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TRACI SKENE has appeared on VH-1's Standup Spotlight, A&E's Comedy On The Road and Lifetime's Girls Night Out, all of which has done her absolutely no good.

Traci Skene


Traci Skene

SHECKYmagazine Chief

Traci Skene, The Millionaire

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. HOME Back to the Top