Monday, March 05, 2007

I Almost Met a Legend Last Night

Orny Adams
March 5, 2007

Had a really cool experience last night. I was sitting on my couch, smoking a cigar, vegging out after a day of playing basketball and hanging with friends. 9:41pm: the phone rings. I don’t recognize the number. And I have a fear of numbers I don’t recognize. But I answer it. It was the Improv comedy club manager, “Where are you? You’re going on next.” I had totally blanked that I was doing this benefit show for Animals. Three years ago, I did the event and they wanted me back. Not only that, I did press for them and I was headlining the night. And I forgot. (They don’t know that. They think I was just late.) Well, I never work on Sundays, it’s the lords day. Not my lords. But I respect all religions.

So like a fireman, I’m running around my place, getting dressed, gooping my hair up (fireman always do their hair), and before I exit, grabbing a bunch of my “Path of Most Resistance” DVD/CDs. I always told myself I would be a true comedian the day I forget I had a gig—and that day was yesterday. If I forgot I had a show, it meant I wasn’t spending all day obsessing about it and “I” was in fact controlling my life and my stand up wasn’t controlling me. So I had a bit of smile as I frantically drove to The Improv-- the whole time formulating my excuse for if the police pulled me over. “Sorry I almost plowed that bus, but it’s a comedy emergency. Did I mention it’s a benefit? You like animals right?” I almost hit a dog on the way over to a benefit to save dogs.

Fifteen minutes after that phone call, I was onstage. My shirt could’ve been on inside out— hell at one point I looked down to make sure I had pants on. I was very aware of all the people filming me with their phones and cameras. I can’t stand that. I CAN’T STAND THAT. I am so grateful that people want to film me. But I also want to feel loose, free, and jazzy onstage— not conscious about how I’m doing at all times or if I accidentally put on my house skirt. There is no growth in that mindset.

I did 30 minutes: Before I left, I pitched my DVD/CDs from stage. I feel a need to explain that it is BOTH a DVD and a CD. “Understand everyone? There is both. Not one. There is a DVD in here and a CD. So please don’t come up to me after the show, ‘I don’t understand is it a DVD or a CD?’.” And even though I over-explain this, inevitably, someone will continue to be confused by this concept of duel packaging. Why, I don’t know. But I don’t understand much of what rattles in many people’s heads.

Well these Animal lovers went nuts for my DVD/CD (it’s both--- did you know that?) I sold a ton. It feels great to hand someone something that you are so damn proud of. And it feels good to do so much new material onstage and then sell something after that has totally different bits on there.

So, as I’m packing up “my box” (same one I have had since day one. It’s my office: sharpies, charge slips, money bag, promo postcards, and a bunch of PATHS), a lady approaches me, “How many do you have left?” I quickly see three hunks of 10s pre-bound by rubberbands, “Thirty something.” She says, “I’ll take all of them,” and hands me a business card. It was Richard Pryor’s wife. What a powerful moment. It was intense. And as quick as those words came out of her mouth, her assistant was writing a check. “Jennifer Pryor” printed right there on the card and check. Curious, I asked what she intended to do with 38 of them. “I’ll sell them on… you’ll be the first and only non-Richard product up there.” “Richard would’ve bought 38 and just given you the money and told you to keep them,” she told me.

Now. I don’t know if you understand how powerful Richard Pryor’s essence is to another comedian… but it’s grand. And coming this close to meeting Richard Pryor is probably like many of you meeting a president, or favorite movie star, or a NASCAR driver, or perhaps an American Idol runner up.

She said, “Richard would’ve loved you.” Now in all fairness, Richard might’ve hated me. Richard is dead. Richard might’ve hated that his wife is going around speaking on his behalf. (I’m putting a “Silence Clause” in my pre-nup. I don’t want my wife going around giving compliments I might not have given.) But I’ll take that compliment and file it away in my little head with pride. It is the closest I will get to that comedic genius we call Pryor. “He would’ve loved how quick your mind is,” she continued. And then she referred to a point in my show when I was talking about how you should “enjoy life if you’re in your twenties.” And then some lady, who clearly was NOT in her twenties, threw her hands in the air, “I’m twenty.” Everyone laughed. I looked at her. I said, “I don’t think so… maybe in dog years.” (It was an animal benefit afterall.) And I smirked, as to lighten the reality of the words I had just delivered. So don’t get mad at me as you read this. She laughed. But if you open your mouth in my show, you have given me a license to kill. Interactive comedy, is by your choice. You entered the ring. Sure some people in the crowd “Ooooooooohhhed.” People always have to “Oooooooooohhhhhhh,” at any slightness of controversy. It’s their way of saying, “I’m 100% politically correct and trendy” And so I snapped back at them, “Don’t ooohhh me when I’m donating my time for the animals. Now where was I?”

Thank you Jennifer for giving me this moment in my life that I will cherish for a long time. What a cool story—she just bought all the PATHS that I had left! (I even gave her my box! That’s right—I threw in my office. My brief case. Now I’m off to Office Depot to buy a new one. I’ll miss that old box of mine.)

This is why I do stand up comedy. This is why I suffer night after night trying to connect with certain crowds. Because every once in a while, the comedy gawds hand me a night like this; A night when I get to perform for people that GET my sensibilities full on. A night when I get to be ME. A night when I feel like a true comedian. There should be more nights like this.

I am getting closer.

© Copyright Orny Adams, Icrushed Productions 2007