Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (I know Memorial should come after Kettering, but hey, it’s their name!) in NYC is the world’s oldest and largest private cancer center. It has devoted more than 130 years to exceptional patient care, innovative research, and outstanding educational programs. But, since it is run by humans, mistakes can be made.
Hiring me to perform for a group of ambulatory patients was not the mistake I am referring to. The mistake occurred immediately after the show. Actually, it probably occurred before the show, since that is when someone should have given me specific instructions about physical contact with the patients in my audience.
I have been blessed to perform in so many amazing and inspiring places in my career, all across this great country of ours. I have enjoyed performing for audiences of thousands, for groups of five or six, and everything in between. With over 9000 shows under my belt I can attest that every show and audience has its particular challenges, but they also have their own particular rewards. So many great memories, like stopping the show in my Bobot costume for a State Farm convention at Reunion Arena, with 3500 Insurance salespersons in attendance. (No joke or piece of business works better than when it’s been written especially for a particular group of people, and they are in a highly receptive mood.) Great moments like when Gretchen and I are performing one of our original musical comedies for families, and the audience really gets it. They are in the moment, enjoying the show, and absorbing the message. A wonderful feeling!
There have, however, been many shows that have had unique challenges. Like the time I showed up to perform for a crowd of 1000 at a mega-church and found that the Irving Symphony, who was on the bill with me, was literally taking up the entire stage. They asked if I could do my show on the small stair unit that led up to the stage. (Mega Church – Micro Stage) Oh, and there were no lights focused on the stairs either. FUN!
Back to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. After my show for the patients I was walking around, shaking hands and chatting with the audience members. When the room started clearing out a doctor came up to me and complimented me on my show. He said he was glad I was being so gentle while shaking the patients hands. One patient in particular, the doctor said, had a form of cancer that made his bones very brittle, and If I had shaken it a little too hard I might have broken his arm. I calmly thanked him and suggested that, in the future, they might want to inform performers about these kind of things before the show. I had the jitters all the way home to Queens!!!!!!