Comedy and Pink Eye Don’t Mix

If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that if you want to clear a room, get pink eye. I know what you’re thinking, “Pfft. Pink eye is for kids.” Well, I am here to tell you that conjunctivitis knows no age, friends. Here’s my story.

It was a mild spring, and I was excited, yet nervous, to be embarking on a new adventure. The infamous musical festival, Coachella, was underway, and for whatever reason, they decided to hire me and a few of my ragtag comic friends to perform stand-up in the desert.

Just to add some spice to the story, I was also still a full-time junior high English teacher at the time. My comedic alter ego was no secret, and my colleagues and administration thought it was a hoot that I was booking out of town gigs.

Cut to Monday morning, days before I was to take off for the Coachella valley, and I notice that my eyes feel funny. They’re slimy, and I felt as though I were looking through glasses covered in Vaseline. I go to check my reflection in the mirror, and there you have it. Two, count them TWO, bloody red eyes staring back at me. I had barely finished teaching first period.

I immediately run to my boss, and very little explanation was necessary when she saw my peepers. “Leave,” I believe was all she said. Apparently, schools do not play with pink eye. Also, it’s highly contagious, so it’s a sure fire way to get out of something, by the by.

I go to the doctor after my banishment, and it is confirmed. I have pink eye in both eyes, and I am not allowed anywhere near my school for a week. It’s not an option. But here’s what’s so frustrating about conjunctivitis. Sure, you look like you’ve been swimming in a chlorinated pool with your eyes open for 24 hours, but for the most part, you feel fine. Plus, I had a comedy show to do in the desert, and I don’t quit a paid gig.

So what’s a driven comedian with bleeding eyes to do? I’ll tell you what. You get long bangs. That’s right. I chopped my hair to look like Ally Sheedy from The Breakfast Club, so my eyes were obstructed. Did my fellow comedians appreciate my “The Show Must Go On” attitude? Not really. They treated me like a leper, but dammit, I persevered.

And let me tell you something – life has not been thoroughly lived until one does stand-up at a music festival in the desert. You can quote me on that.

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