It’s not appropriate to laugh at drug addicts for their problems, but it’s acceptable in this case because he wants you to.
Comedian, actor and the legendary Geico caveman, John Lehr joined us for a comedy skit about his journey through sobriety Tuesday night over zoom and it was worth attending. He opened up and shared moments in his life that would be too embarrassing for most people to admit. Many comedians, like Lehr, share vulnerable parts of their life and want you to laugh at them, which isn’t an easy job to do everyday.
“For those of you who’ve never dropped acid and gone hiking, this is what it is: you drop acid, you walk eight feet in on the hiking trail and then you sit down and look at ants for eight hours,” Lehr said.
Tuesday night, Lehr commemorized about the time he got arrested with his friends in the popular vacation spot of Ventura County, California. While celebrating his friend’s 30th birthday, their group dropped acid and went hiking, just like any other 30th birthday party. They ended up getting into some trouble.
“We were basically a billboard that was rolling down the highway saying arrest us, we’re on drugs,” Lehr said.
Lehr is the type of storyteller that you’d want on long car rides or around a campfire. He knows how to recall a story but with only the funniest parts amplified and in the right way. His recollection of the time he got arrested was so focused on capturing the funny parts but still making sure you understand the major points to the story.
“I was arrested in Ventura County California. And yes it was April Fools Day I recognize that I’m a comedian, the comedian gets busted on April Fools Day,” Lehr said.
However, after being miraculously dismissed from multiple felonies he was charged with, Lehr quit the juice. He has spent the past 25 years sober from drugs and alcohol and doesn’t plan on going back, even though he said quarantine had tempted him. He now spends his time acting and performing comedy, a lot of the time about his recovery and relationship with substance abuse.
“I’m grateful I’m not cured, I’m grateful that this is a lifelong process,” Lehr said.
He opened and closed his seminar talking about “miracle cures”, a topic I wasn’t familiar with but are exactly what they sound like. They’re cures on how to magically recover from drug and alcohol addiction, and almost all the remedies contained some amount of morphine, ironic. Lehr created three miracle topes of his own to live by: I am not God, I can’t fix me, and recovery is never over.
When he’s not performing offhand comedy acts for college students online, he’s doing work in film, usually acting or writing scripts. The Geico caveman got him a lot of recognition and helped his acting career take off. Lehr’s most popular work is a show called “Quick Draw” which he created and starred in.
Giving a comedy skit over zoom is difficult for a stand-up comedian because he couldn’t hear reactions to the jokes. However, Lehr didn’t fault once because of the circumstances and was still able to see visuals of the audience’s feedback, which were laughs in approval.
Something I took away from Lehr’s seminar was no matter how good someone’s life looks, everyone is struggling with their own battles. Lehr was the Geico caveman and got invited to the Oscars where celebrities asked to get photographed with him. But he also delved into substance abuse and cussed out his 10 year old son on a family road trip. It was impressive for a person to admit these things to strangers and it proves no one has everything figured out no matter what their successes are.