I was performing with the ACME Comedy group at the time. I was buying costumes and wigs and props and charging it to the credit card. One day my wife pointed out that we had no money to pay for all these things. I had to get some income. Quick.
A few of us at ACME were in the same boat. Although some situations were more dire than others. Mine was dire. Deeply dire. Depressingly dire.
I read in an acting magazine that a company was hiring performers for children's parties. How bad could that be? I was already performing at ACME twice a week. I can do that. Of course I can do that. I think I can do that.
Auditions for the job were the next day. I talked it up to other members of the ACME troupe. We should all go. It'll be fun. Nobody took the bait. Nobody but Adam Carolla. Frankly, I don't think he actually took the bait, I think he just went to see how stupid this was going to be and perhaps to give me moral support.
Luckily for Adam, the audition went beyond stupid towards the sublime. About 20 of us role-played, pranced around stupidly and learned how to make balloon animals. Halfway through, Adam and I started laughing. The sort of laugh you laugh in church. The laugh that won't stop. Finally, he gave up and stood in the back of the room. Adam was out.
I, however, needed the gig. I was in.
The company had all sorts of costumes of different characters that they provided for specific parties. However, because of copyright issues, the characters couldn't be called something like "Winnie The Pooh", but had to be called, "Chubby Honey Bear." The "Ninja Turtles" couldn't be called that and were instead called, "Karate Kicking Turtle People" or something like that.
The "Ninja Turtles" were really big at the time and that's what I got stuck with the most.
The day before my very first party, I went and got my costume from the company. I took it home and tried it on. It was basically a body tight with a fake, styrofoam shell. Then, I put the head on. The head. Oooooh. That head.
It smelled worse in there than I can possibly describe. Actually, I could describe it, but you'd be sick. There was no way I was going to wear that head. I bought some Woolite, filled up the tub and soaked the head.
The next morning I got up and took the head out of the tub. I tried to dry it. Unfortunately, the head was never meant to be washed and was now more like a green, spongy, blob that sagged all over. It looked like one of the Turtles had been a victim of a massive shotgun wound to the temple. AND, it still smelled.
The party that day was in a very bad part of Los Angeles. BAD. I got there early and parked my car a block away. I had a half hour to kill so I just waited in the car...in costume. I didn't put on the head. I didn't want to be in that disgusting, squishy head longer than I had to.
As I waited in the car, another car pulled up behind me. Two tough looking guys were in the front seat. They stared at me. I started getting nervous. Great. I'm gonna be shot in a turtle costume. How humiliating.
Finally they got out of the car and walked to my car. Great. Perfect. I'm dead! I'm a dead turtle! One of the guys came up to my window. He tapped on the glass. Great. Perfect. Dead, dead, turtle.
He flashed his badge. He was an undercover cop and he wanted to know why I was just sitting in my car. I said I was waiting to do a children's party down the street. I picked up the head on the seat next to me.
He looked at me. Then at his partner. He looked at the head. Then he said, "I'm sorry." The "I'm sorry" wasn't a sorry about disturbing me. It was an "I'm sorry" you're so broke that you've dressed up like a turtle. The "I'm sorry" was an I'm sorry you're about to get the sh#@ beat out of you by young boys who are going to be VERY disappointed by your cruddy costume.
And he was right. As soon as I walked through the door the boys could see by my cruddy costume that I wasn't real. They spent the next hour tormenting the homeless man in the stupid turtle suit.
I spent the next five months driving from one side of LA to the other doing parties. I was mostly turtles. Sometimes I was Pooh. (I passed out as Pooh in the hot LA Summer.) I was Peter Pan once. That was horrible.
The last party I ever did was in a park. I was Batman. Halfway through the party I saw a man standing next to a tree. He was laughing. He started waving, "Hi, Batman! Hi!!! Good party Batman!"
It was Adam Carolla. He was beckoning me back to join the real world, regain my dignity and forever leave the land of childrens' parties behind. And, their smelly heads.