Suffering insomnia a few nights back I took a stroll down memory lane. I am 53 years old and have been in show business since I was 18.
One of the lows/highs was when I first started taping a television show called `Chaps Comedy Club’ in downtown Hamilton in the early 90’s. I must say that when people begin to know who you are it is very exciting but it is also full of traps. My mother always reminded me that if success came my way I should always stay grounded for she would be the first in line to straighten me out.
So there I was at the bar after taping one of the `Chaps’ episodes. A very pretty woman was walking towards me with pen and paper in hand. My posture stiffened and I relished being
asked for my autograph for the very first time. In a sexy tone I said, “Would you like me to sign that for you?” The lady stared at me like a dog does gazing upon a ceiling fan. “What? No. Do you know the number of the local cab company?” she asked. I flushed crimson and gave her the number. In that arc of time there was a lesson I have never forgotten- never assume anything and keep your ego in check. To this day I still cringe at my stupidity and arrogance of that moment.
There was another low/high at a restaurant in Stoney Creek years later. My mother and I were having our traditional Saturday lunch. The venue was crowded and we were sitting in a booth. Out of the corner of my eye I saw an elderly woman approaching with her cane and her cloudy eyes penetrated my being. Always remembering the infamous `Chaps’ incident I merely smiled warmly and said hello. The senior citizen asked if I was Ben Guyatt on `that damn’ comedy cooking show. I confirmed her suspicion. In a terse statement she said she didn’t like me or my
television shows. My mind scrambled to come up with the adequate response but mom beat me to the punch. Like a lioness with her cub, Mrs. Guyatt told the lady where to go and how to get there. The elderly woman huffed and limped away with her pride slightly wounded. My eyebrows were still raised as I looked at my mother and with those steely ex-schoolteacher peepers she informed me that nobody messes with her baby. How cool is my mother?
There was another low, the lowest of the lows but it can also be considered the highest of the highs. Of all the things throughout my career the following is the one moment I will remember the most. It was at Club 54. I had just finished taping the last two episodes for the season and was having a drink backstage. A staff member said there was a gentleman to see me. I waved him in and saw the nervous look upon his face. The man asked if he could have a signed photograph for his wife. Ever since the `Chaps’ fiasco I have always been uncomfortable
signing my name but he seemed nice and I fetched a Club 54 flyer with my photo. He gave me her name and I scribbled my signature. I inquired if his wife was here. The man said she was but that she was too embarrassed to introduce herself to me. He pointed her out and I gave her the picture and thanked her for I was very flattered. I noticed her tears and was unsure of what was happening. Her husband quickly stepped in and thanked me before they hurried away.
Many months later the man came back for a show. Before I could ask he apologized for leaving so abruptly with his emotional wife. He explained that his wife had always been a fan and wanted a signed photograph before she passed away. The lump in my throat nearly prevented me from asking what had happened. She had died of leukemia and one of her final requests was to have that photograph. They were from Sudbury.
I will admit that later on in the quiet solitude of my home I broke down and cried like a baby for a woman I didn’t even know
wanted to know me. I was humbled like no other time in my life and probably never will be again. Through all the highs and lows of show business and all the rejection and humiliation that it entails, signing that autograph was the best and worst moment of my career but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Written by: Ben Guyatt
Ben Guyatt is a stand-up comedian and a published author. Visit his website at www.benguyatt.com and follow him on Facebook. He also hosts The Ben Guyatt Show every Sunday at 9 pm on AM 900 CHML.