I must have been six years into stand-up when Adam Hunter, my comedian friend, convinced me to perform with him on a cruise ship. I hesitate to say “cruise” because it was more like a boat ride around the New York harbor for a few hours.

“Twenty minutes on stage and you’re done.”

I think I was paid fifty dollars, but most likely, it was for free because I can’t remember making money back then. Anyway, I’m on the boat when I realized that everyone was a lot younger than I was — like high school young. …

I was a college intern on the ABC television show, “Madigan Men.” It was terribly unfunny, and it only lasted one season, but the cool part was that it taped in Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, formerly home of the Cosby Show. Sesame Street also filmed on the far side of the building.

I loved Sesame Street as a kid. I have fond memories of Grover, Big Bird and all the lovable characters who taught me how to count and read. One night, I found myself working late, and the building was nearly empty. We were instructed to stay away…

I spinned the L.A. dating Wheel of Fortune, and asked for her number. I especially remember her blonde curls and crystal blue eyes. We hit it off despite fundamental differences. I’m not religious while she was fervent about her weeknight Bible study classes and Sunday chapel.

We laughed a lot in six months. I appreciated her outgoing and cheerful demeanor, a sharp contrast to my own mind that I monitor like a lunatic in a Supermax prison and filter carefully before speaking. We haunted L.A.restaurants, …

Being Bullied in High School

“You’re going to get the wedgie initiation.”

It was my first day of tennis practice. I was in middle school, and two weeks before, the varsity high school tennis coach scouted me at a local tennis club, and I was invited onto the team. (I’m not saying this to brag as I’ve always been horrifically bad at most sports.)

I played adolescence strategically and nobody bothered me. I wasn’t popular nor a nerd, but high school was foreign territory.

“Today’s the day,” the senior captain of the team warned as he grinned from the front…

My razor flip-phone buzzed in my pocket. It was a blistering cold February day in New York. The wind whipped through me, and I could barely hear the voice on the other end.

“Tarun, it’s Linda. I have a job for you.”

I had been doing stand-up comedy for almost two years and had just finished reading Jay Leno’s book “Leading with my Chin.” It was a collection of personal stories about being a road comedian, which meant traveling and performing from town to town. Other famous comedians like Brian Regan, Paula Poundstone and many more did the road coming…

I had a summer job working in an arcade when I was 16 years old.

I was a mini-demigod in my own world. I was proud of my white-collared shirt and black pant uniform. I had a walkie talkie clipped to my suspenders and had an omnipotent arcade key that opened the front door latch to ANY arcade game. A wooden name badge, reading “TARUN” in big bold letters was pinned to my shirt.

By August, the magic was gone. I was assigned to the kiddie race track, an open space with little magnetic cars designed to look like frogs…

Today I went hiking at Runyon Canyon. I go everyday at odd times, otherwise I’m afraid of demons repossessing my mind. The sunshine seemed unusual because it rained the past few days, and an overhead gloom hung despondently in the sky.

The day got away from me, and I went in the afternoon. I inched through every jammed side street before finally abandoning my car in a spot that could have been a restricted parking zone. I didn’t see any signs.

Sometimes I let my phone ring because I don’t want to be trapped in the same conversation. It feels…

Tarun Shetty

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