I feel something brewing inside me? A cocktail made up of fear, sadness, anger and hope. The one that feels worthless is the “hope” at the moment. I have hoped for so many things throughout my life. Only a couple that seems significant by any means. Most have been in the selfish fashion. A few fall in the lines of… I hope to meet “the one”, that I have a great career, the team I route for wins, the team I’m on wins, I get tickets to that show, maybe that band will get back together and will George Lucas let someone continue with Star Wars (this last one came true by the way).
Then I have a couple constants. I hope nothing terrible happens to my family and friends. I honestly hope nothing terrible happens to anyone. Which is to very broad to have without disappointment. I have had a “thought” change to “hope” over the years. I had thought we as a people were beyond such a thing as “war”. As a teenager I honestly felt we had undoubtedly learned from our past. We would have real communication take place when it came to such things. I am not saying we do not have evil in this world. We very much do. The kind most do not get the chance to even see cross that line into our lives. Because we have saviors that are there prepared for when they make an attempt. But the thought of being at a place in humanity to truly communicate morphed into hope.
I’m a comedian… at lease that is what I felt I was for quite some time. A few years back I felt a shift within myself. Not within the confines of taking myself to seriously. But being forces to take the world seriously. Maybe I had done it to long? Lost some kind of interest? I was changing… so with that the dynamics of the environment I worked changed. I read, hear and have been told what I do is important. We need laughter… to heal. I am confused at the moment as to my role in it all. I have been doing this long enough to stifle my anger, fear, hurt & pain and make people forget for a while our world. By the second show I had to perform the night hours following the tragedy that took place in Newtown, CT. I started to feel a painfully confusing feeling brewing inside me again. A clear change… I recognized it because the last time it happened to me I was riding in a C-130 airplane flying over Afghanistan with flagged draped coffins carrying deceased service members home. For 5 hours I sat reflecting on my life, wondering who might be in there, where are they headed, how that destination had been affected… then why? What was my purpose? How is it I am sitting here living a pretty amazing life after wearing a uniform in my youth and directly in front of me a uniformed brother or sisters time on this earth has ended? Why?
That night haunted me… I eventually stepped away from the stage, left my comforting comedy world because it became so obviously fake and insignificant to me. I always hoped I would contribute something to this world. It’s a cocky desire. I should have significance. It’s one of my internal battles. Possessing confidence while staying humble. Success is more often then not the destroyer of humility.
For “the artists” a term I have come to embrace to define myself. I recognize that everything is not funny. I had hoped it would always be. If I am really honest with myself standing in front of strangers who just want to drink and laugh seems insignificant to me at the moment. I can’t express what is within me yet. It has been coming for some time. The tragic events in Newtown, CT brought me to reflect yet again. A 27-year-old teacher hid her children in a closet and cabinets. Told the shooter they were at gym. After which he took her life. I am a mildly successful entertainer. I have, had people thank me… I witness people fawn and be fascinated over significantly successful friends I know. From the bottom of my heart I wish we could channel every ounce of those moments into individuals, situations and events much more worthy. Like the beautiful courage of this young woman who is not here to feel every ounce of love every decent person has for her. It’s not one thing like guns, pharmaceuticals, parenting, entertainment, money, political longevity and religion. It is everything! The blatant abuse in every aspect of our human nature has led us to this point. Again I sit here at 40 years of age. Not 18 years old with a thought. I sit again with hope… to be beyond one’s self, to consider others, to evaluate ourselves internally and how we affect our fellow man externally. I am a selfish man at the end of the day. I get what I want from people. Laughter. For me it truly is Gods greatest give. Truthfully, when you make the decision to be funny professionally, you’re never as funny as you were before you made that choice. Because laughter is not about money, ticket sales, managers or agents. Laughter is the surprise recognition that we are not alone in the world. Pure comedy is a gift. I communicate for a living. Again I find myself needing to look at myself and why I am here, what part do I play and more importantly how can I contribute in the most positive way to humanity. I honestly hope we could have real communication take place when it come to all aspects leading up to senseless acts that tear away pure innocence. PLEASE lets move beyond hope!
PJ Walsh (Son, Brother, Uncle, Godfather, Friend, American, Veteran, Comedian)
PS… I should add. This is not me questioning being a stand up comedian. Comedy is my life’s love. I will always do it. This is the artist in me that knows there is an ability to do more. The brilliant director of my theatre solo show Dion Flynn always reminds me “Stand-up is where people go to forget and Theatre is where people go to feel”. This is about feeling. Thank you all that love, laugh & feel.