Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What a week it was....

Note: As you can tell by glancing at this, it's a long one. The longest I've ever written. It's sad, it's happy, and hopefully it'll help comfort someone who's been through this. If not, it felt good to write it.

So let me tell you about my last seven days...

What a whirlwind of emotion I'm experiencing right now. As most of you know, my father found out he had accelerated liver cancer at the beginning of November. After not being able to find out how it got there, they started chemotherapy but the disease had already taken over. It was just making him sicker and weaker since his liver wasn't functioning at all. He couldn't keep any food down and was dropping weight like crazy. When I returned home from Houston on January 7th, my family informed me that they'd decided to take him off the medicine, let the disease run its course, and try to make his final days as comfortable as possible. They started home hospice that day, and the doctors gave him about a month to live. I immediately cancelled my week in Chattanooga so that I could be home with my family. When it came time to go to Atlanta the following week, my parents both insisted that I go. Reluctantly, I did. It was so hard to leave them, but it was nice to have a release from everything as well. While in Atlanta, I was asked by the club owner if I would be able to return in two weeks to do a show on Monday, Feb. 4. He wasn't allowed to tell me what the show was for, only that it was being filmed for a documentary and he thought I'd be good for whatever it was.

When I got home from Atlanta, I told my parents what he had said. I told them that I couldn't risk leaving again to do a show all the way in Atlanta that I didn't know what it was for, as my father's condition was getting worse by the minute. Again my parents, especially my dad, told me I should take every opportunity that comes my way, and that it didn't matter what it was for. I said I would think about it and see how easy it would be to get to Atlanta and back. Luckily a friend came through with a buddy pass for Delta and I was able to get a cheap flight down.

On January 29th, my dad turned 59. Then that next weekend, I spent the Super Bowl hanging out with my dad, and then left the next day for Atlanta. When I got to the club, I saw several comedian friends of mine and they were all just as clueless as I was. I found out that the 150 audience members didn't know what was going on either. They had only been told that if they didn't like the show, they could have their money back. We were instructed to perform 5-6 minutes of clean material and there was a camera set up in the middle of the room. I had a good set, and waited for the end of the show. When the show was over, they called all of us back onstage. The club owner said there was a special guest in the house to let us know why we were there. He introduced Bill Bellamy, the host of "Last Comic Standing".

Bill walked out onstage and informed the 10 of us that we'd just unknowingly auditioned for "Last Comic Standing". He said that this year they were doing the regular auditions, but also going to several cities and watching comedians perform in their natural element. He then said that two of us, one being me, had been picked to fly to New York in three days to perform in front of the audience on the NYC show. They were going to give us airfare, a hotel, and we got to bypass the audition process. Again, the bittersweet feelings surfaced. The first people I called after the show in Atlanta were my parents. They couldn't have been more proud. My mom put my dad on the phone and he told me that I "HAVE TO GO" to New York and that he loved me. I didn't know that this would be the last time my father would be able to speak to me where I could understand what he was saying.

He had a rough and restless night and had tried to get out of bed, even though he hadn't been able to stand-up for over a week. My mom realized that he needed to be transported to the Hospice of Greater Cincinnati center where they could better care for his symptoms. They said if he started feeling better he could come back home. As soon as I landed in Cincinnati I went straight to my parents' house and got there just before Hospice showed up. I can't tell you how heartbreaking it was to see my dad leave his home on a stretcher knowing that he would probably never return. I helped my mom pack a bag and grab a few things before following my dad down to Hospice. His tongue was swollen and his mouth was so dry that he couldn't speak. He would have spurts of pain, but mostly just slept more each day...all day. Before I left Hospice for home on Tuesday, I woke my dad up to tell him that I loved him, and with every ounce of strength he had, he tried to mouth "I love you too". I still wasn't sure if I could leave for New York two days later.

Wednesday was very hard on all of us. My mom hadn't gotten any sleep in the chair next to my dad's bed as she was up all night trying to comfort him. His endless stream of family and friends to visit him were nice, but it didn't give my mom any chance to get some much needed rest. NBC was gracious enough to book me a late flight on Thursday so that I could spend all day with my family. My mom and other relatives convinced me that my dad wanted me to go and that I should do it to honor him. They assured me that they would take care of each other until I got back on Saturday. With a heavy heart, I flew to New York on Thursday night, and landed around 11pm. When I got there, there was a crew who filmed me getting into the car, interviewed me the whole way into the city, took footage of me being driven around Time Square, and then being dropped off at my hotel. It really was a lot of fun, and just what I needed. I called back home and was told that my dad was sleeping like a baby and they were all excited to hear about what was going on in New York. It really helped me to sleep that night knowing that everyone was ok.

Around 7:45am on Friday morning, I got a call from my mom. She informed me that my dad had passed away in his sleep, so peacefully that she didn't even wake up. You have to understand, my mom always wakes up. The slightest noise, my mom is up. I don't have any good sneaking out stories from my teenage years because even getting out of bed put her on "high alert". As sad as I was about losing him and not being home to comfort my family, I was overcome by a sort of peace and calmness in my mom's voice that everything was going to be fine. She sounded relieved and we were all happy that he didn't have to suffer any longer. I wasn't sure how I would be able to perform that night with so much at stake, feeling the way I did.

I met up with two of my best friends, Tom Simmons and Jamie Lissow. We grabbed some lunch and then walked up to Harlem. It was great to laugh with friends and take my mind off of things for a while. At 6pm, the shuttle picked us up to take us to Gotham Comedy Club for filming. I wasn't sure if I should tell anyone about what had happened so I just sort of kept to myself until the show started. I was 13th out of 19 and I had a really good set. All of my jokes got laughs in the right places and I stayed under the 3-min time limit. Bill Bellamy told me I was one of the funniest people he'd seen in his travels.

It's such a weird dichotomy being a comedian and going through tough times offstage. When most people go through this, they can sit at their desk and be sad while getting their work done. As a comedian, it's so much different because you have to emote that you're in a perfect mood in order to do your job. Your goal is to make people laugh, when inside you're the saddest you've ever been.

After coming offstage, I proceeded to the hallway for my post performance interview. I told them I thought I had done well and that we'd just wait and see what happens. Original right? Then the interviewer said, "How's your dad?” I told them the news and started to get choked up but managed to hold my composure. After they shut the camera off, the interviewer said that he had just lost his father five days before. Then gave me a big hug. It was surreal. I was sad, relieved, happy, alone, comforted all at once. Word started to spread after that what happened and the other comedians and crew were all very supportive. I think they were surprised, as was I, that I had been able to perform that night. But I kept thinking about something my aunt had said that morning. She said, "Your dad passed away because he knew that was the only way he'd be able to see the show that night."

At the end of the show, they called us all back onstage and proceeded to announce who was moving on to the semi-finals in Los Angeles. Six acts were called. SPOILER ALERT: Stone and Stone (twin comedy duo), God's Pottery (another duo who sing songs), Dan Naturman, Louis Ramey, Esther Ku, and Aparna Nancherla were all picked to move on.

I looked to my right towards two of my best friends who didn't make it either, Jon Fisch and Costaki Economopoulos. We all shrugged and that was it. Time to go back to reality. Again, I needed to be around friends. Costaki and I met back up with Tom Simmons and two other good friends, Pat Dixon and Keith Alberstadt. If you've never sat around a table with 6 comedians all telling stories and joking around, it's a sight to behold. Again, it was just what I needed. I headed back to the hotel and tried to get some sleep. My mom had gone earlier that day to start making arrangements for the funeral and visitation. I flew back home on Saturday afternoon and headed straight to see my mom. We were up until about 2am picking songs to play during the visitation and at the funeral. I sat there with my mom as we cried while going through my dad’s music collection playing some of his favorite songs, songs played at their wedding, and songs that we thought were appropriate for the occasion.

On Sunday, it was dad's visitation. We were expecting a crowd, but even I was amazed by the turnout. The visitation was scheduled from 5pm-8pm. By 4:15, people were already showing up. A line formed and didn't stop until 8:20pm. They had to put up turnstiles to try and fit everyone in the building. People were parking a mile away from the funeral home. They had printed some cards for the visitation and ran out by 5:15pm. There were so many people there. Family, people who had known him since he was a kid, people he'd worked with over the years, people he'd gone to church with, people he'd gone on a mission trip to Africa with, friends of my mom, friends of my sister, and friends of mine all came to show their support and appreciation. Even the guy that sold my parents their last car showed up. Does that tell you how special of a person he was? The funeral director said it was the largest crowd he's ever seen, and they estimated that over 1,000 people had shown up. What a testament to my father's life! It was truly overwhelming. When the night was finally finished, we shared some food with family from out of town and then headed home to try and get some sleep.

On Monday morning, the limo picked us up at 8:30am for the 10am service at church. They started with a photo slide show that played along with some of the music we’d picked the night before. There were pics of him when he was a little boy, through his years in the Navy, and plenty of pics with my mom, my sister, and me. He had asked my sister who is an American Sign Language major to sign one of his favorite songs. She did an amazing job. The minister gave a nice message and we then led easily the longest funeral procession I've ever seen to the cemetery. We said our final goodbyes and then proceeded home to start getting on with our lives, deeply mourning the loss of our amazing father, husband, and friend. I know the coming months will be hard. What would've been my parents' 34th Anniversary is less than a month away, my 31st birthday two days after that. The first Easter, Mother's Day, and Father's Day. The first vacation without him. And I know Thanksgiving and Christmas will be rough. But we're able to move on because we know he's in a better place and that is what he would want us to do. I'm going to wrap this up, (finally), but I thought I’d do so by sharing what I wrote about my dad for his funeral. It was printed on the back of the program. Again, I don't know if anyone cares, but maybe it'll give someone some comfort, or insight behind where I get my sense of humor from...

GARY THOMAS SNEED
1949 - 2008

I would say that you’re reading this because I have a fear of speaking in public. Since we all know that’s not the case, I’ll be honest and say I know I wouldn’t be able to get through it if I tried to read it aloud. It’s hard enough to type it.

When I was trying to think of what to write, I thought the task would be impossible. How can you possibly sum up the life of someone who helped give you life? What words can do justice to honor a man so amazing? The more words I tried to find to describe him, the more I realized that he’s made my job very easy. The positive adjectives may be endless, but everyone is here today because they know just how many of them could apply to my father. I don’t need to say he was caring, kind, loving, the best husband, the perfect father…everyone here already knows that. I can say that I’ve never heard a negative thing about my father from anyone I’ve met who knew him. How many people can you say that about?

Then I tried to think of the perfect story to tell to provide insight on what it was like having such a positive, funny person be the man to introduce you to the world. But we all know where that’s led in my case. Which leads me to say that I think my favorite thing about my dad would have to be his sense of humor. Even as a small child I remember thinking how cool it was to have your dad be the guy people went to if they needed cheering up. He was the life of every party. He was the first person to put his arm around you to comfort you, or get you in a headlock and run his knuckles across your skull. Whatever you needed, he’d do for you. That’s a friend.

There’s a song that I heard several years ago by the group 4-Him, called “The Measure of a Man”. It says:

I’ve seen the measure of a man.
It’s not how tall you stand,
How wealthy or intelligent you are.
I’ve found out the measure of a man,
God knows and understands.
For he looks inside to the bottom of your heart,
And what’s in the heart defines the measure of a man.

My dad is “immeasurable” in every sense of the word. I could never hear that song without thinking of him. It’s such a testament to his legacy, and the way he lived his life made it obvious that he knew what mattered most, way before this song was ever written.

The one thing that’s been most comforting through all of this is the fact that when we knew the end was near, our family didn’t have any “making up” to do. Because we’ve always been so close, I could rest easier knowing that I knew where I stood with my dad, and he knew where he stood with me…and all of us for that matter. I don’t want to preach here, but if there’s something I can ask of each one of you today, it’s to get right with every part of your life. Whether it’s God, a sibling, a child, or a friend, don’t let petty differences and grudges keep you from enjoying life with those who are important to you. Take a minute to say you’re sorry or get something off of your chest, because not everyone knows they have a month to live. Ask yourself that if someone close to you were in an accident, would they have known that you really do love them? It’s not easy, and maybe you don’t feel like it’s your job to make amends, but I encourage you to put your pride away, and get right with them. If there’s anything we’ve learned from this, it’s that no one is immune from death, and it’s no good to look back and have to say “I wish I would’ve…”.

I know everyone has been praying for my dad, my mom, Alysun, and I. I know that the comfort that God will provide is everlasting and sufficient. I know that time will heal us and I couldn’t be more thankful for the memories that we have. Everyone here today is a blessing to our family and we ask you to join us in celebration. Celebration that my dad doesn’t hurt anymore, that he’s gone on to a place that exceeds perfection, and that we’ve had the pleasure of knowing someone whose stature is so great and whose equal is so rare. My mom once called me a “chip off the old block”. I can honestly say, until recently, I had no idea how amazing of a compliment that is.

Thank you for reading,

Josh

RIP Dad, I love you.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bass Pro Shops - Flea Market for the Suh-fis-toe-kay-ted


Recently, with some time to kill in Denver, CO, I took my first trip to "Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World". My partner in my t-shirt company (www.lookatmeshirts.com), designed a board game that is basically Monopoly for Deer hunters (www.huntertainment.com). It was so successful, that he designed a second game for Wild Turkey hunters. Both games can be found in Bass Pro Shops, so I decided it would be cool to go in and look around and send him a picture of his game on sale all the way across country in Denver.

I had no idea how many pictures I'd be taking, or that a new blog was in the midst. So here are my favorite things about this wonderful store...




Some Of The Things You Can Buy



Whitetailopoly - This is my friend's game so I would never make fun of the fact that it exists. My favorite thing about this is that the store actually felt the need to open the game, and then glue every card, fake money, and all of the little gamepieces to the board itself so you can see what it's about. Is there anyone out there who wouldn't know what "Whitetailopoly" is? Doesn't the name explain every question you could possibly have about what's inside that box? It's not like some guy takes this home and says, "This isn't what I wanted!" If that guy exists, then maybe he should be buying "Chutes and Treestands".



Barbie Fishing Gear - This one I think saddens me more than anything. I mean, either be a girly girl, or a tomboy. Don't try to make the two worlds collide. This would be the equivalent of having a GI Joe tea set or a Malibu Voltron Dreamhouse. If you want to fish as a little girl, then fill the cooler with a six-pack, learn to burp, and get over your fear of worms. Otherwise, you'll turn your back and she'll be putting lip gloss and gill polish on all the fish you caught that day.



Rocket Fishing Rod - Just when I thought fishing couldn't get any lazier. Not only is it too much work to sit in a boat and get hammered all day, but apparently there were a lot of torn rotator cuffs due to the strain of casting out your bait into the water. Luckily, you don't even have to move with this new gadget that launches the hook with the press of a button. Now Bink Winkelman doesn't have to get Tommy John surgery, or go on the Pro-Fishing Disabled List, he just has to make sure he doesn't get carpel tunnel in his thumb and he's good to go.



Underwater Video Viewing System - Since most people can't afford to go to the crystal blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico where you can see all the way to the bottom, now you can have your own underwater camera. We're talking about technology that was probably developed by the US Millitary to fight off enemy submarines that is now in the hands of Joe Bob. Doesn't this take the fun out of it? It would be like playing poker and being able to see everyone's hands before you play. Between this and your new Rocket Pole (see above), you'll be back from the lake in an hour with enough food to feed all of your illegitimate children, and plenty of energy left to beat them.



Giant Fish Mailbox - Isn't it hilarious? Get it? It's a big fish...that holds your all of your mail. My problem is that the average US Postal Service employee has a tough enough job as it is. Braving the elements on a daily basis to make sure this hillbilly gets all of his hunting magazines. What better way to make them loathe their job more than to say, "Hey man, do me a favor, take what dignity you have and go home to your family and tell them how you spent your day putting some envelopes into a big ol' bass mouth." And we wonder why the mailmen decide to shoot people...



Giant Fish Body Pillows - I know when I was a kid, the only thing that was missing from my bed was a giant fish pillow to snuggle with at night. I wonder if the color scheme in your room has anything to do with which pillow you choose. The boys get a Shark pillow and the girls get Salmon. And if you're gay, you can get the Rainbow Trout. Let it just be said, that if someone ever meets the person who came up with this idea, I'd love for them to be shown what "sleeping with the fishes" is supposed to mean.



Camouflage Harmonica & Bible - Thank God for both of these items. I know that people are always stealing my harmonica and Bible. If only I could disguise them as trees, then people would just walk right past them. Luckily, Bass Pro Shops has come up with a solution for both. Everyone knows that a good camp fire song followed by reading some scripture are just the two things to put you in the mood to kill something.


The only problem is, what happens when I'm actually in the woods and drop one of them? Do you know how hard it would be to find? Not only have you lost your harmonica and/or Bible, but there's a good chance a squirrel will try to make a home in it, or some woodpecker will drill a few more notes into my precious instrument. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the Bible is for a preacher who likes to fish. So that when he is ready to eat his meal, he can reference the perfect verse to send the little guy's soul to fish heaven, and bless the food at the same time. And that's where they got the term, "Holy Mackerel".



Food Dehydrator & Jerky Maker - "Are you tired of being at home watching 'Walker Texas Ranger' and not having anything to snack on? Don't feel like running to the gas station to stock up on your favorite sundries? Not sure what sundries are? Then you're probably a JERKY FAN!" I love the brand name and picture they use too: "OPEN COUNTRY" with a big mountain range. If you're out there, you probably don't have anywhere to plug this in, nor the ingredients with which to make it. Then again, if you eat enough jerky that requires you to find a more economical way to produce it for yourself, then you probably have bigger problems than this machine could fix.


Other Stuff I Loved About This Place...

Starbucks - Yep, they have a Starbucks in Bass Pro Shops. Isn't this the equivalent of crossing the streams in Ghostbusters? My point being, these two types of people should never meet. No where on Earth should you be able to purchase a Vente Caramel Steamer Sub Soy and a gallon of deer urine without having to walk outside at some point.



Aquarium & Fish Restaurant In The Same Building -
Am I the only person on Earth who has a problem with putting a seafood restaurant near an aquarium? Does anyone else find it the least bit disturbing that a parent could tell their child, "Ricky, this is what a blue gill looks like," then turn the kid around and say, "Now let's go see what it tastes like."?



Furnish Your Home With Redneck Decor - This was one of my favorite parts. They had some of the most horrid furniture you've ever seen. Below you'll see pictures of 3 different camouflage recliners, and an entire living room set with a pattern that would make John Deere himself vomit. I had to zoom in on the design just to make sure you could see it. If you're in someone's home and they ask you to make yourself comfortable on one of these, find new friends.



So there you have it. My phone ran out of space for pictures but there was plenty more to see, and I encourage everyone to check out one of these places when you have the chance. For years, I've talked about heading out to a flea market to brighten your day, but it looks like I've found a new place to cheer me up.

Hope to see you out there,

Josh
www.joshsneed.com

Friday, December 21, 2007

VOTE FOR ME IN COMEDY CENTRAL'S STAND-UP SHOWDOWN

Hey everyone,

I'm holding strong in 2nd place in Comedy Central's Stand-up Showdown with just FOUR DAYS LEFT TO VOTE!!!

They take the Top 100 comedians and let people vote on their favorite from now until 12Noon on Sunday, January 27th. As soon as the contest ends, they countdown the Top 20 Vote getters. So I need your help. There's several things you can do.

Click on this button to take you to Comedy Central's Website. Look for me on the front page in the "Top 20", or if I've slipped out, just go to the "S" page and click "Vote Now" under my picture.





You can also vote for me by texting the words STANDUP SNEED to 44636.

Secondly:
After you vote, you'll see a button that says "Get Your Comedians Button". By clicking on that, it'll give you the code to paste the above image onto your webpage, MySpace/Facebook page, or blog.

If you have trouble with it, or can just want a link to paste into an email that takes people right to the contest page, that link is:

http://www.comedycentral.com/events/susd/index.jhtml

Lastly:
Please pass this on to everyone you know. I'm in this against people who have millions of fans, so I need all the help I can get. Thanks in advance everybody.

Josh
www.joshsneed.com

Friday, December 14, 2007

Quitting The Day Job

(Updated from Dec. '03)

Sitting in my cubicle, I twirled a pen in my hand staring blankly at my computer screen. The walls which once held sheets of printer paper quoting my favorite authors or funny emails that got passed around the office were empty. There's the spot where the list of acronyms that the company used once hung. In a small box on my desk behind me you'll find all of the toys and keepsakes that were one strewn all over this tiny office. I look again at my computer screen, this time at the bottom right corner. July 13, 2001. It's almost 4pm. I wonder if Friday the 13th was the right day to take such a big leap. We'll soon find out. My boss awakens me out of my daze. "We're going to miss you around here. Good luck and stay in touch. Now go on home." And that was it. I turned in my employee badge, and said adios to the corporate giant that had funded my life for the last few years. It was time to move on.

I still can't believe it's been 6.5 years since I quit a day job that most people go to college and hope to get one day. I remember the skepticism on a lot of faces when they'd ask, "You're quitting Procter and Gamble to tell jokes for a living?" Though it's an obvious risk, it's nearly impossible to explain to people the passion I have for what I do. I meet many comics who are bitter, hate working the road, hate the crowds, hate the bookers. While I also get downtrodden at points, all it takes is a simple reminder that I GET to pay my bills by telling jokes. The traveling can be tiresome, the loneliness of not being with friends or family you've known your entire life can be saddening, but at the end of the day, it's worth it.

Whether it was standing in front of The Alamo in San Antonio, looking up at The Space Needle in Seattle, taking a ride to the top of the St. Louis Arch, or freezing my butt off in 40 below temperatures in Alaska, I seem to have the same epiphany over and over. As my friend Mark Sweeney would say, "This is some life we lead." My job is the greatest job in the world. Sometimes you're not feeling well, sometimes you're tired from traveling, sometimes the airline loses your luggage, sometimes the crowd just isn't digging you, sometimes your only friend is your laptop or cell phone. But at the end of the day, it's worth it.

In July 2001, I said goodbye to the steady paycheck and was lucky to have two weeks per month booked, for the next six months. Little did I know, 2002 would be a benchmark year for me. I had the most wonderful person in the business, in my corner, Janet George. After my first time coming through the South Bend Funny Bone in December of 2001, we clicked. She'd considered managing someone, I was looking for management. We thought 2002 would be a good trial for her to manage, and me to work. While we didn't see eye-to-eye on everything, but she busted her butt and I worked 50 out of 52 weeks that year. What 2002 did for my act and career is immeasureable. And it is ALL thanks to Janet. She worked so hard to get me in these clubs and opened countless doors. I can never repay her for what she's done for me as a person, and my career. 50 weeks on the road is a lot, sometimes being gone from home for 5 weeks at a time, living out of a suitcase, but at the end of the day, it's worth it.

In early 2003, I submitted a tape to the Comedy Central Laugh Riots and was picked to head to Miami, FL for the semi-finals. One of the judges that night was John MacDonald, who worked for the company that represented Jeff Foxworthy, and the other comics on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. Thanks to John and the other judges, I was fortunate enough to make it to the finals in Los Angeles. Before heading to LA, Janet and I agreed to part ways as she felt she'd taken me as far as she could. I was moving to LA the week after the finals of the contest, and she wanted me to be free to sign with someone out in LA who could take me to the next step. HOW COOL IS THAT!? That tells you what kind of person she is, and it's easy to see why everyone that knows her, adores her. I didn't place in the contest, and interest from the industry folk who were there that night seemed minimal at best. I wanted to win, but didn't. But I knew my journey was just beginning.

After living in Los Angeles with best friend, and fellow comic, Jamie Lissow, my career continued to grow. Jamie and I toured together all summer doing stand-up/improv shows in some of our favorite clubs. I think my act came a long way because friends like Jamie, Mark Gross, and Greg Warren have all made me strive to improve it. I'm trying to weed out "easy laughs" and become more proud of my act. After working in South Bend with another friend and very funny guy, James Johann (keep an eye out for him), I learned that he had signed with John MacDonald. He offered to put in a good word for me, and followed through the very next day. I scheduled a meeting with John and JP Williams after sending a copy of my tape, and after two very long meetings of brainstorming and getting to know what each other's visions were, John asked me if I wanted to join the Parallel family. I couldn't have been happier. John is like Janet in that everyone likes him. That's so rare in this business, and I'm honored to have a chance to work with him and all of the people in the office at Parallel. They're amazing and I can't wait to see where my path is headed now that he's at the helm.

So here I am, 6.5 years later, still a full time comic. I look back on what's happened since then. I've played clubs from Alaska to Florida. I've visited many national monuments and historic sites. I've worked with comedians who were movie and television stars. I've gotten boos. I've gotten a standing ovation. I've moved from Cincinnati, the only place I've ever lived, to Hollywood. I've been sick. I've been cheated. I've laughed. I've cried. I've laid on the beach. I've walked in 40 below temperatures. I've loved. I've lost. I can't count how many friends I've made. Comics, club staffs, audience members who wanted to make sure "the comic" had fun in their town. Taxi drivers, airline personnel, even the nice woman in Little Rock who rented me a car without my driver's license. For every person that didn't think I was funny, to those who said to me on their way out, "Thank you, I needed that." And that's the kicker folks, right there, plain and simple. People need comedy. Whether it's someone trying to get over a loved one they've lost...or someone that just had a bad day at work. People need comedy. And it's that mindset I do my best to keep everyday. Sure there are times when I want the old life back, only because of it's simplicity, but I'm quick to realize how lucky I am to do what I do...and get paid for it. I've always been the type of person who hates to wonder, "What if...". That's why I chose to do this for a living. Will I be a big star someday? Who knows? Will I just be a regular comic that only works clubs and never hits it big? Couldn't tell ya. All I know is that I have the right people in my corner at work, and at home. Who could ask for more?

So in 2008, I ask that everyone do what you love. Be bold in your decisions, and never settle. I'm living proof that you can do whatever you want, as long as you're driven to see it through. Sure the road isn't perfect for me, it's not perfect for anyone. But I can look anyone in the face who questions my decision, and say that after the cancelled flights, mixed reviews, sickness, loneliness, and failed relationships that couldn't handle the strain, all it takes is one person to say, "You were awesome."...and at the end of the day...it's worth it.

Happy Holidays and New Year everyone...see you out there.


Josh

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Lemonade Anyone?

When life hands you lemons…make lemonade right?

Well what if life doesn't give you any sugar? Or a pitcher? How about a spoon? Maybe some napkins? We'll need ice. No one likes warm lemonade.

If I sound bitter, it's not because of the lack of fructose in my citrus drink. It's because every time I get a little too far ahead of myself, a little too "big for my britches", God rings my room with a wake-up call.

Tomorrow morning my Comedy Central special will air for the fifth time this year. It's amazing to think that in February of 2008, it will have been 10 years since my first open mic night. Ten years since I stepped foot on stage for the first time with a dream that one day I'd have my own 30-min special. I find myself in a hotel in Richmond, VA after just closing two relatively full shows at a club at which I've worked hard to move up the ranks to the status of "Headliner". But it all means nothing.

A few minutes after the last person left the club tonight, I got a phone call from my parents to inform me that my dad has cancer…again. It's in a different spot this time and there are a lot of uncertainties. But boy does it suck. I feel so helpless being in another city, not being able to give him a big hug. To comfort him and my mother is the only thing that matters to me. To see my sister and reassure that we'll all get through this together…again.

I've had an amazing life. It gets better all the time. I'm 30 years old and I've been able to accomplish a lot of goals I set for myself. But I couldn't have done ONE thing if it weren't for a lot of people. Like my first manager, Janet, who helped me get into so many clubs and get the stage time necessary to progress as a comic. John MacDonald, the best manager you could ever want. He's opened doors for me I never thought possible. And of course, all of the people at Comedy Central who've been so kind to me over the years.

But that first time I ever went on stage, my dad was there, proud as always. My family gets all of the credit (or blame) for making me who I am today. There isn't a thing more important on this Earth than to make them proud. Make them feel like they raised a man who can do anything because he knows that they believe in him.

There's an unconditional love that on a DAILY basis I see that others don't have in their lives. Whether it was coaching my Tee Ball team, watching me get eliminated in the first round of the spelling bee (see: coarsely), or being there for that basketball game in 7th grade where I literally got into the game with 1 SECOND left on the clock. (Thanks Coach Decker, you're a real pal.) But to my parents, it didn't matter. They were just as proud as if I'd hit the game winning shot.

So while I can't thank them for basketball skills, I can thank them for demonstrating more important qualities in life, like seeing something through to the end. Or having pride in whatever you put your name on it, because you're only as good as your name. They taught me diligence, and knowing that when you quit, you're not just letting yourself down, but others who were counting on you.

And that quality is so important to me tonight. I know if anyone gets news like my dad got yesterday…again, that they're not going to quit. Their faith in God, the strength of our family, and a literal "never say die" attitude are things I've witnessed in every one of my 30 years on this Earth. And that knowledge is what I need right now, being so far away from them. If I'm able to sleep tonight, it's because I know that no one back home is giving up. So that means I can't either.

And I won't give up. I can't hang my head and wonder why this has to happen to such a good person…again. I can't assume that I love my dad more than anyone else whose father has or had cancer…even though I do. I have to keep pressing on, do my job, and know that it's out of my hands.

I'm not even sure why I'm writing this for everyone to read. Maybe I just needed to vent. Maybe it's to remind everyone how fragile life is, and how mixed up our priorities can be at time. There's a million clich├ęs that could go here, but I'll wrap it up. First of all, say a prayer for my dad and my family. Send some positive thoughts our way, we need them.

I guess it's just good to be reminded, even because of an awful of a circumstance as this is, that the most important things in my life aren't things I've done. They're actually opportunities that God has blessed me with, and the people who've inspired or encouraged me to take advantage of those opportunities. And there's been no greater gift, no better feeling in life, no list of career accomplishments that could even hold a candle to the love and strength of my family. Yeah, tonight life handed my dad some lemons. But you can best believe that we'll all be there right next to him with a pitcher, a spoon, some ice, and a whole bunch of sugar for him…again. Lemonade anyone?

Josh

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More Than Meets The Retina

As comedians, one of things we pride ourselves most on is our originality. Our ability to craft a joke that no one else has written. Sure, there are those out there who blatantly steal jokes, there's parallel thought, and more than one person has written the same joke on numerous occasions. In the comedy business, being labeled a thief is the worst.


That being said, I always get a kick out of blatant copyright infringement in other industries. I love looking at the name some grocery stores give their knockoff cereal brands. Instead of "Rice Krispies", you'll find "Krispy Rice". Right next to "Frosted Flakes", there's "Frosty Flakes of Corn". I think my all time favorite was "Lucky Trinkets".


Anyway, I was looking for something to rent at the video store recently and I saw this gem:




Transmorphers!? Are you kidding me!? I haven't watched this movie yet, but I wonder what it could be about. What kind of cojones do you have to have to approve or write this movie? I've pitched ideas for TV shows and my manager tells me, "That sounds something like a silent film I saw and it's been done."

What's the pitch here? In the same summer as Transformers debuts and breaks box office records, some guy was in a board room, "Ok, um, I have an idea for a movie. These robots can turn into everyday machines and they want to have a war on Earth."

"Um, John...that was a cartoon and is now a major motion picture....LET'S MAKE IT!"

What's next from this company...

"This Christmas, it's the story of a little boy who is left behind while his family goes on vacation. Watch him ward off two burgalars in this hilarious original film, "Home By Myself"."

"Next summer, it's the story of a Vietnam Veteran whos country turns their back on him when he gets home from the war. Be sure to watch, "Born the Day After July 3."

Ok...one more

"A Marine is killed by two fellow soldiers who were just following orders given to them by a controversial General. Lots of drama awaits in..."A Few Good Guys"."

Hope to see you out there,

Josh

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Favorite Commercials

There are some commercials out there right now that make me laugh every time I watch them. However, when I've gone to talk about them to some of my friends, they haven't seen them. So I'd like to put out there the following links, hoping people will get as much of a chuckle out of them as I have.

Hope to see you out there,

Josh

Commercial 1: Snickers Commercial - Just plain hilarious. Lord knows I've always thought Snickers deserved a love song.

Commercial 2: Chad Johnson ESPN - The best player in the league shows why even his opponents get a kick out of him.

Commercials 3 & 4: Avia Roadkill - These might be two of my favorite commercials of all time...and I have no idea why.

"Drafting"

"Respect"

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

You Will Always Be My Boo

Well it had to happen at some point. I'm surprised it hadn't happened yet. When I tell you I got booed tonight...I got booed. It wasn't a "Now that wasn't very nice" kind of boo. It was a "We don't know you, and we don't like you" kind of boo. It was the kind of boo that might have made me quit comedy had it happened when I first started. The kind of boo that would render a ghost speechless. It took 8 1/2 years of doing stand-up, but it finally happened: I got booed offstage...twice...in the same show.

I have always prided myself in attempting comedy in any situation. Outdoors, bars, mixed audiences, you name it, I've done it. One time I tried to do a set in front of hungover Applebee's Employees at 8am on a Saturday morning as part of their "WOW" program. They made several trips to the breakfast bar setup for them, which was conveniently 3 steps behind where I was trying to "entertain". One guy actually asked, "Where are the clean plates?" at a volume louder than which I was speaking.

What's the point? Tonight was healthy. I suggest you try it. The feeling of having people hate you for no reason is something every human being should experience. It's humbling. It's a reality check. It's motivation. I won't say it was racism, but it was definatley prejudiced. When I was introduced tonight, I could immediately tell that outside the first few rows, no one was listening. I was in the setup of my first joke when then first boo broke out. Then the entire back of the room seemed to form a chorus on the spot. "Can't I get a joke out before you decide you don't like me?" I asked. "No mother f___! Booooooo!" I heard something yelled about "that gel in your hair". Something very original I'm sure. Knowing that this was a no win situation, I placed the mic back in the micstand, and motioned for the emcee to come back to the stage. He told the audience he was going to bring me back up there and to show me some respect because he's seen me before, and "he's funny."

I went back up there and decided to give them a second chance as well. I started a new bit and right before I got to the punchline "BOOOO!" It was obvious that I wasn't going to get a fair shot. I shouted back "If you think it's so easy, come on up here and let's hear your best joke. We'll go one on one and see who the professional is." The crowd erupted with applause and cheers "Good for you white boy." I waited a good 30 seconds and thought for sure someone would be making their way toward the stage. I had done it, I had stood my ground, the tide had turned. No one came to the stage, they knew I was serious. I started a joke for the 3rd time and guess what happened this time......"BOOOOOOOOO!!!!"

Once again, I left the stage, defeated. But it wasn't a "I had my turn and failed defeat." It was of the sucker punch varitey. I hadn't even been able to get one bit out. People in the first three rows saying "Stay up there, tell your jokes." People in the last 8 rows doing their best Casper impression. How do I know that people are full of crap? Because I can't count how many people said, "I liked you, don't let them get you down" as they passed by me after the show. How can you have liked me? As much as I didn't have a chance to bomb, I didn't have a chance for you to decide I was funny.

No props for being from Cincinnati, no respect for the accomplishments I've made and what I've tried to do for the local comedy scene. It was just a bunch of thugs with free tickets to a club who show why they don't have jobs that would let them be able to pay to get in. Chad Johnson, Cincinnati Bengal and my favorite player was the host of the event, and I was able to get him to sign a painting that my good buddy Darin Overholser did of him for my personal collection. So that kept the night from being a total loss.In closing, let me say that this isn't a journal entry to fish for compliments and reaffirmations that I'm doing some things people enjoy. IN NO WAY did tonight deter me from my goals or my drive to be a better comic. I just wanted to share the story with anyone who cared to read it, and remind everyone that being a comic is hard and as Mitch Hedberg described it, "a very noble occupation." It's ok to not like someone's comedy, but don't trash whatever it is they're trying to do, just because it's not your cup of malt liquour.

I've seen my name show up in more than one blog from people who don't care for my humor. I've seen genuinely funny and nice guys like Larry The Cable Guy and Bill Engvall get trashed for basically being successful. Who gives a rat's ass if you don't like what they do? Their success shows that plenty of other people do. Laugh when you want to laugh, it's that simple. Give respect to those who are out there trying to follow a dream. We all have our offnights, Lord knows I had my worst one tonight. But if you don't think it's funny, then don't laugh. Win people over by letting them appreciate your sense of humor, not by getting them to agree with you on who's not funny. I know plenty of people who think I'm not funny, I've met audiences full. They fed me "hmrph's" and even sometimes complete silence, but hey, at least they didn't "boo".

Hope to see you out there,

Josh

Friday, June 9, 2006

Silly Hat Day

For all of those who say I don't have a real job, that I have more free time than I know what to do with, that I need a hobby...I submit the following.


In the heart of Louisville, KY, there's a wonderful restaurant called Lynn's Paradise Cafe. Great food and an awesome gift shop (think Cracker Barrel meets...awesome gift shop).


Aside from their famous "magic pants", Albert Einstein action figures, and a book for white people on how to speak "street", Lynn's features quite a silly hat collection. My good friend, and fellow comedian, Dan Davidson and I decided to use our time waiting for a table to try on these fancy hats. As always, I was armed with my camera phone and what you're about to see are the results of our adventure...



Not sure if Dan is granting wishes or touching altar boys in this lovely selection.



I always wanted to be a retarded super hero.



Do you really want to hurt me?



Sailing....takes me away.



Ready for some raping and pillaging.



He gives out Golden Tickets like candy.



Brokeback Barbaro



Dolphin Safe Davidson



Look, I'm a pot head. Good Lord I'm funny.



Trojan Man!



(you write the joke)




Me finally getting laid.




Thursday, April 13, 2006

Kohls Has Racist Mannequins

I'm not usually one to judge retail giants. But Kohl's...shame on you.

I was perusing through a Kohl's department store near my house recently when I noticed something odd about the mannequins in the children's clothing department. Mind you, Kohl's is just one big open room, not multi-level. So you can pretty much see every section from the main walkway. I look up and notice a young white male mannequin in the most stereotypical pose. I'm not sure if he's supposed to be surfing, skateboarding, or on ecstacy, but it's one of the "whitest" outfits on a blonde haired, blue eyed boy. And the pose made me think, "That's what Kohl's thinks that a kid wearing this outfit would do." Here's what I'm talking about:


Still don't see it? Ok, here's another example. I look down the wall and notice a young African-American, or black, male mannequin. Completely different outfit...completely different pose. I'm not sure if he's shooting dice or ducking down to watch for the cops, but it just looks like he's up to no good. SHAME ON YOU KOHL'S! Here he is:


The last one was the most disturbing. Maybe i don't get out much, but I've never seen a retarded mannequin...until that day at Kohl's. You might ask, "Josh, how do you know it was retarded?" You tell me:


UNBELIEVABLE!!! Why don't they just put a helmet on him and paint some drool on his chin while they're at it? I couldn't believe it. Look how terrified the kid on the right is. It's like he's saying, "I hope none of my friends see this kid talking to me." And what's with that angelic glow on him? Is Kohl's trying to tell us that retarded kids are going to hell? Lastly, I understand that you have to be politically correct in our country these days, but who's going to buy the outfit on the left for their kid? So the kids at school could say, "This is what a mongoloid would wear. Kohl's says so."

If you couldn't tell, I have a lot of free time.

Hope to see you out there,

Josh

Monday, April 10, 2006

Bill Burr and The Guy From "Weekend At Bernie's"

Ok, every once in a while you have a laugh that cleanses your soul. A laugh that makes you feel like you're going to throw up. A laugh that brings tears to your eyes, and gives you the impression you just finished 1,000 crunches. Last Sunday, I shared one of those laughs with comedian Bill Burr. If you don't know who he is, get out from under your rock, do a search for him on MySpace or just look in my Top 8. In the few days I worked with him, he's already become one of my favorite comics.

So Bill and I are having lunch at The Cheesecake Factory in Tampa. Just a couple of gentlemen, enjoying some delicious unhealthy food, watching a little golf on a Sunday afternoon. A blind guy and two of his friends sit at the hightop table next to ours, and Bill jokes, "There's the guy from 'Weekend at Bernie's'." We both get a chuckle. It really did look like the guy.

I then tell Bill of my idea for my website to take pictures with people who look like celebrities, but obviously aren't them. He thinks it's a great idea and offers to somehow take the picture of Bernie and I. So we have to devise a plan where I somehow get into the picture but no one knows it's being taken.

We decide the best method is for Bill to walk to the end of the bar and stroll behind the two friends of Bernie's that still have their sight, while I stretch or something to move into frame. He would take the picture in passing since the blind guy would obviously not be able to see Bill right in front of him. The plan alone had us trying not to laugh.

All of the actors were in place and Bill makes his move, but right as he gets in to take the picture, Bernie leans forward to take a bite of his food and is now blocked from view. ABORT! ABORT! Bill sees it too and returns to his starting position. He makes the second pass and I pretend to drop my napkin then perform the most horribly acted, over-the-top stretch I could muster. Above all of the chatter in the restaurant you could definately hear the click of the camera phone as Bill walked by.

We both sit back down at the table and with no emotion on his face he slides the phone to me for my viewing pleasure. The photo I looked at is below.


The second I saw this picture, I let out the most obnoxious laugh you've ever heard. There was no way I could contain myself. Bill, trying not to laugh, lost it as well. Five good minutes of laughters that had both of our eyes welled up and stomachs aching. When one of us would gain our composure, the other one would lose it again. While I definately think to appreciate the situation and what we went through to take this picture you "had to be there", it was just a story that I thought was worth sharing.

Hope to see you out there,

Josh

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

America's Past Time

"Put me in coach, I'm ready to play...today."

I love baseball. More importantly, I love America's first professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds. Opening Day in Cincinnati is one of the biggest events of the year, as it should be. People take off work, kids get out of school early, and everyone focuses on the baseball game. There are certain things you can always look forward to when attending Red's games. The smell of fresh cut grass, teaching kids about the benefits of steroids, and lots and lots of drunk people. It never fails that the Red's get everyone's hopes up early in the year. But usually we'll see a Ken Griffey Jr. injury, horrible relief and closer pitching, and then some guy from AAA comes up big at the end of the season to be sure and instill "hope for next year".

We had great seats for Opening Day this year. Thanks Phil.

So there we were, Opening Day. What a setup. The New York Mets had a huge offseason and acquired the likes of Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez. The Reds gave up ahome run in the first inning. "Here we go again.", we thought. "Same ol' Reds". But in the bottom of the first, the Reds scored three runs on ahomer by Adam Dunn (see also "stud"). Well, we might have a game afterall. But we still had 8 more innings to get through, so I decided to start one of my favorite activities: people watching. It wasn't too long before I found a gem. He was a few rows in front of us and he was "that guy" all day long.

"Man I'm sure glad I'm not hanging drywall today."

I first noticed this gentleman whenthe stars and stripespeeked out from under his ball cap. Everyone attending the game that day gotten an American flag to wave during the National Anthem, but this guy had a vision. "What if I use it to keep my neck cool for the rest of the game" Brilliant. How do you think our soldiers overseas would feel, or those who fought so fearlessly in wars past if they knew that the symbol of freedom that they were shedding blood and giving up their lives for was being used by some hillbilly in Northern Kentucky to keep his neck from getting any "redder" I thought this might be the guy to watch for the rest of the game. Five minutes later, he tried to start "the wave" (see circa 1985). We are locked on target.

Pedro Martinez proceeded to shut down the next 15 batters, striking out 13 of them. By the 7th inning, the Mets were back on top 6-4. I had to get an update on our friend a few rows up, and sure enough I called it, the shirt had come off.

"It's such a nice day, maybe I won't go home and beat my illegitimate children afterall."

The innings kept rolling, the Reds kept getting out, and this guy kept drinking. He was starting to get loud and yell at everyone from the cotton candy girl to the umpire behind the plate. This guy was getting hammered, and I started to realize why they chose to use plastic beer bottles at the stadium. Phil was getting prettyintoxicated himself at this point, but at least he behaves himself and keeps it fun. He's one of the funniest "non-comics" I know, and a big Reds fan. He's the best.

Phil and I in the stands.

In all fairness, the bald guy wasn't the only one deterring my attention from the game. The guy behind me was even worse. Why is there always some white trash father who decides to take his mullet-head kids to the baseball game and proceed to explain everything they're ever learned about baseball which usually boils down to video games and memorizing "Bull Durham" Every pitch, every play, this guy feels the need to explain to his entire row what just happened. And you can't turn around and correct him everytime. One time I wanted to just turn around and awe his children with something even he didn't know. "You see kids, that pop-up to the shortstop is called a 'can of corn'. It's a term that refers back to the old grocery store days when the clerks couldn't reach the items on the top shelf. They'd have to use the end of a broomstick to knock the can off of the shelf and then they'd catch it in their apron...'can of corn'." (see EA SportsTriple Play Baseball2004 for Playstation). What's our other friend up to...

"Say it to my face."

Don't ask me what he's yelling about, I have no idea. but I had to snap a quick pic. Have you no shame sir So here we are in the 9th inning, Reds still losing 6-4. The Cincinnati Reds unfaithful started to leave the park. Not us. The first guy up, Austin Kearns got a base hit to lead off the 9th. Adam Dunn stepped in and sent his second home run of the game over the fence. I told you he was a stud. All of a sudden, it's 6-6. The place is ROCKING! This was the first time I saw people stop and return to their seats when they were about to leave. Suddenly, the stadium was packed again and people are going nuts. Enter Joe Randa. Joe Randa's first game as a Cincinnati Red since being picked up from the Kasas City Royals in the offseason. He'd had a great game so far, but with one pitch, Joe Randa put a ball over the left field wall giving the Cincinnati Reds their first ever walk-off home run in the history of the club. One word: pandamonium.


The tall stacks came alive as the Reds start the season 1-0.

What'll happen from here Who knows. The Reds are in one of the toughest divisions in baseball. But who cares really There will still be white trash people with their shirts off getting drunk and using "Old Glory" instead of sunscreen. There will still be home runs and overpriced parking. And we'll keep going to the games, cheering for the Reds, buying peanuts and cracker jacks. And to be honest, I don't care if I ever get back.

Hope to see you out there...

Josh

Saturday, April 2, 2005

Missing Mitch Hedberg

Forgive me if there is bad grammar or typos in this post, but I'm writing with a heavy heart. It's a sad, sad day in the world of comedy. Mitch Hedberg, arguably the greatest comic of our generation, has died. He leaves behind a loving wife, thousands upon thousands of fans, and a group of comedy peers who will never forget the impact he had on our business, and our lives.

The first time I saw Mitch, I was sitting in the office of Go Bananas Comedy Club, my home club in Cincinnati. John Chung, the General Manager at the time showed me a tape of Mitch on Louie Anderson's Comic Strip show. He said he was considering bringing Mitch to the club. That few minutes of watching Mitch changed my life. By the end of the set he had become my favorite comedian, and nothing has changed that to this day.

When John decided to book Mitch, I begged and pleaded to let me be the emcee that week. And as luck would have it, I was also booked to work with him in Dayton the very next week. Two weeks back-to-back with my favorite comedian'it was surreal. That was April of 1999. Later that year, Go Bananas booked Mitch to come headline on New Year's Eve, the biggest comedy night of the year, and I got to host again. That night, Mitch asked me if I wanted to come open for him in Grand Forks, ND for a special Valentine's Day show. Of course I wanted to, but was skeptical if it would work out. A lot of headliners make a lot of promises, but Mitch was one of the rare ones who actually followed through.


(Backstage at The Punchline in Atlanta, GA)

Grand Forks, ND in February, wow.
If there was one word to describe Grand Forks in February, it wouldn't be 'warm'. We all met up in Minneapolis, (we being Mitch, his wife, Mike Spurlock, his wife Sydney, Chuck Savage, and a comic from Seattle named Rico). We had an absolute blast, and I think the experience of going to North Dakota would not have been anything like that, had I been there with anyone else.

In July 2001, when I quit my day job, Mitch was the first headliner to ask me to come feature for him. He took me to his favorite club in Houston, TX, The Laff Stop. I can't tell you how amazing it felt to have my favorite comedian, take a liking to me. He didn't have to help me, and I know it wasn't a big deal to him, but he knew it was a big deal to me.


(Left to right: Jamie Lissow, Landon Lyons, Mitch, Me, Tom Simmons)


Last year in '04, Mitch recorded the introduction for my first comedy CD. He told people to 'sit back, relax, have a drink, and listen to the comedy of my favorite Josh Sneed. In a magazine article, he dropped my name and called me to tell me to be sure and get a copy. On Letterman he told people that another friend of ours, Brian Hurzee deserved to be on the show. That was Mitch. Any chance he could take to help out someone else, he took it.

Mitch has had a bigger impact on my life than any other comedian. He showed that you can be successful to the fans, and still have the utmost respect of your peers. He was quoted more than any comic I've ever worked with. I only hope that one day I can get to a point where I could do an hour of material, and have people in the audience yell out jokes they want me to do, even though they know them by heart. He was easily considered one of Dave Letterman's favorite comedians. George Carlin told Larry King that Mitch was one of his favorites. And just as he was reaching a point in his career where he could sit back, relax, and enjoy the benefits of all the hard work he's put in for so many years, it all came to a screeching halt.

Drugs got the better of Mitch, but I don't want to dwell on that.It's such a sad way to picture such a comedy icon.And I don't want to preach to anyone about the dangers of drugs.But when you can see that a man at the top of his game, who had just about everything you could ask for in this business, lose a battle to a substance like that, it should be a wake-up call to everyone.No matter what your vice is, get your life in check.Mitch's legacy will stretch for many, many years.He will be remembered as an amazing comic whose life was cut tragically short because of an addiction.

I think my friend Mark Gross offered the best prospective on this whole situation.He said, 'Well, we're lucky to have known him.If there was any silver lining, I couldn't have put it better.When I hear guys talk about working with Bill Hicks or Sam Kinnison, I always thought, 'How cool would it have been to see them''But I know one day I'll tell these same stories and people will react the same way about Mitch.I'm very lucky to not only have seen him and worked with him, but to have actually spent time with him and Lynn on a friendship level.


(Hanging with Mitch and Lynn backstage at Zanie's in Nashville)


What's the point of this entry? I don't know really.Maybe it was just a reason to recall some of the memories and good times I had with Mitch.Maybe it was to paint a better picture of exactly who he was to other comics and myself.Maybe it was to serve as a reminder of the dangers of drugs.But I guess it doesn't matter why I wrote it.Whatever you decide to take from this, if anything, just be sure to do a reality check in your life.Decide what's important, and realize that the choices you make don't always just affect yourself, but possibly many others.So for now we'll just go on.Doing our shows, telling our jokes, but keeping in mind the fact that one of our brothers has fallen.He's gone, but not forgotten.If you have a minute, say a little prayer for his wife Lynn, she needs it right now.

I could go on and on with stories, but I'll end this here.Mitch, we miss you already.You've left a lasting impact on a lot of us, and we'll try our best to come close to the bar you've set so high as a human, comedian, and loyal friend.And for a while, every time I go onstage, or think of one of your clever bits, or hear you on the radio, or play your CD, or go back to a club you helped me get into, I'll remember all of the advice you gave me and just give it my best, like you did.And I only hope everyone finds someone that they can look up to and admire, and be proud to call their friend like I did you -- my friend Mitch.Rest in peace, brother.

Hope To See You Up There,

Josh



Mitch Hedberg

1968-2005

(To learn more about Mitch and the legacy he leaves behind, visit http://www.mitchhedberg.net )