With Robert Schimmel’s passing tonight, I started thinking back to the week I worked with him in Washington, D.C. It was the club on K Street with the strip club downstairs. He was the headliner. I was the middle act. We didn’t know each other prior to that week, nor did we keep in touch afterward. But we hung out, ate lunch and dinner together, shared stories, and a few laughs. It was just one moment in time – one stage of many that I was so fortunate to stand on – opening for someone as bitterly funny as Robert Schimmel.
Though I haven’t stepped foot on a stage in about 10 years (man, has it been that long?!?), in my heart I will always be a comedian. Facebook has enabled me to reconnect with so many old friends I met on the road, and worked with, for a decade and a half. We’re a small group, in the great scheme of things. And pretty close-knit. Being a comedian is different than being an actress or musician in the sense that you are alone. You perform alone. You travel alone. You write alone. But week-after-week, you travel the road, to meet up with all of the other “alone souls,” laughing and bonding and connecting and collecting some really great memories along the way.
In my 15 years as a comedian I had the opportunity to work with SO MANY talented people: Paula Poundstone, Dennis Miller, Margaret Smith, Bill Maher, Drew Carey, Kathleen Madigan, Dennis Wolfberg, Brian Regan, Tim Allen. Even oldies-but-goodies like Soupy Sales and Pat Paulsen. The list is endless. I traveled the United States in my little Toyota Celica, battling snow storms in Wisconsin, giant Palmetto Bugs in Florida, and a man who said I had ugly knees in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Along the way I made many lifelong friends, picked up a couple of lovers and laughed my ass off week-after-week.
I am a better person for the comedy friendships I have made in my lifetime and the experiences I have gathered. I feel so blessed that I was led to the Comedy Castle stage for that very first open mic, which opened the door to a world that not many people get to see.
When the world loses a funny person, it leaves a pretty big hole. Tonight, a very talented man was silenced. Yet I count my blessings that I was fortunate enough to have met him. And that I was accepted into this really exclusive club called comedy. And when I punch the clock at my day job next week, I will remember fondly the time I shared the stage with a man named Robert Schimmel. Rest in peace.