I am a stand-up comedian. I have been doing comedy regularly since the mid-2000s. In 2011, I had a paying feature gig at a comedy club called Sidesplitters in Knoxville, Tennessee. I had featured there a few times, and this time, I was featuring for comedian Jose Sarduy who was a super nice guy and very funny.
Normally, the club put us up in a nearby hotel, but this time, they had a comedy condo that the headliner and I would share. Each bedroom had its own bathroom suite. It was a few miles from the comedy club, and since I had my car, I also was in charge of driving the headlining comedian to restaurants and to the shows.
Typically, this would be no problem, but a couple of weeks earlier, I developed a stomach bug. It was a viral infection for a week which turned into a bacterial infection or vice versa. I had gone to a healthcare clinic in Walgreens to have them take a look at me. They almost wanted to send me to the hospital because my blood pressure was high, which they assumed was because of the infection. They prescribed me an antibiotic to fight the infection. What they did not know is that medication would end up making me even sicker. I had assumed it was the illness making me vomit and have extreme diarrhea, but did not find out until much later that it was an allergic reaction to the antibiotic which contained sulfur. I, literally, thought I was going to die. This was the most awful that I had ever felt. It thought for sure that this is what dying must have felt like.
I didn’t want to eat because it just made me want to vomit or worse. I couldn’t keep anything down or in! The 3-hour drive from Nashville to Knoxville was rough as my stomach was doing back-flips the entire drive. I tried to fake it, but was struggling. At the club, it was nearly impossible for me to be my bubbly self due to all of the bubbling in my belly. I managed to retain all of my strength and energy for the stage. When I wasn’t performing, I was in the bathroom or in the bed.
I still drove Jose to dinner and tried to be social and hide my horrible illness. But at dinner, I could only manage to force down a bite for two, taking the rest home in a doggie bag that I would never eat. It was such a waste of money for me. At the club, I drank nothing but sips of Sprite and nibbled on crackers to keep my stomach at bay. At the condo, I had a supply of Sprite, crackers, and Pepto. If the contents of my stomach weren’t coming out of one end, it was the other. But I managed to make it through the week to the final show on Saturday.
To say that I was out of it would be an understatement. Thank goodness for the condo, or I would have completely overslept and missed the show. I was awoken to the knocking on my bedroom door by Jose. I had no time to put on makeup or shower or anything. I threw on some clothes, and we were out the door! I’m sure that I looked like complete hell, because I definitely felt like it…and probably smelled like it.
When we got to the club, I apologized for us being tardy. The manager knew that I had been sick, so she seemed understanding. But the show must go on. It was finally SHOWTIME, and I was ready to go on after the emcee’s time. The beginning of the set was going well. The audience was receptive to me and enjoying themselves. But soon, my set would take an ugly turn. I felt the rumbling of my tummy and began to clench my anus tightly. Oh no! It’s happening!
I tried to hold it in the best that I could. I was all alone on stage, sweat dripping down my face with the heat of a thousand candles. To say I was uncomfortable doesn’t begin to describe it! I had begun to casually cross my legs while standing on the stage to help assist in clenching my buttocks together, but it wasn’t working. I began talking faster and faster. I had to finish my last joke. Oh no! It’s coming. It’s coming now!
Have you ever seen the scene in “Bridesmaids” when the bride pooped in the middle of the street? I know exactly how she felt, because I was doing it…right there…on the stage…in front of a few hundred people…with their eyes directly on me. Did they know? Could they smell it? OH MY GOD!
I was almost to the end of my final joke and was talking as fast as an auctioneer. I said my thank you and raced off the stage, not even taking the time to shake the emcee’s hand. I had to get to the bathroom immediately!! Did I poop myself on stage? Yes. Why, yes, I did. While most people have a fear of public speaking, I now had a fear of crapping myself on stage in front of a few hundred people.
I burst through the restroom door and went into the middle stall. I hurried to get my pants down as quickly as I could, but I was too late. What was left in my system came flowing out like an open fire hydrant into the toilet. I looked down, and my underwear was a goner. I am in the stall stripping completely naked from the waist down. Luckily, the headliner had about 45-minutes of time to do, so I had a window to get myself together…somehow! I chucked the underwear, because there was no saving it. I locked the bathroom door so no one would come in and be a witness to the worst moment in my entire life. The universe took pity on me and managed to save my pants for the most part (thank you to my thick Wonder Woman underwear!).
I washed a bit of what needed to be cleaned in my pants and had to put them back on commando. I would have given anything for an air hand dryer at that moment! If anyone saw my pants and thought I had peed myself would be fine with me. Little would they know what really happened!
I found the manager and asked if I could run to the corner market for some Pepto. She could probably already deduce that I was in bad shape by the way that I looked, but I persisted to tell her how sick I was. She said she’d give me my check after my second set so that I could go ahead and go back to the condo. She said she’d get someone else to take Jose home instead. I was never so thankful in my life. I rushed to get that beautiful pink liquid to save me a little bit and managed to go on with my second set of the night. If anyone smelled my poop, no one said anything.
After my second set, I went directly to bed. The fates shined upon me, and I was able to finish the second show without round two of number two. Somehow, I made it up to leave the condo that morning and take Jose to the airport. He was very understanding of my being sick, thank goodness. I went to McDonald’s and tried to stomach down an egg McMuffin before I drove home. That was the longest drive that I have ever been on, just praying that I didn’t have to pull over after my breakfast.
One good thing to come out of this is that people were very complimentary over my dramatic weight loss. I also learned that I cannot take antibiotics that contain sulfa. In the end (pardon the pun), you just have to not take life so seriously and learn to roll with the punches, because whether we like it or not, shit happens.