One Saturday night, years ago, I was performing at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles. I was backstage conversing with a fellow comedian named Steve. We were discussing what a trip it was to make people laugh and better yet, get paid for it. We agreed that the power of laughter has many medicinal purposes. I suggested that since we were responsible for making people laugh, that would make us “Humor Healing Technicians”.
The conversation took on a more serious tone when Steve told me he was HIV positive. I asked how he was dealing with it. He said, “Watch me. I’m going on before you, Watch my set.” I went to the back of the room and stood by some other comedians. The room was sold-out – standing room only. Steve was introduced. What transpired within the next twenty minutes totally blew my mind. His entire routine was on the HIV virus. His opening line was: “Hi, I’m Steve and I’m HIV positive. Don’t be concerned, Naomi Judd was diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis C. The good news is that we are going to form a duo and call ourselves Sick and Tired.”
Steve had an incredible ability to use humor as a tool. His HUMOR BEING glowed that night. His comic timing was exceptional; equaled only by the powerful message that was interwoven in and around the laughter. He even found humor in the many side effects that occurred from all the different medications he was taking. There were over five hundred people in that room and Steve had them all in the palm of his hand. He make them realize how healing laughter can be and how precious life truly is. I remember saying to another comedian, “This guy is making people laugh about one of the biggest challenges to face this planet.”
Later that evening our conversation continued. I told Steve that what he did on stage took courage and was absolutely incredible. He smiled and said, “Thank you but, the really good news is that my white blood count went up phenomenally, ever since I chose to deal with this challenge with humor.” I stood there with my mouth opened, searching for the proper words. Finally I said, “That’s incredible.”
Later in his career, Steve starred in his own HBO Special entitled, “HIV.” He now has a following. There are people who are HIV positive who claim that Steve’s humor and message helps them to embrace their challenges. One very important point must be made. Steve was not laughing at his challenge. We know there is nothing funny about the HIV virus. What he was doing, however, was allowing his HUMOR BEING to laugh off the fear that represented the challenge. Laughing in the face of fear eventually helped him confront it. When he confronted his fear he gradually began to understand where it was coming from and why it was controlling his life. Understanding always leads to compassion and compassion leads to the ultimate, unconditional love.
The most incredible accomplishment my friend Steve is making is that he is letting people know they have the power within themselves to view their own personal challenges from the same perspective. He reminds us that we all have a HUMOR BEING within us, but it’s up to us whether we choose to use it or not.
Steve Rizzo’s Point of Interest
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