special in the air
according to Carl
comedian Carl Kozlowski '93 proves through a new book -- and his own life -- that
if at first you don't succeed, get better material
David Van Meter
was a tricycle accident 25 years ago that would lead Carl Kozlowski '93
to write a book to help others cope with life.
On the advice
of a friend, the then 4-year-old Kozlowski hit a parked car head-on, somehow
lodging his nose in the gap between the car's chassis and bumper. Friends
retrieved his mother, who took him to the hospital.
was the first time I saw Johnny Carson on television," Kozlowski
said in a May telephone interview from his home in Chicago. "I had
no idea who he was, but I realized that this gray-haired guy had the attention
of a lot of people."
the book -- called Life: The Final Frontier -- was really begun
right after his family moved to Arkansas when Kozlowski was forced to
take his sister to prom.
was in the eighth grade," he remembered. "My dad ordered me
to take her. Then to make things even cooler, he volunteered to chaperone
the blessed affair. At least he had the class to step in for the slow
dances. And I thank God that we were in Arkansas so we were not the only
family in that situation."
line? All sorts of things have shaped the life of the 29-year-old Kozlowski
and his view of it. And that's what Life, which he co-wrote with fellow
comedian Tim Joyce, is all about, sporting such chapters as "How
to Hide Your Complete Unhireability" and "How to Hide the Fact
That You're a Miserable Failure."
Want to know
how to dress for that job interview? Consider the book's advice to the
fresh college grad: ... the ripped jeans and stained tee shirts are no
longer the fashion statement they were in your undergrad years. Back then
your shoddy attire said, 'I am an iconoclast. I care not for the rules
and values of society. I follow my own path and go my own way.' Now
they say, 'I am a slob. Do not hire me. I still follow my own path,
but when I get sweaty, this shirt makes its own gravy.'
book has also given me a wonderful opportunity," Kozlowski adds with
perfect timing, "to bare uncomfortable truths like my VISA bill and
my string of jobs before the last three years."
however, is dead serious about making a living at comedy. A
TCU Daily Skiff columnist while at TCU, he won the Certs U.S. College
Comedy Competition his sophomore year. Graduate study in advertising at
the University of Texas ended when his professors said his ads were too
funny to be effective.
to Chicago and studied with the Second City improvisational theater --
producing comics such as John Candy and Bill Murray -- which has led to
comedy gigs in seven states, including invites to the Catch a Rising Star
club in New York City and the Luna Lounge in Los Angeles.
also works as a freelance writer writing off-beat stories (his two weeks
as an inflatable dinosaur for Kraft when it launched a new type of macaroni
and cheese, for instance) for Chicago's NewCity and Chicago Reader alternative
papers. Kozlowski -- busy at the moment organizing a comedy festival that
will bring exposure to minority comics usually "ignored by the yuppie
part of town" -- said his book, as well as his life, share a common
can understand each other better when they're able to share laughter about
common things," he said. "Everybody's the same, everybody wants
to laugh . . . . It is important for everyone to see everyone else as
a human being."
Frontier can be found at most bookstores or through amazon.com