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I don't think there is anything more pathetic than being
too broke to play the lottery. Now, before you put crayon to
paper and write me a nasty letter, keep in mind that the
pathetic person I'm talking about is me. Also keep in mind
that I used the word broke and not the word poor.
Economically speaking, there is a difference between the
two. Broke is when you can't afford a pizza.
Poor is when Sally Struthers shows up at your door
with a sack of rice. Right now I am merely broke, but I have
decided to keep Ms. Struthers on my speed dial just in case.
I love the lottery-- the tickets, the numbers, the little
balls floating on a cloud of air. I love the oversized, fake
check. Who doesn't love the big check? I love the randomness
and the life-changing possibility of it all. I love the fact
that it's a game based on chance and not merit. (So much of
life, I've discovered, is based more on chance than merit, but
only the lottery will use this reality as a marketing device.)
More than anything, I love the very notion that in an instant,
100 pennies can be turned into one-billion
pennies. Where else but in the world of lottery can such
monetary magic occur? Oh sure, Hillary Clinton managed the
same feat with cattle futures, but I think we all agree that
I'm no Hillary Clinton.
Wasn't it Plato who said, "You've got to play to
win?" Or was it was Aristotle? Or was it Aristotle Onassis?
Anyway, I'd love to play to win, but sadly, budgetary constraints
keep me from daily or even weekly lottery purchases. Occasionally,
however, I do splurge.
One of the things my husband and I like to do when we are
on the road together is to buy lottery tickets from the various
states we visit. My favorite state lottery is Illinios because
they use David Schwimmer (aka "Ross" from Friends) as
their celebrity endorser. I recently read that Mr. Schwimmer
and the rest of the Friends make $750,000 per episode.
At 26 episodes that's... hold on, let me get my calculator...
$19.5 million per year...hold on, let me check my
math...uh...yup, a cool nineteen five. Don't you just love
the idea of somebody who makes $19 million a
year scratching off a ticket to see if he's won fifty bucks?
I've often wondered if hitting the lottery would
make me quit standup. If, on the day after my winning numbers
were picked, I was scheduled to drive six hours to a hellish
one-nighter, would I go? I think I would. Then, just
minutes before showtime, I would hand everybody in the
audience ten bucks and ask them to leave. Maybe I'd throw
in a few beers and a round of chicken fingers just to keep
the bar owner happy. Later that night, I'd check into a four-star
hotel, order room service and watch a pay-per-view movie.
Yes, I think I would go. And it would be lovely.
But would I continue playing the good clubs? Just for
fun? I think I would try it for a year, if for no other reason
than it would give me a chance to do standup without the pressure
of knowing it's the way I make my living.
And yes, I would still insist on getting paid, but I would
give whatever money I made to a comic in need.
How would I determine a comic "in need" you ask?
Forgive me for laughing, but that is one of the funniest things
I have ever heard. You should be a comedian... or at the very
least, a comic in need.
Here's my goal, if I win the lottery: I want to be the
Percy Ross of standup. For those of you who don't understand
the reference, Percy Ross (No relation to "Ross"
from Friends) was better known as Percy Ross The Millionaire.
The "eccentric philanthropist," who died several weeks
ago, gave away millions to people in need through his syndicated
newspaper column Thanks A Million. See, I want to
give away millions to comics in need through my
column Thanks For Nothing. Percy (I called him Percy)
while he may have been generous, did not give out his money
indiscriminantly, however. P-Man (I called him P-Man) made
you work for it. In other words, the more pathetic the letter,
the better chance you had of getting the free dough.
Dear Traci Skene The Millionaire:
Last week my car broke down in Browns Valley, MN, and I had to take the bus to my next gig in Norman, OK. In two days I have to be in Billings, MT, but I have to take the bus back to Minnesota to get my car. I don't have the $2000 to pay the mechanic. I also don't have the money for a return bus ticket and since my credit cards are maxed out, I can't charge anything. Can you help?
The Feature Who is Usually a Headliner
Dear Feature Who is Usually a Headliner:
Ah, yes, Traci Skene The Millionaire remembers what it's like to own a crappy car and have it break down in the middle of nowhere. Traci Skene The Millionaire does not, however, remember what it's like to take a bus to a gig since, even at her lowest, Traci Skene The Millionaire had standards.
Oh, lucky one, I'll send you the $2000 plus money for your bus ticket. I'll also include extra cash for 3 nights at a Fairfield Suites and a few dinners at The Olive Garden. Please don't stay at a Motel 6, dine at a Taco Bell and pocket the difference. That would make Traci Skene The Millionaire very unhappy.
Traci Skene The Millionaire
Boy, that felt good. I could get used to all this
philanthropy nonsense. If you're wondering why I just didn't
give the Feature Who Is Usually a Headliner even more money
so he could buy himself a decent road car, well, it's because
altruism has its limits. Do you think I'm made of money? Let
him win the lottery like everybody else.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I know an MC in Sheboygan
who could use a sack of rice.
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