What Is Happy?

Published by Rick on Tagged Uncategorized

Not to be confused with a song title, specifically the B-side of the Cowsills (singing family of late 60’s, real life prototype of the Partridge Family) 1969 US hit version of the title tune from the musical “Hair.” I can’t even tell you what the song sounds like, but it sure sounds like a 1960’s song title.  What we’re getting at here is a couple days ago, I felt compelled, admittedly after a couple of beers, to proclaim my state of happy to the FB crowd, and was astounded that the 10 or 11 words I wrote got the most response of anything I’ve posted this entire year.

Several people were curious about what makes me happy. OK, let’s review. I think beyond the inebriated state I was in, the bottom line is I was feeling giddy because on that day (Sunday), I had once again triumphed with my DJ gig, somehow finding out in people I’ve never met, what songs, among the 300-400 records I had at my disposal, would communicate most with them. I pretty well scoped that out, and got the response I was almost expecting. The fact that I’ve got a regular gig that pays me to do something I’ve been doing since I was 5, that makes me VERY happy.

Then there’s my other gig, my Tuesday night pub quiz. This makes me happy because I’m in a low pressure situation, where the punters merely want to hear what it is I’m asking of them, but because I have the performance background, I can’t be content just asking the questions; No, I must make each one conversational. I do that mostly because I’ve been to enough pub quizzes where the quiz master does little more than read the questions in a boring monotone. Of course, the stand-up background helps a bit. The fact that when I say goodnight, I always get applause means I must be doing something right. And that also makes me happy.

While both gigs are fun, the cumulative pay of them shouldn’t be enough to live on, unless you’re in my situation. I’m paying astronomically low rent considering the area of London I’m living in, but I can’t and won’t elaborate here on facts and figures. Mostly my reason for holding back on that is that I’m allowed to live in this ideal situation through the 30+ years of work that certain people have put in to create this wonderful living situation. My hat goes off to them, they’ve created a nearly ideal environment in which to live, and that also makes me happy.

Another thing I won’t elaborate too much on is being in a wonderful relationship, which has now been going over a year. I think I’d still be happy were that not part of the equation, but I’m overjoyed that it’s there.

So OK, I’m making subsistence money doing what I like, and stand-up, which has paid the bills for so many years, takes a back seat. I should say I still love doing that as well, but because it’s so sporadic, there’s a momentum problem. i can still pull the rabbit out of my hat when the gigs crop up. It is truly like riding a bicycle, but the last thing I need is the high pressure gigs I was having to do only a couple years ago where the onus of “If you’re not sensational, you’re history” seemed to crop up. I almost believe that if those gigs (well-paying, btw) were to miraculously come up again, I’d turn the bulk of them down. Knowing that I’m in a position where I truly can avoid the aggravation, well, that also makes me happy.

Sure, I’d have liked to have gotten rich and famous, who in show biz doesn’t? But it is now two years plus change since one of the most gifted performers I felt privileged to know (RW, of course) was so completely unhappy in his role as an icon that he chose to hasten his departure from the planet. He had the fame, the money, the accolades, and that wasn’t enough. And there was someone else who died 39 years ago this day (although the date has passed already over here) who wasn’t crazy about his role as King of whatever. If that’s what fame and genius can do to someone, I’m very happy to be on some sort of periphery.

I’ll mention in closing a story of a recent encounter, where I was a bit of a bitter asshole, but the outcome of it made me happy, as I was able to make a point to someone I believed had it coming. The man was a colleague with whom I’d worked numerous times. I never felt comfortable in his presence, as he gave off a vibe that was a combination of resentment of “foreign intervention” and the fact that I used a guitar in my act, which to comedy purists is a total travesty. I always felt that when they say “Yeah, but how funny would he be without the guitar,” I counter with “Yeah, and how funny would you be WITH one?”

The man is over 60 and getting a massive career break, which is inspirational in a business where most of the powers that be give up on someone once they pass 30, no matter how talented they are. I don’t begrudge him of that; he is very talented. But when he posted stories about his triumphs, and people on FB were responding with “Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy,” I had to go “Wait a minute, I’ve still never seen the nice.” My riposte on his personal messaging was pretty succinct, recalling an incident where he basically trashed me onstage when I was present, and used MY guitar to do so. He seemed to not remember it as I had seen it, and I eventually had to allow that I was getting nowhere, but I rained on his parade, which may or may not have been my intent.  That shouldn’t make me happy, but somehow it fucking did.

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