#2 IN A SERIES... Oh, so you think you have a long commute
to your gigs?
You live in Long Beach, an hour's drive
from Hollywood... if the 405 plays nice. Which
isn't so bad a haul if you know you're booked
ahead of time and can plan your drive. It's not
even all that bad if you get a call at 7 PM, saying,
"Hey, I know this is last minute, but can you
get here at 9 PM? We had a guy cancel." Then
it's just a matter of a quick dry-shave, finding
your least wrinkled clothes and breaking some traffic laws.
But you still whine about the drive, don't you?
The other day I get a call at 11 AM from
Jamie Masada, owner of the Laugh Factory. He asks,
"Buddy, can you make it here by 2:30 tomorrow?"
I do some quick math, figuring in the time
difference from Hawaii, writing out plane schedules
on the chalkboard in my mind. I ask, "2:30
in the afternoon?"
"No, 2:30 tomorrow morning," Jamie says.
Quickly, I erase the chalkboard and begin furiously
figuring out if I can make a plane at this late hour.
"Man, I don't know," I tell him. "I'd
be cutting it kind of close. Why, what's up?"
He says, "I've got a part for you in a
Damon Wayans movie."
Gulp. This has "golden opportunity" written
all over it. I dropkick the damn chalkboard. "Hell,
yeah! I'm on the next plane," I quickly
respond, without knowing if there are any open seats or
how much it is going to cost me.
"Okay, buddy," Jamie says. "I'll see
you at the Laugh Factory at 2:30 tomorrow morning."
Immediately, I run over to my computer at work
and log onto Hawaiian Air's website. I know that I
missed the morning flight, but want to know if it's
too late for the afternoon flight. I find out that
there is a flight to Los Angeles and it leaves at 1 PM.
That would leave me with two hours to get home, get a
change of clothes, drive back to the airport, make it
through security and hop on the plane. Maybe if
I drive like Nicolas Cage in "The Rock"
I can make it.
No seats are available online, so I make a quick
call to the reservations line. Lucky me, they can
get me on the plane, but I have to be there at noon
or it's a no go. Without blinking an eye, I take
them up on their offer. I'll sort out the details later,
I think to myself.
The details I need to sort out: only an hour
means that I can't go home for fresh clothes, and,
oh yeah, I have to ask for time off from work.
Thankfully, the General Manager at the radio station
where I work is a big fan and supporter of my comedy.
No problem there. Now, about that clothing.
I rush to my car and pop the trunk. Great news,
I have an overnight bag still in there from a gig
I did on Maui the previous week. There's still
an extra change of clothes in it, because I always pack
that way. You never know when you're going to have a
bottle of Vietnamese hot sauce explode on you
(happened before), or a flock of pigeons mistake
you for a statue (happened) or you get a call to
do a Damon Wayans movie at the last minute (happening now).
With an hour and a half left until the flight leaves,
I finish up some work at the station so that I can
disappear for the next couple of days. Time is ticking
away. Did you ever notice that things move much
slower when you are in a hurry? Perhaps it's a hidden
feature in Windows that bogs down the system, forcing
you to slow down your heart rate and breathing, thus
promoting better health. Or Windows sucks.
Finally, I get in the car to speed to the airport.
Time check: 10 minutes until my seat is given away.
Estimated Time of Arrival at the airport: 20 minutes.
You don't need an abacus to know that means S.O.L
for Paul. So I ask for a favor from someone at the
airlines who is a fan of my radio show. I hate asking
for favors, because you never know when or how they
will call it back in. Maybe they'll want free tickets
to the next show (happens all the time), or maybe
they'll want you to help them dispose of a body
(never happened... yet).
The call for help goes well, and they will hold
my seat as long as they can. Arriving at the airport
with 40 minutes until flight time, I find a
Soviet-bread-line-style queue at the check-in desk. Damn!
Did I just use an 80's-era reference? Double Damn!
Fortunately, the line moves quickly and I am sent
off to an even longer line. The dreaded
security line. The one that never moves.
Tick, tick, tick. I hear my watch. It slowly
marks off the seconds as I get closer and closer
to missing my flight, which now leaves in 15 minutes.
"Hey," a voice calls out. I ignore it.
I have other things on my mind.
"Hey, you're the comedian guy," the voice clarifies.
With nothing to do besides wait for my flight to
leave without me, I decide to say hello to a guy who
is trying to get my attention. Ah ha! The voice
belongs to an airline employee. Perhaps he can help
me get to my plane.
"Yeah," I acknowledge, "that's me."
The airline guy gushes, "Man, you were freakin'
funny last time we went to see your show. Where
Yes! Here was my opportunity. "I've got a flight
in ten minutes to L.A.," I tell him. "I got
a part in a Damon Wayans movie."
"Alright!" he cheers me on. Then he looks
at this watch, and says, "Eh, you're gonna miss
your flight, brah."
"Looks like it," I play along.
"No worry, brah," he says as he slaps
my shoulder. "Follow me."
He led me out of the long-ass line and right
to the security check point. With moments to
spare, I finally got on the plane. I don't know
what I would have done without the shoulder-slapping guy.
On one hand, I had to bust my ass and nearly miss
a golden opportunity because I'm all the way over
here in the middle of the ocean. This is something
I wouldn't have to go through had I made the
"Big Move" to Los Angeles.
On the other hand, all of the help I had along
the way to the plane was made possible because
I didn't make the Big Move. There's still
something to be said for being out here.
I'll call this one a draw.