Hard Act to Follow: The Night I Closed for Seinfeld in NYC
It was 1am on a night 25 years ago when I was waiting to go on at Catch a Rising Star in New York. I was trying to grab a last-minute standup showcase. The room at this time was supposed to be open until 3am, so why not? Here’s why: Minutes before I was about to go on, in walks Jerry Seinfeld. He had some jokes to iron out for a little show called, eh ... Seinfeld. The owner says to me, “Sorry — it’s Jerry first, and then you.” I say, “Huh, sure ... can I watch?” Jerry did fine, and by 1:30 the audience felt more than sated with both star power and humor, so they left. They, as in the entire audience left! Well, kind of. All of them left minus the four or five questionable souls who stayed behind not to stargaze, but to loser-gawk. These are the people who don’t just slow down to gape at a car accident but pull over and pretend to offer help in hopes to get a better look. I wish I had left with Jerry and his adoring fans but that’s not how it works.
“OK, kid, you're next!” “Huh? Oh, you sure?”
He was. So I stepped forward into the quiet light and the sound of ice jiggling against glass, and mumbled for ten minutes before ending with a sputter, and then I head-down Charlie Browned my way out into the New York night.
I know we talk a lot about the need to accept failure as a natural part of growth. But I thought I’d provide a real-world example to help others understand that what feels like death today may only be a funny blurb in a Facebook or blog post 25 years later.