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I was on my way out of town, having just completed a gig in Mt. Carmel, IL - and headed towards Indianapolis, when I saw a sign that caught my attention. The Dream Motel instantly reminded me how fleeting life is, and the irony of it all. We are all only here for a short time, and than its someone else's turn. When I think of irony in life, I think of comedian Robert Schimmel, who beat cancer, only to die in a car accident a short time later. Or Richard Jeni and Robin Williams -comedians who made their living bringing joy to others, yet couldn't do it for themselves. Or Sam Kinison, a comedian who over-indulged in drugs & alcohol-managed to get sober, only to be killed by a drunk driver.
I remember meeting Mitch Hedberg at Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago, in March 2005, just two weeks before his death on April 1st. Many people thought it was an April Fool's Day prank, due to the timing. When he took off his blue-tinted glasses he was wearing in the picture below, I could see the effect years of touring on the road and drug abuse had on his face. I told him he was the Jim Morrison of comedy, cause he was a rock star selling out comedy clubs on a regular basis, yet he was on the cusp of something much greater.
I'm sure at one point, the Dream Motel was a moniker for what the motel offered. A comfortable place to stay in a small town- making it seem dream-like, albeit temporarily. Today, it is barren, gutted to the core, and not even an operating business. I'm sure there's a story behind the abandoned white car in the car-park, in the photo below, but it will remain a mystery.
I stopped in Sikeston, Missouri for lunch, on the way to Jackson, Tennessee, where I was performing at the South Street Comedy Club. I passed up the more popular Lambert's, for which I've never been, for Jay's Krispy Fried Chicken - to keep the theme of irony in place. On the wall, were headshots from many of the comedians that have performed there over the last 25 years, including Shirley Hemphill's. She played wire-cracking waitress Shirley Wilson from the sitcom "What's Happening" in the late 70's- mid 80's. I remember her character being larger than life on that show. After it was cancelled, than revived again for 3 more years in the mid 80's, she returned to stand-up. Unfortunately, she died of renal failure at the age of 52. That's the thing about life, it never has a happy ending. While performing in Jackson is definitely not the dream, it sure is on the path.