The best Mixed Tape I ever got was from my best male friend in college. His name was Mark. Mark was more like a brother than a friend. Actually, I called his mom and dad, “Mom and Dad.” We met in Philosophy class my senior year at the University of Arizona.
Because I was a fuck-up, I needed to pass this Philosophy class with an “A” in order to graduate. I took the class with my first “mini me,” named Bill. Let me first explain, through out my life I have often surrounded myself with younger versions of myself, dopplegangers or people who could pass as my little brother. Two is always better than one, right?
(If you live in Los Angeles, come this weekend to my play A MIXED TAPE at the Playhouse West Theatre in North Hollywood on Sunday, January 27th at 8pm. The doppleganger effect is being played by Jonathan Lipnicki.)
So, in order to pass the class with an “A,” I would strategically brown-nose the teacher. What I mean is that at certain times, like every 2nd or 3rd class, I would ask a very insightful question so as to appear to be sucking up in order to get a higher grade. None of us liked the class, but we had to get through it. Then one day, our classmate Mark heard me say to Bill, “Watch this, I’m going to brownnose now.” That’s when Mark finally understood why I asked any questions at all — I was doing it on purpose. Brown-nosing for a self serving reason not because I was a kiss ass, but because I was just another fuck-up who needed an edge.
To this day, that was the exact moment we became friends. We started hanging out, and he actually convinced me to do comedy for the first time at Laffs in Tucson, Az. Mark encouraged me to go out to Hollywood and be an actor/comic/writer and so, a year later, I packed up my 1979 Corolla. A car that the cast and crew of YOUNG RIDERS TV SHOW all chipped in to buy me. With a thousand dollars in my pocket and a mixed tape Mark made for me, I was off to make my way to Hollywood. Mark shook my hand and offered these departing words, “Don’t start playing it until you get on the other side of Phoenix.”
That tape not only kept me company on the long drive out to Los Angeles, but helped me through the tough, struggling moments ever since. Sadly, the original tape burned up in fire but no worries, most of the songs are burned into my brain. Because you can never truly forget a dopplerganger’s help to make his friend’s dreams come true.
I believe these were the songs:
‘Shooting Star’ by Bad Company
‘Born to be Wild’ by SteppenWolf
‘Come Sail Away’ by Styx
‘Lunatic Fringe’ by Red Rider
‘Running with the Devil’ by Van Halen
‘On Broadway’ by George Benson
‘Piano Man’ by Billy Joel
‘California Dreamin’ by the Mamma’s and the Papa’s
‘Hotel California’ by the Eagles
‘Boys of Summer’ by Don Henley
I can’t remember the rest of the songs. But I do remember the last noise on the tape. It was a sample from one of the best sets I had done at that point in my comedy career. To give you an image, I’m a short guy but at that time, I was a very heavy, girthy short guy. The audio was of the joke I did using my JAMES DEAN impression where I did a take-off of ‘A Rebel Without a Cause’ but referring to myself as ‘A Rebel Without A Waist Line.’ I finished the bit by bellowing, “Your tearing me apart…” just like in the movie. On the tape, I heard the audience erupt in laughter and applause, knowing I crushed the bit. Then the MC announcing, “Keep it going for Eric Edwards, ladies and gentleman.” The first time I heard it, somewhere around the Arizona/California border, tears welled up in my eyes and any doubts about moving to Hollywood, were erased.
This kind gesture from my brother Mark, I won’t ever forget. If not for that friend who, for one short time, showed me what an real brother acts like, I may have never gotten on stage or come to L.A. If he hadn’t given me that mixed tape for my road trip, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the idea and made hundreds of my own mixed tape for girls who didn’t deserve them. And feeling rejected too many times, I may never have gotten so frustrated that I would try eharmony. If all those things didn’t happen, I may never had met my wife who then would give birth to my now, beautiful son.
So, Mark, thank you for that MIXED TAPE. Thank you, my brother.