the bliss that comes from not checking the boxes

a gift of working with comedians for so long was that a lot of joy and laughter came with us most everywhere we went. the attention required that went with that was mostly exhausting, but at the end of whatever journey we were on, we reminisced most about the smiles we made along the way. internationally, that’s really all we could count on as approval. but anywhere we went, even as names were misremembered and forgotten by fans shocked at the encounter, that exuberant glee was what mattered. when i am given a hard time for not remembering names now, i have to laugh to myself. memories of all the famous types i’ve met and worked with instantly flood my brain. as if on demand, recollections spring forth of their bashful nods and waves at praise after they were repeatedly called their brother’s name. or that of another similarly funny person. it serves as a great reminder that identity is never really about who or what we see, but rather our internal reaction to the encounter. the more notable among us seem to accept that easier.

being desirable to be around is apparently much harder than it seems it would be. comedians used to talk about who were good hangs, and that is also the most accurate non-description description of wantable hangers-on that i can get to myself. fewer care to be one these days, but everyone seems to still want the access that comes with it. to do what with it is still a big question mark to me, but i care less now. visitors to my life are just that. repeat guests are comprised of the ones who actually want to be there, and there are gratefully some of those. but thankfully, i am no longer in charge of green room or vip lists. gullibility isn’t cute or rewarded in that setting, and that is usually, scarily, my default these days.

comedians brought their friends with them when they could. to write jokes with when they had time, and when they didn’t, to shield them from whatever they feared by having to be more visibly social. but as time became dominated by mostly financial demands, despite our lack of involvement with those arrangements, publicists took over that spot in their worlds, too. or we were fired. by the company, the client, or our actual bosses. there were a lot of options to be ousted if you were disliked.

when i started, some clients used multi-member, at times bi-coastal, teams of public relations personnel, and whether you got to accompany them as part of the tiny traveling entourage depended on being known to have that comfortable, hang-able quality. bosses more looped in with the corporate demands could direct us via blackberries and cell phones. but they never figured out a way to ask us to be less annoying. speaking aloud that subjective judgement was frowned upon even then. few of us adopted the modified behaviors that came with our experiential lessons for the long-run, but early on, i must have qualified somehow. pretty sure the movie “dick” was based on people like old me. we ended up in the bizarrest of circumstances, but being so in the dark, many times we were the best of the mandated companions to be there to make people follow rules. inciting genuine laughter goes a long way, whatever the reasoning.

being able to casually make people chortle who make people laugh for a living is perhaps one of the greatest accomplishments i think i have had. naivety blossoms when we don’t try to control everything, and the unknown that comes from that is charming when all that exists otherwise is a warm intent. the comedy club rooms our clients performed in were safe in comparison to the borage of humans we encountered in the promotional life, so travel companions laughingly slayed whatever human barriers were around so they didn’t have to. teamwork looks different to different people.

having an outlet where you can be yourself is highly underrated, and we are seeing all around us the broadest effects that can come with lower-priced and non-existent safety nets. in personal lives, it gets fulfilled in part by marriages or families, but living beyond that often requires another layer. one person can’t do it all, whatever we want to tell ourselves. we all need others to funnel life for us sometimes. and it’s often what lets this ride on the rock be the most fun.

people i met along the way are the accidental architects of some of my most cherished happenings in my history. from icons i’ve dined with early mornings on the road to girlfriends who’ve wanted a certain kind of sight-seeing experience, those unplanned moments made the trips the most enjoyable sometimes. being amongst a group of people you can be yourself around is probably the rarest of respites, but it’s clearly palpable in the most entertaining entertainment. seasons in, their unwritten banter supersedes the boxes the characters formed for them. when you feel it, if you look for it, it’s there. and we can bring it into our daily existence, too. most efficiently, when we stop trying to. not orchestrating each moment is freeing. for us all. hopefully, i can remember that again. but in the meantime, i thank the authentic characters around me. being weird is not easy. whatever that means, whatever status quo we breach. but we certainly have a lot of fun not trying to fit a mold. which is maybe all we can strive for.

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