I’ve come to the conclusion that God put me on this planet to make people in sobriety and recovery laugh. This is the story of my journey to sobriety/ recovery.
I was the attention-starved middle child of a typical middle-class family. Dad was in sales so we moved a lot. I learned how to make friends quickly by being the class clown.
As an adult, I started using drugs so I could drink more. I never thought I had a problem. My Dad, having been an alcoholic, was in the program later in life. I remember my dad taking a fiveyear cake and I walked into his AA meeting all methed out with his cake. Everyone’s looking at me, and I’m like, “What’s wrong with you people?! I’m just trying to give my dad a cake!”
The business I chose was stand-up comedy; alcohol and drugs were occupational hazards. I rationalized my drinking by being an entertainer. The crazier my life got, the funnier my stand-up became. I had an opportunity to go on the road for six months with another comedian who drank and used. We called it the “Where Do You Go To Give Up Tour.” It was a non-stop party.
I was dating a dope dealer who would FedEx me drugs and stolen clothes. Back then my mindset was: I’ll make it big and pay everyone back. But by the end of the trip, nothing was funny anymore. I was so delusional that I thought some producer would call to tell me that my sitcom was ready because I survived six months on the road, when in fact, I had completely fallen off the planet.
My first bottom came while living in La Habra with two dancers. The second dancer moved out and now three months behind on rent, I hit my knees, looked up at the ceiling with tears in my eyes, and asked God for help. I’d never prayed before in my life. I made some phone calls and started going to meetings.
I moved to the San Fernando Valley and got humble working construction and community service for my two DUIs. A friend asked me if I wanted to do a show at a treatment center. It was there that I got my first standing ovation. And even though I was going to a lot of meetings, I would show up late, leave early, and had a fake sponsor. I had no foundation.
I held it together this way for three years. Then this adult film actress started pursuing me and convinced me to move in with her. She was taking me to expensive dinners, penthouse suites and skydiving. It turned out she was a heroin addict. With no recovery and no foundation in me, I was like, “Sure, let’s try that.”
Eight months later, I’m in the hospital critical care unit for a drug-induced heart attack. I had started getting hooked on it and didn’t even realize it. I thought I was having anxiety attacks. My using progressed and got worse, and I knew I needed to get out of the relationship.
I moved to Orange County and got humble. I became willing, got a sponsor, took some direction, and went to four meetings a day and worked my steps. I kept going back to LA trying to save my ex. I would get chunks of recovery time, then relapse every time I saw her. Someone finally called me out on it. I called and told her that I couldn’t see her anymore; that I had to work on myself. That was on my clean date of May 3, 2001.
There is nothing I miss about that lifestyle. I love my life today. I’m married to an amazing woman and we have a twoyear- old daughter, and I get to tour the world sharing the gift of laughter to everyone in recovery.
I’ve been a comedian for 26 years, but only remember the last 15. I’ve come to the conclusion that God put me on this planet to make people in sobriety and recovery laugh.
There is no bigger gift than having a newcomer come up to me after the show and say, “Dude, my cheeks hurt. I haven’t laughed like that since I got clean and sober.” And I reply, “See, you don’t have to be hammered to laugh your ass off and have a great time.”
To book Bob Perkell for a clean and sober event, contact him at (714) 381- 3972 or www.bobperkell.com