I had the good fortune to be featured in an article in Crain’s Business Journal about being a comedian who was a former Intel engineer. A financier with the Royal Bank of Canada called me up, and asked me if I could have lunch with his wife and him. I met them at a nice restaurant on the Upper East side, and they asked me if I would be interested in performing at a party to celebrate their 45th anniversary, at the Donald Trump golf course in Palm Beach, Florida.
After some good-natured negotiation, I agreed on a fee plus travel expenses. I was extremely excited about the prospect of seeing one of Donald Trump’s legendary golf courses. It was and is unfortunate that I am not a golfer. People ask me if I play golf, and I tell them that I have held a golf club, but that’s about it.
When I was with Intel, we did an event at Pebble Beach, California, and we all stayed in the Inn at Spanish Bay, and it was absolutely stunning, one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed. On the day of the event, we all had the choice of either playing a round of golf, or taking a lesson. Apparently it costs something like $500 to play there, and the waiting list is months long. To the chagrin of all my friends, I chose to take a lesson instead.
In any case, on the day of the event, I flew down to Palm Beach and arrived at the Trump golf course. I was absolutely amazed by what I saw. This joint was even more opulent than Pebble Beach, believe it or not. The clubhouse was absolutely stunning, and I checked in with my client, and since I had a bit of time before the show, I walked around and explored. My client had told me that Mr. Trump himself was going to be in the building.
There was a huge buffet on the back deck, filled with every kind of food imaginable. Filet mignon, lobster, shrimp and everything fantastic you could possibly imagine. All of a sudden, I saw the Donald himself walking around and talking to anyone who would listen. He kept asking over and over, “Isn’t this great? Isn’t this great?” Swallowing my fear, I went up to him and I said, Mr. Trump, my name is Dan, and I’m here performing for Mr. Felberbaum’s anniversary party, can you come and watch my show? He said that he would try but he couldn’t promise since he was having his Christmas party in the big room.
I went inside to the smaller room where my event was taking place, and I saw that Trump was there speaking to my client. I asked him if I could have a photo with him, and he obliged. He was very kind to me, and he even shook my hand, which is completely opposite of what I’d heard about him. I heard that he wouldn’t shake anybody’s hands, but he shook mine. He was also very kind and professional.
You can imagine my utter shock when, about 15 minutes into my act, Donald Trump himself and his wife came and sat down at the back of the room. When I saw them, I was probably the most nervous I have ever been as a comedian, even more than when I performed for President Obama. I’m not sure why that was the case. But instead of showing my nervousness, I just kept going without batting an eyelid. Of course, the typical comedian would have picked on Trump and his wife, but being a professional, of course, I didn’t even consider it. They were polite enough to stay until the very end, probably about 10 or 15 minutes, without getting up in the middle of my show. I thought that showed true class.
Afterward, I rushed out of the room as fast as I could, with the intention of getting a video testimonial from Trump, but I got to the front of the club too late, and I saw his extremely fancy limousine pulling away. Of course, I was disappointed, but I was very happy to perform for Trump and to have gotten a photo with him.
My client had told me that he was going to provide accommodation, but I wasn’t sure what it was going to be. He and his wife drove me to this incredible mansion in Palm Beach, which had to be worth at least $20 million. There was a row of guest rooms, separate from the house, which looked like a small hotel, and I had one of them. It was absolutely magnificent. Whoever owned the house was out of town.
The next morning, I took a cab to the airport and flew home. Needless to say, it was an extremely surreal experience and one I’ll never forget.