I just shook my head. How in God’s name am I ever going to do that?, I thought to myself. It was 2006. I had just watched a showcase of local comedians absolutely crush a sold out crowd at the Pittsburgh Improv. With about 6 open-mics under my belt, I was more than intimidated at the prospect of trying to become one of them. I frequently went to stand-up show to get a better feel for what was expected of me. I was wishing I hadn’t now. This was going to be hard. Impossibly hard. The crowd was still laughing as the final comedian left the stage. “Thanks, I’m Bill Crawford,” he announced after his closing joke. The audience whooped and hollered.
“No way,” I muttered to myself. “That’s Bill Crawford?” I hadn’t caught his name at the beginning of the set. The house lights brightened and people began to file out. I followed the flow of the crowd, looking ahead at the gauntlet of approval-hungry comedians that gathered near the exits to shake hands and accept compliments. I broke off when I saw Bill.
“Hey Bill, great show,” I said shaking his hand. “My name’s Jeff. I think we actually have a friend in common. Do you know Mallory?”
“Yeah, absolutely,” he replied.
“She was my neighbor in college. I’m just starting out doing stand-up and she said I should try to get in contact with you,” I said.
“Mallory actually mentioned you to me the other day. I saw you at an open mic a few weeks ago. You did a nice job.” I was just as approval-hungry as any of the featured comedians that night. Even a mild, probably polite, compliment was very satisfying. We talked for a little bit longer about where I had performed so far, if there were any shows coming up, etc.
“I pretty much go to the Funny Bone and the Improv sometimes.”
“Ok, well why don’t you put like 5 minutes together and come out to a bar show I have in Regent Square? It’s on a Thursday.”
“Sure!” I said excitedly. My first bar show! I was just dabbling in comedy at the time, testing the waters. But I believe that invitation put me on the path of pursuing stand-up with more zeal and commitment.
We’ve all followed a winding path to get where we are today. Often times, when we come to a fork in the road, there will be someone to shine a lantern on the dark ground, and help us not regret the decision to make the turn. For me, when it comes to stand-up, that person is Bill Crawford.
That’s why when it was announced that he would be added to the 102.5 WDVE Morning Show, I was as happy for him as I could be for anyone. I’d seen him go through the ups and downs of trying to make it as a Stand-up. Performing at crappy bar shows, featuring at the Improv the next, then doing some ridiculously awful corporate event all in the span of 7 days. All the while trying to be original and creative. All the while trying to support a blossoming family. All the while helping me and countless other local comedians get gigs, work on material, and offer advice.
I know there will undoubtedly be some backlash for ClearChannel’s decision to release Jim Krenn from the Morning Show. Change is a difficult thing. If you don’t believe me, try switching from ComCast to ViOS. Bill is stepping into a hot seat. But I don’t feel the need to implore anyone to “take it easy” on him or “give him a chance.” The fact is that if you listen to the show, you’ll understand. Talent is talent. And Bill’s got tons.
Congratulations to Bill. I’ve already got my alarm set for 6:00 on Monday.