Boy, do I feel like a big shot! That doesn’t happen often, so when it does I milk it for as long as possible. I was recently invited to the grand opening ceremony of the brand new Gurnee Holiday Inn Convention Center, and it was an absolutely stellar event. I was honored to get an invitation.
As a professional comedian I’ve been a full time road warrior since 1985, so one of if not THE last places on Earth I would ever choose to go on purpose on my day off would be a hotel. Those who have spent any time at all on the road know how quickly the luster of that lifestyle can fade.
I lost my luster decades ago, and it wasn’t pretty. I’ve talked to countless people who have had to travel for their cushy corporate job, and they’ve whined, sniveled and bellyached with the best of them. Quite frankly, I was not impressed at all hearing their tales of what they consider ‘woe’.
They all got to stay in places a lot better than I ever did. I don’t think the average civilian has a clue of what it’s like to start out on the bottom rung of the show business ladder. It may appear to be glamorous, but that’s only for a few minutes on stage. The rest of our day can be rather brutal.
Most entertainers have 23 hours of total insanity to put up with just to get those few minutes of glory on a stage. The price of chasing one’s dream can be extremely high, and many times it sure doesn’t feel worth it. I can’t begin to describe all the barbaric drives through horrendous weather or missed plane connections, but I shouldn’t have to. Only those of us who’ve done it can relate.
Less than adequate accommodations have been fertile fodder for comedians for generations. If I knew how difficult road life was going to be before I started, I seriously doubt if I’d have made it my vocational choice. Driving a bus or managing a Wendy’s has taken on a whole new allure.
I still remember one of the first times I had to stay in a hotel early in my comedy career. It was in Pennsylvania, and when I asked the booking agent to describe it he said after a long suspicious pause in a somber tone “Well…it’s no Holiday Inn.” There’s never been a bigger understatement in the history of the spoken word. It’s like describing a hurricane as being “on the windy side”.
Since that unpleasantly harsh encounter, I’ve spent countless nights in every sleazy flea bag rat hole on the North American continent, hoping to survive until morning without being eaten alive by bed bugs, critters or relatives of Sasquatch. I’ve been in places the Geneva Convention would not sanction in war time, but that goes with the territory when one wants to be in show business.
That’s why it was such a refreshing experience to take part in the grand opening of the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Gurnee. The people there are sharp and friendly, and anyone who stays there is going to be in for a treat. If I had been put in quality places like that when I started out in comedy, I wouldn’t be the calloused old war pig I am now. I’m jealous! Maybe I’ll have to ask if they’ll book some comedy shows there so I can stay in a room. This is how it should be done.