This I Believe

Craig - St. Louis, Missouri
Entered on August 11, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
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When my sixteen year old daughter got passed over for an art scholarship in favor of someone whose work she felt was inferior, she said, “Dad, it’s so unfair!”

I said, “No it isn’t, Honey; it’s perfectly fair.”

She said, “Mommmmm!” And ran crying from the room.

She didn’t let me finish. I was going to add, “Because, it wasn’t your choice to make; it was the school’s choice. Your choice is to either develop your considerable skills, or not. But if you don’t, that would be unfair.”

She probably would have run from the room anyway.

But, this I believe: That because we are ultimately in control of our own destiny, life is fair.

I’m a stand-up comedian and comedy writer by profession. There’s a consensus that ours is a cut throat business. That same consensus is held by Realtors, Teachers, and Pirates.

There’s one comedian out there—a guy I came up with through the ranks— that everybody loves, and whose wild success I initially howled at as being unfair. It should have been me on Letterman, I reasoned. I’m funnier than he is, I write my own material and I’m better looking. I mean, this guy is a troll!

Still, though I may be correct in my assessment of our comparative talent and beauty, he’s famous and I’m not; and that choice wasn’t his or mine. It’s the public who make Stars out of comedians, and they do it for reasons unknown even to themselves. Gavel down, case closed. Is it fair? Yeah. He can fill an auditorium and I can’t sell out a Saturday night at the Chuckle Hut.

Now, I have to admit that there have been times that I’ve been the guy with the unfair advantage. For example, my rival for the affections of the woman I love had a better physique, superior earning potential, and Soap Opera Actor hair. But it was me who married the lovely Terri Williams and it was me who ended up in a beautiful home with three great daughters and a tasteful wardrobe of suits and ties and shoes all selected by her. She even buys my underwear. We’ve been married for 20 years and, if not for her, my underwear would be 21 years old. Is that fair? Absolutely. It calms the universal fear in all women that one of the males in her life will be in an accident wearing torn or dirty underwear.

Now, you’re probably dying to know the name of the famous comedian I mentioned. But I’m not going to tell you, and not because it would be unfair to him. It’s because I’m using his good fortune as an impetus and an opportunity to make myself a better comedian, a better writer, and a better dad.

And that’s fair.