Hamilton’s entertaining memoir explores life as a Las Vegas comic’s wife By John L. Smith, CDC Gaming Reports March 4, 2020 at 7:00 pm My career as a standup comic was mercifully brief. It consisted of participating in a celebrity roast in 2012 at the South Point Hotel and Casino showroom of legendary Las Vegas comedian Cork Proctor on the occasion of his 80th birthday and the publication of his hilarious memoir, My Mind is an Open Mouth. That’s right. I actually opened for Cork Proctor; the man affectionately dubbed “The Oral Assassin” for his occasionally bruising improvisation. The guy makes Don Rickles sound like Barney the Dinosaur. Of Proctor’s style, a beard-stroking Las Vegas entertainment columnist once warned, “If he keeps it up with this filthy sludge, it will be a wonder that he fails to get socked either physically or by a lawsuit. He causes walkouts with his remarks.” Walkouts … and lots of laughs. Those who knew Cork offstage realized he had another side. He was warm-hearted and charitable. In fact, that aforementioned comedy roast raised thousands of dollars for Opportunity Village, the Las Vegas nonprofit that for decades has helped adults with intellectual challenges. Turns out Mr. Acid Tongue was a softie. You didn’t have to know Cork well to discover his secret to a happy life. Her name is Carolyn V. Hamilton. At various times over the decades, Carolyn has been his friend, girlfriend, lover, wife, ex-wife, nurse, and navigator on an amazing adventure she captures in her entertaining memoir now on sale, Help! I Married a Comedian. Carolyn V. Hamilton and Cork Proctor in Ecuador/Courtesy photo A talented writer and artist, Carolyn gives readers a backstage pass to the downright insane world of a working comic from the showrooms and lounges of Las Vegas to cruise ships in distant ports of call. Suffice to say it’s not all grins and giggles working amid jangling slots and at times belligerent tourists. That insight alone is worth the price of admission. But don’t be misled. Help! is a love story. Well, at moments it’s a love-hate story, but then all real love stories are that way. It’s a story of real people, both funny as hell, learning to adjust and roll with life’s punches while embracing the adventure of it all. Carolyn learned early in their relationship in the parking lot of the Gold Coast Hotel Casino that their personal life wasn’t off-limits when Cork took the stage. In fact, on many nights it was the material. Cork told Carolyn about advice he’d received years earlier from Shecky Green: “Whatever happens in your life, take it right out on stage and make it funny.” Take what happens in your life and make it funny. That sage advice from a comedy hall-of-famer actually applies to real life, too. It’s something Carolyn and Cork have known for many, many years. The hard times are always better with laughter and a good margarita. Carolyn takes you through the packed houses and the Strip variety shows that are a hit on Tuesday and closed by the end of the week. Cork was nothing if not indefatigable, and Carolyn was in his corner for every round. South Point owner Michael Gaughan, one of the gaming industry’s most respected independent operators, receives well-deserved praise in the book for hiring a generation of comedians, musicians, and entertainers at his properties. He kept Cork in the spotlight for many years. With refreshing candor and clipped language that’s earthy and honest, she guides us quite literally on a trip around the world to many places I can’t even pronounce. We’re talking Ankara to Paramaribo, people, and places where they serve monkey stew. Hey, I received 10,000 frequent flyer miles just reading the manuscript. Their relationship really took off, so to speak, after Cork left show business in 1999 and they joined the U.S. Peace Corps, serving in Suriname. It’s in South America. You can look it up. “What are you thinking?” comedian Sandy Hackett asks them when he learns of their Peace Corps plan. But everyone in their large circle of friends knew that it sounded like something they would do. Today they live in the Andean town of Cuenca, Ecuador, where presumably Cork keeps busy making the locals laugh and Carolyn works fulltime explaining his behavior to strangers. If you can’t fly south for the winter and see the “Cork and Carolyn Show” in person, reading this book is the next best thing. John L. Smith is a longtime Las Vegas columnist and author. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith.