A comedian who has made a career saying what Hollywood doesn’t want to hear tries to right his wrongs. 2,712 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.
I’m not sure how this works. This was someone else’s idea. Actually, a lot of people’s. My agent, my shrink, two old friends, two guys who know and two ex-wives. The only one who said not to do it was my new girlfriend, which is why she is my new girlfriend. I don’t have a computer. Well, I do, but it’s dial-up. I don’t have email anymore. I would have typed it on my computer, but my printer is busted. Or needs a new ink cartridge. So, I am dictating this into a tape recorder and giving it to one of my daughters, who said she would type it up and email it to some new website where, ideally, they would post it and then other places might pick it up and then everyone would eventually know everything and then… then what?
So, if you’re reading this now, it made it. Which is the difference between what this is and me. I never made it.
There’s a great joke. It’s not mine. I don’t know whose it is, but the fact I’m not saying it is mine is an incredible departure for me. Here’s the joke: Saint Peter at the Gates of Heaven. First guy comes up. Saint Peter says, “What did you do on Earth?” Guy says, “I was a doctor. I made $500,000 a year, but I put in at least one day a week at the free clinic. I also went to Africa twice and performed medicine in destitute villages. My wife and I were married for 35 years, we had three beautiful children, and I had seven grandkids.” Saint Peter says, “Okay, you can go in.” Second guy comes up to the gate. Saint Peter says, “What did you do on Earth?” Second guy says, “I was a lawyer. I grew up poor. Paid my way through law school, started with a big firm, made it to partner. I was earning at least $1 million a year, but three years ago, I left and started my own firm, which did exclusively pro-bono work. I was married 25 years. My wife couldn’t have children, so we adopted two girls, and they both just graduated from law school and are taking over my business.” Saint Peter says, “Okay, you can go in.” Third guy comes up to the gate. Saint Peter says, “What did you do on Earth?” The guy says, “Not much. I never made more than $7,500 a year. I was married and divorced three times. I have five children, two that I’ve never seen. And I’m an alcoholic and a drug addict.” And Saint Peter says, “What have I seen you in?”
I’m not dying, unless you heard something. I’m not sick. The fact that my health is as good as it is may be one of life’s great jokes. As great as the Saint Peter joke, probably not. As great as the bit I came up with in 1994 about the realtor showing John Wayne Gacy’s house (“The basement is 20×30 and sleeps 26…”)? Well, comedy is subjective. A lot of comics love that bit. I heard Robin Williams laugh one night in the back of the room when I did it at the Holy City Zoo. So, for all I know, he lifted it and it died with him.
If I sound bitter, that’s what you’re hearing. I am not bitter. I am just relentlessly realistic.