Mill Valley, CA 2008
I had a chance to perform at the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, CA a few years ago. Mark Pitta runs a Tuesday night show there that, if you’re ever in the area, I HIGHLY recommend you attend. I can’t emphasize that enough. Typically, on any given Tuesday, you’ll see whichever headliners are appearing in San Francisco over the weekend getting a little extra stage time.
This alone would provide for some truly quality comedy not to mention the regulars from the neighborhood that would drop by. Regulars like Robin Williams.
I’m not sure what it’s like for people in other careers. Like when a young astronaut meets Buzz Aldrin. I guess thats the feeling. One minute you’re sort of questioning why you drove 30minutes north of San Francisco to some town you’ve never heard of to tell jokes and the next you’re standing “backstage” or outside the backstage door as the case was that night talking to someone who you grew up worshipping.
Since that night and in particular the last few days I’ve thought about the things I wish I had said to him that night.
I wish I had told him how whenever I watch “Good Morning Vietnam” I can hear my dad laughing at the, “What does three up and three down mean to you Airman?”End of an inning?” line.
I wish I had told him that when Mrs. Doubtfire was released on VHS I never bothered renting it, I just bought it.
I wish I had asked him what a comedian, who wasn’t born with seemingly so much god given talent, should do if they don’t feel unique?
I wish I had taken a picture with him.
I wish I had asked him if I could open for him on the road sometime.
I wish I had told him that other than Rudy and Field of Dreams there was only one other movie scene that genuinely made me tear up every time I see it.
“O’ Captain, My Captain.”
The truth is I didn’t do any of those things and I’m glad I didn’t say any of those things. The truth is I shook his hand and tried to act as if I was at any open mic. Just a couple of comics standing outside talking about comedy, the room, the crowd that night, the occasional story from the road. I do remember him asking me where I was from,
“Baltimore,” I said bracing myself for his retort.
“Dear God, well, thats what you have to do. Go everywhere.”
He only said one thing but he basically summed up what it takes to be a great comic in one simple statement.
I’m not sure what he was going through the last few days and I don’t know this for sure, but I don’t think people fully understand just how much and to what degree some people and in this case, some artists, rip themselves open. How much they dig and analyze and over analyze situations and people and themselves in front of us, until someone says, “You’re good enough” and then, “You’re a star” and then later “What happened to you?” The high and low is as devastatingly awesome and sad as anything on this earth.