I started going to recovery meetings in ’97. Heard a lot of words, but I wasn’t sure they made sense. The beginnings were a haze as I hadn’t yet learned that my biggest problem was me.

The first thing I DO remember hearing…that clicked…was when I was told that the people in the rooms were “egomaniacs with inferiority complexes.”

That I could identify with; that made sense. That was me.

My journey is a process of ego-deflation, trying to get, (as they say) “right-sized.” Balance.

Hold the thought.

Last May I did a featured role in “Threepenny Opera.” While I enjoyed the run and learned, there was just not that comfort level. Still, it did rekindle my acting bug and through summer I eagerly eyed tryout notices.

Three caught my attention and each was slated for August. My first choice was doing Ira in Neil Simon’s “Laughter On The 23rd Floor.” Unfortunately, the scheduling was bad, with readings sandwiched between first “The Sound Of Music” and later “The Man Who Came To Dinner.”

My game plan was just NOT to get shut out. I needed to do a show. As such, I did read for Uncle Max. Singing “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” I strutted before the director and musical director, convinced I’d nailed it. Evidently not. Never even got a call back.

A week later I’d decided to pass on “Laughter.” Booked to fly that Friday to Jason’s bachelor party—timing didn’t work. Life, I sensed, would go on.

Things, though, tend to happen.

Erev Pontooning I received a mass Facebook reminder about the “Laughter” tryout. It required not only the reading, but also doing a one minute monologue. Clearly there was no time to prepare!

I texted the director: “Can be there tonight. Can you live without a monologue?”
“Just show up. And callbacks will be Saturday, if necessary,” he responded.
Both good news and bad news. (On Saturday I was to be sitting on a ship avoiding mosquitoes).
Taking a stab I texted back: “Out of town Sat—but I can wash your car!”
He answered with a smooth call: “Just show up.”

My reading that night was all it could have been. As they say on TV, “I killed.”

Friday I left town. Saturday were callbacks. And from Sunday on, and on, and on, I waited for my phone to ring, or my Email to twirp.


Tuesday I was mulling the final show; the reading was that night. Although it was a comedy, my heart wasn’t in it. I’d left it all on the table for “Laughter.” I know me; I couldn’t have been better—for me. Maybe I was just funnier when I was fatter.

One of many lessons in recovery is that a problem shared is a problem cut in half. So I called Paul, my actor’s equity friend, and shared.

What to do? He would know. And he did.

“Just call the director. Tell him the truth. Tell him you don’t want to go elsewhere, but you need to plan.”
“Just call him. He likes you. Grow up.”
So, chickenshit me, I texted instead. (It’s progress, they say, not perfection).
His response was immediate, if illusory:


So I stayed home that night and waited. In between waits I sought interpretation of the text from anyone I could. To a person, they felt it “sounded good.”
“Are you sure?”
Wednesday begot Thursday became the weekend. But my phone didn’t ring….until IT DID!

I got the part! This cowboy is cast in a signature role, portraying one of Sid Caesar’s scribes from TV’s early days. The whole show takes place in the writers’ room. Picture The Alan Brady Show—I’m Buddy Serrell.

Only a new problem: am I good enough?

We had the read-through the other night. Sitting there, the proverbial “little fish in a big pond”…surrounded by a company of funny, very funny people—-each called to portray another comedy writer, I wondered….

Am I good enough?

Which brings me back to my original thought…that I am an egomaniac with an inferiority complex. Just trying to get right-sized.

I go to meetings; I work at myself…because I’ve been constantly reminded that “The old Bruce lives within the new Bruce.”

So be it.

My sponsor told me not to be intimidated. Just do your best, he urged. Then, he concluded, if it doesn’t work out they’ll say you were miscast—they’ll blame the director.

We laughed, but I know what I have to do: get off book, hit my marks, and….keep working my program. And I will.

Not a bad gig.


  1. Marc says:

    I know you will be great-just be yourself and you can’t miss.

  2. Susan says:

    I have no doubt that you will be fantastic. I just don’t understand why you believe your sense of humor has anything to do with your weight. There are a lot of funny thin people–Jerry Seinfeld for one.

    This is a great play. Neil’s words are well chosen. You are a trial lawyer and comedy is a natural fit. Enjoy it!

    I can’t believe you are so worried. I can’t wait to see you! I am told I am great audience. You have given me something to look forward to at a time when I need to be able to look forward to something fun.

    Just relax. Breathe. Know your lines. Know your marks. Do your thing. You will have friends in the audience to support you.

  3. Aunt Helen says:

    I finally figured it out: “J.S.” is Jerry Seinfeld. Thank you Susan

  4. JS says:

    Not Seinfeld. JS will not be at the wedding. Sorry Aunt Helen

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