The comedian George Wallace has lived a literal rags-to-riches story.
Wallace, 61, had sold rags before moving to New York City and selling ads before one of his clients opened The Comic Strip and invited him to try his hand at stand-up comedy. That led to a career change, a new roommate in Jerry Seinfeld and a fruitful life. Wallace traded The Comic Strip for the Las Vegas Strip, and he’s closing out a 10-year run at the Flamingo this Saturday night.
“I’ve been headlining longer than any other African American comedian, and that includes Redd Foxx and Sammy Davis Jr.,” Wallace told the Los Angeles Times earlier this month. “Seinfeld wants me to go back on the road with him. There are so many things to do. It’s time to get into something new.”
In this interview this month with FOX5Vegas, Wallace said he’s not literally leaving Las Vegas, though. In fact, Wallace recently earned a $1.3 million jury award from a trial against the Bellagio resort/casino compensating him for lost income following a permanent leg injury Wallace suffered when he got tangled up in wiring onstage there during a private gig in 2007.
Wallace can laugh it off.
That’s what he has been doing in life, since losing both of his parents by the time he was 20, and throughout his professional careers. “Call it a sickness or a blessing, but my brain searches for the lighter side. It’s not just because that’s how I make my living,” he wrote in his new book, “Laff It Off!” “I’ve been that way as long as I can remember. Through thick and thin I have laughed it off, and it’s done wonders in my life. I hope you folks find some value in this message. If it happened for me, it can happen for you.”
Seinfeld, who wrote the foreward to “Laff It Off!” notes that it’s chock full of jokes and observational wisdom from his longtime friend and former roommate. “And it gives you a great feeling of hanging around George Wallace. Which I’m telling you, based on a lot of years of real life experience, is one of the best feelings you can have in this world,” Seinfeld wrote.
In the book, Wallace jokingly drew up this chart revealing the secret to success for black comedians:
In reality, though, living a good life really boils down to three principles, according to Wallace.
- Appreciate the Good Things You Have
- Be Ready for the Good Things to Come
- Welcome Those Good Things
For more, check out George Wallace’s “Laff It Off,” available wherever books are sold.