Thursday 17 June 2010 @ 5:39 pm
Today (June 17th, 2010) I celebrate two very special anniversaries: 1) It’s been one year since I played Carnegie Hall in New York City, and 2) it’s been one year since I sold out Carnegie Hall in New York City.
It was a very cool accomplishment to even get booked into the Grand Old Barn, but I know me: if I walked out and saw empty seats, I’d have been all emo and “Nobody cares anymore…” I was able to sell out back-to-back Roy Thomson Hall dates in Toronto a mere four months before, and that place seats 2800. If I didn’t sell out Carnegie Hall, I might be forced to repatriate – as clearly the True North really liked whatever bullshit I was slinging.
So I started publishing a daily update of ticket sales – something a bunch of folks warned me against. For fringe/cult acts like me, ticket sales info is CLOSELY guarded data, because perception is power. If you know a band has only sold a quarter of the seats available at their forthcoming concert you’re thinking of attending, you may be swayed out of your potential purchase by hearing the show’s selling poorly – or at least feel no pressure to purchase tickets in advance. When you don’t buy tix in advance, your chances of actually mustering up the interest to leave the house come show day will almost certainly wane.
But I didn’t care: I knew the only way I was gonna sell out Carnegie Hall was with help. So every day, I updated the ticket tally, showing what a game of inches it was to get to 2800. It didn’t help that the economy was in the toilet as we were asking $60 per ticket for what sounded fucking bland (paying to see a Q&A? Yawn. And in-advance meh), and it took many weeks and a shit-ton of Tweets, but on the day of the show, producer Jared Geller told me that walk-up purchases pushed the gig to a sell out at the venerable old theater. As I stepped on stage that night, I did a completely uncharacteristic leap-land thing that was born of relief and joy: the selling was behind me – it was time to have some fun. It was time to talk about breaking a toilet on the world’s most famous stage.
As cliché as it sounds, the whole show’s a blur. I recall tidbits: being nervous at first; the aforementioned celebratory leap nearly cost me a knee; talking about people I dearly love and knowing they heard their names bandied about in a cornerstone of high society (which we redefined that night); wrapping by pointing out my Mother and my Wife sitting near one another in the audience, observing “There’s the pussy I came from, and there’s the pussy I go to.” But the rest of the show? A blank. Folks said they loved it, but what else are they gonna say to me, y’know? I can’t speak to the show quality myself because I was on a Holy-Shit-I’m-Doing-My-Thing-At-Carnegie-Hall HIGH. I could’ve been (and probably was) up there saying “Poopy! Pooooooo-PIIIIEEEEEEEEE!!!!!” for three hours – I don’t know.
What I do know is that show was (if you’ll forgive the use of a once-fun term that’s been appropriated and beaten into the ground by the synergy-speaking sales-bots of corporate America) a game-changer for me. After reading on the internet for a year straight how I’d become “irrelevant”, filling an expensive theater in one of the most competitive markets on the planet reminded me just who the fuck I am.
But the biggest impact I felt from the Carnegie Hall gig was in my sideline Q&A business. Selling out the Hall suddenly moved me beyond the college-campuses I’d roamed for years and into legitimate theaters (or at the very least, theaters George Carlin had played at, too). Because of this, I wound up doing more gigs between 2009 and 2010 than I’ve ever done in previous years, and enjoyed a renewed love affair with getting up and trying to make people laugh. I thank you for that – as I suspect many of you were out there in the audience those nights I Jabba-ed out onto the stage and told story after story. The fact that you dragged-asses out of your homes – that you continue to leave your houses/spouses/kids/good taste at home and give up your hard earned money to listen to me swear through the sweat – is the aspect of the Q&A win-bucket for which I will always be most grateful. You monetarily AND spiritually (not to mention enthusiastically) support me on a bunch of dopey ideas – some of which actually turn into something. I can say I’m a professional at this or that, but it’s all theoretical until someone pays you to do it. Thanks for tricking this entire world into believing I’m somebody worth paying to see. And you did that one year ago today, when you came to Carnegie Hall.
What follows is a warts-and-all breakdown of the gigs I’ve had since Carnegie Hall – most of which I wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for Carnegie Hall. I may not be an entertainer, but as you’ll see by the numbers, many of you were kind enough to pretend I was this year.
Asterisked entries denote disclaimers and trivia.
One year ago tonight, as I left the Carnegie Hall stage, I took this picture…
For the last year, whenever something got me down, or whenever someone tried to make me feel I was somehow less than someone else (or, in the case of one lying, classless piece of shit airline, more than someone else), I’d look at it – as a reminder that nobody is allowed to tell me who I am or what I’m worth. Now, I’m putting it out there for you to use. Are you trying to get somewhere? Do something? Be somebody? It can get frustrating waiting for your time – particularly because there’s no end of Panty-Puddles telling you “It can’t be done!” Or that “If it is to be done, you’re not the person to do it!” Or the ever popular “Who the fuck do you think you are?”, often followed by “You fat fuck.” If you get down, simply glance at that image.
Sure, it’s something I did; but it could easily represent what you’re going to do. And when you look at this image in time of need, remind yourself that all of those people packed into that frame, hootin’ and hollerin’? They’re doing so for a very average, overweight, white boy from a nowheresville, New Jersey town, who got on that stage and induced that reaction simply by being himself.
Be yourselves, kids.
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