500 Years of Comedy

500 Years of Comedy


Last week I was booked to do a show in Munster, Indiana at the Performing Arts Center there. One of my best, if not the best friend I have, Nick Gaza books and runs the shows there. We met and became friends when we were living in Los Angeles. Actually, I lived in Burbank and he lived in Glendale, but it was in the L.A. area.

Since we don’t see each other very often, maybe once a year, I went in a few days early to hang out. Munster is in the Chicago area, so when I get back that way I usually get together with a few comedian friends.

This time, my old friend Bill Gorgo decided to invite a group of us to his home for a Wednesday afternoon barbeque. One of the advantages of being a comedian is that your Wednesday afternoons are usually free.

I’ve known Bill since the 80’s and he’s always been a very humble and gracious person. He’s one of the most intelligent and clever people that I know and always has a smile on his face. Here’s the kind of guy he is. Despite being in extreme pain from a back problem, he went ahead with the plans, did all of the cooking and prep work and was a great host…He also made more than we could handle and ended up eating leftover brats and polish sausage for a week.

He also told me the back problem became a lot worse due to dating a woman 25 years younger than himself. So, it wasn’t without a good cause.

There were twelve or thirteen of us that got together that day. There’s something about hanging out with other comedians. Even though each of us has totally different personalities, we have a common bond in the way we think and experiences we’ve all shared.

In the group that day, Larry Reeb and Nick Carmen-Cosentino were the veterans. Both started in 1977. I think the latest anybody started was around 87 or 88. I know I said 500 years of comedy and if you’re doing the math, it probably be closer to 400. It’s just that you don’t become a comedian the first time you go on stage or the first time you get paid. You become a comedian when you realize you have a desire to make people laugh and this is the goal you’re going to pursue the rest of your life.

Most of us knew each other since we were new and shiny. We still had that new car smell. Long before we had all of these miles on us. Before parts had to be removed and replaced. Before certain parts stopped running like they used to.

There was a lot more conversation about lawn maintenance than when we started. That’s because we never talked about our lawns back then. The discussions about drugs are different now. Back then it was where we could get some. Now, it’s “what meds are you on?”

We had a lot of laughs that day. In fact I had a lot of laughs the whole three days I was there. Friday night, after my show, Nick took us out for pizza and drinks. The show had gone really well and I had enjoyed it. There’s something I said that got a groan. It wasn’t that big of a deal and I had forgotten until Nick brought it up.

“Do you remember when the crowd started going ooooohhhhhh…..?”


“I started that…I started going oooooohhhhhhh…and they went along with me.”


That was the hardest I laughed the whole time I was there.

Anyway, I started teaching a comedy class this week. I’m sharing my experience with new comedians, just out of the box. I guess the best advice I could give them is, the good times don’t always last, but neither do the bad ones. Enjoy every moment. 500 years goes fast.


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