All of the local comics were excited when Chris Fonseca came into San Antonio. He is a nice guy, personable and funny. He is an odd egg in the comedy world- he likes to help up and coming comics. Chris would be swarmed by the guys every time he came into the club. I stayed back and watched; comics will do anything for a gig. The story goes like this; A comic comes into the club and starts to talk about his last gig. “It was awful, the place was small, the audiences were mean and heckled. The management didn’t care. They don’t put you up, it is all on your own dollar. Man, it just sucked!” The second comic says, “Really, wow. Who books it? Can I have the number?” When a man like Chris comes in, he could be a ticket to a gig. He often asked the clubs he was working to book the feature he was touring with at the time.
Chris has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair. Some of the comics who would travel with him would drive for a tour of shows. Win Win.
I decided it was my time to meet Chris. Still a very green comic, I became nervous around the headliners. Wanting so much to be as funny as them, I felt they were superior, and I should lay low and just gleen what I could when I could. Chris was in the club, I walked over to him and leaned down to his ear and said, “These guys that follow you around just want work. They don’t care about you like I do. I care Chris.” I walked away after he laughed a little. I thought I was hilarious! He got it and when we talked for the first time I felt like he was an old friend.
When Regis was looking for a new Kathy Lee I asked Chris to help me make a tape to send to the network. I wanted to make it memorable. I had Chris on tape saying hello to Regis and then asking him to consider his friend, Kim… messing up my last name. I go into frame and shake him and threaten him to “Get the name right, Fonseca. Remember what I can do to you!” He then looks into the camera, gets my name right then asks Regis to PLEASE give Kim Kerley a chance to co-host, “or I’ll get hurt.”
The person taping this lost the footage. I still wonder if bullying a handicap person was the right approach. If the tape was available I would have sent it. Oh the could haves and should haves!
Chris cut me in on a Colorado tour. We played a different place every night. The funniest night was in El Dorado. It is the whitest town in America. They wear cowboy boots and talk loud. They challenged the comic in a wheelchair. He was heckled. He was appraoched on stage. By the end of the show, he had won them over. I think the most remarkable thing was his face when he got his bar tab. Fonseca with a WTF look is priceless. After he focused in on the number and then the cash he had to give, he lost his buzz, and left.
In Ohio I worked with Chris at a great club. Our accommodations rocked, it still remains the best bed I ever slept in outside of my own. Chris rode with me over to the club, we were almost late for the Saturday show because the first show was earlier than the Friday show. I got there just in time to walk on stage turn on the funny. After the show that night a lot of people went to Chris’s room at watch his Baywatch episode. It was great. He played a young man whose brother was killed in a car accident. Chris’s character was hurt in the accident and was bound to the wheelchair. He and his brother loved the ocean, so Chris’s character went to the beach- but there was no access. Of course he handcuffs himself to Pamela, and insists on access. Pamela and some other guy construct a wheelchair that rolls on sand. It was soft porn I think- in the welding shop. Chris wasn’t in those scenes! The happy close; he swims on a board (which he claimed almost drowned him) then ended the show wit hall of the lifeguards gathered around him while he told jokes. David Hasselhof laughed and laughed! So did Pam.
Before we watched the show Chris came out of the bathroom in his wheelchair. I looked over at him and saw his white legs. “Where are your pants?” I yelled. I must have looked shocked that Fonseca had decided to join the party without pants because he laughed at me and we have never forgot that moment. He had shorts on (I couldn’t tell, he looked naked to me!) Truth; I didn’t doubt Fonseca would go pantless. I think most comics would- it is in the blood.
I thank Chris for all of the gigs. For all of the laughs. For wearing shorts.