Yesterday I got on a plane to fly to Boston to appear on the animated TV series The Dick and Paula Celebrity Special (see previous diary entry). A limo met me at the airport. After almost colliding with another car and screaming, the driver told me that women should never have been given the right to vote. He called them “a different breed.” Knowing the results would be interesting, I engaged him in a political discussion. We both agreed that Clinton had been set up and should remain in office, but our reasoning was different. For example, in my argument, I never once used the word “suffrage.”
I’ve had other unusual discussions with limo drivers. A limo driver who was a veteran once told me that he and a lot of his friends had become sick from Gulf War Syndrome. I felt bad for him. My sympathy turned to shock when he suggested that the United States should have dropped a tactical nuclear weapon on Iraq, turning Baghdad into a sheet of glass. How should I have reacted to that statement? Should I have changed the subject to glass blowing? Should I have tipped less?
This morning at the hotel, as I was getting ready for work, I put on the Today show. Al Roker was standing outside in the cold with a group of fans, doing the weather. One young man held up a sign saying, “I have gas.” He explained to Al that it was a private joke that made him and his friends laugh. Sometimes people get the word “private” confused with “bad.”
I arrived at the Boston studio at 10 a.m. to begin work. I felt intimidated because I was working with very talented people whom I respect. My constructive internal thoughts were: “These people are really funny, and I’m just mildly amusing.” My stomach was knotted up. I wanted everyone to like me. That’s always an attractive quality. It wasn’t as frightening as when I performed stand-up on the Letterman show, but my nerves were still wracked. The style of the Dick and Paula show is improvisational. It requires being in the moment and talking off the top of your head. The results, by definition, are hit and miss. That still didn’t stop me from judging myself and feeling bad every time I said something that wasn’t hilarious. When am I going to stop putting so much pressure on myself? Maybe when I’m dead, but I wouldn’t guarantee it. I have learned that I don’t always have to feel comfortable or positive to do good work. Also, if I’m feeling too relaxed, then I’m probably not challenging myself, and perhaps I should take up ballooning.
We finished the taping at 2 p.m. I went right to the airport to fly back to L.A. The woman at the ticket counter was not in a good mood. She refused to make eye contact with me. I mentally tried to deny her the right to vote. The movie on the plane had Robin Williams in it, so I passed on the headset. Why ruin a good experience?