The trademark of these early Taxi episodes is tragicomedy.
We get a laugh, but something makes us think.
It should come as no surprise that artists are naturally inclined to tell their own stories.
Put another way, artists are quite comfortable describing the artist life.
And that is essentially what we have here.
Bobby (Jeff Conaway) is approaching a self-imposed impasse.
Hollywood or bust! [Or in this case, Broadway or bust.]
Reminds me of David Bowie’s haunting “Five Years” (the lead track from the Ziggy Stardust album).
That’s all we’ve got.
For Bobby, it’s three years.
Well, I have to say that it’s one of those plotlines that really got to me.
I can really relate.
I never set quite a quantified limit for myself, but by a similar mechanism I have found myself in my current situation.
Bobby wants to be an actor. I wanted to be a musician.
I spent about 10 years getting to the professional level.
After four years, my dreams came crashing down around me (to quote Danny DeVito’s line from this episode).
Yeah, so I started anew. Business school. Wow, what a change!
But there’s something else about this episode.
Bobby’s last day.
He’s waiting for a call. He gets turned down.
He auditions for a commercial. He gets turned down.
Till the very end, Bobby is out hustling to beat the deadline.
And in the end he is surrounded by his friends.
The phone has to ring before midnight.
He needs that validation. That outside validation. That unequivocal measure of progress. Being paid to do what he loves.
And so the group sits around the phone. Each imploring it to “Ring! Ring!” (while Latka chimes in with an urgent “Blop! Blop!”).
Andy Kaufman doesn’t get much of a chance to shine here, but that’s alright: this was Jeff Conaway’s episode.
Mr. Conaway is no longer with us. But you know what? He made it! He was on Taxi. Here I am all these years later watching this show with rapt attention.
But back to that artist’s life.
To quote Tom Petty, “The waiting is the hardest part.”
Yeah. It reminds me of one of the greatest books I ever read: Waiting Period by Hubert Selby, Jr.
If you were reading yesterday, you know that I made a decision to seek help for my depression.
But there were no appointments available today.
Fortunately I go tomorrow.
Funny how that is a cause of anxiety.
I hope to be back with you all soon.
Keep your dreams! Dream baby dream!