Friending Your Friends
Or, The Funny Thing About Friends Part 2
–By Jan McInnis, Comedian and Keynote Speaker
Sometimes you make friends without realizing it. In my former life, I was very active with the Alexandria Virginia Jaycees, and when I became a comedian, I had a tremendous number of Jaycee friends who supported me. From coming out to shows (between them, Mary and Ron have seen my act a million times) to letting me sleep on their couches as I crisscrossed the country working gigs, my Jaycee friends were always with me, even offering encouraging words during times of struggle.
And we’ve all got those friends who we haven’t seen in years, but when you do see them, it feels like time hasn’t passed. Right before my move to Los Angeles, I was working at a comedy club in Virginia Beach when my college friend Rhonda dropped in. We hadn’t seen each other in years, and she had no idea I was a comedian. I mentioned my move, and she said that she was actually living near LA. She just happened to be in Virginia that night, and she offered me a place to stay while I got on my feet. We don’t see each other regularly now (the 60 miles to her house in LA traffic factors in), but when we do get together, we have a blast. I also once recognized a friend on an airplane: she was the flight attendant and had been my boss at a summer job 30 years earlier! We reconnected and I got free food and drinks all the way across the country!
My variety of friends is kinda cool too. I have childhood friends who knew me in my bell-bottom days, and open-mic comedian friends who knew me in my early pre-funny days. I have an unusually large number of lawyer friends, and I’ve got friends who I don’t know how we met or why we’re friends. I’ve also got hiking friends and friends who’ve never set foot in REI. I have friends of my parents who I still call “Mr. and Mrs.” and my siblings are three of my best friends, probably because we have endless inside jokes about the quirky things Mom and Dad did while raising us. I also have “small dose” friends who are great in. . .well, small doses! I love ‘em, but after spending some time with them, I need a break, and some more wine. And finally, I’m in a relationship with someone who is also one of my best friends. . . I think that’s important.
Of course having friends takes more effort than just “liking” their birthday on Facebook once a year. I’ve had friends ask “How can you just fly back into town, and then head right out to a party? Don’t you want to relax?” What they don’t realize is that connecting with my friends is how I relax.
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