SAN FRANCISCO, September 1, 2012 — Good evening. My name is Gerald Nachman (cue cheers). I have been so energized by listening to the speeches here at the Republican National Convention that I felt it was time for me to open up and let you know about the man behind my supposedly manicured image (boos).
The media has distorted my road to success, which I came by honestly and after years of hard work (cheers). I did not simply fall into this job as representative of all your hopes and dreams nor was it handed to me on a silver platter. I am great, yes, but it was never easy (cheers). I have had greatness thrust upon me (cheers).
I came from simple people that knew the value of a dollar, even a quarter. (cheers). We never had much money, but we got by on the barter system, maxing out our MasterCard, even petty theft. We were never too proud to steal (cheers).
My grandparents immigrated to California by mule train and carved out a meager existence as coal miners, not realizing until later that they had gone to the wrong state for coal. They became gold miners instead but failed to strike it rich, or even upper middle-class, unable to find a single nugget in 10 years, but they prospered as rock collectors.
My uneducated grandfather took a job as a shoe salesman and soon worked his way down to shoeshine boy (cheers). My grandmother was overweight but did not let that stop her from marrying my granddad and having a child, my mother, who went on to marry my father and have two fine, handsome children, of whom I am proud to be one (cheers).
My father grew up as the son of a ditch digger in Peoria, Illinois, and later owned his own ditch-digging tools in downtown Oakland, where I was born and raised in a ditch. I was a skinny, malnourished child with no noticeable abilities at anything but reading comic books and playing short field in a Sunday school softball league (laughs).
I contracted pneumonia as a boy but recovered and went on to finish high school with a solid C- average. I excelled in after-school activities such as Coke drinking and leaf raking. My family thought I would come to nothing and tried to distance themselves from me by shipping me off to a local community college.
Without the help of a kindly mentor, pastor or rabbi, I made my way through junior college and into a small college where I was unable to pass any courses except in journalism (boos). I failed my summer internship and was instructed by my boss to find a new career and get eyeglasses. I took her advice on the eyeglasses but stuck to my chosen field after a brief, unfortunate foray as a numbers runner and crack dealer.
People sometimes wonder why I am so reluctant to talk about my many failures, but I’m an inherently modest man who doesn’t like to discuss himself (cheers). The media (boos) keep asking, “Where is the real me?” and I can only say that I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam (cheers).
I hacked out a career as an advice columnist for three years, living a monastic life of solitude, during which time I considered giving up newspaper life for a monastery. None would accept me, as I was Jewish, but I refused to let that stop me, and, in rebellion, I moved to New York and had a date with a woman who took pity upon me. We later married, as she was the only girl who would go out with me – what a gal! (cheers).
I wouldn’t be anywhere now without her (cheers), and she won’t stop reminding me of it. Nor would she be anywhere without me. We’re a great team, even apart, and she keeps me humble, constantly rebuking me for my inadequacies as a husband and my failure to father any offspring. It hasn’t been as easy a life as the media has reported it (boos). We’ve had our ups and downs and one divorce. Hey, it happens. We’re human and proud of it (cheers).
During all of these travails, my faith has never let me down (cheers). When things go bad, as they do almost daily, I have prayer to turn to, or would if I prayed. I don’t closely observe my religion, but I observe many who do – and they are good, God-fearing people and good Americans all (cheers).
I too am a good (some might even say great) American (cheers). I believe in the American people, in the American way, in the American Broadcasting Co., American Tobacco, and most of all in the American League. There is no more American American than me (cheers). I may not wear it on my sleeve, or even on my lapel, but I am proud to be an American person. It’s so much nicer than being a Greek or an Iranian person (boos). God bless me! (cheers)
Gerald Nachman is the author of several humor and entertainment books, most recently Right Here on Our Stage Tonight!: Ed Sullivan’s America; Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s; and Raised on Radio about the golden age of radio. For years Nachman was a critic and syndicated columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Daily News. For more on Mr. Nachman go to: geraldnachman.com
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