Moving to NY

Saturday, January 09, 1999
7:27:23 AM

From the window seat of a greyhound bus, New York City had the look of a huge group of tall pointy-headed monsters, standing shoulder to shoulder. Coming up the Jersey Turnpike, my bus took its place in the herd of prey headed to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Just like I pictured it―skyscrapers and everything.

For 4 hours, I half slept and thought about exactly what the hell I was doing. With 2 years working in D.C. under my belt, I needed the challenge of one of the two coasts. Coming to New York was an easy choice, since I had cousins there. And no money to get to LA. I gathered a few dollars and my ever loving mom gave me a few dollars more. After 2 weeks of staying with fellow comic John Mulrooney, I was going to be hurting for a residence. I had bookings for 2 weekends in a row, and the plan was to get more work, keep this thing going. Ok, so they were Jersey gigs, but they paid cash. I took it as a good omen the fact that I had 2 seats on the bus all to myself. I kept my bag with my notebooks in one, and I stared through the window, not noticing the rain and dark skies.

My mood did not allow for conversation, and I barely looked at any of the other passengers. I checked my will, my desire and my strength to make sure I had enough to handle what was ahead. I kept patting the pocket with my wallet and thought of how I used to watch Flip Wilson, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor and George Carlin on the Ed Sullivan show. Scenes from high school plays flashed through my head.

In the Lincoln Tunnel, I knew this was it. Fear and terror requested access to my psyche and were flat out turned away by my belief and resolve. I was here with a purpose, I had come to do standup comedy. Ha! I had come to be eaten by the monster known as the entertainment industry! I did remember the “Livin For The City” Stevie Wonder tune because the first thing I did when I got off the bus was, not accept a package from a stranger.

William Stephenson

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