American humorist, Erma Bombeck said, "There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt." The Gazette's live Take 10 featured performer on Friday, Dec. 8, during the noon hour on our Gazette News Facebook platform can relate to Bombeck's words .
Gary Stephen Jackson started his comic journey in 2008 during the financial crisis.
"There was a lot of stress. I was a data scientist. The banks were doing crazy trades and asking me 'where is the money?' I was working in China for a major world bank. On the books, they were saying there was $2 million in the accounts and I discovered there was a balance of 20 bucks. They said clean the data, clean the account. I would not fix it or lie about it."
That year, a comedy club in North Carolina took a chance on Jackson, and it didn't go as well as planned, "I did a set and they introduced me as a Hong Kong comic and my performance wasn't funny." To add to the embarrassment of a first show fiasco, "When I got off the stage, the host said, that's the way they do it in Hong Kong."
Jackson told me out of that terrible performance and watching the host turn that pain on stage to something funny, he knew he had sharpen his comic game.
Eight years and many shows later in 2016, a double whammy of life's big moments happened to Jackson at a performance in Hong Kong. Jackson, who was adopted as a child, learned his biological mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He decided to write a bit about what his mother had to go through to have him. A part of the performance talked about sensitive issues including a joke about something actor Tom Cruise had done and then, Jackson said, the crowd erupted with anger. After the performance, as Jackson was leaving the stage, "I saw this man hurrying in my direction screaming 'racist.' I saw a glass of beer on the table, picked up the glass and I wanted to throw beer on him. He was so close that I unintentionally hit him in the face with the glass. He had 42 stitches. I helped him into the ambulance. The police arrived, and I explained what happened and they politely said that we have to arrest you."
Jackson went on trial in Hong Kong and was sentenced to three years for assault. The court eventually modified that sentence to two months but this event changed Jackson's perspective on life and his craft.
"Comedy is about taking your pain and making something good about it. I want to make sure everyone knows what I did was wrong. When you hurt an audience member or anyone in life like this, it's wrong and I was wrong," he said.
Jackson moved to Colorado Springs in 2017 for a government-related job and to help book local comics.
Jackson, a man who's overcome a lot in his professional and personal life, is our live, Take 10 performer on Friday during the noon hour on the Gazette News Facebook platform.
Take 10 is just one of the many ways that the Gazette promotes southern Colorado entertainment. If you are like to wow a crowd in a live venue, I'd love to put you on a future Take 10. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me your story.