Cruise ship comedy is a peculiar form of entertainment. It has the power to propel a relative unknown from obscurity to temporary stardom, and back to anonymity all in one week. I’ve been doing cruise ships for just over a year and it’s always fun to observe and repeat the pattern.
On day one, I board the ship as “guest crew” (one step above “steward” or “food server”), and I go about my business like any other passenger. I’m basically operating anonymously, or at least blending in with others on the boat. I eat, workout in the ship gym, and maybe converse with a few passengers.
Some of the seasoned, savvy passengers may have downloaded the ship’s onboard phone app and looked me up. Maybe a few passengers are already on the ship from the previous week as new passengers board and embark on their journeys. So occasionally, some people will come up and say, “looking forward to hearing your comedy.” However, for the most part, I’m nothing more than a phantom… a spirit. No different than any other passenger aboard. No one really knows me.
The Show Must Go On
On Holland America, I normally end up doing my first show day three or four at the earliest. The day of the show, everyone gets an activity program with my name and picture included. So curious glances, smiles, and the “we’ll see you at your show tonight” comments start to show a slight uptick.
After the first night of shows, I get elevated to ship celebrity status. People greet and compliment me at meals or other activities. Of course, there are some people who will still give you the extended gaze and then move on silently. These are the people who either found me not their kind of funny or saw my picture in the program but couldn’t place me.
A couple of months ago, I had a doppelgänger – Tony from the Washington DC area. He had dark skin like me and hair as long as mine. However, he was probably 20 years younger and six inches shorter than me. Unsurprisingly, that didn’t stop more than a few passengers from coming up to him and complimenting him on ‘his’ fantastic comedy show and performance.
Returning to the Default World
So after a week of VIP treatment by the Holland America and a couple of days of adulation from the passengers, I disembark from the ship a superstar. And by the time I Uber to the airport and reach my flight boarding gate, I’m just another stiff in Boarding Group C waiting to catch his plane. Then off, off, off I go to the next gig.
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