A Really, Really Compelling Title

Dedicated to my homie who helped me see the truth.

Michael Jagdeo - high school - steel pan 2

I’d like to share another part of my life with you: my musical side.

Trombone in elementary, trumpet in middle, and trombone again in high school (I pretended I was a beginner to get a 93 in the class). I remember switching to trumpet because I wanted to play LEAD. I wanted to be HEARD. But damn, straining to hit a high note on mouthpiece the size of a dime? I wasn’t about that life…still wanted to be in the foreground, though. Somehow. I wasn’t a popular kid, and so maybe I was looking for another route into the spotlight?

Luckily, steel pan was offered as a credit course. I’d come in at 7:30AM and just LOSE MYSELF, playing the few songs I did know over, and over, and over, and over again. Sometimes another student – always the same guy – would hear me playing, take a seat at the drums, and we’d jam. I didn’t even know the dude’s name.

The Breakthrough

In the last 10 years, though, I kinda hit a wall skill-wise. You know what’s funny about that? I didn’t spend much time lamenting my fate. I figured I’d hit my peak and that was that. I was good – not great – good. And what of it? Happens to everyone, right?

Thinking back on it, that’s fucking scary!!! That I just let myself just, kinda, just, you know…blah?

But that’s all changed in the past 12 months. My progression came to a head yesterday, when I was able to work out the guitar solo to Waiting in Vain by Bob Marley, a piece that I always dreamed of being able to play. 0:23 is the specific part that just seemed…nope, not in this lifetime! But there I am, and those are really my hands, and I’m playing softly! Daaaaaamn, son! You know how HARD that is!?

What changed? Well, for one…marijuana. Indica taught me how to enjoy music on a whole ‘nother level, and sativa taught me to enjoy soloing and creating music. Say what you want, but nowadays I can hear chords, notes, instruments, and interrelationships that I NEVER knew existed.

But of course, there’s more to it than that. Much more. I’m practicing more than I ever have, but it’s like, a different kind of practicing…I’m like, tappin’ into powerful neurochemicals n’ shit

Flow: The Rise of Superman

Key points:
  1. 29:04 – How being in flow will fundamentally improve the quality of your life
  2. 17:50 – Flow as an elegantly addicting drug
  3. 30:00 – Stimuli that trigger flow
  4. 35:21 – Getting into flow by controlling your fucking BRAINWAVES, coolie…

From extreme athletes to battle rappers, Csikszentmihalyi (heretofore referred to as Csizzla) found that all top performers achieved the heights of human capabilities by regularly and systematically placing themselves in a state he coined flow. Specifically, The Rise of Superman by Kotler (heretofore referred to as Kalonji) taught me how to move from the Struggle/Beta Brain Waves to Flow/Theta&Gamma by introducing diaphragmatic breathing when I feel the Struggle/Beta stage coming on (35:21).

Flow Genome Matrix - Steven Kotler - The Rise of Superman

But that’s not nearly the full story. Csizzla and Kalonji believe that regularly entering into the state of flow is the veritable secret to happiness because it produces no-self (anatta), absolute presence, and by virtue of the challenging task required, promotes self-actualization. Oh yeah, and since flow produces the same neurochemicals as all of the drugs we’re addicted to (17:50), it feels UHMAZING. I’ve felt it, numerous times, just never knew what to call it.

Not to belabour the point, but over the past year I’ve asked myself over and over and over and over again, per Seneca, to what end do I toil? Csizzla and Kalonji might say that the end is in being in flow when toiling, thereby rendering toil a misnomer of sorts. Rather, the question might be worded, ‘To what end do I live?’ to which the reply might be to drink life to the lees by discovering our passions and pursuing them in such a way that tests our might without breaking our will.

To Identify or Not to Identify

So…what? Am I a comedian? Am I a musician? Am I a writer? As David Suchet and Patrick Stewart argue, perhaps I’m asking the wrong question. Perhaps I don’t have to choose at all.

The Challenge of Freedom

I used to assume that I knew what I wanted in life. The mantra I stuck to was: I want to become a killer comedian. But that’s just not the full picture. I love playing pan. I love writing. I love making people laugh.

So here I am, unclear as to my direction, but the lack of visibility isn’t painful like it used to be. Right now, I’m experiencing flow through music and writing. I wonder if I tried to bring my practice of flow to the stage? I wonder…you know what? That crowd work I was doing felt like flow

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Life Is Absurd

warrior quotes

Over the past four months, I’ve:

  • Dropped 40+ lbs¹
  • Overcome my anxiety and depression¹
  • Performed more in the past two months than in the previous four years COMBINED
  • Made more money in the past two months than in the previous six months COMBINED
  • Begun repairing the relationships that I’ve neglected over the past 12 years

So everything should be good, right? Not exactly…


life is aburd - eating pizza

The adrenaline dump of finally doing the comedy competition after months of preparation, the exhaustion of two-a-day’s in the gym, and the carb-deprivation caught up with me this week.

Cue the $20-sack, four pizzas, and a half chicken dinner at Swiss Chalet.

It’s scary, man: I don’t wanna go back to the way things were. I CANNOT GO BACK to the way things were.


life is absurd - smoking and the munchies

Let me not go all old-Mike in this piece…this momentary relapse in my eating habits was inevitable, and once I overcome this round of cravings, I’ll be stronger than ever. As long as I’m sober, I can control how and what I eat. That means no more smoking during the week.

[That said, come cheat day? Yo, a smoke and a couple scoops of Roasted Marshmallow will serve as brunch! Judo know about Greg’s Ice Cream?? Dawg…DAWG.]

The hardest thing to overcome, however, hasn’t been my close proximity to Dominoes Pizza, ice cream, or divine inebriation. Rather, what’s been plaguing my heart has been the absurdity of life.


Albert Camus

Since the comedy competition, I’ve been reminded how absurd life really is². Consider the following:

  1. If anything could have satisfied us, we would have been satisfied a long time ago³.
  2. Therefore, the fulfillment of desires is simply an elaborate treadmill. For example, there will always be a new goal, a new client, a new book, a new restaurant, a new destination⁴, etc.

So in spite of the money, the comedy, the health and well-being, my relapse was dominated by a single question: what’s the point? What’s the FUCKING POINT??


life is absurd - lakeshore and bathurst

I live close to the lake, and after my morning swim, I headed out for my morning meditation. There’s something about a large body of water that makes the human drama recede from the shores of my mind. I sat down, and immediately felt a sense of relief.

Then my hands began typing.


Albert Camus

You are part human, part divine. In this life, we must embrace and attend to both sides of our nature⁶.

The divine side is inherently satisfied; it has no cravings to quench.

The human side, however, is inherently dissatisfied. Haven’t you noticed that – no matter how satiated you thought you were – your cravings return anew, much like Prometheus’ liver? How awfully quick the highs peak!

The key is to attend to the human side by following a path with a heart⁷, and by keeping the body and mind fit through mental, physical, and spiritual exercise.

Though life is absurd from a human perspective, it is possible to find joy in progressing through the path with a heart, milestone by milestone, day by day. There is an inherent satisfaction in getting better and better and closer and closer to your goals…all the while realizing that the better you get, the more you have to improve, and the closer you get to your goal, the farther (and more juicier) the next goal becomes.


Perhaps that’s why all of the books talk about being present. If you can be present during your walk on the path, you can fully appreciate and experience the highs and lows and attend to the needs that your meat body craves. If you can be present during your meditation, you can, quite literally, satisfy your soul.

I wrote about the absurdity of life a few months ago, but it took achieving goals and reflecting on how full/empty they were, to really begin to understand how things really are.

And let’s be real: I probably don’t know shit about shit. But this is as far as I’ve gotten, and that’s OK. I’m satisfied.

For now.


life is absurd - being thankful being grateful

Last night, one of my best friends pointed something out: I look at my life as a project, which means that I’m constantly in a state of non-attainment. Here’s what I say to myself:

  • (I didn’t drop 40lbs) I skipped HIIT last week and my lower belly isn’t going away very easily.
  • (I didn’t overcome my anxiety and depression) I didn’t work as hard as I should have today
  • (I didn’t perform a ton of comedy) I don’t have any new jokes
  • (I didn’t make good money this month) I have so much more work to do, and I really should be making a lot more.
  • (I haven’t repaired relationships) I’m still avoiding one or two difficult conversations

She said,

As good as it is to always find room for improvement.. all this “work” you feel you have is going to have you constantly looking at what you’ve yet to accomplish…you will always find something to fix and I don’t want you to put yourself in a place where you don’t feel good enough or up to par with your own expectations…Check off the wins. Write down all the amazing shit you do everyday and it’ll inspire more of it.

She’s fucking right! OK, yeah, life is absurd, there’s always gonna be another mountain to climb, whatever…but just look at that goddamn mountain I just climbed!! Remember when I scaled the northern face free-handed? Remember how cold it was, and how I never gave up? Just look at the resilience, persistence, strength, and never-give-up attitude I showed!! Damn, man! Aiite cool, yeah, the next mountain is there, and man is it ever gonna be an adventure…but let’s enjoy the view for now.

Cherish your friends, homies. Really cherish them.


¹I wouldn’t have gotten better without the immense help of Dr. Ted, Naturopath, Naturopath, Visionary Health Clinics
²The Myth of Sisyphus
³Letters from a Stoic, Letter 15, Section 9
Tennysson’s Ulysses
Ram Dass Episode 12, Jump to 20:21
Don Juan on Following a Path with a Heart
Poem on a Norman Crucifix, 1632, Jump to 39:48

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Never Meant to Publish This

Michael Before & After

Lol I’m so mean to myself sometimes, but goddamn that middle picture is hilarious…

This is a story about mystical experiences had whilst practising P90X Yo-gaahh… Not Yoguh, Yo-gaahh…

Copped collard greens; rolled it like tassa. Bissessar. In the old vitamin bottle. Took it with a yoga mat to the park in front of the water. Laiid mat down. Yoga blocka. Picked the lighter up; you know the route. Breathe In and out and in. Let’s do it again. In and out and in. Let’s do it again. In and out and in. Let’s do it again. etc. Cherry Popper, roach keeper, let’s save the rest. Yoga gwaanin. Head buggin. When bugs start buggin, I say fuck it. Roll up the mat; save second tassa. Bissessar. Cross the street. Cross the Street. Cross the Street. Into the yoga room; fly-ass condo. Laid the mat down. Yoga, Blocka. Yoga goin on. White ting working out in the lulu lemon nightclub selection. She checkin’ the kid, but I’m all up in the stretchin. I might have skipped a side once or twice, but my reverse triangle is really nice! I touch the ceiling, and I know we’re almost through. That’s it, we’re done. Now I can breathe, too. Come back upstairs. I earned rice and squash…and the bag of all-dressed…

I left one thing out. On the walk back, I couldn’t help but keep repeating with unblinking eyes, the following phrases:

  • I see how it is now.
  • Do they know who I am?!?
  • Don’t they know I am exceptional?!?

Over, and over, and over, and over, and over again.

[ ]

Fuck it I had to put a chune!


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It’s the day of the comedy competition at Absolute Comedy, one of the top 4 comedy clubs in the city, and I’m nervous.

Not as nervous as I used to be, though.

I start preparing around 4ish. I’m just not that concerned about individual sets anymore. It’s probably why I don’t blog as much; there’s nothing to worry about.

So anyhoo, I practice my set once, and then stop – I’m worried. I’m worried that they’re not gonna laugh. I’m worried that the other comedians are going to be better than me. I’m worried about my crowd work not hitting. I’m worried about bombing in front of a notoriously easy crowd.

So I figure it’s time to meditate. I put down the mic, go into the bathroom, turn off the light, and sit on the toilet.

I hear my voice ask, “Do I deserve to win this competition?

I hear my voice reply, “It doesn’t matter. You aren’t trying to be the best. You’re becoming a MASTER at your craft.”

That puts me at ease. At the end of the day, my only responsibility is to be the best ME when they call my name. That means performing comedy without a worry filter colouring everything badd.

So I’m on my way to the competition, and again, nervous. But then I realize, “Hey man, be grateful that you get to perform at Absolute! You went there to do research before you even stepped on stage four years ago! You get to perform at Absolute!”

I become so calm that I literally stop at the used bookstore and pick up The Fall by Albert Camus.

Being master of one’s mood is the privilege of the larger animals. – Camus, The Fall

So I get to the club, and thank the Booker for the spot. I find the green room, but fuck the green room. I want to get a feel for the ROOM. So I walk the room. Notice who’s sitting in front. Think of crowd work options. Walk to one side. Walk to the other.

The Owner comes by to tell us the rules. He mentions no crowd work, but it’s included in a five-minute barrage of advice, so I don’t mark it. After all, I’m here to be funny.

I find this sweet spot in the corner, and await my turn.

Everyone’s doing well. Fuck. I mean, good. Lol.

What do you see?

Absolute Comedy competition

I see three things: a guy that looks like Walter White from Breaking Bad, an attractive older gentleman, and an attractive middle-aged gentleman.

I’m up next. I practice my Walter White intro a couple of times. Now the host is about to call my name. I go blank.

So yeah, the crowd work isn’t all fire, but I do get a mini applause break out of it in the end.

I listen to the other comics, and start counting all of the people that are doing better than I did. Fuck. At least four. AT LEAST. They all have their material down, and aren’t deviating one bit – and why should they?

They announce fifth place. Fourth place. Third place. Fuck me. Second Place. Oh I have no shot – First place.

That’s it. I lost. Damn, I didn’t even make the top five in a group of nine?? LMAO. Wowzers.

I’m not that upset, though. They all did great. In fact, I’m more shocked that the one girl who crushed it didn’t move on. I’m literally more upset for her!

Luckily, I get a chance to speak with the owner, who tells me that when he said no crowd work during his five-minute speech, he meant NO CROWD WORK. MATERIAL ONLY.

Fuck me. Pass the joint.

I’m almost in the subway when I realize that I forgot my book in the green room. I head back, grab the book, and descend into the subway. I start reading.

Wow. This book is SO MUCH BETTER THAN I THOUGHT. Oh that’s right, I’m high; I almost forgot. I start mouthing the words to myself, ACTING THEM, on the subway ride home.

Haven’t you noticed that our society is organized for this kind of liquidation? You have heard, of course, of those tiny fish in the rivers of Brazil that attack the unwary swimmer by thousands and with swift little nibbles clean him up in a few minutes, leaving only an immaculate skeleton? Well, that’s what their organization is. “Do you want a good clean life? Like everybody else?” You say yes, of course. How can one say no? “O.K. You’ll be cleaned up. Here’s a job, a family, and organized leisure activities.” And the little teeth attack the flesh, right down to the bone. But I am unjust. I shouldn’t say their organization. It is ours, after all: it’s a question of which will clean up the other. – Camus, The Fall

Before going home, I get a large bag of Ruffles Sour Cream & Onion to drown my sorrows in/have for dinner.

I’m upset that I didn’t win, but I’m glad that I did comedy the way that I like doing comedy. Material only is boring to me. I’m not putting down other forms of stand-up, but improv and crowd work makes me feel ALIVE, and it makes comedy fun for me.

Another set in the books. I’ve now done Second City, Yuk’s, Absolute, and Comedy Bar. What’s next?

  • Working on improving my weekly show that I just started at 596 College (6PM on Sundays).
  • We’ll see if Canada’s Smartest Person gives me a callback (I passed all their tests/interviews and now it’s up to a pantheon at CBC).
  • My Headhunting business is slowly taking off.
  • My Uncle challenged me to see who could get abs faster. Did I mention he’s 65 years old? When we both have abs, I’m going to fly down to Florida and we’ll take a picture together.
  • Read more Camus.
  • Have a Cheat Day.
  • Do more research for the book (it’s not about comedy).

So yeah man. Link up.

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This Is What Happens When You Face Your Fears

Background: There are five comics and three audience members in the bar. Two of the audience members, a white girl and a tall black guy, appear to be a couple.

  1. Crowd Work/Improv – 0:00 – 1:01
  2. Material – 1:01 – 1:50
  3. Crowd Work/Improv – 1:50 – 3:06

You can hear them laughing throughout! You would’ve heard it louder but they were waaaay on the other side of the room. It’s happening, guys. And somehow the material is just finding it’s place in between it all.

And you know what the craziest thing of all is? I planned on doing stuff like this…three years ago.

Guys. It’s happening.

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