Last Tuesday, opening night at the Just For Laughs Nasty Show, someone shot me a "Pssst!" as I was ordering a drink at the Club Soda bar. Sitting alone in the corner seat was a sympathetic-looking guy with a well-trimmed grey goatee.
"Evil Kanahdian," he smiled.
"Ah, we finally meet in person!" I smiled back.
Evil Kanadian is a Just For Laughs fan I've been conversing with on Twitter for the past year or so. We've exchganged Tweets, messages and emails, but until that moment, we'd never met face-to-face.
Looking at him, I'd remembered that during a Twitter exchange I'd dared him to "brand himself" with the Just For Laughs "Victor" mascot logo. A few weeks later, he sent me a picture as proof of the deed done, but I was still skeptical. I mean, it could be a picture of anyone, or a marker drawing, or...
"Got the tattoo?" I asked. "Lemme see."
He answered affirmatively, and pulled up his shirtsleeve. Seeing one of our Festival Photogs at the doorway, I called her over to capture the above moment for posterity. And since we were in full social media mode, I Tweeted and Facebooked the following:
There are fans and then there are SCARY FANS.
Check out @EvilKanahdian.
And yeah, the ink is real and indelible.
People at Just For Laughs couldn't believe it. Reaction ranged from "Wow! That's incredible!" to "Jeez, what a nutbar." I just thought that, unlike so many more rational others, some random fan took me seriously on a dare and actually called me on it.
And that was all I thought about it...until I received an email in my inbox Wednesday afternoon with "A Lengthy Thank You" as its subject line. With permission from Evil Kanahdian (obviously not his real name), here it is in its entirety:
The "dare" component wasn't what really made me decide on doing it. If you are getting inked for life, the reasons behind such decisions must be more than only skin deep.
Four years ago, I lost my wife to cancer. During the last years of her life, one of the things that would relax her enough to go to sleep was watching Craig Ferguson on CBS. She would laugh throughout the show and would fall asleep during the end credits. I always was thankful to him for that. Seeing her sleeping peacefully somewhat reassured me all would be alright.
After she passed away, I needed time to grieve so I moved to Morin Heights and isolated myself from the rest of the world. Since I can do most of my sales calls through telecommuting and was in a depressed mood, I began developing some type of agoraphobia. Not a great thing for someone who's in sales. I could go weeks without physically interacting with people. To put it simply, I really didn't care anymore.
But when I saw the Ferguson gala promos last year, I thought my wife would have loved to see this. So I decided to face my fears and go. Kind of a posthumous final date with my wife.
I went on the site and bought my ticket. Then I saw the ComicPro ads, decided to get one. Then read about the conference, so upgraded my CP pass to Industry. This led to talking with people at shows and conferences, sitting in the middle of crowds at Place des festivals and an unexpected ending of my grieving period.
At that point, I was already toying with the idea of a tattoo in her memory. So I finally decided to get 3 tattoos in the same session:
- The first is the initials of my wife, to remind me of our times together and to aspire to be a better man.
- The second is a Craig Ferguson quote "Between safety and adventure, I choose adventure" to keep reminding me to push the limits I set for myself and live life to the fullest.
- And the last one is the JFL logo, to remind me that, even if all looks dark and bleak, salvation might come in an unexpected way.
Last night, all these thoughts flashed through my head when you extended both hands out to me. I know you probably expected a big "double handed 'fuck yeah' power slap" but I was just overcome by a severe case of the verklempt so you only got an awkward double hand shake.
So thank you for creating something that had that much impact on my life. If I had known, I would have bought that first ticket sooner.
I shared the above with some of my colleagues around the office, all of whom were moved to tears.
So the lesson of the weeK?
Everyone has a reason for their actions; their "story" so to speak.
Don't assume you know it. You never know. You never know.
Instead, find a way to learn it.
I'd bet anything you'll be profoundly surprised.
P.S. Bonus Lesson #2 of the Week?
What we do here at Just For Laughs is far from frivolous.
A noble cause, my friends, a noble cause.