What do you want to be when you grow up? That’s a question most often asked of young children as they begin to envision how their lives may turn out. In my case, it was asked of me by Ms. Michele (my girlfriend / soul mate) as we enjoyed a drink at the bar a few years ago. We happened to be watching an ‘encore’ performance of a baseball game played earlier that day with the outcome already decided. Since it was a slow news day, perhaps my frustration was evident as I stared off into space.
When posed with the question of what I wanted to be when I grew up, it caused me to stop and take notice. I had recently completed a career in the pharmaceutical industry, one in which I accepted an “early retirement” package. That’s one of those packages where they say, “take this money or not, but don’t bother showing up for work on Monday.” Ok, so I took the money.
As the question soaked in and I began to formulate my answer, I started to think about what I could do versus what I wanted to do. Sure, I could be a “sales guy” for some company once again and could most likely make a decent living at it. As I thought about that scenario, I could envision myself making a sales call and shaking hands with a prospect on a deal. I could also envision myself bored to tears and then flinging my sales bag into the dumpster.
What I REALLY wanted to do was to produce and host a comedy-based variety show. Had I ever worked as a producer before? No. Did I know any comedians or musicians who could star in such a show? No. Did I have the foggiest idea how to get started on such an endeavor? No. Once all the stars were aligned, however, we got started!!
Ms. Michele never leaves home without a notepad and pen, so we got to work! We began our list of what we would need; a venue, stage lighting, sound equipment, stage…not to mention some talent! After a shopping spree, we had the essentials to at least stage a small-scale event. One of my good friends constructed a small stage out of scrap lumber and we built a frame for the curtain backdrop out of PVC pipe. The curtains? Straight from Bed, Bath & Beyond!! Things were taking shape!
Over the following weeks, through friends of friends, we recruited some comedic and musical talent and The Tomfoolery Show was born! We scheduled our first event in the backroom of a local pizza parlor and, much to our amazement, people showed up and bought tickets! What was even more amazing was the fact that they enjoyed the show!! The crowd left that night with smiles on their faces and in a very good mood! Now THAT was a rush for Ms. Michele and me!
Well, almost four years and 50+ events later, I haven’t officially grown up yet but I’m still pursuing the dream. The stage that was built out of scrap lumber leans against the wall in my garage and we still use it sometimes. This weekend, after much hard work, we take our production to a much larger (and prestigious) stage. Our show this weekend will be held at the Hoosier Theatre in Whiting, Indiana on a stage once utilized by entertainers such as The Three Stooges and W.C. Fields! That’s kind of like walking the same fairways once strolled upon by Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer!
Patience has never been my area of strength. I suppose I would have abandoned the Tomfoolery ship more than once if not for the help and support of my business partner, best friend and soul mate, Ms. Michele. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones to have someone who can see past the present and envision things to come. I’m not completely self-sufficient in that regard, but the habits are slowly being developed. I think I’ll get there someday…maybe when I grow up.