The Corral Show went great until they physically pulled me off stage.
The house was packed. It was a cool spring evening, and it seemed as if everyone – every man, woman and child in Wyoming – had come to the Civic Center to see this little variety show. Maybe they’d come to see Paul Adam’s magic act, or the senior girls perform the Bunny Hop, or Bob and the band boys perform She’s a Witch! Who knows? But there were hundreds of people there. Standing room only.
Mike Irwin had gotten a Saturday spot opening at the eye. He was the first of us – of the original, core group of comics – to break through that wall. I knew he’d be first. No one deserved to open more than Mike, and I was thrilled for him. We’d become good friends, traded albums, worked on each other’s acts, paced each other. Mike going up was a confirmation for the rest of us. We’d put in the hours. Now, more than ever, I knew it was possible.
“Not ready,” said Roger.
“I am. Really. I really am!”
“Soon. Keep working.”
Day of the Corral Show. At home, in the kitchen.
I was working on a script and Mom was making homemade soup. She had recently discovered the Cusinart food processor – a new cooking tool with rapidly spinning blades – and I thought Mom + Cusinart = blood + hospital visits = new material.
You can yell at your mom and throw your dad against a tree, but there are certain things y’just can’t say to your grandparents. “Hey Gramma – pound salt up your ass!” Y’can’t say that.
One time, my father, thinking that my grandmother Alice should’ve minded her business about something, said:
Oh, just tell her to pound salt up her ass
Friday, November 21.
My fifth performance and it was crap, my worst ever up to that point. It had been a month since I’d first performed and nothing had been as good as that first, fiery performance. In fact, Roger had rested me the previous week. This week I was on the verge of the flu, but I had promised myself that, if offered, I would never not take a slot – not after barely surviving that first show. So, I went to the eye with a sore throat and lousy material. It was the fifth time in a month I had tried to write an entirely new act and the effort was exhausting. The other comics were repeating. They couldn’t have cared less about new material and returning patrons.
And everyone else killed that night, so I assumed I would too. But I crapped out so miserably, I wanted to die.
A year earlier, on a February morning, my dad decided to teach me how to drive on the highway in the middle of a blizzard. We were approaching I-75 – one of the two major expressways in Cincinnati – and at that point I’d never merged onto a highway in any weather, much less a blizzard. As I merged, I turned the steering wheel a bit too hard to the left. The car skidded 180 degrees and then drove towards oncoming traffic.