Tuesday, March 31, 2020


      A Coward’s Journey

My parents wanted me to stay with them during the Pandemic. This could lead to me either spending two months at their house or murdering them with the Corona I didn’t realize I was carrying. I declined, thinking I just couldn’t live with myself if I ended up spending two month with them.
But then what? Do I stay in New York?
My room in Astoria was roughly the size of the coffin I may soon be buried in, and I couldn’t envision being cooped up in there for two month without going completely insane. Also, I’m not sure if I wanted to be quarantined with my roommate, mainly based on a conversation I had with him a week ago. 
“I’m not worried about the pandemic,” he said, while flipping through channels. 
“How many Americans do you think are gonna die?” I asked, assuming he would say an incredulously low number. 
“I dunno…5%?” 
“So you’re not worried and you think 18.5 million people are about to die?”  
He was either a sociopath or a moron, and I didn’t want to stay here and find out which. 
As I was debating my options, my brother called. 
My brother lives in Phoenix with a wife and four year old daughter. Not having a family of my own, or a girlfriend I can do Quarantine Sketches with for the next eight weeks, I decided my best option would be to abandon New York in its time of need and stay with him. 
The problem is: should I fly? As always in America, there were two very nuanced views on the subject. On one hand, you had hordes of hillbillies flocking to the beaches in Florida like a Last Hurrah before the Black Plague takes them, while on Twitter you had people saying anyone who so much as steps outside is a serial killer. 
Social distancing was crucial, but it did conveniently allow Millennials to engage in their two favorite past times: being self-righteous and not doing anything.  And not just engage in them, but thanks to this pandemic, these two past times had now miraculously coalesced into the Ultimate, Millennial, Wet Dream: being self-righteous ABOUT not doing anything. 
But this moral austerity tinged with self-righteousness was far superior than the partying, Corona-ignoring fools flocking to parks and beaches across America. 
Americans used to die in battle…now a lot of them couldn’t even be lazy for their country. 
I needed to decide soon. My life savings were dangerously low according to the number the coin machine printed out earlier that day.  Also, Planet Fitness recently sent out an email saying they would now be cleaning their machines regularly and I couldn’t think of a clearer sign that the end was at hand. 
         It was obvious I needed to be around family- a.k.a people I could mooch off of- until this whole thing blew over/ we all die. But was that enough justification to go on a plane?  And what if by flying I accidentally gave an old person Corona, or even worse, what if they- and this would be really awful- got me sick? 
Fortunately, there is so much varied information out there, you can find any article that espouses whatever you need to hear at the moment. After googling ‘Is it actually safer right now to go on an airplane’, four articles immediately popped up reassuring me that this was the right decision. 
A very persuasive point one of the articles made was  was that now that flights are fairly empty, you are in fact with less people than the average New York apartment.
I was sold. 
I went on Kyak, spent 4 dollars on a flight on March 17th, and then immediately felt a sense of calm rush over me. I had made the right choice. Very soon, I would be sitting comfortably in an otherwise empty- 
“It’s a completely full flight,” the attendant barked angrily. 
I was standing at the counter, seeing if they could find me a window seat. 
“Everyone needs to check any additional baggage right now. No exceptions.” 
          “Wait, it’s seriously full?” 
“No exceptions!” 
It was United, so to make us feel a sense of normalcy in these scary times they were maintaining their usual level of indifference and rudeness.
“How’s it full?” I asked, motioning to the near-empty terminal. “There’s hardly anyone he…”
My voice trailed off as I caught, out of the corner of my eye, a stampede of coughing, sneezing, laughing, screaming, pushing, teenagers blithely heading towards me. 
Mother of God…there had to be at least 100 of them. 
The two adults with them shouted for them to line up behind me and wait for their Boarding Group to be called. 
I turned to the one of the adults- a cheerful, overly-spray-tanned woman in her 50’s- and asked what in God's name was happening. 
“We’re coming back from a week-long school field trip,” she exclaimed proudly in a happy-go-lucky, Tucson, twang.  
          “Where have you all gone?” 
“Where haven’t we gone!” 
Apparently, in the last five days they had been to Disney World, Washington D.C., New York City, Wuhan, China, Chernobyl, the 4th Floor of the Center for Disease Control, an Ebola Test Lab…
          “We had to end the trip early cause of this whole Overblown Corona Panic…and also a lot of the kids are getting sick.” 
          I was beginning to think the article I specifically read to delude myself into thinking this was a good idea may not have been 100 percent accurate. Surely, being trapped in a narrow tube with a 100 teenagers who had just gotten back from a 'Corona Tour' of the United States was not the healthiest course of action. 
         At this point, Russian roulette would have been a safer activity. 
I found my row and watched in terror as swarms of spittle-spewing savages filled up every single seat around me. Soon I was drowning in a cacophony of phlegm-spewing coughs and wet sneezes and grimy fingers twirling in wax-encrusted ears like pencils rotating in creaky pencil sharpeners…
I was in the eye of the Corona Hurricane. I’d be dead by the time we landed. 
I should never have left my apartment. I should have stayed in my room and gone stir-crazy. And now I would die, because I couldn’t take being alone, and the painful self-reflections that would have ensued as a result. 
There were three teenagers behind me. One of them was either woefully uninformed or was told the most hygienic way to cough is to do it directly into the neck of the person in front of you. 
A girl across from me was sneezing every four seconds. I could see the droplets glide through the air, landing in people’s necks, ears, mouth. It was like watching the Pandemic in real time. 
And these sick, unhinged, minors were all heading to Phoenix, a town primarily known for being full of old people. 
Before, I felt a moral obligation to stay quarantined. Now I felt a moral obligation to crash the plane to keep thousands of people from dying. 
        Once the plane landed, we stayed on the runway for the next 45 minutes, in case I missed being infected by every strain of Covid-19 on board. Finally, the door opened, and I bolted out of there. 
I darted through the jetway and into the terminal. I could feel them behind me, like the shadow of a wave encroaching upon a lone surfer. I jumped into the first bathroom I saw and hid in one of the stalls. 
No more than 5 seconds after sitting hunched over the toilet, I heard them all come in, shouting, screaming, banging things, still coughing incessantly…I couldn’t get rid of them. In their violent, hormonal, anger I felt as if the Corona Virus had become sentient, and was expanding and multiplying all around me. 
Huddled tightly in my stall, I was forced to make those series of self-reflections I was hoping to put off by going on this trip. 
Ever since I heard about Corona, I had been in denial.  When Italy’s death toll skyrocketed, there was some part of me that wasn’t worried…American exceptionalism being ingrained in my bones. And when Epidemiologists went on podcasts to warn the country, I assumed they were being hyperbolic. And when I wanted to go on a plane, I found information to make me feel better about what I was going to do anyway. 
Donald Trump has always created his own reality but so do we every moment of every day. The need to self-delude is not just an aspect of human nature, it is human nature. And Trump is not the virus but a symptom of the times. 
Just then, I let out a cough. Jesus, was I already getting sick?  Could it happen so quick? 
I went on Google and asked ‘Is contracting Corona actually healthier for you?’ 
15 articles popped up.

Monday, December 30, 2019

The Lives and Often Strange Deaths of My Family's Pets

    Our first pet was a shit-colored mut- he looked like an unloved Toto- we found wandering the street adjacent to ours. My sister Esther named the dog ‘Brighton’ because that was the street we found him on. 
   Brighton was very affectionate if you happened to believe trying to murder everyone you saw was an expression of love. He was the size of a throw pillow but that wouldn’t stop him from lunging at every pit bull and Rottweiler he crossed paths with. It was as if he was following that prison rule where you try and beat up the toughest person on the first day inside so that no one will fuck with you. He especially hated the mailman, which was rather hack. But he was also named after the street we found him on so he had been nurtured in a very uncreative environment. 
    The mailman would effortlessly brush him aside on the way to our mailbox.  He was probably the least intimating dog he had to deal with on his route. This lack of intimidation left the mailman especially defenseless on the day Brighton leapt up and bit him directly on the penis.
   The mailman's name was Mr. Longest because God is also a hack. 
   Mr. Longest switched routes with someone else and we gave Brighton to our cleaning lady’s family in the same manner in which the Catholic Church moves priests to different parishes (literally after typing this sentence it occurred to me that my parents were probaby lying and had Brighton put down). 
   After Brighton, we decided cats would be a safer call, as they tend to feel ambivalent about mailmen, or any other member of the human race. Also dogs require multiple walks a day, constant love and attention, while cats are glorified furniture. 
   Our first cat was named Alexander. He was an outdoor cat which is a notch above claiming a squirrel on a nearby tree as your family’s pet. He would explore the neighborhood all day long and then come inside with a dead bird or mouse which he would graciously drop in front of us. I figured he thought he had to chip in on the rent and dead animals was his specific form of currency. 
   Alex met his untimely demise one day when a car drove over him as he was darting across the street to hastily make rent for the month.
   We buried Alex in the backyard, using a big rock as a make-shift tombstone. 
   After Alex, we bought a black and white, long-haired cat named Sticky. 
   We decided to make him an indoor cat. 
   The only thing Sticky liked more than staring at us with glazed-over indifference was sleeping in the dryer.  He would curl up in that cozy, clothes-lined womb and sleep away the day in peace. This peace came to an abrupt end one night when my Grandma, not noticing Sticky in there, threw a bunch of wet clothes on him and set the dryer to permanent press.
   When my Mom opened the dryer later the lint holder was covered in fur. She knew what had transpired but she was too afraid to investigate, so she asked my Dad to come downstairs to see for himself. 
   I was in the computer room in the basement when I heard him hesitantly trod down the stairs and open the dryer door. 
   My Dad was a very stoic, guarded man, so it was especially traumatizing to hear him howling like Sean Penn in Mystic River when he finds out his daughter’s been murdered.
   We now had two tombstones in the backyard. We were only a couple more years of negligence away from having a full-fledged pet cemetery. 
   After Sticky, we got two cats this time (one as insurance). One cat was named Eeyore because he was grey and melancholic and the other was named Tigger because he was orange and suffered from manic depression. 
   My twin sister came back from a friend’s Bat Mitzvah in Pittsburgh and was furious to see we had replaced Sticky.  She grabbed his framed photograph and ran crying into her room, which was a little histrionic, as I don't even think she liked Sticky that much.  But you always appreciate someone more when they’re dead and can no longer do anything to hurt your impression of them. 
   She soon grew to love both of them, and I trembled to think what kind of tantrum she would have when we bought new cats to replace Tigger and Eeyore once they inevitably died in a couple of weeks. 
   I remember one day sleeping in a room with her at my Uncle’s house in New Orleans when she woke up and said, “I just had a dream Tigger and Eeyore died…They’re alive right?” 
   I was put in a real moral quandary. If I told her they had died, in her semi-conscious state she would believe me, and be very upset. But if I didn’t do that, I would have regretted not playing this prank my entire life. 
   So I told her they both died and she immediately started crying. 
   Like God, who has the power to take and give life, I told her I was joking and they were in fact alive.  
   She threw a pillow at me. 
   Tigger and Eeyore didn’t die anytime soon. If you do things right, a cat can live to a ripe old age. And the reason for this is you never really know when to put down a cat as a result of them not doing much to begin with. Determining whether a pet should be put down usually involves seeing if they can still do their favorite things. But a cat’s favorite things are ‘sleeping in a closet’, ‘being awake in a closet’, and ‘moving to another closet to sleep or be awake in’, and you can easily do all those things with one paw in the grave.
    As much as I love cats I am forced to admit that on their best day they are merely a dog that should have been put down two years ago. 
   Also, my Dad was determined not to have anymore blood on his hands. He spared no expense in keeping them alive through their battles with Diabetes, Hyperthyroidism, Cardiomyopathy, and other ailments that would’ve lead to their death with less loving owners. It’s cheap to buy a cat, expensive to keep them going. For example, if I had a cat right now, with the wage I make from comedy, I would have had to put them to sleep the minute they got fleas. 
   By the time Tigger and Eeyore were 18 they both had those Day-of-the-Week Pill Containers typically reserved for old people. 
   Tigger was with me through high school, and when I came back from getting kicked out of college, he slept by my side every night. He would watch me masturbate with that smug, judgmental look of his. And whenever I would take a bath, he would come in, and nudge his head on the ceramic, which was a gesture to show he wanted to be scratched on the head. 
   A dog’s affection is indiscriminate (most dogs you could kick in the face and they’d still come back to lick you) and this makes their affection have less value. But Tigger was only warm to a couple of people. For years, I thought every cat was equally as anti-social, and then I spent some time with other friend’s cats, and realized Tigger was just an asshole. 
   But he was my asshole. 
   He reserved most his hate for the veterinarian. Every time he was taken in, he would fight it like a prisoner being dragged to the ‘hole’ in Shawshank. He would scratch, he would bite, he would claw, he would howl. 
   I worked one summer at that Veterinarian’s Office and I ended up peeking in his chart one day. Drawn in red marker at the top of the page was ‘MMF’. I asked the other secretary what that meant and she said, “Mean Motherfucker.”
   But as Tigger got older, a lot of his anger melted away. Clawing at people subsided into angry looks, and angry looks into mellow resignation. Sometimes he would even go into the veterinarian’s without putting up a fight, and that’s when you know his time was coming to an end. His anger and his energy were intertwined, and they both faded together. 
   I remember the day before I left to New York, I walked outside with Tigger and watched him walk around in the grass. It was like watching a prisoner being taken outside after years of solitary confinement. I filmed his frail body struggle through the weeds. All his viciousness had gone.
   And then I moved to New York.
   A week later I got a call that he had to be put down. 
   Apparently when the Veterinarian tried to inject Tigger he scratched the shit out him. 
   I smiled. 
   A mean motherfucker till the end.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019


   I’ve been a dedicated Greyhound Rider for years. I’ve grown accustomed to the drivers who treat you with the type of customer service typically reserved for convicts being escorted to federal prison, the disturbing and unforgettable lines you hear other passengers exclaim in the middle of the night (my favorite: “If anyone finds a pack of Newports on the bus, do not smoke them…they are laced!”)…I remember first hearing that macabre news story about the guy on a Greyhound in Montreal who beheaded the passenger sitting next to him. The driver pulled over and everyone ran out. Later on the news people expressed shock that this could happen on a Greyhound. Frankly, I was surprised the bus even stopped. That’s unprofessional for Greyhound standards. Usually they just keep on going and hope the shit sorts itself out in the back. “Finish cutting off his head and sit back down…it’s a long way to Cleveland.” 
   But none of this could prepare me for my first Chinatown Bus Experience. 
   I was taking a bus from New York City to Toledo, OH for the suspiciously low price of 7 dollars. 
   If you’ve never been on a Chinatown bus, the way it works is you board on Allen Street, ask the driver if this is the right bus, he responds in Chinese, and then you sit down and hope for the best. 
Right before we departed, a middle-aged, Hispanic man wearing a Jurassic Park T-Shirt sat down next to me, sobbed uncontrollably for two minutes, and then fell  asleep on my shoulder. 
   At this point, sweat was cascading down my forehead. The website said the bus was fully air-conditioned but failed to mention the somewhat crucial detail that they don’t turn it on. We complained to the driver that it was too hot, he politely explained something in Chinese, and then we were off. 
   About 10 minutes into the ride the air finally came on. I remember pressing my hands up to the vent. My heart was bubbling with gratitude for the driver. I truly loved him. Ten minutes into the trip and I was already experiencing Stockholm Syndrome. 
   The GPS said it took 8 and half hours to get to Toledo, but the ticket ominously said we would get there in six. 
   Across from me was a Chinese man in a denim jacket listening to a blue tooth speaker on full volume. 
   I sighed. You know you’ve hit rock bottom when you start appreciating the Greyhound but here we were. The bus drivers on the Greyhound were rude as hell but they did keep everyone in line. Out here it’s the Wild West. One guy was angrily yelling at his girlfriend over the phone at 3 in the morning. It was one of those conversations that’s so personal you don’t understand how they’re okay with having strangers on a bus overhearing it. We all now knew she had full custody of their 4-year-old-daughter even though he hadn’t used heroin in over 3 months. 
   About 4 hours into the trip a mother and child got off the bus. This was my opportunity to escape Sobbing-Jurassic Park T-Shirt-Guy. I woke him up, said excuse me, and then walked across the aisle and sat down in those two seats.
   And then, in a baffling turn of events that I still can't fully process to this day, he got up and sat down next to me again. I was so confused. Did he feel like we had developed a bond in those last four hours? Or was he still following the Stay-With-A-Buddy-System from elementary school field trips.
   I passed out again. 
   I woke to notice that the Chinese man in a denim jacket was now driving the bus and the bus driver was asleep in that man’s seat. I prayed that we would get to Toledo before it was my turn to drive and then nodded off again.
   I woke around four. The bus driver was back at the wheel, going so fast I could only assume Dennis Hopper had put a bomb somewhere on board. I thought about waking up Sobbing-Jurassic-Park-Guy so I could have some human connection before the fatal crash. 
   I passed out again and woke up just as we were arriving in Toledo. We had made it in less than 6 hours. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

          The Time My Great Grandfather was Accused of Murdering a Child

     So my Great Grandfather is in the garden with his Maid pulling up potatoes. Cause that’s what you did back in the early 1900’s in Poland. You just spent all day pulling potatoes out of the ground.
      Suddenly they hear a commotion coming from the Jewish Cemetery a block away. My Great Grandfather walks over to see that all the Gypsies are gathered there. The Gypsies have been camping out in town for the last couple of days. They’re gathered around a 14 year old Gypsy girl whose been beaten to death.
    When my Great Grandfather walks over, the mother of the girl points to him and says, “That Jew did it!”
   This is a very long standing tradition.
    Back then, whenever a crime was committed, one that you might even be involved in, you just look around, find your closest Jew and go, “He did it.”
    And by it she was referring to what was known at the time as Blood Libel. Blood Libel was the antisemitic belief that certain Jews would steal Christian children, take their blood, and use it to make Matzo for Passover.
    Which is crazy. If you know anything about Matzo it’s that it’s delicious, you don’t need to put anything it.
    So the Gypsy woman yells that Jew did it and then all the Gypsies start chasing my Great Grandfather. Now he’s running with his hat and his side curls (they’re called payot) and they’re behind him and he’s hoping he can get enough wind under his payot for him to fly away but no such luck and so he runs around the corner and finally he makes it to the Police Station and he goes inside and he tells the police what happened, that he walked over to the Cemetery and those Gypsies randomly accused him of stealing their child’s blood for some absurd, made up ritual, and the police...being the Polish police...charge him with murder.
   So now he’s in Jail waiting trial. It’s not looking good. He has 9 children and his wife died last year from an Enema. Back then an Enema could kill you. Business was very bad for a while but then he started exporting clover to Germany and things were looking up. Life was hard but it was getting better. But now he was fucked. Cause rumors were already starting to spread.
   One Polish girl- obviously put up to it by some people in the town- said she saw my Great Grandfather drawing blood from the child. So they put him in a Line Up with Six other Hassidic Jews and asked her to point to who she saw.
   This is where their plan backfired.
   She looked at all six identical looking Jews for nearly 45 minutes and then finally pointed to the wrong one.
    So if you’re ever wondering why Hassidic Jews looks the same, it’s to get out of situations like these.
   My Great Grandfather got off. But no one would do business with him anymore.
   It was time to get the fuck out of Poland.
    So he went to the Ger Rebbe and asked him what to do. A couple years earlier he had been thinking about leaving to America and he asked the Ger Rebbe then and the Ger Rebbe told him not to leave. That in America, his grandchildren and great grandchildren would become goyim. Non-Jews...
   Now the Ger Rebbe had changed his Mind.
   “It’s time for you get the fuck out of Poland,” he said.
    My Great Grandfather packed everything he would need for the journey. His children would be coming in the next month. He stepped outside with his trunk and looked back one last time at the house he was born in.
   He would never see this house again.
   And then he left.
   As he walking in the direction of the train station, he remembered again what The Rebbe had said the first time he visited him. “Do not to go America. Your children and grandchildren will become goyim...”
    90 years later...I’m in the kitchen, watching a Pepperoni Pizza cook in the oven.
    The End

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

It was the Worst of Gigs...And the Best of Gigs

Last year I performed at the Marion County Fair. It was the worst gig I’ve ever done, and I have done some shitty gigs. I once performed at a Beef ‘O’Brady’s in Scottsburg, Indiana. I once performed at a prison in LeGrange, KY, where halfway through five inmates walked out (this was exceptionally upsetting to watch, as it quickly dawned on me that they were just going back to their cell).
 I’ve done some shitty gigs, but this was by far the worse.
And it’s not that I didn’t know it was going to be bad, I just thought it was going to be fun bad. I imagined I would get there and find out I was opening for a pig. “First you’ll come up,” the booker would say, “warm them up a little, and then we’ll have Blue-Ribbon Betsy come out. She’ll do an hour…an hour fifteen…and then we’ll eat Blue Ribbon Betsy, then we’ll all go home.”
That’s what I imagined it would be like. But it was so much worse.
First, I get to the Fair. It’s a nice fair. Very quaint, Southern. There is a “performance artist” with a chainsaw carving planks of wood into faces of Confederate Generals; there is a booth where they serve deep-fried, doughnut burgers for people who are impatient to get a heart attack; there are rides that seem legitimately scary. I don’t mean fast, I mean unregulated. It was the first time I was terrified to go on a Ferris Wheel. 
Also, there was harness racing. Harness racing is similar to regular horse racing except the horse is attached to a two-wheeled, wooden cart sat in by a morbidly obese man in sleeveless flannel. Like a white trash version of Gladiator.  
There were 12 tired looking people on the bleachers watching this.
They weren’t betting on the horses. It was purely for the cruelty.
But the weird thing is no one was at the fair.
Like 30, 40 people tops.
So I asked the guy running the Event- an elderly gentleman in camouflage and a Sam-Elliot-thick moustache named Bill- where everyone was.
“Well,” Bill began in a Southern accent that bespoke years of worry and doom, “it’s been hard to get people to come to the fair over the years.”
“Bout 10 years ago…there was a tractor pull, and a pole flung out, went through a guy’s head in the bleachers, and out the back of his skull.”
“He didn’t die, but he’s never been the same since.”
“Two years later, one of the carts fell off the Ferris Wheel…That person died.” He scratched his moustache. “Ever since then, it’s been hard to get people to come to the fair. That’s why we had the comedy show tonight. We were hoping it would get people out. As you can see…that didn’t happen. But we’re still gonna have the show, but don’t bring up the guy with the pole, cause he’s here tonight, and he’s sensitive about it.”
“Where is the show even happening?”
He pointed to the race track. “Once the horses are done racing, we’re gonna drive a pick up truck up to the race track, and you’ll perform on the back of the truck to the people on the bleachers.”
 I started to worry that this was going to go very badly. Performing on the back of a pick-up truck? I was a comedian, not George Wallace running for governor.
And also, there were only 12 people on the bleachers, and they were about 200 feet away from the race track. Even if they laughed hysterically at every joke, you wouldn’t be able to hear it. And contrary to how most comedy clubs are designed in this country, hearing laughter is crucial to a good show. Comedians are damaged people. They need to hear the laughter. They need the validation.
This was going to go very badly…

The show begins. First, Bill drives the pick up truck on to the race track and stands on the back of it.
“How yer all doin?” he asks.
I looked back at the 12 people on the bleachers. No response.
“Well before we begin, a couple quick announcements. Horse Number 4, Harriet, the one who crashed in the second race. I’m afraid we did have to put her down.”
“With that out of the way, you ready for the comedy show?”  
“Our first comedian is…”
More silence. But this was a silence I had grown accustomed to my entire life. People- first teachers, then hosts at open mics- staring down at the name “Raanan Hershberg” trying to wrap their heads around this Jewy tongue-twister.  
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he finally said. “Give it up for Ronald Harrington.”
Somehow, in a matter of seconds, he had managed to completely De-Jew my name.

 “How’s it going?” I asked, after spending the last three minutes awkwardly scrambling on to the back of the pick up truck.
Nothing. Just breeze. I couldn’t even see the 12 people’s faces. I wasn’t even certain they were alive. Perhaps they were all the patrons who had died in freak accidents at the fair over the years- all placed in sitting positions on the bleachers. Just 12 Weekend-at-Bernie-Corpses staring blankly at me.
 I had never been so far away from so few people before. 
“Good to be here,” I said. And then I went into my set.
Not only was it silent, I couldn’t even make out their facial expressions. Some people can enjoy shows without laughing. Old, white men in particular. Not too keen on laughing. Laughter- they seem to say with their blank stares- that’s for black people and women.
But I couldn’t make out anything. After 10 minutes, I finally stopped.
“Look, I can’t do this,” I said to the 12 outlines 200 feet away from me. “Comedy is about interaction, it’s about communication. Not this. I need to know if you like these jokes. That’s part of it. It doesn’t matter that I’ve done these jokes a thousand times. It doesn’t matter. See…I hate myself. So I constantly need validation. I have a damaged Ego. That’s why I am standing on the back of a pick up truck on a race track in Marion County performing for 12 people two hundred feet away on bleachers. I need constant validation. Or I need to bomb. One or the other. But this- I don’t know what this is. I don’t even know if I’m doing badly. So here’s the deal…If I make a joke that you like, just raise your hand. Okay…Raise your hand now if you understand what I’m saying?”
The 12 people raised their hands.
So they’re alive. I know that at least. I took a breath, and said my next joke.
I don’t remember what the joke was, all I remember is the distinct image- now burned permanently into my brain- of no one raising their hands. 
“Great…before it was a mystery, now I know I’m bombing.”
And just then…one outline, to the far right, sitting alone, raised their hand. Not completely up in the air, more of a half-raise- like the equivalent of a mild chuckle, or when someone says “That’s Funny” but they don’t laugh like a douchebag.
But it did something to me. It gave me the confidence to keep on going. I had made an interaction. I had made contact.
I did another joke. Two more people raised their hand. I did another joke. One more person raised their hand. I did another joke. 4 people raised their hands! 4 out of 12!
I was killing.
Finally, I got the end.
“Thank you so much,” I said to the 12 outlines two hundred feet away that I had finally learned how to communicate with. “I learned a lot tonight. I learned that my Ego is so damaged I don’t even need laughter to give it a boost. Any form of communication will do. I also learned that there will never be a time in my life where that void or whatever it is will be filled. I will always be looking for validation. From anyone. No matter the situation. I hope you enjoyed this thing I did. Or some of you enjoyed it at least. I hope some of you liked it…

Did you?”