first day alone since our Mock shiva. My grief returned. My brother wasn't himself before he passed and had said some hurtful things to me. The pain none the less of these words played in my head and I have cried so hard at times I thought I might never stop. I am impossible to live with. I'm bitchy and irritable . On a day to day basis the one happy thing has been my new puppy. I got him June 29th. His name is Samson and he is a miniature poodle and a ball of black fluff. He is a living beaniee baby.
Sammy is so full of life and forces me to be happy.
I had written a few jokes for Adams Roast a few weeks before all of this. Some were better than others. I didn't have enough jokes. I had done one Roast 2 years ago and for 6 weeks I worked on a set and it killed. Here it was just a few days before hand and I had to write something special for someone whom I love no less. Roast jokes....( yes finally something about me and comedy) are a special kind of joke. Hopefully the Audience would all know Adam but you have to write also as if they don't know him and your filling them in on what you know about the Roastee in a funny insulting way. The jokes have to stand alone even if you don't know the person, but to be special they should hit home hard. I wrote about 10 jokes. I had about a 4 to 5 minute set.
I was dreading the show. I couldn't put my finger on what the dread was. Yes I dreaded that Adam going away ...but there is a big part of me that is so thrilled and happy for Adam, so I don't think that was it. What it was truly.... I didn't want to fail , I couldn't emotionally handle doing this show in the state I was in and have to deal with the pain of bombing too. I hate shows that have alot riding on them. Auditions, large events where I headline or charity functions where someone has put all their faith in me for that one performance. Being emotionally fragile made me so fearful and anxious. I stayed in bed most of the day. I put off writing a set list till the last minute. I left the house for the city cutting it very close to being there on time. I had to bring Sammy because my daughter wanted to see him and I had promised a few days earlier. I spent 15 minutes trying to convince a suburban puppy that it was okay to do his business on a sidewalk. He wouldn't go and didn't the entire night....even after Sarah got him at the club just a few minutes before showtime.
The club was packed standing room only. It was hot in there. Adam took the stage to welcome everyone. He got a standing ovation. The night had special all over it. All the comics had worked very hard on their material. The jokes were strong, some delivered the new material better than others. Some by never doing these jokes before went a bit too long in their sets but really the show was strong and as strong as many professional roasts I have seen before. The comics not only made fun of Adam but of each other. There were several jokes about my advanced age. Youngsters....you wait you'll be old too someday if your lucky. There were several jokes about my dry pussy, etc. At the end of the night Adam came up for his responses and really knew me better than anyone and had some killer jokes and lines and did a slaying of me. He even made fun of my brothers passing and it was hysterical.
I'm getting ahead of myself here. Lets go back. So when the show started Adam said the names of each comic and the line up to the audience. The audience clapped as they are trained to do. Then Adam said and The mother of all comedians is here tonight Robin Fox and the room roared and applauded noticeably louder as they heard my name . It felt wonderful. It was a core feeling, the feeling that is why I do stand up. Yes the artistry and creative process is a driving force... but the sound of over 150 people cheering for me fills my spirit and ego like nothing else. It wasn't that they liked me more than the others that made me happy... it was they knew me and were happy and excited that I was there.
I sat and listed to the show. Rethinking some of my jokes. I went over a couple with Chantal Carraro and she gave me some information that I could use to make a joke I had stronger. I was second to last and worried that the room would be tired , hot an exhausted by my turn. When I took the stage, I was home. Therapy is my best room. I actually have fans in that room and a good set is about as close to a sure thing for me. I made a comment to Brad saying....Nice Mom Jeans which it thought of on the spot. Feeling good enough to ad lib is always a good sign that I'm in the right place. I put my notes on the podium and did these 10 jokes for the first time. I knew from experience that as important as material is that the context is often far more important than the content. I was the context. I was in my zone. How I got there is a complete mystery to me. The only time I failed to have a truly great set in this room was the night that all the Therapy all starts were there for the golden globes and I wanted to do as well if not better than the city headliners and regulars. I was in a competitive mode and not up to the challenge that night. This night there was none of that. I didn't have to be the best.... I just didn't want to bomb or to let Adam down ....compacted by the fear of failing in front of my peers. Tonight On Kathy Griffin my Life on the D list she bombed in a room in Tahiti. She made a few comments that I could relate to and have thought myself before. I was thrilled and felt like wow I am a comic just like she is....maybe not as talented or famous on the G list but we react to the same things. She said that bombing is awful and only made worse when you have people you know see it happen. Mario Cantone was there and her failure only felt worse for it. She and he also said that they freaked out when the audience is lit. Who wants to be stared at it throws you off. Mairo said that he likes darkness and the laughter of ghosts to just fill the room. I have said ... I like doing stand up like I like sex... in the dark.
Back to the roast- I had a fantastic tight little set. I ad lib-ed twice and one joke about how Jackie Monahan was too pretty to be a lesbian wasn't on my paper or even a joke it was just a thought I had I ad libed some thoughts on stage and I killed with it. I made it up as I went along. It was so exciting and I actually felt joy. The one joke I was most proud of was about Tom Ragu whom I just met a few months ago who just adore. I said.... Tom Ragu is so fat his blood type is Elizabeth Taylor. I didn't care what the audience thought. I knew some of them would be too young to get it but to the ones who did, it would kill and that's just what happened. I commented to the crowd that I wrote that joke at one of the lowest moments in my life and that if I could do that It makes me know I can go on. I said .... that joke I did for me. I had a confidence and a command that surprised even me. I made Adam and the room laugh and my jokes about him were for the most part silly and gentle. I never felt more like a comedian than I did that night. I shined amongst my peers and I did what I thought I couldn't do... I pushed through the fear if only for loving Adam and wanting to do right by our friendship and I know somehow I will be okay and want to perform again soon.
Today was a hard day. I isolated myself and called no one. I slept most of the day in a depressed stupor. My husband took me out to dinner. After we finishes we got into conversation with the couple next to us. Just talking and being with people made me feel good. I went home and charged my cell phone which has been dead since the day after My brother passed. I took no calls on it...it is mostly only for work. There was a message from my home club saying they miss me and I should take as much time as I need. They also said... your spots are waiting for you as soon as your ready. I was touched. It was so decent in a business that often isn't. I have my brothers memorial service next Weds morning. I am going to call my avails in for the week to follow. I need to be with people ... I need to go back to being me. I don't know if the pain of this loss will ever leave me . I do know that the joy in what I can do is a huge part of me. I do it because its who I am and I love it most of all when I can make a room full of strangers my friends.
The above was written one week ago....
Since then I have been up and down emotionally. I haven't performed. I just was asked by a pretty big person in comedy to do a private party next Sat night. It is the perfect gig to get back on my feet. Its a 40th birthday party for a woman...and her friends. I was honored to be asked and I will be the only one performing. What touched me so was what the booker said about me and why he was hiring me. It feels good to have the respect of someone in his position. Yesterday Weds was Craig's NJ Memorial Service. I spoke at the service. For someone who writes and performs for a living I was blank as to what to write about my brother. The pain was too sharp for me to think clearly. Finally like the night before a term paper I wrote something down.... I don't know if it is proper to post this but somehow I feel I should. I know I will be all right. It just has been very emotional, without my brother passing just spending this much time with others who also are grieving and raw is difficult. Mostly being around me has been difficult. I did have a few bright moments... Going to Adams Roast was one and Adams going away party was the other. I feel much better in the presence of friends and other comics. I will be starting to work as of next week , I need to work.... I am sad today and happy that Adam is beginning his new life with Rob in California. Endings lead to new beginnings. I need to begin again.
The following was the draft I read at my brothers memorial.
I grew up youngest sister with two older brothers. As a little girl I dearly loved, idolized and feared this twosome.
My brother Craig being the oldest dominated the pack. My brother was a super hero to me. He was a big ham and to me it looked like he was having all the fun. He could ride a two wheeler, he performed in plays, there was nothing he couldn't do. One of my earliest memories of Craig was him being on TV in a tele-play of Jack and the Bean Stalk. As a young teen he was on TV on Zacharie's dance show. He played Hockey and my brother Gary and I would drive in the middle of the night with my mom to his games held before dawn. Craig taught me to skate by him and Mitch Buno each grabbing an arm and fast as lightening pulling me screaming around the rink and then letting me go.
To me it looked like Craig was popular and cool and hip. He wore a fringed suede coat drove a motorcycle and dated all the pretty girls in High School. He was handsome and it looked like life was a big party and he was the coolest one in the room. My brother was too cool to be bothered by a kid sister more than 8 years younger than him. I remember being sad and depressed when I was just 11 and he left for college. I felt abandoned and lost.
Yet Craig would want to help me in life. He would point out sometimes the obvious to me and change my point of view. After college when I was 16 he moved back east and we became closer. He live nearby in Watchung and I would visit him and we would talk. I was in love with someone who didn't love me and Craig tried to get me to see it from another angle. Craig was able to communicate to me possibilities.
No one I knew was more determined than him. Craig was larger than life to me growing up. When I didn't know where to go to college he guided me to Boston. Whenever he came home and I was away he found me and came to visit me. Once while I was away at camp and once while I was in College at BU.
We spent many years in a long distance relationship. I flew out to Arizona once while he was in Grad School and spent spring break with him. There were many years far too many years were we didn't connect. We both believed the illusion that time was unlimited.
Most of my 20s and into my early 30s we spoke seldom. He came to my wedding and I and my husband visited him the year after our marriage in Fresno where he finally settled and raised his own family.
Craig came home for Josh's Bris and when Andy his second son came along. He was home for My brother Gary's wedding too. Then we went though the Telephone years. Where we talked often late in the night for many hours at a time. Part phone visit part therapy we examined our lives and upbringing together and shared intimately with each other. Around the time of Craig's divorce we pulled apart. There were misunderstandings many slights and hurts shared by us both. Just about 5 years ago we found each other again. Craig emailed me he had found me on the Comedy Soapbox and left me a comment on my page. He left a funny and beautiful comment full of love and encouragement.
When Andy his son was in the Army in Iraq we spoke on the phone and started to email each other more often. Though our lives didnt intersect often .... I had an un-dieing love and devotion and affection for my big brother Craig. He in life was the Indian Guide or Space monkey if you will .... older and wiser and full of knowledge, power and wisdom.
Then one horrible morning the phone rang. It was the first Tuesday in November two years ago. That night I had an audition for a comedy festival and tickets to see Jersey Boys. The phone even rang ominously. I saw the caller Id and could tell just by his voice that something was wrong. Craig in tears told me he was going to die he has esophageal cancer.
Life as I knew it stopped. Time wasn't unlimited. My brother was on the clock. He asked me to help him with some logistical things and we just cried with each other.
I called my husband and we both cried on the phone. I then sat down and wrote my dear brother an email promising him we would fight this together and that I would be there for him.
I flew out to Fresno 3 times during his illness. I came with alot of emotional baggage. Craig has a beautiful home and was so proud of it. Craig had an intensity to him that had helped him succeed in life, but was difficult at time if you were not on board with him. As soon as I entered the house he had jobs for me to do. I helped him with his expense lists and organized his bills and even changed his air conditioner filter. Craig became as hyper aware and controlling of his environment during his illness. He grabbed hold of this control as his life spun out of control due to his illness. His home amazed me. It was nothing like what I expected. It was warm and cosy and much homier than I had expected. Craig as it turned out was very sentimental and had photos all ove his home of everyone he loved and cherished. To my surprise Mr. cool had photos of our late grandmother we called Nana in every room, by his desk and even next to his bed side.
His music room was filled to the brim and I helped him put some things in order. Deb his fiancee painstakingly organized the 1000s of magic tricks he had and self taught himself and mastered. I learned so much from Craig's home. We had similar tastes in alot of our home furnishings etc... Craig loved his home. He had 100s of friends and he received 100s of cards wishing him good health from friends and patience alike. Many notes and cards were filled with letters of gratitude from a patients telling Craig how he impacted their lives and thanked him for helping them to turn their lives around.
Craig loved his yard and landscaping, the fruit trees and plants. He loved Deb and his sons. he cherished his friends and he knew everyone in town. You couldn't go to a coffee shop or store with our several people stopping to say hello and chat. He loved his pets and Gabrilla the pit bull especially. This dog was so devoted to Craig and when he was going through the rigors of chemo wouldn't leave his side. Craig had a Big life.
We didn't do much when I visited. I came as much to give Deb a break from the constant care she lovingly gave to my brother. As Craig put it..." I'm a hand full". Craig and I during these visits bonded closer than ever. I was in many ways the next best thing to a mom. I'm good at mothering I guess. We talked and we went through our lives and righted and hurt or wrongs even the smallest.
For most of my life I was intimidated by Craig. No more... now, we were now equals. I had a comfort in just being with him. Many days we would just sit and be together Craig would watch TV-- some show on how pencils were made and I would do a sudoku puzzle. I said to him.." Being alone with you is so comfortable it reminds me of being alone with myself and at peace. I was comfortable and comforted with him... he agreed.
That is what I will remember and cherish and miss most about Craig. The small simple moments that were too few. I hungered all my life to he in his life. When I returned home we would talk on the phone for hours. Many times Deb would go out and I would just keep him company for several hours till she returned home on the phone or computer. He didn't like to be alone. I bought a Apple computer and would I Chat with him like on the Jetsons. We would visit for hours on end. Often I would Web chat with him after getting home from comedy at 2 am and chat on the computer till dawn. Many of these I chats would begin with Craig in tears. My only goal was to take his mind off his worries and to distract him long enough to make him laugh. I would tell him my jokes I did that night and repeat a line I loved that I heard that night. He was my biggest fan and loved to hear that I was working hard and doing well. He had an undying belief in me.
One day he came online very upset.... as we talked I mentioned a problem I was having at home. He calmed down immediately and went about trying to help me solve the difficulty I was dealing with. Craig loved helping people fix problems. During his illness Craig and I got to know each other. He was as I have said my biggest fan and when he came home to visit during his illness and a short remission he saw me perform several times a night many nights. He had an undying faith in my talent and never tiered of seeing me perform. He believed in me so much and told me it was just a matter of time till I hit the big time.
I remember a time when I was small being in our kitchen. Craig stood in the doorway blocking me from leaving. He had his hands above him holding each side of the door and his legs were doing the same. He smiled and said... I'm 14 your 7 when are you going to catch up with me??? I said never silly, your my big brother you will always be older than me.
My Brother Craig lived a full and happy life. He loved me always. My last words to him were ..." I will always love you as long as I live". I am grateful for the small moments especially the ones where I felt our love flow though one and other. I will cherish this and Craig's memory all my life.