It Takes “GUTS” To Be Funny About Addiction

GutsAlthough this post may at first seem like some of my other posts where I reveal something from my life or my book in order to help others. I promise it’s not about me or my book, but about someone else and their book. Read on and you’ll see.

I was recently told by someone I work with that I should be more of the funny person I act like sometimes. This statement came after boredom had set in and caused me to say and do funny things in an effort to pass the time.

Some of what I said and did involved the over the top type of humor I developed at an earlier age by watching comedians like Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy, just to name a few, and offbeat comedy shows and movies that I won’t name here. This person also said that they liked my sense of humor and thought it was the real me. I responded by thanking them, but then felt the need to add that my humor is only a part of who I am, and even though I may act a little crazy at times, I know it’s not the real me. I went on to explain that the spiritual side of me that they had also seen is who I really am. Then as the spiritual side kicked in, I simply wrote their statement off as a sign for me to pull back on my humor and focus on being spiritual Darryl for a while.

Still, this person’s remark made me think about the struggles I had throughout much of my sobriety between not being the funny guy all the time, especially the one who occasionally offended someone, and doing my best to be the more spiritual person I had worked so hard to be.

I wrote about these struggles in my book, but since this isn’t about me or my book, I won’t revisit it here. I will just say that even though I no longer struggle with this, I do find myself holding back on my humor more than I feel I should. Which brings me to someone else and their book.

It takes a brave person to talk about one’s addiction and private life, including all the shitty things you’ve done. And an even braver person to put it all in a book and actually be funny about it. I recently read one that did just that, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

As you see the book is “gutsthe Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster. It was written by a celebrity you probably have heard of named Kristen Johnston. She starred in 3rd Rock from the Sun, a popular comedy series that ran from 1996 to 2001. She currently stars in the hit show The Exes that’s in its third season and airs on TV Land. I love the picture of her on the cover; it clearly shows her beauty. However, the hardback copy I have displays a picture of her taken in 1997. It can be seen as sexy and even sultry, with a rebellious undertone to it, and I think she chose it to make a statement of how addiction can affect us emotionally.

The title also makes a statement. Read as slang, guts stands for the courage and fortitude that Kristen Johnston certainly had for writing it. There’s a lot of private information in it, including what addiction did her physically, which also has something to do with the title. Read the book and you’ll understand.

I’d write a great review here, but for all the writing skills I think I possess, writing reviews somehow escapes my perceived writing prowess. I will at least try to pen my opinion of the book in review like fashion though.

“GUTS made me laugh out loud at times and was truly hard to put down. It is well written, witty, and the author doesn’t hold anything back about her life or her addiction. I felt sad when I finished. It was like meeting an exciting new friend that I had to say goodbye to just as I was getting to know and love them.”  Hmm. I think that was pretty good.

From what I learned about Kristen Johnston, I don’t think she cares what others may think of her life as an addict. Like me, she wants the shame and stigma of addiction to go away. But I do believe she wants those who read her book to get something out of it, especially if they or someone they love struggles with addiction. I know I did, and I found we have a lot in common.

We both know what it feels like to be physically different from other children. I was very skinny, and she was very tall. We both experienced the type of sadness that comes from not feeling like you fit in with other teenagers. We both used our humor to mask our insecurities. We both pretended to be someone we’re not through much of our lives. And we both know what it’s like to be miserable and unhappy in life, and certainly what it’s like to be unhappy with ourselves.

Fortunately, we also both made the decision to get sober and have remained that way long enough to find out what it’s like to be happy and emotionally well, depending of course, on your definition of what being emotionally well is. Oh yeah, and we both wrote books about our life to help others.

However, there are differences between us. Setting aside the obvious, like looks and body parts, and the fact that she’s famous and I’m not, she didn’t hold back on the humor she so splendidly interwoven throughout her book, and she certainly doesn’t hold back from being funny in her personal life. After reading her book, I can say I’m no longer going to hold back on being funny in my life either, which I hope was evident in this post. Thank you for that Kristen.

Did you hear that? I called her by her first name, and why not? I’m one of her Facebook friends, and she has even liked some of the comments and replies I’ve put on her page. It’s like we’re best friends now or something. “Call me Kristen.” Well call me Darryl, but you know what I mean new best friend.

You can purchase Kristen Johnston’s book at Amazon.com by clicking on GUTS.

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Hoda’s Mom Has Got It Going On

As some of my readers know, my wife and I moved to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware in 2010. The people are very nice, and we both get a general feeling of always being on vacation. We also like the different shops downtown; one of our favorite places to go while there is a coffee shop, called The Coffee Mill. The workers are young and friendly, and I often joke around with them. We also have become friends with the owner, Mel Damascena. He can be funny at times, and seems like a very nice person.

My wife and I were there recently, and Mel introduced us to another very nice person. With a smile on his face, and one I’ve grown accustomed to, he simply stated “this is Hoda’s mom Sami.” Now just in case you don’t know who they are, Sami, whose full name is Sameha Kotb, is the mother of celebrity Hoda Kotb of the fourth hour of NBC’s TODAY. She immediately gave me the impression of someone who is very down to Earth, and she was quite pleasant toward me and my wife during our conversation with her. Mel helped liven up the conversation simply by being him, and as I felt more comfortable, I did my part in making our talk light and fun. Of course Sami didn’t need help in this endeavor, and I could tell my wife liked talking with her.

Mel was excited that Hoda was coming to help promote a fund-raiser in the fight against breast cancer, and to celebrate The Coffee Mills 20th anniversary. Hoda is a breast cancer survivor and a strong advocate in the fight against this horrible disease. After talking for a while, I felt we should let Sami and Mel have some time alone together, and after basically saying this to them, Sami asked if my wife and I were coming to the event. My wife told her she couldn’t make it because of work, but I said I might come. “You should” she said, and so I did.

It was held on Saturday July 27 and began at 8:00 in the morning. Although I’m not one to usually go anywhere that early, I got there with a smile on my face at around 8:15. The Coffee Mill is located down one of the little avenues off the main street and perhaps a little hard to find for some, but this didn’t seem the case on Saturday. Despite the warm temperatures, I would say the event was a success, simply due to the amount of people that came and went.

Mel spoke that day and said some nice things about the people who helped with the event, and of course Hoda, and after thanking her for coming handed her the microphone he had been using. She also said some nice things about the people who put the event together, and of course Mel. She then talked about her own personal battle with breast cancer, but remained upbeat, which I liked. She also said something that struck me in such a way that it would prompt me to ask her a question later on. As she continued to talk and tell her story, she said that if it weren’t for her illness she wouldn’t have had the courage to get the job on the Today show. She went on to say that it wasn’t usually her nature to be forward and that she had always been the type of person to  just do her job and sit back and wait for any recognition.  She then explained how it was actually because of her circumstances that she was able to find the courage to go ask her bosses for the job. This was a good message to hear that day, and I believe I was meant to hear it.

Despite the growth and self-confidence I’ve obtained over my sobriety, there have been a few occasions when I had to fight the feeling of being less than around people of wealth or some perceived social status, and hearing her say this made me feel better about myself. In truth, levels of celebrity, social status, and wealth do separate us to some degree, but they shouldn’t be reasons to feel inferior to other people. As I said, I am able to fight any feelings of inadequacy I may have today, but I do wish sometimes that would have achieved more in life at my age, especially when it comes to my book and helping others.

So how did I feel around Hoda, who I’m sure has acquired some level of wealth today, certainly has social status, and is a celebrity to boot? Well let me say I was a little reserved and not my usual joking self. Some of this was due to a natural shyness I still have around beautiful woman like Hoda, but I will say the event itself caused me to hold back at times when the funny guy in me wanted to come out. I don’t know if this came off as being nervous, but if it did, she didn’t seem to care and made it easy to feel comfortable around her.

After she was through speaking, a question and answer session was held. I already knew what I wanted to ask her because of what she had said earlier, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to. With time running out, I announced that I had a question for her, and with some nervousness took the microphone that was being passed around. I started out by telling her how comfortable her mother had made me feel when I first met her, and told her that like her mother, she had a spark about her and a certain humbleness. I then asked her how she stays grounded in life with her fame and celebrity. I actually rambled on about some other things after that, and she patiently waited for me to finish.

Her answer was a simple one. She said she never forgets where she came from, and that she was fortunate to have parents who raised her to always be humble and caring toward others. Although her father is gone, you can tell he did a good job of raising his daughter. And if you ever meet her mother, who later told me I asked a good question, you’ll also know why Hoda turned out the way she did.

After the event ended, several people had their picture taken with Hoda, including me. Mel has the picture in his collection somewhere, but it doesn’t matter. I got to hang around with Hoda and watch her with all those people, and later on I got to say good-bye to her. She stopped what she was doing and immediately made me feel like I was important.

This whole experience was enough for me to believe that she and her mother are good and decent people, and I hope to meet them again soon. Hoda’s mom actually gave me a date as to when they would be returning to Rehoboth. Maybe Sami believes that I too am a good and decent person, but the important thing is that I believe it.

Below is a song from years ago. You may remember the title of the song “Stacy’s Mom Has Got It Going On,” which is also the chorus.  I actually wanted to sing Hoda’s mom has got it going on to Hoda at the event, however, I felt it may not be the proper circumstances. The video should refresh your memory of the song and why I think it would have been funny. I do believe Hoda would have laughed though. Maybe I’ll find out the next time I see her.

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