The silence of laughter is deafening
With the virus wiping out all indoor entertainment venues, I’ve been thinking quite often of my friends in the comedy world. They have been devastated by the lack of work and cancellation of all of their gigs.
Comics I know who have lucrative and steady cruise ship gigs, those who work the circuit here in Jersey and New York City and those that travel around the country to Vegas, Reno, Atlantic City and other major casinos and showrooms have been sidelined.
No work. They have no company benefits, they have no pension and some don’t qualify for unemployment. I realize that there are many others in other fields of employment that are experiencing the same devastation but being in the business of comedy is very close to me.
Stand–up comedy is an art, anyone who has had the opportunity to stand up in front of an audience and deliver their own material and make that audience laugh and be engaged has a special talent. I know, I have made many attempts at making it part of my entertainment repertoire.
I’ve had some success and more failed attempts. I lived in Chicago back in the mid-to-late '80s and was encouraged by my friends to enter a big comedy contest with the winner performing at Comic Relief in Los Angeles and getting a paid, multi-weekly run at a big, local Chicago comedy club.
I had a full time job working the proverbial 8:30 am to 5:00 pm and most of the time my job required me to entertain clients after work including travel to other major cities.
I entered the contest and I made it to the final round of 10, there were 50 contestants, the contest was held at the famed Second City and it was sold out. I won the contest with the title of Chicago’s Best New Comedian. I ended up doing a few weeks locally but had to turn down Comic Relief as it conflicted with a major work commitment.
I deeply regret that decision. I realized that the work that has to go into writing and performing is not to be taken lightly. I was totally burnt out after trying to do my day job and then prepare and work a comedy club until 2:00 am.
I put it aside for many years and I ended up getting back into it in 1999 when Catch a Rising Star had me host every Thursday night for three months. I liked it but the pressure again was tough to keep up.
That’s why I admire the talent that we have here in New Jersey. We are blessed here to boast of the best music in the country, the same can be said of Jersey’s comedians.
I’ve had many on my TV show and also live stage shows and will try to support them at my shows when I can. During a time when we need comedians the most they are not available to us. I sure hope that changes very soon.