A lot of people know that I don't drink. I always had trouble explaining why I didn't drink, until I wrote a poem about it so that people wouldn't ask me after shows. Well, I've had a few requests lately from people who heard my "Sober Eyes" poem from my first CD on XM/Sirius satellite radio. Well folks, here it is:
by Josh Sneed
I sit here with my sober eyes,
And take all of this in.
A man just fell and pissed himself,
Wait….he’s back up again.
In a corner this man sits alone,
And talks to his shot of Jim Beam.
I can’t keep track of how many he’s had,
15 or 20 it’d seem.
One girl is dancing, and I’m afraid
Her mirror is telling her lies.
For her skirt is struggling to contain
Her telephone pole-like thighs.
The alcohol that she’s consumed
Has caused her eyes to glaze.
Her belt should be given overtime,
Or at the very least, a raise.
“Play me some Skynyrd!!”, she yelled at the band.
And he couldn’t believe what he heard.
This woman seemed to capture his soul
When she yelled, “Come on! Freebird!”
She sees him and smiles and pull him in close.
For a mate, this woman does seek.
And, if it weren’t for his big ol’ beer gut,
They’d be dancing cheek to cheek.
It’s closing time now, he gives her “the look”
She nods her head yes to the man.
They leave the bar, walk under the stars
Together, hand in hand.
And as I drove home I can’t help but think
As that trailer is rocking tonight,
What they’ll think of each other
When they’re sober and in the daylight.
But whatever happens, I’m just glad
That I am alcohol free.
Or else someone might be reading a poem
About that same woman, and me.
It seems over the last few years that I've only had a real desire to write when something bad has happened. When Mitch Hedberg, passed away, I felt better after writing. When I found out my father was sick, I felt better after writing. When I had the worst night of my life in a comedy club, I felt better after writing. When Last Comic Standing auditions went horribly awry, and it just so happened to be the same day my dad passed away, I felt better after writing.
And now, today, another horrible thing has happened. The body of Andrew Koenig was found in a park in Vancouver, BC after he had committed suicide. If you didn't already know who he was, you may remember him as Richard "Boner" Stabone on "Growing Pains", one of my favorite characters on one of my favorite shows as a child. I feel like I related to him more than any character on sitcoms growing up. I wasn't the best looking kid with lots of money that all the girls drooled over, I was that guy's best friend.
All of these years later, here I am. A professional stand-up comedian, touring the country. 12 years since my first time on stage, 8.5 since I left a career in comfy confines of corporate America. The first time I ever emceed it was for Jimmy Pardo in Dayton, OH. I had never seen someone do comedy like that. So effortless, so natural, and funnier than anything I'd ever seen. He would mess with me offstage and onstage, and the more he poked fun at me, the harder I laughed. THIS is how you do comedy.
I've had the pleasure of working with Jimmy over the years and I've had the even bigger pleasure of being able to call him my friend. But as much as I have come to consider him one of my peers, more than ever I've become a bigger fan of his. He makes me laugh like I've never seen comedy before, when I thought I'd seen it all.
When Jimmy started doing his podcast, Never Not Funny, it was awesome. New content on a weekly basis from one of my top 5 comedians of all time to keep me entertained on my long drives and flights? Where do I sign up? Through the podcast, I learned that the guy running the camera was Andrew Koenig, Jimmy's brother-in-law. How cool is it that Jimmy's father-in-law was on the original Star Trek, his wife is a hilarious comedian/writer, and his brother-in-law was one of my favorite sitcom characters growing up?
Over the next couple of years I got the nerve to send a friend request to Matt Belknap (Never Not Funny's producer) and to Andrew. I had felt like that little kid who got to meet their favorite baseball player and hoped they wouldn't deny me an autograph. It's weird how when I've met celebrities like Lorne Michaels, Mike Myers, Lindsay Lohann, and Usher...that I don't feel as nervous as I do when meeting people in my field that I have such a huge respect for. Thankfully, both of them accepted my friend request.
I went through this phase in the subsequent months where I felt like I was posting some really funny stuff on Twitter and Facebook, yet it was not getting comments or reposts from my friends and fans. Every time I posted something I was proud of, I thought, "This'll get them talking." And I usually get some responses from a few people, but it never quite gave me the satisfaction I was looking for or maybe even needing at the time. Then one day I posted something, and the first person to react to it was Andrew Koenig. Am I reading that right? I was indeed..."Andrew Koenig likes this."
I never wrote Andrew or really mentioned it to anyone except a few close friends on how much of an impact that had on me. I felt validated. On a surface level, someone I had great respect for told me they liked something I wrote. That would've probably been enough to pull me out of my funk. But it was deeper than that. At that point I realized that I had worked hard enough as a comedian to put myself in circles where it was even possible for Andrew to do that. Maybe it's a stretch, but it worked for me. But I'm sure it never occurred to Andrew that with one click of his mouse, he lifted the spirits of someone he's never met.
I always thought I'd tell him that story if I ever got to meet him. Now, that can't happen. And part of me wonders if him hearing those stories from people would've made a difference. I'm not naive enough to think that my story would've, but that maybe enough of stories like mine could've. I guess what I'm trying to say is that you should never take anything for granted. You should never assume that someone knows that they've made even the slightest difference in your life. I regret that I'll never be able to share that story with him, but maybe those who knew him better can find comfort in this horrible circumstance by having yet another memory of all the good he did in this world. And even if that's not the case, selfishly, I feel better after writing.
RIP Andrew. Thanks.