Monday, July 30, 2007

Take My Parents To Work Day

Most comics I know wouldn't dream of bringing their parents to work but I do it all the time. Not only does my Dad come to my shows, but he's also my coach, critic, camera man, CD salesman, and my biggest fan. At one point, my Dad was so well known around the New York City comedy scene that he was invited to be a judge for the Urban Comedy Festival held years ago at the old Boston Comedy Club. It was funny watching comics apologize to him for cursing in their acts. He said, "Do your thing, son. I'm from Bedstuy. There's nothing you can say, that I haven't already heard."

My Dad is able to be so actively supportive because he's retired. We often joke that he works harder for my career then he did for his own. This is not true, of course. He and my mom -- the parental dynamic duo -- raised me in a beautiful home and put me through school.

Now that my Mom has finally retired she and I get to hit the road and go on the girly gigs, where the shows at night are incidental to the shopping we can do during the day. Some people go to sporting events, concerts or amusement parks. My Mom and I shop.

When I was a kid Saturday was Mall Day. We'd get up early in the morning like we were going to work and be at the mall when it opened. We'd shop, stash the stuff in the car, re-park the car (You can't be to careful. The mall parking lot is a thieves paradise.), go back and shop some more. I’m surprised my Dad never reported us missing.

Last year I brought my Mom with me to one of my favorite gigs in Amish country, Lancaster, PA. The comedy club there is nice, but the outlets are the real draw. We outlet shopped ‘till we dropped and then refueled at The Cracker Barrel. I take full credit and responsibility for getting my Mom hooked on Cracker Barrel’s Big Country Breakfast and their famous Chicken and Dumplings.

Although she doesn’t like to fly, I’d love to bring my Mom with me next time I play Minneapolis to enjoy the shopping Mecca: The Mall of America. I’ve been there many times and it never gets old. There’s a roller coaster in the middle, the top of which provides an excellent ariel view of the stores you might want to visit.

My Dad always said, do what you love and the money will come. Being a working standup comic tickles me because I’m not the funniest person in my family. My parents are hilarious. My Dad has never gotten on stage, but if he did, I believe the audience would love him. He's smooth, charismatic and irreverent. My Mom, the more reserved of the pair, would never get on stage but she is one of the few people who can catch me off guard with a wickedly well-timed aside that makes me howl with laughter. God forbid she catches me mid sip, I do a classic spit take that would make the comedy gods proud.

I’m grateful that my parents encouraged me to follow my dreams. I doubt standup comedy is the career path most parents would choose for their kids. To be honest, if I had a kid I don’t think I’d want her to become a comic. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, but I’d want my kid to choose something more stable, with fewer demons (alcoholism, drug addiction, agents, managers) and more money. Lots more money. Something wholesome like medicine or law.

I enjoy bringing my parents to work with me because I don’t think I could ever bring a kid. Sure the theater and TV gigs are great, but most of my shows are still in night clubs. I’d feel a little funny perching a toddler on a bar stool while I go off to tell jokes. Even in a culture where children are encouraged to be hip and cool before they can walk and talk, that seems mildly inappropriate.

But the best part of bringing my parents to work, is the bragging rights it gives me. I’ve got married parents. Parents who are married to each other. What a concept! And get this, they were married BEFORE I was born. See what mean? They’re hilarious!

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