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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?"

To Big Move #1

#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 you going?"

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. "Unless... "

"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. HOME Back to the Top