On the morning of September 11 2001, I woke up in my apartment in Brooklyn and turned on the TV. The first tower had fallen, and I was about to see the second one go. Like many people, I grabbed the remote to check the other channels to make sure what I saw was really happening.
Stunned, I looked out my window towards Manhattan and saw a dark plume of smoke. Something told me my gig hosting Funk Night at the Café Wha? that night would be canceled. When the second tower fell, and the enormity of the tragedy sunk in, I wondered if all my future gigs would be canceled and folks would stop coming to comedy clubs. In fact, would I ever feel funny and be able to tell jokes again? I sat transfixed to the TV set for the rest of the day, and a special edition of the Eddie Brill Poker Game was called for the next night. I knew that was a good idea because what else were we going to do. The train ride to the game was surreal. As the Q train crossed over the Manhattan Bridge, the smell of death permeated the subway car. The looks on the faces of people on the train were a mix of disbelief, fear, and determination.
I remember performing on the Plaza between the towers years ago. At the time, I looked straight up and marveled at how gigantic they were and pondered what would happen if they came down.
I had some anger at America for being so obsessed with money and trade and the pride shown by building these massive monuments. I asked myself if the WTC were the World Love Center, would the buildings have been targeted? The poker game tempered my mood a little, but I had great anticipation for the next night, when I would be hosting at the Comic Strip.
The crowd was small. A group of seven and a few couples were scattered through the room. The first thing I did was thank them for coming out of the house. I told my small, nervous audience I had trouble making it to the club myself. I was more than a little emotional when I explained that we were going to get through it together. I didn’t have to mention the tragedy, and It wasn’t long before the regular jokes started coming.
The laughs were hearty, hitting the spot for people who were looking to feel better. By the time the show was over, I knew I could continue to be a comedian. The way I was going to go on was to say that what happened happened, and we had no choice but to continue living.
Laughter is an important part of life, giving strength back to the soul. It seems that every other day there is a new catastrophe around the world. Tsunamis, bombings, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods keep us worried what will happen next. Laughter is a pie in the face of disaster.