Clown Interrupted with KiKi Maroon Ep 7 Ross Bennett

November 15, 2018

#7 Ross Bennett – Comedy

I went to a show called The Addicts Comedy Tour, put on by a comedian named Kurtis Matthews. He tours all over, doing standup about being an addict. You don’t have to be sober to go, it’s hilarious no matter what. I went to the show because Andy Huggins (Episode 1) was opening, and yet again, Andy simply existing changed my outlook on life. 

I was a deeply troubled child. I struggled with depression and suicidal tendencies from childhood until about 22 (that’s how stripping clowns are made). At 22, I left an abusive boyfriend and decided to give up everything I owned to live out of my car. It was a desperate attempt to find freedom and crawl out of the hole that had been my lifelong mental state.

I don’t know if it still exists, but StumbleUpon was a website where you selected categories and it would play random videos based on your tastes (think early Youtube autoplay). I vividly remember the night I was boxing up everything in my apartment to give to Goodwill. I was alone, high as fuck, with “StumbleUpon” playing random comedy videos in the background. I was packing up my life, hoping that getting rid of the things would get rid of the memories. I just wanted to learn how to be happy. The next random video started- the “It’s just a ride” monologue by Bill Hicks. I stopped what I was doing, sat on the edge of my bed, and just took it in. I didn’t know who Bill Hicks was, or that this clip was even part of a standup special. All I knew was that this man was talking to me (I’m sure the pot had something to do with it). Bill saying, “life is just a ride..and we can change it anytime we want. It’s only a choice” was exactly what I needed to hear at that time. I watched it 10 times in a row, maybe more, and a thousand times since. It’s helped me make a lot of important choices. Most importantly, the choice I made that first night to never let my depression win.

Fast forward to The Addicts Comedy Tour a few weeks ago. I’m sitting in the green room with Andy Huggins, Kurtis Matthews, and a few other comics whose names I don’t remember (sorry!). Somebody asked Andy “Hey, how long was Hicks sober before he died?” Andy answered and they all started reminiscing, “I remember when he first asked me about wanting to quit…” “Remember how crazy he was…”, “Bill fit in a lifetime’s worth of drinking in a few years…”, “Remember him first going on sober?”, etc.

Years ago, I was terrified that quitting would derail me. It would make me someone different and fuck up everything I had worked for. I told myself, “Drinking is how people socialize. Drinking makes me happy. I have to drink to connect with people.”

Now here I was, in a room full of sober people. Not just any people, but people directly linked to someone who died when I was NINE,  but who somehow still had a huge effect on my life by helping me overcome a lifetime of depression. I made real connections that night, and I was only in that room because of the choice I had so feared. It was surreal and affirming: I am on the right path. 

Part of that path is that comedian Kurtis Matthews. I have not had him on the podcast yet, but I am going to. It’s my new goal. However, I was in NYC last week and Kurtis put me in touch with another comic he works with, Ross Bennett.

Ross Bennett was a cadet at West-point Academy when he quit to become a stand up. He moved to Los Angels in the 80’s, quit drinking in ’87, and has done so much since! He taught me a lot. This episode is full of quotes! We met at a recording studio in New York, so you can hear lots of activity in the background, but I think it just adds to the New York feel. Plus, I can’t afford a studio…

I hope you enjoy it. Here is my conversation with Ross Bennett.
…Not If you Were the Last Man on Earth! – Ross Bennett comedy album
Bill Hicks “Just a Ride”
The Road Less Traveled 
John Rabon’s podcast
“It Gets Better” blog post

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The Clown, Interrupted theme song is graciously provided by The Last Domino. You can listen to or purchase the full song HERE.

Full Transcript

KiKi Maroon: Hi, welcome back! So much to unpack this episode. A while ago, I went to a show called The Addicts Comedy Tour, that a comedian named Kurtis Matthews puts it on. It’s a stand-up show about being an addict. You don’t have to be sober to go, it’s hilarious, no matter what. And it’s a comedy club tour, so plenty of people were drinking, because funny is funny. 

Anyway, I went to the show because Andy Huggins from Episode 1 (legendary Houston comic) was opening, and yet again, Andy simply existing, changed my outlook on life. Here’s the thing: I lived in a superdeep depression from birth – not an exaggeration – until I was about 22. I was a deeply troubled child/person, because that’s how stripping clowns are made! Anyway, around 22, I left an abusive boyfriend, gave up everything I owned, and decided to turn my life around and crawl out of the hole that had been my static mental state.

Yes, I know that sounds similar to the accident story, but this was 10 years before. I’ve got a cycle, okay? Haha. I’ve got a “reach realizations, overcome things, figure things out, realize I didn’t know anything” cycle. So, one day around 22, I was boxing up all of my stuff to take to the Goodwill, because giving away everything you own and living out of your car is what crazy people do when they think they figured it out.

I don’t know if StumbleUpon still exists, but it was this website where you choose your categories, comedy, makeup, architecture, whatever, and it would play random videos based on your tastes. You gave it a thumbs up or a thumbs down and it would kind of curate and show you more random videos. It was just random videos from all over the world. So there I was, alone, probably 3:00 AM, high as fuck, random StumbleUpon videos playing on my computer while I packed up my life, trying to figure out how to be happy. (Note: In 2018, StumbleUpon was replaced by

And then this video started: it was the monologue, the last few minutes of Bill Hicks’ “Revelations.” If you haven’t seen it, please go watch it! Those of you who know what I’m talking about, it’s the “It’s Just a Ride” speech. I didn’t know who Bill Hicks was. I didn’t know this video was part of a stand-up special. When you watch it out of context, it ain’t funny. But I was so lost at the time and I felt like this man was talking to me. I’m sure the pot had a lot to do with it, haha. But Hicks saying, “Life is just a ride. We can change it anytime we want. It’s only a choice.” That is exactly what I needed to hear at that time. I probably watched it 10 times in a row. It blew my mind and it helped me make a lot of important choices after that.

Obviously, I still fucked up a lot, because I still had another 10 years of chaos. But it was my first revelation – hahaha because his special is called “Revelations.” Anyways, fast forward, whatever that is, 10? 13? years later to The Addicts Comedy Tour a few weeks ago. I’m sitting in the green room with Andy Huggins and Kurtis Matthews and a few other comics who, I apologize, I do not remember their names. And somebody asked, just super casually, you know, “So how long was Hicks sober before he died?” Andy answers and people start talking about, “Oh, I remember when he first asked me about wanting to quit.” “Remember how crazy he was?” “He fit in a lifetime’s worth of drinks in just a few years,” “I remember him first going sober,” etc. 

I had been terrified that quitting drinking was going to derail me, make me someone different, fuck up everything that I had worked for, just… everything, all those fears that you have. 

And here I was a few years later, in a room with a direct connection to someone who died when I was 9 years-old, but still had a direct and substantial effect on my life. He helped change the course of a lifetime of depression. To reevaluate how I looked at life and our psyche and everything else. And I was only in that room because of the choice that I had so feared. It was surreal, but really affirming, like, “Okay, I’m on the right path. I’m on the right path.” 

Part of that path is a comedian, Kurtis Matthews. I have not sat down with him for the podcast yet, but I am going to, it is one of my goals now! He was so funny and the things he said on stage blew my mind. (See Episode 14!)

But I was in New York last week and Kurtis put me in touch with another comic that he works with, who also knows Andy. This comic’s name is Ross Bennett. Ross Bennett was a cadet at West Point Academy when he quit to become a stand-up. He moved to Los Angeles in the Eighties, which I don’t know if you guys know this, but that was a crazy, party, druggie comedy time. Haha. He quit drinking in ‘87 and is so interesting. He taught me a lot. 

I swear, this episode is just full of quotes and books to read. I still haven’t read The Road Less Traveled, which he said I needed to. It’s on my list now. I promise. Anyway, we met at a recording studio in New York, so you can hear lots of activity in the background, even an occasional opera singer and gongs and stuff. It just has that New York feel. Hustle bustle, you know? Also, I can’t afford my own studio. So I hope you enjoy it. Here’s my conversation with Ross Bennett.

[Theme song: “Last Call” provided by The Last Domino]

Ross Bennett: I went out to Los Angeles in January of ‘79. It will be 40 years this January. 

KiKi Maroon: Oh, wow.

Ross Bennett: And I lived there until the summer of ‘84, and what I’ve said is- I went to Los Angeles to become a star, but sometimes what you go someplace for and what you get are two different things. 

KiKi Maroon: Absolutely.

Ross Bennett: So I went there to become a big star, but what I ended up getting is recovery. 

KiKi Maroon: From Los Angeles?

Ross Bennett: Yeah. It was probably the perfect place for me at the perfect time. Because, like you, I was involved in this thing from a party standpoint, you know what I mean? I had been in the army; I had been a cadet at West Point. 

KiKi Maroon: Oh wow.

Ross Bennett: And I got the comedy bug when I was about 20 years-old or so. I ended up leaving the Academy to become a comedian. The joke I have in my act is, “I left West Point to become a comedian. Probably the greatest service I will have ever done for my country.” 

KiKi Maroon: Hahaha!

Ross Bennett: And one of the things that attracted me to stand-up was that it was in bars and you could drink and you could party. And as long as you could do your job, it was not a detriment. 

KiKi Maroon: Oh absolutely. 

Ross Bennett: I got into the whole thing and, we’re talking ‘78, ‘79. It’s like the whole world was just fueled by this. You had Saturday Night Live, you had John Belushi, you had all these people whose personas seemed to revolve around drugs and alcohol,  and it was very attractive. 

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. 

Ross Bennett: So I get out to LA and I get involved in the Comedy Store and The Improv. What I realize now is that you gravitate towards those people who do what you do. There were people who didn’t drink or use, I just didn’t gravitate towards those people. I gravitated towards the people who… it’s almost like a secret code or whatever. It’s like, you just all of a sudden find out who gets high and then, “Boom!” You go off with them and they become your friends. And you get to know the bartenders, so you’re doing your shots and everything is covered and everything is cool. Andy Huggins was part of the crew at the Comedy Store; he was a Comedy Store comedian. He and I met. He was just a nice guy. I never knew him, I never partied with him. I never knew him as a drinker, as a non-drinker, as a person. I just knew Andy because he had an act, his whole thing was being from Texas and everything.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. Haha. I was actually just talking to a friend of mine about that. She said something about some guy like, “Oh, he does coke?” And I said, “Everybody does coke!” And it’s kind of like, “Oh no, everybody I knew did.” But that’s when you create these bubbles; what you do is okay, because everyone around you is doing that.

Ross Bennett: Right. What’s really weird is when you let somebody, at some point – either in recovery or before recovery – if you reveal to someone what your actual lifestyle is and it’s not theirs, you see their reaction to it. 

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. 

Ross Bennett: It’s pretty eye-opening, you know? It’s like, “Wow.” You can tell that they’re disturbed.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. I actually asked one of my best friends – I was in a relationship pre-recovery, and I remember asking him after we were drinking and doing blow and everything, I asked, “Do you tell your wife that you do coke?” And he said, “Yeah, absolutely.” And I was like, “Oh.” And he goes, “Why?” And I said, “I don’t tell my boyfriend. I feel like he’s going to judge.” And he said, “No! Don’t! People that don’t do it see it like heroin. They see it as terrible… but we know it’s cool.” And I was like, “Oh, okay!” It was just rationalized it away as, “He wouldn’t get it. It’s not that big of a deal.”

Ross Bennett: I went out with a girl. This was after I had been sober for a while – I went out with this girl. She met me at a club and she was kind of, you know, she was just fun. One of those bubbly, kind of eccentric people. I said, “Let’s go out.” We went out and I went to pick her up and she was storming. You know, she’s crazy, going around her apartment with a beer, getting ready, drinking her beer, getting ready, drinking her beer, and then wanting to take a beer in the car. 

KiKi Maroon: Roadie! Haha.

Ross Bennett: And I was sober at that point for, I don’t know, three, four or five years, something like that. She goes, “Do you want me to give you one?” “I don’t drink.” She was like, “You don’t drink?!” And it was like, all of a sudden, I interrupted her vision of what she thought life was. 

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Ross Bennett: And the truth is, we ended up going out for a long time. 

KiKi Maroon: Really?

Ross Bennett: And she struggled with it. It forced her to ask herself who she was and everything. It ended up being very sad. These days, it’s like, “Yeah, it means I can’t go out with you.” 

KiKi Maroon: Really?

Ross Bennett: Not just that if you drink, but if you’re obviously a party person.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah.

Ross Bennett: I’m just not going to do that. You know, why would I do that to myself? 

KiKi Maroon: Yeah.

Ross Bennett: So that’s where I am right now, but at that point, you know, she was just a fun girl. I liked her so much. She was a sweetheart.

KiKi Maroon: You said that was five or so years into your recovery?

Ross Bennett: My story is that I started going to meetings in ‘82. I got into recovery in ‘82 in Los Angeles and I had four slips over the course of the first five years. I had my last drink in ‘87. So I’ve been clean and sober since 1987, about 31 years. 

KiKi Maroon: Congratulations, that’s amazing!

Ross Bennett: And so this girl, it was probably around ‘93, ‘94, ‘95, something like that.

KiKi Maroon: Okay. So you were like in it

Ross Bennett: Oh yeah. 

KiKi Maroon: Okay. 

Ross Bennett: I was trying to think before I was coming over here, you know, because the whole anonymity thing is important to me. From what I’ve read and everything, the anonymity protects me and it protects the group. It protects me from setting myself up on a pedestal and thinking that I’m special or different or whatever, because I want to be a worker amongst workers. It also helps the groups because you don’t want somebody setting themself up as being the self-proclaimed “face” of some organization.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah.

Ross Bennett: And then when their clay feet are revealed (weakness or hidden flaw in the character of a greatly admired or respected person), you don’t want everyone to have something you say, to then have someone go, “Wow, so that thing doesn’t work. Look at that guy.”
So I’m not speaking as a member of any group. But the “12 Steps of Recovery” are the basis of my life. At some point I had to say to myself, “What do you believe in? What are your values? What code do you live by?” And I accept those things to be pretty much right on. 

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. 

Ross Bennett: And so a lot of what I do and I think and everything these days, it just all reflects back around that – that’s my language. You need a language of your philosophy, and that is the language of my philosophy.

KiKi Maroon: I’ve tried talking about this to people who are not in recovery, just friends of mine, and explained it like, “I really feel like it’s just ways to remind myself not to be selfish. To be a good person,” you know? It’s not necessarily about the drinking. It’s about what caused the drinking and going back to that instead.

Ross Bennett: I do find that we tend to be very self-centered, you know, and grandiose. 

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. 

Ross Bennett: I think when I heard it once, “Egomaniac with an inferiority complex.”

KiKi Maroon: Hahaha! Oh god!

Ross Bennett: And when I heard that… 

KiKi Maroon: It hurts! Haha.

Ross Bennett: It made so much sense. You know, there’s wit involved. I’m a comedian, so one of the wonderful things starting around Los Angeles is there were all these people who were very witty – actors and actresses and writers and creative people. And so comments like that just drew me in. 

KiKi Maroon: It hits so hard.

Ross Bennett: I had heard that basically, everything you learn in your first 30 days, you spend the rest of your life digesting.

KiKi Maroon: You keep giving me all these quotes! I’m going to have to really process all of this. Haha.

Ross Bennett: It’s the truth, you know? I’m still going back and I’m still picking up and remembering those things.

KiKi Maroon: Well, okay. Let’s go back really quick. So you went to LA. Were you a partier before that?

Ross Bennett: Well, yeah. I mean, the thing is I really wasn’t a partier in high school. When I had a drink, I would get drunk. 

KiKi Maroon: Okay. 

Ross Bennett: The few times I drank, I would get drunk. I would say pretty much every time I drank, I got drunk. 

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. 

Ross Bennett: And then at some point, marijuana came into my life and I sort of became a pothead. George Carlin had this thing I heard him say years ago, “When I drank, I threw up on my shoes. When I drank and I got high, I threw up on my shoes. When I smoked pot, I got high and I didn’t throw up on my shoes. I’m going to smoke pot!” 

KiKi Maroon: Hahaha!

Ross Bennett: That’s what he said. So I can understand that, you know? When I discovered pot, I found that I got to carry a load. It was immediate and it was noticeable, but it didn’t have as much of a negative effect. Of course, later on…  

KiKi Maroon: Yeah, I always claimed I’d never had hangovers, but I did. They just weren’t as bad. It was more like a groggy, sleepy… I just wasn’t vomiting.

Ross Bennett: I also, as a comic, I didn’t have to wake up. So I slept through most of my hangovers. 

KiKi Maroon: Haha.

Ross Bennett: And I got to LA and I met this woman, this sweet little lady. And literally the first week I was in town, I auditioned at The Improv. Budd (Friedman, founder of The Improv and emcee) passed me, put his arm around me and all that good stuff, and gave me spots. When I turned around, this girl was looking up at me with this face, like I’d never seen before, just this beaming face. And I moved in with her the next day. 

KiKi Maroon: Oh my God! Haha.

Ross Bennett: And then we were together until she died. 

KiKi Maroon: Oh, wow.

Ross Bennett: We ended up getting married at the Comedy Store on April 1, 1982. 

KiKi Maroon: Was she a comedian also?

Ross Bennett: She worked in the advertising industry. She was a very funny lady. She tried to do comedy a couple of times and she took some improv classes. She was a sweetheart and her name was Jan Goder. We had a son and he’s now 33. 

KiKi Maroon: Aww.

Ross Bennett: But we met and basically we were partners in crime, you know? We partied together all the time and we lived in our own little bubble, the truth be told. 

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. 

Ross Bennett: Lived in our own little bubble and she was a sweetheart. We got married in ‘82 and basically, I bottomed out in ‘82. And the thing about this recovery thing is- you need a bottom. I have to always remember, “I can’t make someone hit a bottom.” 

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. 

Ross Bennett: You know, I’m not an “interventionist,” my job is not to…

KiKi Maroon: Do you think that has ever worked, by the way? I’ve seen them on TV, but as somebody who went through a lot of shit and was still like, “No!” I just didn’t get it until, randomly,I got it. Every time I see an intervention, I just feel like that’s not going to work if they don’t want it. If they’re not asking for it themselves, I just don’t think it’s sustainable.

Ross Bennett: You know, they talk about how the ego has to be crushed. And the thing is, it doesn’t stay crushed. The miracle is, I look at it like this: when you hit a bottom, there’s a window of opportunity. And the question is- when you’re at your bottom – is a message of recovery offered to you?

KiKi Maroon: Okay. 

Ross Bennett: And so I happened to go to a place that offered the message of recovery when I was at an absolute bottom. I knew that my way wasn’t working and I was really hopeless and helpless. And still five years later, I had my last drink. But I’m very grateful that I was able to be at a place, when I was at my lowest, that told me that I had a problem and offered me a solution.

KiKi Maroon: So was your bottom before or after you got married?

Ross Bennett: It was after. Belushi had died in the March of ‘82, and things started to make sense. There were these things that were going on, you know? There was this guy that everybody was saying was the most talented guy in the world. And he would always be this tragic figure who died so young, who had so much talent. And somewhere in the back of my mind, it was like, “If I OD’ed or I died, they’d go, ‘Oh yeah, he was that guy. He was trying to make it, but he was messed up all the time.’” 

KiKi Maroon: Yeah.

Ross Bennett: You know, there was that thing in the back of my mind that…

KiKi Maroon: You saw through the glamoursomehow! Haha. I’m kind of jealous of your ability to do that.

Ross Bennett: I thought that the substance abuse was somehow part of the creative process.

KiKi Maroon: Oh, yeah! I think that’s very common to think.

Ross Bennett: I now believe that my creative process happens in spite of the substance abuse. That’s my belief, you know, because otherwise, you look at someone like Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno – these are guys who don’t do any of that kind of stuff. And they create a plethora of material, of quality material. So one is not contingent on the other in terms of that. And it took me a while to overcome that. We paint ourselves into a corner; I painted myself into a corner in terms of what I thought I had to be.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. I think that’s what a lot of the entertainers, artists, everybody, a lot of people do. They think it makes you more interesting. There’s this idea of, “I’m special, I’m different.”

Ross Bennett: It also erases the fear. I would say, for me, that was the big thing. I was fearless when I would do a couple of shots before I went up onstage.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. Oh, yeah. I didn’t go onstage sober. Ever.

Ross Bennett: Absolutely fearless. And even today, I need to get a few laughs to really start to break down my fear.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. But you have to do it yourself now.

Ross Bennett: If you watch my Letterman set, I’m up there and I’m waiting for the first couple of laughs. And then as they come, I get more and more confident, you know? I’ve always been very insecure and I still am, but after I get a couple of laughs, it’s like, “Okay!”

KiKi Maroon: “You got this!”

Ross Bennett: But I’ll tell you, if I don’t get those first couple of laughs, it becomes work.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah.

Ross Bennett: You know? And now I have to start closing down. I’ve got to put the shields up, close down, get focused, you know? I had a show the other week and they were very tough. I had to really focus on my act. I spent years doing colleges and I worked with a guy, Joey Edmonds. He has the Joey Edmonds’s Booking Agency and he always said, “To do colleges, you need an hour, clean.” One that you basically can do with no response.

KiKi Maroon: Wait, what? Because they’re not going to respond? 

Ross Bennett: What if they don’t? You know, so many comics, you’re up onstage and things aren’t going right, so you start working the crowd. 

KiKi Maroon: Yeah.

Ross Bennett: You start asking questions to the crowd, okay? Well, what if you’re doing a noontime show in a cafeteria?

KiKi Maroon: An hour with no response sounds terrifying to me.

Ross Bennett: You have to have an hour that you can do without response. It doesn’t mean there’s not response, but it doesn’t require anything coming back from the audience. It doesn’t require them to say anything.

KiKi Maroon: Okay. I thought you meant like no laughter at all for an hour straight! Haha.

Ross Bennett: But what if there is no laughter for an hour? What if you go up and there was like 10 people? So many times, I mean, I used to work at the Laugh Stop in Newport Beach – Saturday night, three shows. 8:00 show, 280 people, killing! 10:00 show, 280 people, killing! 12:00 show, 8 people. These were the ones who wanted to get into the 10:00 show, but it was sold out and they just spent two hours sitting in the bar, hearing the greatest laughter in the world. And now, they’re one of eight people in a room.

KiKi Maroon: Ugh…

Ross Bennett: They’re expecting a show and they are pissed off. They’re not getting the same show because there’s not two hundred other people. 

KiKi Maroon: The energy.

Ross Bennett: And yet they require me to do the show. And when you’re a young comic, you have to do what you’re told. 

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. 

Ross Bennett: And you can’t spend your time onstage complaining about the lack of audience, about the lack of laughter.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. That drives me crazy when people do that, like, “Oh, I guess everybody else is at the more fun show.” “Well, fuck me for being here!” Haha. 

Ross Bennett: I have to treat them as if this is the most important night of their life.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. Actually Andy is the one that drilled that in my head, because he gets so angry at comics when they go up and just start berating the crowd, “This is great stuff guys!” Like, obviously it’s not; and it’s not on them. It’s not their job right now – it’s your job.

Ross Bennett: So when he said, “You have to have an hour you can do without any response,” it means your act couldn’t be contingent upon their response, okay? 

KiKi Maroon: Okay.

Ross Bennett: So that made it so that I acquired that skill a long time ago. And I have an act, you know, comics need an act. I was out doing it in Pennsylvania a couple of weeks ago on a Tuesday night. I wasn’t getting the response, and I had to just really get focused on my act, and I eventually got them! I eventually got them, but it was, it was all my skills. I felt like the Godfather revealing Sonny’s body to the funeral guy, saying, “I want you to use all your skills and your powers. I don’t want his mother to see him like this.” I had to use all my skills and my powers in order to get this audience to respond! And I had to do 45 minutes. I’m starting to think that it might’ve been one of those situations where they didn’t know there was going to be a comic, but I don’t know. I’m not certain because I didn’t ask the guy. I should have asked, but I didn’t. Haha.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. Haha 

Ross Bennett: But the check cleared! 

KiKi Maroon: Well that’s all that matters! But I’ve had to ask people to introduce me as “your comedian” or as “a stand-up.” Because when it’s shows… I actually did a fashion show with a friend of mine. They didn’t know there was going to be stand-up afterwards. It was 30 minutes of girls in dresses, walking… and then we just walked up there and started telling jokes. And I’m like, “How…?” 

Ross Bennett: They have got to know there is going to be a show! 

KiKi Maroon: You have to tell them there’s going to be comedy here! It was so awkward. 

Ross Bennett: They got to know there’s going to be a show.

KiKi Maroon: I don’t know if this is actually true but I’d like to think it’s making me better. For the longest time, I told myself that I was better drunk, because I was not afraid. I was terrified to start going onstage sober. It took me a long time; I would get weird because “they’re looking at me!” – haha – but now I know that they’re looking at me. I remember, it was maybe a year or two years ago, I bombed so bad after a festival and it was the first time I really wanted to drink. When I quit, I was good; I was done. I didn’t want anymore. But that night, I wanted a shot so much because it hurt so bad to walk off that stage. A not-so-supportive friend of mine even asked, “Well, do you want me to get you one?” And I was like, “No. I have to feel my feelings. The only way I’m going to get better is to sit in how much this hurts right now.”

Ross Bennett: It’s really challenging, particularly, you know, when you’re opening up, when you’re revealing who you are. You know, you’re pulling the walls down and you’re raw there. I’m a big fan of Seinfeld. I worked with him a couple of times over the years, early on. 

KiKi Maroon: Oh, that’s amazing! 

Ross Bennett: I don’t know him; we’ve met a few times. But I’m a big fan of his and I admire him an awful lot. And that movie Comedian (2002) he did about 15 years ago or so, there’s a point in it where he’s working on this new act. He’s putting an act together – that’s the whole point of the movie. He’s onstage and he’s not getting laughs. He’s standing by a piano and looking at his notes. He’s not getting a laugh, shaking his head. He’s just kind of frustrated. And me, I would be in so much shame over not getting the laughs, you know? Over it! He was simply irritated that he couldn’t figure out how to make the joke work. And I remember when he first got out to LA, he was very good. I was out there and these New York guys were coming out. I wasn’t a New York guy. These guys like George Wallace and Larry Miller and Jerry Seinfeld and Richard Belzer and these New York people were coming out. They had a polish and they had an air about them; an air of confidence, really strong material. And in this last Netflix called Seinfeld Before Seinfeld (2017), he talked about being at the Comedy Store and he says, “A lot of them had this broken wing thing. These damaged people.” 

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. Haha.

Ross Bennett: And he goes, “I was never that.” He always felt good about himself. He never doubted himself. So I mean, someone like him, he wasn’t being driven by some of the same demons and things that drove me. 

KiKi Maroon: Yeah.

Ross Bennett: And I really admire that about him. His whole thing was about creating material, creating an act. And you asked me, when we were coming up here in the elevator to where we’re sitting – we’re actually sitting in the lobby of a studio area in New York City where I’m going to be teaching a class. I teach a stand-up class. My one plug is I teach for the Manhattan Comedy School! 

KiKi Maroon: Oh yeah! I’ll put links and everything in the show notes. 

Ross Bennett: Manhattan Comedy School here in New York City. The class I’m teaching is Comedy Writing Boot Camp, which is basically creating material through performance. My whole premise is that we write jokes, but we create material. 

KiKi Maroon: I want to take this!

Ross Bennett: The thing is that you need an act, and when you have an act that helps give you some of the structure and armor so that when you go up, you have a purpose up there; you have something to do. When I was drinking, my act was not what was giving me my strength. I had an act, but a lot of it was hack. I just always had the ability to get laughs. It’s almost a detriment!

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. It gave you just enough to keep going down the wrong path.

Ross Bennett: I’ve always had the ability to get by and to get response and to get laughter. What I was saying may have been interesting, it may have been ordinary, might’ve been vulgar, whatever it was. But I always had all sorts of techniques. A lot of English I could throw on this stuff, you know? But to actually just be able to have the joke be strong enough…

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. Do you think… I heard something a while ago, it was actually a motivational speaker woman, an entrepreneur lady. And she said, “You want me to be extraordinary, because it gets you off the hook.” And the idea was that everybody can go out and do the work. To get the life, to dig themselves out of these holes. But you want to make me special, so that you’re okay not achieving these things. 

Ross Bennett: Wow.

KiKi Maroon: And it hit so hard. And now what you’re saying about Seinfeld and Leno and these people who we, across the board can say, are very successful people you can respect. And yet it’s so easy for artists, comedians, performers to believe, “Oh no, we have to be damaged to be good artists.” Haha. But the proof is in front of us that that’s not true!

Ross Bennett: Ultimately, you have to be willing and able to do the work. 

KiKi Maroon: I think it’s easier to feel like “I’m naturally damaged and because of that, I’m special. And that means I’m going to be good, period.” 

Ross Bennett: You have to be willing to do the work. Like I said, it’s that corner we paint ourselves into, that “I’m somehow special.”

KiKi Maroon: Haha. So what got you out of that corner then? You said you had just gotten married. I would think that this would have been the best – to a lot of people – the best time of their life, not the rock bottom?

Ross Bennett: I got married. And I had one of those nights where I was up all night and my wife was going to work in the morning. She basically just said, “I can’t. I didn’t marry for this.” And I had called to tried to get help a few times over the previous six months. 

KiKi Maroon: Called friends? Called hotlines? 

Ross Bennett: Various hotlines. I would wake up in the morning and I’d be sober, because I would wake up in the afternoon. I’d find a phone number and it was like, “I was so drunk, look who I called last night,” that kind of thing. And this was after a night that I’d been up all night. I went to a meeting. I remember they went around the meeting, everybody would just identify themselves. “I’m Bobby, I’m an alcoholic.” “I’m Trisha, I’m an alcoholic-addict.” “I’m Alice, I’m an alcoholic-addict.” And it was all of a sudden, a room full of 60, 70, 80 people, all one, after another, after another – identifying.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah.

Ross Bennett: And I just started to weep. I didn’t know that’s what I was. I didn’t know that there was anything. I can understand how people kill themselves. 

KiKi Maroon: Yeah.

Ross Bennett: And it sort of gave me an identity in this recovery idea. And I latched on to it and I got it very early on. I was very fortunate. I think a lot of people would wrestle with, “Can I still smoke pot?” And you know, that whole thing. And I never had that. The first guy I talked to said it was “anything that affects you from the neck up.”

KiKi Maroon: Oh, wow. Haha.

Ross Bennett: So if it’s a pill, if it’s a joint, it’s a drink, whatever it happens to be – all of that is how I define my substance abuse. It’s made it very easy. And I know people have struggled with that. Thinking they can do this, but not that, blah-blah.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah.  Actually watching Kurtis Matthews was what made me realize… When I quit drinking, I was very proud of myself. I got super into my work. It was the best my shows had ever been. I started doing them on larger scales and I felt so, so, so good. And then I started crashing really hard and I didn’t fully understand what was going on. It took me a while to realize, “Oh, I’m just a workaholic now! I’m still running away from the things. I still don’t want to have to sit and think and feel and process my reality.” And I’m still grateful. It was better than blacking out every day! But it was very easy to just replace, replace, replace. And I didn’t know that was normal. Again, I thought I was special for having this problem.

Ross Bennett: I heard a guy speak once, quite a famous guy, sort of a guru kind of a guy. And he talked about coming in and throwing in the towel. And he used the towel as a metaphor for all of your problems, all of your stuff. And after a couple of days, you feel better and so you go out to the garbage, you pick up your towel and you get it back. And the rest of your life is taking little pieces of it and tearing it off. “I’ll give you this, but I will keep this.”

KiKi Maroon: Yeah.

Ross Bennett: You know, because we all… I have found that… I’ll speak just for myself; there are still things I hang on to. I’m a human being, so I can feel safe, I can feel protected, I can feel contained, or whatever. I’m in a much better place than I was 30-some-years ago, but that’s why I’m sort of in it – for the journey.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. I think even knowing that it’s a journey is you being just… more grown-up, I guess? Just in a healthier place versus this, like, “Okay, am I fixed yet? Am I fixed yet?”

Ross Bennett: Well, that’s why that first year is so… anniversary time is always a big time, because it makes you think you should be “graduating”.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. “Why aren’t I done?”

Ross Bennett: You have to be more vigilant at anniversary time. The last time I had a slip, I didn’t celebrate an anniversary for five or six years, because I didn’t want to set myself up to that feeling that I’m somehow “fixed”.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. That makes sense.

Ross Bennett: Then for myself – I’m not saying it’s for everybody, but for me – I had some serious mental illness issues that really didn’t come to the forefront until years into recovery. There were things that were underneath everything that had to be attended to at some point. 

KiKi Maroon: Okay. 

Ross Bennett: Look, I got married in ‘82, my son was born in ‘85, and my wife passed away in ‘86.

KiKi Maroon: Oh, wow. 

Ross Bennett: And then, I was sort of in the wasteland. And while I was in the wasteland, I sought mental health professionals. And it made a big difference for me. 

KiKi Maroon: Good!

Ross Bennett: Because there were pieces of myself that I didn’t understand. The first time I took a year, I celebrated a year in ‘83 or ‘84, something like that. What I remember is being at this meeting, but… you know what it’s like when you put your head in a bucket and you hear that roaring sound?

KiKi Maroon: I do. Yes. I’ve thrown up in a bunch of buckets, actually. Haha.

Ross Bennett: I’m talking about how you hear that roaring sound, like listening to a seashell – that’s what it felt like. I didn’t feel like I was standing there in front of these people, like I’m talking to you right now. I felt like I was in a cave, like I was in a bucket. All I heard was this roaring sound. And it was mental illness that I didn’t know… you know, I come from a world where no one talked about anything like that. It was just a real small town in Western New York State. Nobody has mental illness problems, you know, you suck it up and you do the right thing and you go in the Army. You do this, you do that. There’s no problems… 

KiKi Maroon: Yeah, “we don’t talk about that”. 

Ross Bennett: Right. You don’t have those kinds of problems. And if you do have those problems, it’s because you’re weak. But eventually, I got around people who helped me.

KiKi Maroon: Good. I’m glad. My grandma on my mom’s side was a bipolar schizophrenic and now that I’m going into my recovery and going to therapy and processing a lot of stuff, it’s actually caused more questioning. Because when stuff is happening, I’m like, “Oh, am I healthily processing this? Or am I going down a road of justifying things?” I question all of my thoughts because, honestly, I’m afraid. Like what if I’m… how crazy am I and I don’t know I’m crazy?

Ross Bennett: You’re neurotic. 

KiKi Maroon: Yes! 

Ross Bennett: That’s what it is. 

KiKi Maroon: Yes, I’m a neurotic and I question the thoughts. 

Ross Bennett: I had a girlfriend a couple of years ago and she was having that moment. We were going out and going to the beach or something, and she had her dog with her. All of a sudden, in the course of about 30 seconds, she questioned like 30 different things she was doing.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah, and then you question the question because, “Am I asking the question because it’s a real question or…” 

Ross Bennett: I looked at her and I smiled and I said, “You know, it wasn’t until this moment that I really understood what being neurotic was like.” Because she was just completely up in her head and completely questioning everything; it was just a big mess of a circle.

KiKi Maroon: Oh, it just spirals. It spirals if I’m left alone. I can’t.

Ross Bennett: And I was able laugh at it and she was able to laugh at it. We had a good sense of humor about all this, but I was able to see it for what it was, you know? And life is challenging. Like I said, at the very beginning, part of my toolbox was the 12 steps; those are part of my toolbox. There were some other things I got along the way, like Scott Peck’s book, The Road Less Travelled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth. That went into my toolbox at some point. That’s what gave me a way to bring spirituality into my life in a way that worked for me.

KiKi Maroon: I don’t even know what it is and I will read it now, thank you.

Ross Bennett: Yeah. And then I went through a period of time where I was reading a lot of self-help books. 

KiKi Maroon: That’s where I’m at right now. Haha!

Ross Bennett: I eventually stopped all of that. 

KiKi Maroon: Aw, damn.

Ross Bennett: There’s was a joke I heard – “Did you hear about the lady up in Northern California? She died in the middle of the night. Her pile of self-help books fell off her bookstand and smothered her to death.”

KiKi Maroon: Oh! Hahaha! I’m using a Kindle, so I will not smother.

Ross Bennett: She was crushed to death. The absorption of information without implementing the actions can be numbing, because you have all this information that you add to this judgment thing that’s going on in your head all the time. So I just eventually realized that I pretty much have all the information I need. What I need to be doing is implementing this in my life. And so these days, at this point in my life, I just try to get small. Actually, “get right sized” is actually more of the proper way to say it. 

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. Damn, haha.  

Ross Bennett: There is no right or wrong.

KiKi Maroon: I know. I really like doing these conversations because I like speaking to people who are much further along than I am. A lot of times, things are just so clear to them or there are things that they’ve already gone through and I’m like, “Okay, that’s that thing I just did. That’s the thing that I’m going into.” But I know everybody is different.

Ross Bennett: Let me tell you something – this whole idea of someone being “further along”- I don’t like that. I don’t like the thought of that. I really like the idea of “one day at a time,” because we’ve all been around people, and you’ve been around this, where you’ll be in the most messed up place – anxiety, fear, anger, whatever it happens to be – you’re messed up. And you’ll be at a meeting or you’ll be talking to somebody and you’ll say some sort of a truth. And then all of a sudden, you laugh and it just lifts. It’s instantaneous, and you feel like everything is just fine. Like right now, I feel everything is just fine. It doesn’t take 30 years to get to this place. 

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. 

Ross Bennett: You’re at that same… you know, right now – you’re just fine right now, right?

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. Haha.

Ross Bennett: You’re happy?

KiKi Maroon: Yes.

Ross Bennett: You’re okay?

KiKi Maroon: Yes.

Ross Bennett: You’re in good shape! So it’s not about being “further along”. I just have more experience because I’m old. Haha. You know, it seems there’s a price to be paid for this. This is just the accumulation of information and life, that’s all. But it’s not something that you’ve done, that you’re further along. I’ll go to these meetings and you get these old-timers. I was working on ships and going to meetings on ships. 

KiKi Maroon: Wait, like cruises?

Ross Bennett: Yeah. 

KiKi Maroon: I didn’t know they had meetings on cruises. That makes sense though.

Ross Bennett: Friends of Bill W. or something like that. 

KiKi Maroon: Oh, I didn’t know! Okay.

Ross Bennett: And I remember there were three or four of us. One guy had like 10 years, one guy had like 15, one guy had 12, and I had 17 or whatever. They’re all talking about how great their lives are and everything. And I said, “Nothing worse than a bunch of old farts with a bunch of time talking about how good their lives are. That’s boring. What we need is a newcomer.”

KiKi Maroon: Haha! “Come in and shake it up!”

Ross Bennett: We need a newcomer to tell the truth to, to be able to actually talk the 12th Step to. Because otherwise, you’re just jerking off.

KiKi Maroon: Haha!

Ross Bennett: And boy, they got pissed. 

KiKi Maroon: Oh, no!

Ross Bennett: They got pissed and I said something that was probably inappropriate. I was commenting on them and their pomposity and all that kind of stuff. 

KiKi Maroon: Hahaha!

Ross Bennett: I always have to remember that it’s about two people, really: one having recovery and desperately trying to hang on to it and another caught up in the disease, wanting to stop, but not knowing how to stop. It’s when those two forces get together that it’s like flint and steel – it creates a spark. And that’s what makes this thing happen. It’s not about getting “further down the road”.

KiKi Maroon: I like that. Yeah. That makes sense.

Ross Bennett: And mind you, I’m really glad to be where I am in my life and everything, and I know what you mean, but you just got to… it’s really all about being in the day. Being in the moment.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. I mean, honestly, that’s the biggest thing, is learning to be in the moment. Because I spent most of my life trying to not be in the moment. So I’m learning how to do that every day. Sometimes, I’m not so great at it.

Ross Bennett: I used to hear, you know, “Life is the performance. This is not a rehearsal.” 

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. 

Ross Bennett: So many times, I spent my life thinking I was rehearsing for my real life, that it was going to happen over there. No, this is my real life right now, you know?! Sitting in this little corner area and talking. This is my real life right now.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. I tell myself sometimes to remind myself that I’m living the goal right now, like past-me’s goals and what I wanted – I’m at that now! It’s just that the goalposts keep moving, so I feel like I’m not at “the thing” yet. But this was more than what I thought I was going to achieve many, many years ago, so just to accept that. I just want to believe everything’s going to turn out happy all the time. Haha that doesn’t happen.

Ross Bennett: Well, I think that’s why you drink. “I want it to turn out happy all the time.”

KiKi Maroon: Haha, yeah. I just tried to create fantasy worlds, but now I do it professionally. Haha. 

So last thing, my final ask for the podcast. I like to ask everybody- if you could snap your fingers and everybody around the world just instantly believed something that was good for humanity, what would that thing be?

Ross Bennett: Hmm, that just because we disagree, doesn’t mean we can’t be civil with each other.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. There’s a lot of disagreeing going on right now.

Ross Bennett: Just because we disagree, doesn’t mean we can’t be civil with each other.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. It’s just empathy a lot of times, I think. I feel like we’re lacking empathy. And again, it makes me sad. I want everything to be okay.

Ross Bennett: Deanna Troi, remember Star Trek: The Next Generation?

KiKi Maroon: Yes. Haha.

Ross Bennett: She’s an empath. And I’m not a Trekkie, but I always remembered that. I remember watching the very beginning of that series and her whole thing being an empath was that she could feel. That was her whole thing; she could feel what other people were feeling.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. I know it’s easy to blame social media and stuff, but I do think that’s so much of it. I think it’s done amazing things, like the fact that we’re talking right now. It’s connecting people around the world. You find these bubbles of connections, but it’s also breaking up the one-on-one, which you need to have empathy. I think it’s so easy to argue if you’re not looking in each other’s eyes. It’s so easy to name call. It’s so easy to just completely discount what someone else has to say, and it’s really unfortunate.

Ross Bennett: Yeah. I’ve gotten to the point on my Facebook page, once somebody has a diatribe… Poof.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah.

Ross Bennett: They may still be on the friend list, but I don’t follow them anymore. You know, I only want bubbles and rainbows and unicorns.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. Hahaha me too! I have a rule: if I roll my eyes at anything you say, I hide you. Because I’m curating my world and my experience in my life right now and those eye rolls add up throughout the day. Haha. 

Thank you so much for sitting down with me. I really, really appreciate it. 

Ross Bennett: My pleasure!

KiKi Maroon: So if people want to follow up with you, where should they go? To your website?

Ross Bennett: I’ve got my website, I’ve got two CDs. They can get them on iTunes. One of them is New York Country and the other one is Not if You Were the Last Man on Earth.

KiKi Maroon: Okay. Awesome! I’ll put links to both of those in the show notes.

Ross Bennett: And they’re good! I’m proud of them.

KiKi Maroon: Thank you so much. I really appreciate this. 

[Theme song: “Last Call” provided by The Last Domino]

KiKi Maroon: That was Ross Bennett! I definitely want to go back to New York and take his class. He was so damn interesting! And really, really smart. Before we go, I wanted to give y’all a quick update since the last episode was really heavy. I’m doing better now, healthwise and mentally-wise! Haha. I’m healing up. Things are going good. I’m so sorry if I scared y’all, but I promise, things are okay! A lot of you reached out to me about it, which I so, soappreciate. 

One of those people was John Rabon. He was the comedian that we met in Episode 4. It’s a great episode. If you haven’t listened to it, please go back and listen. His podcast Yes, I’m Still Sober is sogood. Check that out. He is the best kind of bitter! 

So John wrote this blog post back in 2014 called, “It Gets Better,” about how much he hates people who say, “It gets better!” Haha! He sent it to me after listening to the emotional wreck that was the last episode and it’s great. I linked to it in the show notes, but I also asked him if he would read it for y’all, which he was awesome enough to do and send over. So please listen, enjoy, subscribe to both of our podcasts and I’ll be back next week!

John Rabon: This is from my blog at dated Monday, July 28th, 2014 at 2:23 in the morning. It’s called, “It Gets Better,” in heavy quotations. 

Sometimes Facebook is a good thing. By being on the damn thing, it allows people I know, who I normally don’t talk to on my phone, to be able to contact me… although I would normally say that’s a deterrent for using social networking. Interacting with others? Gross.

Recently, a friend messaged me because they were having a crisis. It was a bad situation, and they were at that edge of complete despair. They needed to be “talked down” from that edge, and I did the best I could, which was apparently enough. They’re doing better and they thanked me for listening and talking them through it.

Why did they contact me? I’ll be the first one to tell you I am not a great resource for solid advice. I am a prime example of how not to do many things, so yeah, if you want to know the worst way to handle something, I suppose you could ask, “Hey, John, what would you do?” and then do the opposite.

“Hey Rabon, I’m having this horrible dispute with a finance company. They may ruin my credit if I don’t comply.”

“Well, fuck them, man! What do you really need credit for, huh?! Expensive possessions that will make you a slave?! It’s a burden! Don’t play their stupid credit game, it’s all made up anyway! Go out and live!”

“Ah. Set up a payment plan. Gotcha.”

No, my friend contacted me because they were at maybe the lowest point in their life, or at least it felt that way… and they knew I had been there. I know what it’s like to be devoid of hope and ready to just submit to the abyss. They didn’t want encouragement or a pep talk. They wanted someone who could relate and who wouldn’t bullshit them.

I don’t believe in fate, but I like to entertain the notion that I have made it to this point in my life to help others in just this way. I find it comforting to think that my purpose is to occasionally help someone who needs it. This might be a bunch of crap, but hey, everyone is entitled to their own delusion. Besides… whether I help someone because of a mystical destiny or just because I owe the universe for over a decade of hedonism, the end result is the same. I’m stubborn and hard to kill… might as well put that to good use.

I don’t bullshit somebody in pain. I may not be able to recollect much of the past 10 or 15 years, but I remember what “rock bottom” feels like, and I remember what I did not want to hear. There is nothing like positive affirmations from the misguided to really send you into a rage when you’re down. Forced optimism is more depressing than actual depression.

“Hang in there!” – As much as I love ridiculous pictures of cats, if you show me one of those with the kitten hanging for dear life and those three words on it, it tends to make me reconsider my opposition to violence.

“Smile!” – If you’re an individual who likes to walk by a coworker’s cubicle and tell them to smile first thing in morning (or at any point in the day), I don’t think you’re aware how close you have come to enduring a stapler bludgeoning. Oh, and guys: “You look prettier when you smile”? Just go ahead and say, “Hey, it’s harder to sexually harass you when you’re all down and stuff. It’s kind of a buzz kill.” Asshats.

I think the worst one to hear is the most common one people say: “It gets better.” Hearing this sucks because it comes from someone who (you think) isn’t going through what you are and hasn’t been where you are. How would you know? Don’t blow smoke up my ass! And then, when it inevitably does get better, you still feel like telling them, “Oh fuck off, you didn’t know.” I think we just don’t like some people to be right, because we don’t want advice. Don’t try to fix me, just recognize I’m broken.

The truth is, it will get better. Eventually. And then it will get worse at some point. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but our brains can completely forget this when we’re down in a hole. Your fears and thoughts can cripple you and send you into a spiral that you don’t think you’ll recover from or even survive. And this all sucks because it’s in our heads, not real. And we hurt ourselves way more than the actual thing we fear will. We put ourselves through hell based on the perceived possibility of purgatory.

Four years ago, I was a junkie and lost my job, my apartment, and the woman I loved. I was staying on a friend’s couch, and I was sure that was it for me. If I had a gun, I would have killed myself. Okay, actually, I would have sold it and bought heroin. But if I had TWO guns… it was bad. At the time, I considered it the worst moment of my life. I was wrong.

Because it got better. Then, six months later, I overdosed while living at my father’s house after being sober for a month. Dad happened to come home from work and saved my life. When I woke up in the emergency room, I had a brand new “rock bottom.”

Incidentally, the only real rock bottom is death. Things can always get worse.

Things improved. Because of that I went to rehab… started over in a new city. I made good decisions and poor decisions. Life went on. Due to getting arrested for public intoxication in 2012 while still on felony DWI probation, I had to come back to Austin and go to jail. While in county lockup, I was told I would have to do a five month alcohol and drug treatment program and remain incarcerated and that I wasn’t going back to my established life in San Antonio. I had lost everything, again. And being sober in jail allowed me to really feel this low moment, making it way worse than when I was strung out all the time.

About a month later, while still in the custody of Travis County, I had a high point. I had begun to rebuild my thought process without being heavily medicated by booze or drugs, and I was reading Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, laughing hysterically. Even though I was in the middle of an awful place with questionable people and dressed in reject nurse’s scrubs, I was happy at that moment. Another moment was being able to host the open mic again at the Velveeta Room a couple of weeks ago. It was a very “everything in its right place” moment for me. In fact, I have a brief feeling of euphoria every time I skate to or from work. The highlight of my day is usually when I’m on a skateboard.

And that is how it will go for whatever amount of time I have left. I’m going to enjoy those ups and fight through those downs. A low point is coming, and I can’t stop that. While I do wish sometimes I had an option again to escape feeling shitty, I am completely comfortable with feeling now. That’s the problem with heavy alcohol and drug consumption/abuse… and for some, with prescriptions you probably don’t need. You stay even keel and numb so you can avoid pain and sadness… and you also avoid pleasure and happiness. It took me a long time to figure that out. Everyone is different, so I don’t want to tell you what you need. For me, being able to enjoy those beautiful moments in my life, fully, is worth the ordeal of completely feeling those times of despair. I just have to remember to keep fighting when everything just sucks.

I think I just wrote a big, long, positive affirmation that would probably make me roll my eyes if it came from someone else. I don’t know if anyone will get something from this or not, and I probably would have been fine with instead posting the lyrics to R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts.” Truthfully, the main reason I wrote this tonight was for me to read in the future when life takes a turn. So, John, when you read this, take it from someone you’ll listen to (you, dummy): It gets better. Hang in there. You don’t have to smile, though. Fuck that.

[Theme song: “Last Call” provided by The Last Domino]

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