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I didn't know how much I missed stand-up until this pandemic happened. I think the longest, no matter what – whether I was getting married, or I got sick – in 43 years that I have not been on stage before this pandemic, was days. Now, being away for a year is what I noticed to be the biggest personal obstacle as far as my mental health. That’s how my doing a podcast came to be.
I find that stand-up comedy is my connection to humanity.
Whether I’m playing an arena or a casino or a theatre, if I'm not hopping on a plane right after the show, I'll always ask the driver, ‘is there a club in town that's still open after midnight?’ I don't care if there's three people sitting there who have drank too much, and seen nine hours of comedy. Just so I can stand in front of people.
So, throughout this year, I’ve been driving my wife crazy. I had ideas for little skits that would be in my act, or that I could talk about, or a funny story that I could talk about on a panel. I would go, ‘Is this funny?’ She’d ask, ‘For what?’ I didn't have any outlet. So, I started calling my daughter. And every night, I would sit there and laugh for hours at ridiculous things that happened, or we would merge calls and I would do prank calls, or we would take challenges off the internet.
My wife said to me, ‘Why don't you record this? This is good.’ We thought, that’s a podcast
It's me and my daughter, and we do everything from prank calls, to applying for jobs that I'm not qualified to do from want ads. Unbeknownst to him, my daughter signed my son up to every dating site, and we communicated as him to the daters. We've been making his life a little bit uncomfortable, but that's fun. That's what happens to me when I'm not able to perform, and I'm not able to be in front of an audience. So, this podcast is a godsend.
I think everything is show business. When you open up whatever business, it is show business because you need to show other people. The only differences are the size of the audience, and what you expect from your audience. Is your audience just coming to you to buy carpet, or is your audience coming to you to get a laugh? Is your audience coming to you to buy laptops? What are you doing to make your audience want to show up, and partake of your wares. We’re all artists.
You have to ‘wow’ people. You have to interest people.
There's room for everybody to succeed. I think the biggest problem is people think. Don't think, use instinct. ‘I could fail if I do this, or what happened last time, or what might happen.’ Stop those. If we just went on instinct like Nike says: Just do it, we would move forward. And even if you fail, you just did it.
Somebody said, FAIL stands for ‘First Attempt In Learning’. You're going to fail anyway, all through your life. But at least you'll learn something. That's better than not doing anything.
Diversity is a friend of everybody. It really is. I try to say “yes” to everything.
I think that we end up closing our minds. Success doesn't come to you; it’s something that you decide you need. There are people who had an idea, a passion, and walked away from college and spent years and endless hours in a garage with their friends saying, ‘No, like this. I think this is good,’ with that kind of passion. It’s the same kind of passion that put Christopher Columbus on a boat to sail off what was believed to be the edge of the earth – and that's why we're sitting here. You’ve just got to go for it and do it. Life is too short. We have too many opportunities, and people choose to not take those opportunities.
I’ve seen, and the producers on the show have seen, thousands of different ways of doing things. Every year there’s something new. The commonality is, you got to show up.
So, it's just to change your frame of mind, be open to anything, and anything can happen.
If you think of what I did in my career, I was six months into an engagement, 22 years old, and doing well in retail, in Toronto. Let's move to California! What are the chances of making a living by moving 3,000 miles away from anybody I know, with no connections, to try to make a life out of pulling a rubber glove on my head? On paper, if I would have thought of it, I wouldn't have done it.
If it doesn't work out, I'll come back. Let’s just try it.
My wife was game. The in-laws were upset, and wanted to even call off the wedding. It was ridiculous. It was hard. But I didn't think of the ramifications of my in-laws or the long shot being 99 to 1. As long as there is a chance, if you don't go for it, then you're not going to achieve it.
And I've always just went for it, and that's what everybody should do every waking moment of this short life that we're given. Go for it.
I get to sit there and I watch somebody who is relatable to me – like the everyday person – who comes out with a hope and a dream, and then they stand on that star on the stage, and they open their mouth or do whatever it is they do, and the crowd goes nuts, or the next day 12 million people have seen them live on TV, and their life is never the same. You're watching dreams come true.
There is no better joy in the world than to be witness to somebody's life changing forever.
This interview has been edited for brevity.
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