“What’s your name?” the comedian asked the nondescript man in the first row.
The comedian wasn’t particularly famous or even well-known. It’s not even certain that the nondescript man came to see the comedian or just was just there to see a comedian.
Jerry sat back awaiting further questioning. Would it be about his job or where he was from or the woman who sat to his left.
The comedian smiled reassuringly. “Relax Jerry.” The small audience laughed. They worried for Jerry. It was never good when a comedian picked you out of a crowd. The ‘Jerry’ was always in for it.
“Do you remember what you were doing an hour ago Jerry?”
Jerry looked at his date awkwardly and then stared off into the distance as if trying to remember. “We went to dinner” he finally answered.
“I was eating too Jerry. Just down the road at IHOP. I like breakfast for dinner.” The audience laughed again without knowing why.
“And what about this morning Jerry? Where did you start your day?”
“At home. I live in New Brunswick. I like breakfast for breakfast.”
The audience erupted in applause. Jerry was a hit.
The comedian laughed as well. “What about ten years ago?”
Still flush from his breakfast success Jerry had to take a few breaths and try to remember where he’d lived ten years ago. Before he could answer the comedian continued. “I was a salesperson in Wisconsin Jerry. I hadn’t yet gotten into comedy. I sold environmental cleanup services.”
And ten years before that I was in junior high in Denver.”
Nobody was laughing but the room was still friendly. Truth is, the comedian would have continued even if it wasn’t.
“You see Jerry, every decision I made, every friendship that began and ended, every job, every cookout, every birth, death, triumph and tragedy was leading me to right here, right now. Same with you Jerry. Kind of makes it special don’t you think?”
Jerry nodded his agreement.
“Everything led to this moment between us Jerry. Me talking to you.” The comedian looked up and started to make eye contact with the other people in the room. “It’s the same with everyone here. Every single one of you spent your lives getting here.”
He let that sink in.
“Sort of makes me wish I was funnier.”
Finally the audience had an excuse to laugh so they did. Relieved.
“I want you to imagine being thousands of feet above this club, looking down on it. Time lapse, an hour before the show. Watching everyone in the audience slowly making their way here. Being pulled from among everyone else. Walking in. Now rewind back ten years. You’ll have to be miles above the club to stay with everyone. See us all distributed across the country, living out lives. Every interaction. Not knowing that eventually we’d all end up here. Being drawn inexorably to this single point in time and place. Everything having to be perfect to deliver us all but nobody having any other choice but to do the things necessary to be here right now. So many near-misses but we all got here. Intersecting lines.”
The comedian could tell that some of the audience was wrestling with the idea of circumstance while others were debating the concept of fate. Others were bored and others were buzzed but they were all there.
“Now fast forward ten years until we’re all in this club together… wishing I was funnier.”
Laughter. A splattering of nervous clapping.
“Now get back above the club and fast forward ten minutes. We’re all leaving. From above it should look like blowing into a dandelion. The seeds floating and scattering.” The comedian’s attention returned to Jerry.
“What do you make of that imagery Jerry?”
“So you’re saying that we’re the seeds and time is the wind…” Jerry offered up.
The comedian took his comment in and smiled. He seemed proud that Jerry had understood what he was saying.”Exactly Jerry.”
“I agree 100%…” continued Jerry, a small pause then “Makes me wish you were funnier.”
Zing! That Jerry.