Know when to say ‘when’


Two weeks ago, I was in Vegas with my pals, The GIs of Comedy, performing for a military group called the Non-Commissioned Officer Association, which was established in 1960 to enhance and maintain the quality of life for noncommissioned and petty officers in all branches of the Armed Forces, National Guard and Reserves. The headliner for the event was legendary comedian Louie Anderson. In my opinion, he is one of the greatest comedians of all time. He was one of Johnny Carson’s favorites, too.
I rested the first night and was good to go the next day. However, I broke every rule in the book my second night there following our show. I should’ve known when to say when. I am restricted from going into details, because the Geneva Convention states that “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” I just hope that doesn’t apply to the complimentary toiletry items from the hotel, because I brought home all kinds of soap, shampoo and conditioner.
To add insult to injury, my flight to Portland was at 7 a.m.. My driver picked me up at 5 a.m.. I felt like I’d been in a 15-round fight with a 300-pound kangaroo. The flight to Portland didn’t help matters. My ticket had the word “non-stop” on it, which apparently had a double meaning, because I sat next to a couple who talked to me non-stop the entire way. They may have come up for air once. I almost had to give them oxygen. They needed to know when to say when.
Portland was beautiful and the weather was perfect as always. You know it’s a great part of the country when you don’t encounter humidity, mosquitoes or Bama fans. It was almost Utopia. I had a day to rest before my gig with the Oregon National Guard. My audience was a group of teens who were dependents of those serving in the Guard. I gave an interactive leadership presentation. I also had a six-inch rip along the inside seam of my pants around thigh high. That was awkward. I should’ve seen it when I put the pants on, but I was tired.
I did get a much needed break and was able to spend a couple of days with an old army buddy and his family in Beaverton. After that, I flew back home
There’s no place like home, although I was only home for 36 hours before hopping in my car and driving south. I had a gig in Southwest Florida for the Center for Independent Living out of Ft. Myers. This was my fourth year being with them as we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. There was a slight problem, however. I woke up sick.
The celebration took place during the day, but I had another gig that night in Naples at the VFW. I have a friend who is an active member of the post, and we’d tried to coordinate an event for a couple of years. I’m very happy that we were finally able to make it happen, although the smoke from all the cigarettes didn’t make me feel any better.
The plan was to go to the hotel and sleep for three hours before driving 12 hours to another gig. That was the plan, but that didn’t happen. By the time I got to the hotel, I felt awful. I had a sore throat and couldn’t talk. I was also running a fever of 102.9—on second thought, I think that was the radio station I was listening to, but I know I was burning up.
I was literally sick and tired. There was no way for me to make that trip. I would’ve wound up in a ditch somewhere. It’s the first time I’ve ever had to cancel on someone. I felt and still feel terrible, but I promise to make it up to them in a big way.
I do feel terrible, but I know I made the right decision, not only for me but also for those with whom I would’ve been sharing the road. On top of that, what good is a speaker if he can’t speak? There’s an old cliché that says “the show must go on,” but that’s not always true. Regardless of what we do, we all have our limitations, both personally and professionally, at what we can handle. We just have to know when to say when.
Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at For more information, please visit


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