I was moments away from being on Oprah! Okay, 2 days away. but I was darn close to getting my BIG break. I was scheduled for the segment. I had the plane tickets. I was ready. And then  . . .  something completely beyond my control happened.

I’ve been on many stages!

Rewind to a few weeks earlier. My best friend Rob, who was also a comedian while keeping his lawyer “day” job, called to say that one of his college friends was a producer on Oprah, and that they were looking for an unknown comedian! Perfect! I was as unknown as you could get at the time.

It seems Oprah was doing a series on fulfilling your dreams. She was taking people who had always dreamed about doing something and helping them achieve it. Like if you wanted to be a pilot, she’d get you some flying lessons and off into the skies you’d go!

Well, there was a housewife in Texas

who always wanted to be a comedian. Sooo, Oprah was having the fantastic comedian Wanda Sykes work with her for a week. Wanda would write jokes with/for her and help her with delivery and all the other gazillion things that go into being a comedian. After a week or so of this “comedy immersion,” the woman would then do a 5-minute comedy set at the Washington, DC Improv. They would tape the show and then – this is where I come in – put her tape up against an unknown comedian’s tape (me) and let people vote on who was the “real” professional.

This was so perfect for me in many ways. My video tape that I used for marketing was also taped at the DC Improv (my home club) so the tapes would be similar, AND I was already scheduled to be in Chicago for an event the day that our tapes would air on Oprah! Wow, could it have been more in sync?

Yeah, it was so perfect except for one tiny fact. You cannot become a comedian in a few short weeks, regardless of having the best of the best comedians, Wanda Sykes, helping you. Apparently this became very obvious when the newbie went onstage at the Improv. Rob called me after the show and gave me a heads-up saying that, in his opinion, they could not put my tape next to this person’s tape because there would be no contest. He said that aside from messing up material, the newbie went over her time, and had no stage presence. Stage presence is what you get from the good, the bad and the mediocre gigs; you can’t rush this process.

Sure enough, as Rob predicted, the producer called me the next day. They were very nice but said they had changed the segment and wouldn’t be needing me. I was crushed that I wouldn’t get my shot on Oprah, but also a little pleased that someone couldn’t waltz in and become a comedian overnight. I have no idea if the segment aired; I couldn’t bear to watch for it. 

Morals of the story: 1. The easier something looks, the harder it probably is to do so don’t skip the work in-between that makes you good. 2. Don’t put too much weight on fame. I never needed Oprah to be successful. It would’ve been nice, but, in hindsight, I’ve had a great career, without being famous.

Check out my website at TheWorkLady.com and other blog stories such as this one here about 400 Square Feet to Success.