Friday, March 23, 2007

My Birthday Roast

Here's something I'd written for my Stratiges for Success class. I know my birthday is just over three months away, but the intructor wanted to know what I thought a bithday testimonial dinner woudl be like for me when I reached seventy. I also had to read this in front of the class, so I needed to make it entertaining. I hope you get a smile from this one...

I never thought I'd live to see seventy years of age, but I'm glad that did. I still get around the office, though not as quickly. I had some worries after the kidney trnasplant, but I'm okay now. The kids are now grown and I've got a couple of grandkids to spoil now. Plus, the little lady is still around to bust me down when I get too big on myself. So today, on my seventieth birthday, I thought I'd just sit back and relax and just enjoy the day. Wrong answer.

I was sitting in the backyard sipping on a fresh lemon slushie and soaking up the June summer shade. The house was quiet and the wife had gone shopping for a quiet birthday dinner for two. The phone then rang and it was my assistant from the office.

"I know it's your birthday and all, Sam. But could you come down to the Hilton for a hour? We have a prospective client who wants to meet you. He said he wouldn't sign unless he got to meet up with you. He said it was imperative to meet up wth you so he knows that he's getting a good deal." Ever since I started with the firm, I've hooked up stand up comics with some major deals in film and TV and made some stars out of them. I've since branched out to some production under my own as well, but it always comes back to artist management. So I told them I'll stop in, but I'm not wearing a suit since it's my birthday and I'll wear what I'll please. My assistant said perfect and hung up.

I called my wife and told her I may be late getting home and she told me not to worry. Everything would be there when I get home. I pulled into the Hilton and made my way into the hotel. The manager found me and and escorted me to the room my future client would be in. The manager said he was excited to have me here and that he hoped that everything went well for me tonight. The way he said it sounded funny. As long as I'd been in entertainment law, I knew a shady deal when I heard it. I followed not behind the manager, but right next to the guy. We then got to a banquet hall door and both of us stopped. I looked at him, gave him the stink eye and said, "you go first." He opened up the door and walked in. I cautiously followed behind him when I noticed the the large room was dimmed and empty. I looked at the manager and before I could ask him what in Sam Hill was going on, the lights came on, the side doors opened up and folks poured out of them yelling out, "Happy Birthday!"

Once I got over the shock and awe, I realized that this was a surprise party. For me. I looked around and almost everyone I knew was there. Friends, family, folks from the office, even some clients. I was then lead up to the podium by two lovely ladies in beautiful dresses. I was worried that my wife would see me and slap me in the back of my head for being with these girls, but there she was up on the dias along with various people I've known in life. Somehow I knew that I was gonna get roasted. Big time.

The host of the roast was comedian Katt Thomas. He came looking for a movie deal when I first started at the firm and I was part of the team that hooked him up. We'd been friends ever since. He did five minutes of material all about me, talking about how old I was, how cheap I was. He pulled out the old joke that I was so old, I sat at the captain's table on Noah's Ark. And from there, it kept coming.

One came up and said after I got my kidney transplant from an unknown donor, I started acting like a old man from Japan and for the longest time I had a taste for sushi and sake'.

One of the partners at the firm said that was only in entertainment law so I could get a TV show of my own, but "Cops" already had enough criminals.

Another came up to talk about my charity work for transplant donations. She joked that I was personaly working on a brain transplant and that my donor would be coming to the party soon. Out came a man walking a mule. She looked up and said, "Yeah. that's about right."

Some of the other folks, well I can't really talk about that one on paper. They were just too dirty to talk about. Needless to say, it got the biggest laughs of the night.

Then my son came up to speak. I was so proud of him. He just wanted to let his old man know he knew he was adopted and held up a photo of a milkman. He then held up a shot of mailman, then a picture of Denzel Washington, then finally a photo of Nathan Lane, who he was sure of. He knew that one of these guys was his real father, but he was proud of me anyways. He got a huge applause when he was done. He then came up and gave me a hug for the first time in years. I could see the tears in his eyes well up as I heard him say, "You know I'm kidding, right?" My boy made me smile.

After everyone had gotten their little joke out about me, it was finally my turn. I turned it around on them and picked on everyone who picked on me that night. I can't remember what I said, because it went by so fast. But I knew I got laughs. When I got those out, I do remember saying, "Yoiu know, in life you have to laugh alot. Because if you don't, you end up crying all day. I've been laughing now since I was a kid and I won't stop. I have good freinds and a great family to keep me smiling and remind me everyday that being alive is a wonderful thing. So keep smiling and share your joke with somebody. It'll make the world a much better place." I got a standing ovation just for making it this far and I could not have been happier.

I then realized that I was in a pair of jeans, a Captain America T-shirt and a pair of flip flops. "By the way", I then said. Did anyone think about getting me a new suit for my birthday?"

When I started writing this, it was a hard task. No one really knows what tomorrow will bring. I know that one day I'll be successful and won't stop until the job is done. I know I'll have gained many friends by the time I reach 50, 60, 70 and beyond. But, it's how I get there that matters. I hope that I do get to have such a celebration of life like this. I wish nothing but the same for all of you. But until then, I'll keep hard at work making sure I get to the top and beyond that. Smiling all the way.

Sam Johnson

No comments: