Too Close To Home

On three separate occasions I’ve been in an airport on the same day as a shooting that occurred there. I’ve also performed in locations that had an active gunman later that day or the next. My wife once performed at Pulse Nightclub, which later became the scene of one of the worst mass shootings in American history.

Recently we were at the movies and another patron stood up and loudly started running towards the exit. My first instinct was to duck for cover.

This is the new normal.

I live in fear that my next trip might be to the scene of our next mass shooting. Crowded spaces seem terrifying now and, perhaps worst of all, even people in a darkened theater - a place designed for escape and entertainment - have to be on high alert.

I don’t know what the solution is, but I am so tired. Every day or so I read about another act of gun violence in another corner of the U.S. and it’s exhausting. I wasn’t designed to experience so much pain.

The emotional weight of these tragedies is too much to bear. They’ve directly affected close friends, communities where I’ve lived, and places I’ve been. Something has to be done.

I met someone on tour this summer who told me that “voting is selfish” and they “always vote for what’s best for me”. Well, I selfishly think everyone deserves a chance to see another day and feel safe wherever they go - myself included. I don’t know about you but that’s the world I want to live in.

For ways you can make a difference, check out Everytown For Gun Safety.


I’ll be honest. I wasn’t fully aware of the extent of my white privilege until earlier this year.

I was performing for an event in the middle of nowhere as the featured entertainment for an annual celebration. Many of my gigs take me to obscure locations around the country. Gigs in middle America are vastly different than gigs in major coastal cities. Fancy hors d'oeuvres and expensive wines are replaced by buffet lines and All-American beers. The meal is prefaced with a prayer and everyone is incredibly polite.

That’s one of the biggest perks of my job: I get to travel the world meeting people from all walks of life. I’m thrust into new situations and get to pretend like I belong for a few hours. It’s a constant adventure.

But, many months ago, I had a realization. I was chatting with my client about living in the city. They responded with “I don’t think I could go to Chicago. There are too many eth-en-ticities [sic] there…”

I bit my tongue and changed the subject. I wasn’t going to end racism by fighting with sixty people in a small town. (Plus, I still needed to get paid for that show.) But it did make me think of something that I hadn’t before: 

I realized that they thought I was one of them.

See, I’m from a small town in Kansas so I have a folksy, down-to-earth charm that allows me to fit in everywhere I go. I may be a big city liberal elite but I’m a chameleon at the many events I work. I’m able to relate to different people in different places and get along with all of them thanks to my midwestern upbringing and, more specifically, the color of my skin.

It was the first time I realized that other performers in my field were probably missing out on these gigs because they were a different race than I am. It occurred to me that there was a whole portion of the population that were too afraid of hiring someone different than them and, as a result, they were missing out on experiencing some of the best entertainment in the world.

In that moment I was angry and sad and everything in between. I finally understood how incredibly fortunate I am to be a white man in America. Not only do I get to make a living as an entertainer, but I get to do so wherever I want without fear of discrimination or injustice.

If you can’t see that you’re even more privileged than I am.