Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Take It from Me Kid

Jacob grew up in Long Island, NY.  At the age of fifteen, he started writing material for stand-up comedians.  He secretly wanted to perform the material himself, but was too shy.  Five years later, though, he was ready to try, and walked into a comedy club to audition.  He wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t very good either.  For nine years, he performed in comedy clubs at night while working a variety of odd jobs during the day.

Jacob’s passion was comedy, but he needed to survive.  Over the years, he worked as an aluminum siding salesman, a circus acrobat, even a singing waiter, and was fired from each of those jobs.  Unfortunately, he was no more successful in comedy.  Frustrated with his lack of success, he quit comedy at the age of twenty-nine.  He later joked that he had been so bad that no one even realized he’d quit.

At the age of forty-five, Jacob returned to comedy.  In reality, he had never given it up, but had simply stopped performing.  During that time, he’d been writing hundreds of jokes to create a character that would help him stand out from all other comedians.  His moment came when a last minute cancellation gave him the chance to perform on the famous Ed Sullivan show.  His act was a hit.  Performing under his show business name, Rodney Dangerfield, he would be invited to perform more than thirty-five times on the Tonight Show, and eventually became known throughout show business as the king of comedy.  Over the span of his career, he helped launch many young comedians to stardom, including Jim Carrey, Jerry Seinfeld and Roseanne Barr.  But while Dangerfield was enjoying the peak of his success, another young comedian named Edward was trying to establish himself as well.

Edward didn’t have an easy childhood.  His father died when he was young, and his mother became so ill that, at the age of eight, Edward was forced to live in foster care for a full year.  He would later say that it was during those tough times that he developed his sense of humor.

Edward was a street-smart kid, having grown up in a Brooklyn housing project before moving to Long Island when he was ten.  He was also a natural mimic.  His mother once said that he rarely spoke in his own voice, preferring instead to imitate everyone from Bugs Bunny to Al Green.  He often carried a briefcase full of joke books around at school, and was always one of the most popular students, if not one of the best.

At the age of seventeen, Edward was in a comedy club about to perform when in walked Rodney Dangerfield.  The other comedians were nervous, but Edward was prepared to deliver his best performance.  Judging by the audience’s reaction, he brought the house down.  After his set, he was beside himself with excitement when Dangerfield invited him to his table.  But he wasn’t prepared when Dangerfield told him he needed to clean up his act, and get rid of the foul language.  He advised Edward, “Take it from me kid, you’ll never go far in this business unless you make some changes.”

Edward decided not to take Dangerfield’s advice.  Five years after performing live in front of the king of comedy, Edward filmed his own comedy special for HBO.  He used the “F word” two hundred and eighty-one times in a single hour, and it wasn’t long before much of the world knew the name Eddie Murphy.  Eddie is the box office mega-star of films like Beverly Hills Cop, Trading Places, The Nutty Professor, and Shrek… and these are just part of why he’s the second highest grossing actor in the United States.

Twenty years after Dangerfield gave Eddie his advice, they bumped into one another in the men’s room at a Las Vegas hotel.  They hadn’t spoken since that first meeting, but Dangerfield, never at a loss for a punch line, looked at Murphy, shrugged, and said, “Who knew?”

It’s always worthwhile to seek advice from others, especially those who have achieved what you desire.  But it also pays to remember the ten most powerful two letter words you’ll ever hear:  “If It Is To Be, It Is Up To Me.”  You are 100% Accountable for your own happiness and success, and living your dreams will keep you laughing for the rest of your life.

Until next week...

Live Your Dreams

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