That makes more sense than I bet even he realized.
If you’re involved with the things that you think are awesome, then you’re going to be surrounded by people that you think are doing awesome things. So if you work as a lawyer, but you think chefs are awesome, you’re not going to run into too many people in your life that you think are really inspiring.
However, if you think great lawyers are badasses, and an understanding of the legal system is super cool, then simply by being a lawyer, you’re going to create a life where you constantly feel lucky to be around the people you cross paths with.
I just like inspiring people. I’m trying to learn to appreciate a badass, regardless of his or her field. Who’s living passionately? Who’s pouring their heart and soul into things?
This brings us to Joel. Joel and I run an open-mic on Saturday afternoons, at the Creek and the Cave. We try to make it fun, and I think we do a pretty good job of that. Long story short, for all you non-comics: open-mics can be depressing.
So we try to make ours as fun as we can. We keep sets short and sweet, we make fun of each other a lot, and whoever ends up having to go last, we make everyone sit in the front for their set, and bring them onstage with an intro that’s so complimentary, it almost always ruins their set (this is fun, somehow - take my word for it).
Last week, while walking to the mic, Joel noticed something: an ice-cream shop down the street was having a Gingerbread House competition.
“Sweet! Another way to make the mic more fun!!” is what Joel - and Joel alone - thought.
And this is why it’s fun to have Joel as a friend. Rather than think “Nah, nevermind” or “Maybe I should ask if there’s an age limit,” instead Joel didn’t think at all. He just DID.
I can’t really explain how funny it was, seeing Joel so excited for the competition. He announced at our December 1st open-mic that the next week, we’d have a gingerbread house, and that during everyone’s set, they would add to the house, and then we would walk down the street and submit the house, after the mic.
I think some comics thought Joel was joking, but I knew he meant business. He even sent me a text during the week that said - and I quote - “I’m psyched about this gingerbread house.”
Unfortunately, this past Saturday was the only chance I had to shoot the credit sequence for my special (due out January 2013), and so I couldn’t get to our mic until way late. Most weeks I would have just not gone. But I knew even if I could make the last 10 minutes of the mic, I had to go this week.
Joel was too excited. And it was gonna be too much fun. There aren’t many times when you get to see a grown man act like a 6 year-old. (Way more often if you’re friends with Joel. But still.)
This is getting long already, so I’ll fast-forward to the end: we didn’t win the competition. In fact, we didn’t even enter the competition.
In a scene that can only be described as beautiful, our open-mic happened almost exactly the same way it happens every week. The only real difference is that throughout the entire mic, Joel sat there, diligently putting together - and then decorating - his gingerbread house. He used a “Gingerbread-House Kit,” which I didn’t know existed (I later found out he went to 4 stores before finding one).
After the mic, 5 of us walked down the street to the ice-cream shop. One of us because we thought we had a winning entry, and four of us to help cheer up that one person, once reality had set in and hardened, like his icing never quite did.
The following are almost undoubtedly the greatest photos I have ever taken. I am not a photographer. I rarely capture an exact moment. My single documented moments rarely define an entire experience.
I pulled out my iPhone, to take a picture of the proud architect. What happened next, I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. Here again is the only photo I planned on taking - the one of Joel with his beautiful creation:
Joel and his baby
And then one of Joel showing it off, then trying to nudge one side of the roof, to make it extra perfect:
Then one as the roof collapses in on itself, unable to handle the pressure of even one finger:
Then Joel making it worse by trying to make it better, as any child would:
Then a blurry one of Joel completely panicking:
Then Joel trying to quickly transport the collapsed house to the lady at the counter:
Joel deciding to eat a small piece of the house, perhaps as a way of saying goodbye?
Joel at the counter:
The lady working there is confused at first, not understanding
that a grown man has a submission for the Gingerbread House competition:
Realizing Joel is seriously trying to submit this pile of gingerbread, she reacts understandably.
And then gives Joel this face:
I would like to once again remind you - the reader - that none of these photos were set up, and that woman had 100 percent NO IDEA how to handle a grown-ass man submitting a gingerbread house - collapsed in on itself, no less - to their children’s competition. It was maybe one of the 50 greatest moments of my life.
And that’s the story of why Joel and I are friends. And why it’s really fun to be a comic sometimes.
You’ll always be the Gingerbread House Builder of my heart, buddy.