He MADE Me Do It!
This article belongs to In Search of Laughs! column.
Since I'm not a surgeon with a scalpel, or a airline mechanic with a hangover, I think it'll be OK if I share my little secret with you: I hear these tiny voices inside my head, and they tell me what to do!
It goes back to when I was a small child. My older siblings wouldn't play with meÖthe bastards! So I was left to myself to keep occupied, and I found new friends, even if no one but me could see or hear them.
My first imaginary friend told stories foretelling lessons I would need to learn. I was about twelve when he told me how he came to talk so convincingly. He told me that his father insisted he do all the plowing. He asked his father why his older brother didn't have to it. His father told him his brother had talked his way out of the lousy chore, and also stuck his little brother with all the work. I never forgot that. From then on, I always tried to pick and use my words well.
One day in high school chemistry class, I fell asleep, dreaming of my first imaginary girl friend. Rudely awakened by an architect's scale being bonked on my poor punkin' head, I was commanded to repeat the lesson that I was napping through. My invisible pal whispered to me the subject was gas, expressed in volumes, and my teacher had just said: " A common kitchen match, when lit, releases ten times its weight in fumes." Armed with this inside information, I offered a demonstration the next day for the whole class. Having hacked off the nozzle to a CO2 cartridge, I cut the heads off two books of matches. Next, I put the match-heads in the empty cartridge with one peeking out to start the desired chain reaction. Lastly, I placed the cartridge inside a hollow tent tube to aim it. Voila'! I'd invented the bazooka!
I hadn't planned to light it, so my invisible friend did! Voila'! The ensuing discharge penetrated the Principal's '68 VW! Inventors are misunderstood. My imaginary pal and I had detention for two weeks.
I told the Selective Service Board about all of my imaginary friends in hopes it would help me avoid the draft! They said it didn't help much. In my life, I've had many encounters with these friendly voices. Some of these meetings have led to inevitable epiphanies; others have led me to question my already questionable sanity. Some say you aren't responsible for all the thoughts that come into your mind, just the thoughts you entertain. Well, in my head, we're having a big party!
During my tenure as a road comic, I've driven almost nine hundred thousand miles across this bumpy land, usually alone. Talk Radio always makes me so
angry, I usually end up speeding. Music gets repetitive. So, imaginary friends made long hours bearable and led to lively conversations. Once, my then current, imaginary friend advised me to vote for Ralph Nader. This example proves our imaginary folks are indeed fallible, and that they have a wicked sense of humor.
But, the one imaginary friend I will never forget is the buddy that
That voice convincing me I could make people laugh, tipped the balance for me. I hesitated when it came to doing my first stand up show. But the little sangfroid voice kept after me, telling me that everything would be just fine! I wrangled a spot at Gilley's, the big western club in Pasadena, just outside Houston, made famous by their mechanical bull and its riders. My voice was silent about this choice. After all the cowboys rode the electric bull, amidst loud pizza pick-up announcements, my little voice urged me to go for it. Very few of the hundred or so folks in attendance were paying much attention, until I rushed to the stage, grabbed the microphone, and announced a line would be forming for all cowboys to RIDE the waitresses! That got some good laughs, and I was off and running with three horse jokes, (suggested by my pals) three half jokes (mine), and three obviously stolen jokes, (from Johnny Carson, Robert Klein, and Richard Pryor ÖThanks guys!) Almost everybody laughed, EXCEPT for the waitresses. Today, I know without my imaginary friends' urging I would have never gone onstage that night. My invisible friend MADE ME do it! Thanks buddy!
I've done over four thousand stand-up shows since. These days my imaginary friends are less insistent. They still talk to me and suggest jokes on various subjects. And, except for when my latest imaginary friend absolutely insisted I write down these remembrances, I really don't feel compelled to comply, but once again, He made me do it!
The moral to my story is: People who can't believe in imaginary friends = BAD! And folks who can believe = GOOD! End Story!
(This tale is dedicated to our imaginary friends, everywhere!)