As many of you know, I was attacked last Saturday night (July 14, 2012). At least I’m assuming I was attacked, as evidenced by the damage that was done to my face. I don’t really remember what happened. That part of my memory has been erased (maybe it was the Men in Black).
What I do know is that, before going home, my face looked like this:
The next morning my face looked like this:
I don’t remember the attack. I just woke up and my face looked gruesome. I work in comedy, and most of my work is freelance or part-time. This means I don’t have health insurance. I called a friend of mine who is a doctor, and told him my symptoms. He gave me the best advice he could, not being able to see me. I decided I was okay and wouldn’t be heading to a hospital. Many of my friends, after seeing the photo online, urged me to go to the emergency room. My friend, Dan Telfer, called me on the phone. We had done a show together the night before. He told me that the comedy community would put on a benefit if I needed to go to the hospital. If a fear of bills was keeping me from getting checked out, I shouldn’t worry about that and should see a professional right away. Lots of friends offered help and advice. They offered to help me with medical bills, to bring me food, to organize and/or perform in a benefit, or to drive me to a clinic. I even have a friend who is a lawyer who offered to help me go after my attackers via legal means. I would love to, but I don’t know who they were or what they looked like. I appreciated all of the heartfelt sentiment, but felt like I was okay. I decided to take care of myself, and to forego a hospital visit. It was a foolish decision but, luckily for me, nothing was broken and my face is going to heal.
What followed over the next couple of days was a life-affirming show of support from friends, family, roommates, and people I hadn’t heard from in years. My facebook wall was flooded with comments encouraging me to get better. My email inbox and telephone were filled with encouraging messages. I had never been more popular in my life. I began to tweet jokes about my situation (you can follow me @jamiecampbell79), and my friend Rance Rizzutto sent me a message. He is an improviser, comedian, and actor who also happens to do professional photography. He was doing a headshot session the following day, and offered to take my pictures for free. We both thought it would be a fun way to make light of my situation. After all – I knew I was going to be okay, and I thought if people saw me laughing about it, they would be less inclined to worry.
Those headshots turned out great – here are a few samples from the shoot:
Dan Telfer saw those headshots, and invited me to come do a set at Chicago Underground Comedy the following night, giving me the opportunity to tell my story. In addition to allowing me to explain what had befallen me, it allowed me to get onstage for the first time since the incident, proving to myself that I could still make people laugh. It may sound silly, especially considering it had only been a couple of days, but part of me was anxious and scared that I wouldn’t be able to be funny anymore. Comedy is pretty-much the only skill I have, and I was more scared of losing that than I was about any permanent damage that may have been done to the structure of my face. Elizabeth McQuern produces the show at The Beat Kitchen in Chicago. She was kind enough to film my set that evening, which you can see here (NOTE: This video is NSFW – I drop the “f-bomb” a lot. Can you blame me?):
I don’t know why I’m posting all of this. Maybe it’s so that I feel more empowered and less-like-a victim. I’m not asking myself “why me,” because that’s an irrelevant question. It was me, and there’s nothing I can do about it. And to be honest, it’s probably better that it was me. If it was someone else who was attacked, they might have irreparable damage. A similar attack happened last week in the Rogers Park area of Chicago, and the victim is dead (read that story here: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/ready-pick-em-out-and-knock-em-out-three-teens-arrested-in-savage-murder-of-senior/). I’m not dead. I’m just banged up a little.
I’m not a famous comedian, but I do regularly get to talk to the public with a microphone in my hand, so I have more of a voice than most people. With the overwhelming support that’s been shown to me since this unfortunate incident, it seems like people are out there listening. It certainly seems like they care. I don’t have a grand mission by posting my story, and right now I’m still kind-of confused about the entire event.
If what happened to me can bring awareness to help victims of this type of crime, then it’s worth it to post this online. If anything like this has happened to you – it’s not your fault. You don’t deserve this, and you’re not alone. Sometimes bad things happen to good people for absolutely no reason. That sucks.
That’s not exactly poignant information. Maybe I just wanted to post this story so that they don’t “win.” I’m not a ruined person. I’m not going to live my life in fear. I may have had my head kicked in, but you can’t stop me from laughing about it, and you can’t stop me from making other people laugh. When it comes down to it, that’s really all I’ve got. And if you didn’t take that away from me, then you didn’t take anything.