While preparing to go on stage at Black Oak Casino last week, I started to have some chest pains. Not “merchant marine standing on your chest” type pains. Maybe more “this isn’t really a lap dog” type. Could have been heart burn, but it felt more pressure-y. And my limbs were starting to feel weak. And I thought, “Am I having a heart attack?”
You might be thinking, “Hey Dumbass, why didn’t you get to a hospital right away?” I really didn’t feel like it was serious, even thought I didn’t feel right. I hadn’t slept well all week. And I hadn’t had dinner yet, so I was really hungry too. So I figured, do the gig, eat something, all will be well.
Beyond that, there’s a few reasons…
To sound overly altruistic and professional, I didn’t want to let down the the promoter who booked me or the audience that came to the show.
To sound a little less altruistic, I needed the $200.
To sound even less altruistic, I can’t say this thought didn’t pass through my mind. “If I go on stage and do 20 minutes while having a heart attack, and live…. Who’s a badass!? Me. Heck yeah.”
If a booker ever asks someone, “I’m thinking of booking Phil Johnson. Is he reliable?” He did a set WHILE having a heart attack!
I’d send out a press release.
And what if I died? Well, there’s the performer’s ego at work there.
Ok, listen. A lot of guys say they’d like to die having sex. That’s just inconsiderate. That poor girl or guy or sheep or banana peel you’re with will be scarred for life. If you’re a big dude, you might smother the poor girl.
At best she’ll probably just figure you’re done and the snoring hasn’t started yet. And just like every other time she won’t be done yet. And she’ll probably rub one more out next to your lifeless corpse. That’s bound to do some mental damage.
But if I die on stage? In front of an audience? Nobody’s traumatized. But everyone has an awesome story they’ll tell their friends forever. That’s cementing a legacy. Sure you won’t see a lot of people wearing bootleg t-shirts with your face and dates on it. But you’ll be the story told over drinks for years to come. You’ll be that “Oh geez…. Steve’s telling THAT story again,” story.
And if someone happened to be taking video of the show? Finally a viral hit. YouTube would blow that thing up. “Comedian dies on stage. Not in the usual way.”
These were the thoughts passing through my brain as I took the stage that night. It wasn’t until after that I realized… I could have died… while discussing plastic testicles.
As it turned out, I did take myself to the ER right after my set to get checked out. Skipping to the current end of the story, we haven’t really figured out what it was yet. I’ve had EKGs, blood tests, chest x-rays. And so far everything looks ok. It’s probably still nothing, but we’re checking it out.
Update: After loads more testing… EKG’s, chest xrays, blood tests, treadmill tests, echocardiograms…. yeah, it was nothing. Seems to be the aftermath of a minor shoulder injury from a few months. So I’m good. 🙂 And ooh, the medical bills will be the subject of a future post.