It was probably taken in 1981. I was working at Business Air Center as a lineman, and Line Chief, or line supervisor. I had very little money. Still I was able to stretch it somehow long enough to be there when I was allowed to try and be funny.
The prompt for my own attempt at being a stand-up was that I heckled Eddie Murphy during his set there at the most extreme till he told me he was on stage and I wasn’t.
As an act of integrity or shame, I felt it important that I go on stage and do the work myself.
The rule was, and likely still is that you can workout, try to do stand-up till the red light is flashed, and then you must get off stage.
I did obey that rule.
There is no death like dying on stage as a stand up. I became physically sick hours before I was to go on stage. I learned quickly that you must rehearse your material because when the lights go on and you are on stage, your brain will basically be wiped of anything not firmly set in it enough so that brainless you will speak what you have memorized.
Unlike the actor speaking lines written, where the audience sits respectfully and watches and listens, you will be heckled. Then even you will be best to have some responses of standard utility, though you will also be called to think on your feet.
I died terribly on stage the first three times I performed.
I once compared it to being electrocuted.
It certainly hurt.
Mr. Mullen, who I remember as a gentle man, took the time to speak with me in the kitchen.
I may even have taken the photo at that time.
It is a photograph of a very very good man.
I worked as well for awhile at the Barn Dinner Theater outside of Greensboro, and was kitchen aid.
There was a fine black lady Grace who worked in that kitchen. It was a theater. There was drama that went on in the kitchen. Without the kindness of Grace, the place would have failed.
So I say there is great truth in the kitchen.
Some blues song goes, “You better come on in my kitchen…”
So there I was in the kitchen with Joe, and he looked at me and he said, “Russell, Sex is funny, but love isn’t.”
I got much better after that. I got to the point that I could do a pro set of 45 minutes.
I did Yuk Yuks in Toronto, and was asked back. The other manager didn’t like me.
Somehow, somehow I came to the attention of staff at David Letterman, and was asked for a tape.
Margaret Hannah was the name of the woman who asked for a tape. I sent in a tape.
I was rejected. It was painful. I believe it was after that that I essentially gave up.
There have been other stories of my life with similar ends.
I can take it.
I am the old man now.
If there is one thing to keep, keep your humor up, somehow.
Sex is funny, but love isn’t.