ST. LOUIS COUNTY - "When you're the headliner, that's a big deal," said comedian Keith Cissell. "People pay to come see you."
After years of honing his comedy act, Cissell is now a headliner at The Funny Bone in Westport Plaza and comedy clubs all over the Midwest. He knows how close he came to losing it all and he shares that sentiment in the middle of his 45 minute standup routine. A very serious moment for a funny man.
"A little over three years ago I was in a horrible car accident," said Cissell. "They gave me less than a five percent chance to live. They said I was seconds from death. I was in a coma for 10 days. They told my family and friends to say goodbye. It's a miracle of God that I'm still here. I'm so grateful to be performing here in front of you tonight," he said to the audience.
On August 22, 2010, Cissell was drinking alcohol with friends at a fantasy football party. After the party, he was driving without a seatbelt, and arguing on his cellphone with his future wife Rebecca, who has the fateful date tattooed on her wrist.
"I didn't hear any of the accident, thank God," said Rebecca Cissell. "He just said 'Oh, my God', and the phone went dead."
Cissell hit a median, flipped his station wagon and rolled the car half the length of a football field.
"I made a horrible decision to get behind the wheel of a car and thank God to this day that I didn't injure anyone else because I don't know if I could live with myself if I did," said Cissell. He was asked why he believes he received a second chance. "To change the world. To help people."
Cissell believes he can use comedy to reach young people about making the right decision, especially when it comes to drinking and driving.
"Don't wait until the midst of the party to be like, 'it's okay, I drove here.' No, no. Make a good decision prior and then when you're inside that party or that situation, you're going to be okay."
Rebecca Cissell created a YouTube video featuring a song she wrote called "Miracle." It shows photos of Keith's demolished car and photos from his harrowing hospital stay. You can watch that video below this story.
"Thanking God for his life and then putting the pictures with it was just kind of wanting to help others," said Rebecca. "Maybe if someone sees that, they'll change."
Kevin Cissell knows he's fortunate to be alive, and we he got a second chance to be a better person, to get it right, he grabbed it like a microphone, determined not to squander his miracle.
"I was a horrible boyfriend at the time, I was a horrible uncle, I was a horrible friend. It was just all selfish," said Cissell. It's sad that sometimes it takes tragedy for us to realize where we're at in our lives but I'm not going to waste this second chance. I'm thrilled to have it. So do I deserve it, no. Am I happy to have it and am I going to make the most of it? Yes."
To contact Keith Cissell, visit his website.