Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The World Laughs with You

James and his family moved to Las Vegas when he was 9 years old.  Most of his time was spent running around the neighborhood, playing sports, building clubhouses, and occasionally getting in fights because of his big mouth.  It wasn’t that he was looking for trouble – he just couldn’t keep from saying the funniest thing he could think of, no matter how much bigger and meaner the target of his verbal assault might be.

James was a class clown in high school, and his early-developed humor morphed into a passion for pranks.  He and his friends would spend hours crank-calling strangers and restaurants. They’d send pizzas and taxis to their neighbor’s house late at night.  Their young existence revolved around practical jokes, and if James thought something was funny, he was confident everyone else would find it funny, too.

When James was 16, a co-worker who DJ’d on the local college radio station invited him to try broadcasting.  James knew that his hero, David Letterman, had started on radio, so he immediately took to the idea.  He created a Sunday night interview show on which he would talk to local oddballs.  After the show, he’d come home to find that his parents and friends had all been listening, which only increased his excitement.

While in college in Arizona, James got his first job on a professional radio show, and loved it so much he decided to pursue it full-time.  But pursuing his chosen career path wasn't always easy.  During the next few years, James was hired by radio stations in Phoenix, Seattle and Tampa, but was fired from all of them after only a few months at each.  After a stint as the host of a radio show in Palm Springs, where he famously tortured his sidekick by forcing him into endless embarrassing situations, James was hired away by a larger station.  Things finally seemed to be happening, but then, once again, he was let go before a year was up.

The truth, he finally admitted to himself, was that his practical jokes weren’t always received with laughs.  He was a prankster, and always felt that people would appreciate that he was joking.  He’d do things he thought were funny, like calling his boss’s wife and asking personal questions about him on the air.  Unfortunately, pranks like these made more than one boss genuinely angry, and contributed to his repeated dismissals.

James continued to find opportunities to stay in the industry, often as a producer if not on the air.  He helped several friends land gigs that would eventually rocket them to desirable gigs as MTV program hosts, and while he was happy for them, he felt a bit left behind as his former protégés became famous.  He continued to work hard, and remained passionate about moving up in the broadcast world.  Nevertheless, he wondered when – or if – he would get his big break.

Finally, a TV producer who was a fan of James’ on-air antics helped him land a job as the host of a game show on the Comedy Central network.  He had made the leap to TV; however, the pay was so low that James had to keep his radio job as well.  He would work at the radio station beginning at 5:30 in the morning, then drive to the television studio in the evening.  It was a punishing schedule that left little time for anything else. 

Before long, James came up with the idea for his breakout hit.  Despite critics being divided about the program’s indelicate humor, it was the highest-rated series premiere in Comedy Central history, and its six-season run made James a hot commodity.

By the age of 34, James “Jimmy” Kimmel, co-creator of The Man Show, had fulfilled his decades-old ambition of becoming the host of a late-night talk show on a major network.  Moreover, he’d done so with his sometimes sophomoric but always contagious humor intact.  And this past June, for the first time ever, Jimmy Kimmel led in the ratings over both the iconic Tonight show, as well as the legendary program of his idol, David Letterman.

Your imagination is a powerful tool that lets you visualize your dreams coming true, and you don’t have to be a kid to close your eyes and let your imagination run wild.  Just remember, though – once those eyes are open, it's time to take action.  Play this game often, and soon enough you'll be laughing all the way to the bank!

Until Next Week,

Live Your Dreams!

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