The Power of “Yes”

I was asked if I wanted to play King Uther Pendragon in a production of Young King Arthur at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in early 2002. I had been working in nightclubs for 10 years as a standup comic, and wanted to return, at least for a little while, to my roots as an actor. I also wanted to appear in something my then-2 year old daughter could attend. I wanted her to see what Daddy did for a living.

I said yes.

During the run of the play, the director mentioned that the Phoenix Theater in Indianapolis was doing a 48-hour benefit for arts organizations in lower Manhattan which had been affected by 9/11. She asked if I would like to be a part of it.

I said yes.

The artistic director of the Phoenix, Bryan Fonseca, asked if I would do the 8am hour on Saturday morning. Not exactly the ideal timeslot for a comic. We are creatures of the night, like Dracula. Not rise-and-shine early birds.

I said yes.

I did an hour’s worth of standup as I cooked breakfast for everyone in the theater. It was a blast. Afterward, Bryan mentioned that his upcoming New Plays Festival was, and I quote, “Long on AIDS & death, and short on comedy.” He asked if I had a funny one-man play I’d like to present.

I said yes.

It was a lie.

I had no such play, and only two months in which to write one. I decided to write something my daughter and I could do together. She was only 2 1/2 at this point, so her part would have to be small. I wrote an autobiographical play about being a former circus clown, a standup comic, and the great-grandson of a notorious fraudulent spiritualist medium, and how all of this is the parental legacy I would hand down to my daughter. She came on at the end of the show, after my tales of the circus, with her own clown nose on, and we did circus tricks to close out the show. During some performances, she walked onstage and flatly refused to do circus tricks. No matter. She was adorable, and the audience loved her. She was the hit of the festival.

A month or so later, the Chicago Comedy Festival called. They were short a one-man show, and wondered if I would like to bring my new play up to the fest.

I said yes.

My daughter and I headed up to Chicago and presented our little play. She was once again the hit of the festival. Her fans would recognize her on the street and say hi. She was better known than I was, and all for a 30-second appearance onstage. We had a blast.

Several months later, a standup comic friend of mine told me that Rob Becker was looking for someone to replace himself on the Broadway tour of Defending the Caveman.  He had heard I had written a one-man play about family, and felt I might be a good fit in Rob’s one-man play about family. He asked if I would like to be hooked up with an audition.

I said YES.

I auditioned and won the role. Thus began a four-year tour of the finest theaters in America. I played the Shubert Theater in New Haven, the 4,000 seat FOX Theater in St Louis, the 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle, and everywhere in-between. I even performed Caveman in a 19th century city mansion in Paris, France, for a small group of people with tooooooo much money.

In early 2007, Rob Becker asked me if I wanted to leave the tour and open the show for an extended run in Las Vegas. This was a risky proposition. Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world, and it’s shows are full of sequins, music, vanishing tigers, acrobats, and long-legged showgirls with awesome boobs. No Broadway play had ever been a hit in Las Vegas. Caveman is one guy onstage who is playing a handful of characters and talking about being married. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, predicted a flop, despite my awesome boobs.

I said yes.

As of this writing, Caveman has played over 3,500 performances during its seven years in Las Vegas, and is still going strong. It’s the longest-running Broadway show in Las Vegas history, and I am the proud owner of a Guinness World Record, as well as the title “Las Vegas Entertainer or the Year.”

All because I said yes to a role in a children’s theater production.



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