That was my best bit. I’m dying up here. Look at those faces, like a fucking wall of corroded steel. How can they not be laughing? Why has time stopped?
I breathe. I don’t say it (laugh, you idiots, that’s funny!). For some mysterious reason, I suddenly think about Phillip Petit and put one foot out on the wire. The wire to the promised land where I sprout wings and own this room.
See, dummy? See what we all tried to tell you? You’re NOT funny. Email Pitkins in HR first thing tomorrow. Maybe it’s not too late to get your job back.
What do they know anyway? My position was filled ten minutes after I walked out the door. The only way to go now is forward. Out onto the wire. No net. No safety. No one to catch me if I fall. I won’t fall. That’s all. The wind catches the wire and I see those dollies from the bachelorette party, half smashed and eager to see me fall, slurping down another round. I steady myself and open my mouth.
Baby, why are you doing this to yourself? It’s like torture watching you up there. I can’t come tonight. No. I won’t. I can’t stand watching you make an ass of yourself like this.
Slow down. Enunciate. Be easy. I know this bit like I know the Hail Mary. This fucker is full of grace. It’s up to me, out here on the wire, to ease it on out. Another step. I think I have them. There’s a shift in the room. I think. Another step. Now it’s just the wire, my feet, and the words. The words I wrote and spoke and revised and performed a thousand times. Ten thousand times.
Don’t listen to her. Don’t listen to them. They’re always going to try and shake the wire, make you fall. But you got something that’s real and alive. That’s what makes them crazy. They can’t stand seeing someone take a chance. Here’s your chance. Fuck them.
Yes. The wire is wide as a west Texas interstate. I bounce a little and grin. I have fun. I let everyone in on the fun. The first laughs come from the back row. It’s contagious. I could ride a bike on this wire. I could do backflips. I don’t. I watch my pace. I watch my words. I watch my rhythm. Here comes the build-up. Rising. Good. Hitting all the right notes.
You got it. Nothing like it, is there? I remember feeling that way on the first day shooting “Steamboat Bill Jr.” By that time, of course, I had it down. You will, too, but if you’re lucky you’ll always have that moment of terror. Treasure it.
Don’t all comics hear Buster Keaton cheering them on when they begin to hit their stride? Well, Buster, my buddy, my guardian angel, I’m booked through the end of the month.
© Remington Write 2020. All Rights Reserved
Read AleXander Hirka’s version here:
In August 2020, AleXander Hirka set himself the challenge of creating a daily digital collage based on an image and a concept. The image is that of the antique Omega watch that belonged to his Mom and the concept is Time. In September 2020, the Anomalous Duo is challenging themselves to write a short piece of fiction for each collage — the Our Hours project.