04 Aug The Luckiest Guy Backstage
During the Calgary Stampede, I get to walk on stage in front of over 20,000 people… for 10 days. That’s almost a quarter of a million people.
It’s ridiculous that I’m this lucky.
This past year I’ve been able to do the same thing with Barack Obama, with Ellen Degeneres, with Jann Arden, and with an amazing cast of guests on DaveKelly Live.
And there’s nothing quite like being on stage.
Except for being backstage.
My friend Dave Pierce has won Emmy Awards, his work had been nominated for Oscars and Grammys – and he says his favourite moments still is walking around backstage and seeing a bunch of road cases – those black cases full of amps, instruments, speakers and whatever they need for concerts. When he was a kid, he talked about going to shows and seeing professional concerts with professional musicians and seeing them with road cases – some of them with their names on them. And he thought, “Someday if I’m really lucky, I’ll work on something that has road cases.
This is a guy who has worked with Michael Bublé, Celine Dione, Jann Arden, Arianna Grande… and he gets a thrill from road cases.
And I totally get it.
One of my favourite parts of doing the work I do is getting a backstage pass. Not a VIP pass. I’ve never been interested in that. But a backstage pass means you’re there to work.
I love walking through kitchen’s, riding freight elevators, or standing in a loading dock surrounded by props and cases to go over a script.
I love standing side-stage beside someone with headphones… and getting ready to go on. Maybe it reminds me of being 19 and putting on a hard hat and going on a construction site to work with Dad. That feeling of being grown-up and having some special skill that requires me to be in a restricted area. (With Dad, my special skill was cleaning up piles of construction garbage and throwing it in the back of a dump truck.)
It’s the place where an audience never goes, a place where you only go to work.
And I just wait there. Nervous, pumped… and waiting.
And then someone with a headset says, “Ok – you’re on…” and you walk on.
Before I went on with Ellen, someone gave me her mic and my mic – and I went on.
Before I go on for Dave Kelly Live, Ailsa stands there with her headset and says, “Go Dave.”
And at the Grandstand Show, Kim stands beside the stage and says, “Ok – go!”
I’m always nervous, I’m always unsure, I always question what the heck I’m doing there.
And every time, just as I get out there, I think, “Just pick up the first piece and throw it in the back of the truck…”
And off I go.