I'd Like to Thank...Nobody!
I have made a mistake. A big mistake. I never thought that I would even be in a position to make an error like this one. Now I understand why things like this happen and feel sympathy for those before me who have done the same.
Recently I won an award . It wasnt any of the big-time show business awards of which we are all familiar. There was no red carpet, no paparazzi and no annoying Joan or Melissa Rivers asking who are you wearing. This was a regional award, given by a smaller group for my own little accomplishments, and still quite an honor.
The Business Ledger, the leading business newspaper catering to the needs of Chicago & suburban companies bestowed upon me an Annual Award for Business Excellence. This is a nice looking trophy honoring businesses that have achieved a certain level ofwell, excellence I suppose. Im still unclear as to what receiving the award entails and how I was even considered for one. All I know is that the DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau felt my little company was worthy of recognition. Their nomination spurred my delivery of the application, and later bore fruit in the form of the award. There was a luncheon, a ceremony, and all of the glamour involved with any other awards show sans Billy Crystal and Debbie Allen, thank GOD!
Truthfully, I didnt even know the thing existed prior to my nomination so I didnt even have the time to be excited or sweaty with anticipation of the big day. However, I was very happy once the trophy was in my hand and I found myself carrying it around with me as if it were a Best Actor or College Entertainer of the Year statue.
What was the big error? What was the faux pas that compelled me to write about the experience? I forgot to thank my wife, April, in my acceptance speech. In fact, I forgot to thank the people who nominated me, the organization presenting the award - EVERYBODY! I simply said a big thank you after what was, so Im told, the highlight speech of the entire ceremony.
You see, I was being honored in the category of Entertainment/Hospitality Company, which is a bit odd, thinking about how I could have lost to the Hyatt Regency (nobody at the Hyatt can juggle worth a damn.). When I was told Id be receiving the award I was asked by the representative at The Business Ledger to please, please, please spin a plate for us. I figured I was the only actual entertainer to win this award, if not the only plate spinner. Not wanting to disappoint, I brought a plate and a stick and intended to make my acceptance speech a fun time for all.
What did I do? I went for the entertainment value of the moment as opposed to working the humility and pride aspect. While posing for photos with the man presenting the award, I had him hold the stick while a plate spun rapidly on top. I rode the laughs from that moment and riffed a little comedic routine about our celebrity host, WGN radio personality, John Williams, as well as the oddities of my business. I even balanced the spinning plate on my head for a big finish. I did what I do best. Hilarity and off-the-cuff genius aside I forgot to thank all deserving a little gratitude.
Proud Owner of the AABEMy thank you at the end of the speech was just like any other Id ever said at the conclusion of a performance. Im surprised I didnt beckon the crowd to tip the wait staff. There was no description of my company, no humbling stories about starting out and growing the business, no heartfelt moment where I acknowledge the support from my wife and the love I have for her. In short, I TOTALLY BLEW IT! Awards and accolades do not come very often, especially in my business which is considered to be the shallow end of the pool when compared to movies, TV, etc.. In all likelihood this will be my only chance to have that tender moment on stage where I could publicly thank my wife for her love, her support, and for giving me the big ones for all these years (thank you Kirstie Alley!). As far as Im concerned, I failed at winning. THATS classic entertainers insecurity rearing its ugly head right there!
Is it really a big deal? No. The folks at The Business Ledger took the time to tell me how much they liked my speech. I thanked them. The DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau told me personally how much fun they had watching me. I thanked them as well. Many people asked for business cards. I thanked them for good measure. I panicked so much about not thanking anybody that I over-thanked everybody.
I wouldnt have gone so damned thank-happy had I not mentioned to my wife, a classic smart-ass like myself, immediately after my speech that Id inadvertently forgotten to thank the folks who nominated me. She just whispered to me, and your WIFE! and laughed an evil laugh. Her little statement made me realize Id not only forgotten to thank her, Id forgotten that Id forgotten to thank her. To make things worse, she had a little gift waiting in the car for me to show me how proud she was. Brutal!
Shoes. Is There Anything They Can't Do?A quick trip to the mall and a couple of pairs of womens shoes later, I felt better. I think shoes can make just about any marital problem better . She didnt demand I buy her anything. She was more amazed that I was so distraught and while she was, a little disappointed at the time, she really thought the whole thing was extremely laughable. Nonetheless, she was happy to have the shoes.
How did this happen? First of, Im an entertainer and I just cant be at a microphone and have nothing entertaining to say though it has happened accidentally a few times. Comedy is tough! Next, I couldnt bear to go on and on with a drawn out speech where I blathered about, thanking everyone including the janitor at the hospital where I was born. Those speeches seem to happen at ALL awards ceremonies. Who knew? Lastly, it was something of a surprise my wife could attend the ceremony and I hadnt thought about what I was going to say. When it turned out she could attend I just wanted to look good for her. Regardless I didnt prepare anything specific and completely forgot to do the most basic thing, thank the person who meant the most.
All I wanted to do was avoid the situation classically portrayed in a Kids in the Hall sketch, where an award recipient, flustered by the moment, thanks Hitler. I had even joked about it before hand, I KNOW to thank my wife & friends. I just dont want to thank Hitler. As it happened I forgot him as well. No matter what the excuse, I became Hilary Swank, Sarah Jessica Parker, and anyone else who didnt thank their spouses at a ceremony.
I now understand how these thing happen. I never get nervous on stage. But being there in a situation where humility is expected, where EVERYONE before me had spoken way too long already, where I was the only comedian in the room; I became as nervous as I was the first time I ever took the stage. I panicked. When a comedian panics, he tells jokes. As far as anyone was concerned, I had a killer set and was obviously a good performer and a good businessman. All told, thats not too bad.
In closing, let me say to The Business Ledger, the DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau, the janitor at the hospital where I was born, Adolf Hitler-WHOOPS! To all those people AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, my lovely, supportive, beautiful (and forgiving) wife, April, Thank you very much.
Is it too late to return the shoes?