Thursday, September 11, 2008

A sad anniversary

It was seven years ago that America got a wake up call from the rest of the world. It was on that day that we were reminded what it feels like when war comes to your home.
I say reminded, but for most of us it was a completely new feeling and a terrible one at that. I can't help but tear up as I think back to that morning.

In the days following it became clear to me that I wanted to talk about reality in my comedy, I had to in fact. For a guy who grew up on Steve Martin, Andy Kaufman and The Unknown Comic this was not the direction I thought I'd be heading. I always enjoyed nonsensical, silly comedy with costumes and vaudeville type goofiness the most.
Of course I had later in life discovered Carlin, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Dick Gregory and Bill Hicks so I wasn't without mentors.

Looking over these Mentors in light of the dark times I found myself in I was most touched by the gentleness present in Bruce, Pryor, Gregory and even Carlin's early (really mid) stuff. I knew that I wanted to take the anger and despair and find the humor and humanity in it and share it, not just with like minded individuals so we could fuel each others rage but with the very folks I'd have trouble getting along with but who essentially had the same peaceful, loving goals at heart.

So, I started writing, trying to balance the critiques I had with the compassion and empathy I felt. I dig Bill Hicks and Lewis Black but I didn't see that the world needed another angry man yelling at them in hilarious ways.

This led me to return to the stand up comedy stage (I had focused primarily on writing, performing and directing sketch for the past few years) and I landed on a stage with a Hindu friend of mine, Tapan. I did my atheist material, much of it dealing directly with 9-11, for the first time. This was about five years after the attacks. Within a month of that performance Tapan and I were putting together the Coexist? Comedy Tour.

I know the other comics on the tour were effected deeply by the 9-11 attacks as well. Tissa cites them and America's response to them as being a major catalyst to her going on stage at all. And today, as I think about the horrible thing that happened and I feel a renewed need to respond and to respond carefully and correctly. I'm very happy about this tour. I really believe in it. This is a beautiful thing that I'm very lucky to be a part of.

So thanks John, Sammy, Tissa, Chad Lehrman, Cheese, Bengt Washburn, Mikhail the White Russian and anyone else who has performed with us. And thanks to all the audience members who have and who continue to support this effort.

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