Recently a young comic I am friends with named Miguel Dalmau wrote on Facebook that he had to turn down a major career opportunity because he had a young son. He felt it wasn’t worth losing the time spent with his child even if said child would even remember it. I applauded him for making such a strong choice. I did the same many years ago when my son was four.
When I decided to get pregnant, there were not many female comics in the field of standup comedy. And the thought of having a kid was considered career suicide. Since I have always been one to go against the grain, I proudly said, screw what everyone is saying, I’m having a baby. I continued to work my comedy on the road up until I was eight months pregnant and was informed by the airlines that I wouldn’t be allowed to fly. I guess they were terrified of someone having a baby midair. There ain’t enough cocktails napkins to clean up THAT mess!
After I had my son, I was itching to go back on the road. And without even thinking about it I brought him along. EVERYWHERE. Imagine my surprise when I walked into a bar where I was working that night and told I could not bring the baby in.“Why not?” I asked. The manager said because my baby was a minor. Which gave me the great response of “ What do you think he’s gonna do, crawl up to the bar and ask for a breast on the rocks?”
I brought my son with me on college gigs, leaving him on the cafeteria table as I told jokes to the lunch crowd. One time while performing in Vegas I had to leave him in his stroller in the back of the club while I went onstage. I could see him so there was no worry of someone grabbing him. Well he did NOT like mommy being so far away from him at and started to wail. I said onstage “Who the hell brought a baby into a comedy club?” Big laugh. When he didn’t shut up I had to fess up and say he was mine. I then got offstage and wheeled him onstage with me. And what do you know? He stopped crying as soon as the lights him. What a ham!
Around the time he was nine months old, I had to start leaving him at home with my husband. It’s one thing to keep a baby strapped in a car seat in the comedy club office when they can’t move much. At nine months he was able to get out of his car seat and I returned from the stage once to find my son crawling around the club's office floor which hadn’t been cleaned since......ever.
My husband took over and we had friends take care of him while my husband was at work. It was killing me to leave him to go on the road but I was the primary caregiver at that point. I am Woman, Hear me Roar.....thanks a lot 1970’s for making me feel I could do anything. Except they never mentioned the actual pain you feel forging ahead for your career and leaving your kid. When I would leave early in the morning to catch a flight back east for a gig, my son would start sobbing “please don’t leave, Mommy”
One time when I was working at the Riviera Casino in Las Vegas, I was unpacking and all I could think of was “Man I wish I could get a gig where I didn’t have to leave home all the time” I put my pictures of my son and husband next to my bed and went to my show.
Imagine my surprise when I get a call from the entertainment director of the hotel asking if I could fill in next door at the production show. I would still work the comedy club but go back and forth between the showrooms. I did 28 shows that week and at the end of it the producer next door asked me to stay on for the summer. I told him, “only if I could bring my son with me”, which I did. I found the only night “daycare” in Vegas. I lived in the hotel, we played in the pool everyday. It was heaven.
At the end of the summer, I was offered a contract for a year. My husband & I thought it over. He was working a good job in LA, my career was taking off. What to do?
We decided I would take the offer, get an apartment and he would commute on the weekends. It was only a year and we could use the money. Plus I could go back and forth to LA if anything came up for me tv-wise.
The year flew by and of course I was then offered a three year deal. And we decided that it was the best thing for my son if we stayed in Vegas. He was starting school, I had a guaranteed gig for 3 years, we bought a house. Three years turned to five and when I left that show I was offered another gig in another show so all in all I spent 10 years in Las Vegas.
Seven years ago,I came back to NYC after being away from the comedy scene for a long time. I was much older, the internet had exploded, there were billions of comedians. The old road comic days were done. Did I lose some traction in my career, absolutely! BUT I got to be there while he grew into the man he is today. In my heart I know I did the right thing taking that chance moving to Las Vegas. I see it every time my son smiles.
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