How to Grab Your Fuckin Balls and Overcome Your Fears

Disclaimer: This post will make more sense if you read this first.How To Overcome Your FearsDear Diary,

Right as I was about to take the stage, the host whispered in my ear,

Hey man, we’re running late; I don’t know you, and so I can only give ya two minutes.

I’m gonna do my best shit!‘ I reacted with a confident smile.

I ran out of my best shit in a minute and a half. On the way home, I realized that doing well on stage didn’t mean that I had to use my best jokes. That was breakthrough number one.

But what then? How could I make people laugh? The other options were clear: crowd work and improv. But how did you do that?

The answer was simple: you just fucking did it. You just started talking to the audience, and hopefully they talked back. You just started improvising, and hopefully something funny came out of your mouth. Either way, I couldn’t bomb any worse than I was with my material!

Now, did I implement that strategy the next day? No fuckin way! I was scared as shit to do that! I was afraid of the silence, afraid that it wouldn’t work, afraid that I’d offend someone.

But as Don Juan said, the first enemy of a man of knowledge is fear. So last night, I did a set at an open mic, and you know what I did? I did ZERO fuckin crowd work, and ZERO fuckin improv.

Luckily, I had a chance to do another set right after. Even more luckily, there was a man and a women sitting side by side that weren’t comics! Two actual audience members!! Even MORE luckily, the host called the man out for hitting on the woman, which I realized I could piggyback on!

Now, it’s not like I got a crazy amount of laughter, but I got chuckles throughout, and that’s a start. And hey, it got more laughs than most of my material has for the past three weeks!

So what’s the story here? Meditation has quieted my mind so that I’m sensitive to what’s happening/not happening on stage, and it’s also exposing the fears that are holding me back. And now that I know fear is the number one obstacle I need to overcome right now, I’m going to do crowd work and improv every chance I get until I’m completely at ease.

So yeah man.

Jagdeo

Posted in How To Be A Comic, Open Mic Experiences | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Getting Back On The Horse

Dear Diary,

On June 2nd, I entered a comedy competition. Here’s the email I sent:

how to be a standup comedian

It’s June 27th today, and I don’t even recognize the person who wrote that. Long story short, I’m back. Here’s my advice for anyone looking to start comedy or get back into it.

how to be a stand up comedian

Healthy Body

You need to stay in top physical health to do two sets a night after working a long day and taking care of your family. To get back on stage on a regular basis, I began eating veggies three times a day and working out 6 days a week. Click here to see what was the breakthrough that lead me to change my ways for good.

Healthy Mind

Previously, the fear rejection and embarrassment sent me fleeing from the stage. A combination of an 8-month stint with marijuana (I quit), twice-daily meditation, and a book referral from an old professor did the trick for me (see #5). Disclaimer: I know there are comedians that are able to do stand-up in spite of their mental issues; I just wasn’t one of them.

Write a lot, Get on Stage a lot

This is Tom Segura’s advice, and he’s put it as concisely as anyone. You’re trying to do more than be a comedian: you’re trying to discover, accept, and share who you are. Make writing and going on stage a habit, something you don’t even think about. At night, you leave the house, because that’s what comics do. This is way more complicated than just learning how to write a good joke, and you’re not going to know what those complications are without writing a lot and getting on stage a lot.

Find a Mentor

It’s hard when you’re the only one in your corner. Really hard. Next to impossible. Quinn C. Martin’s never told me how to do stand-up. Rather, he’s encouraged me to be get my body in shape, get my mind in shape, write a lot, and get on stage a lot.

Identify and Overcome Your Fears

Sounds easy enough, right? Comedy is simply one of many paths in life, and all paths in life involve fear. Don Juan makes the best argument I’ve heard on the subject:

Here’s the good news: if you love comedy like I love comedy, take solace in the knowing that you’ll find a way. You’ll just…find a way.

PS – Absolute Comedy, Tuesday July 21st, 2015, 8PM :)

Posted in How To Be A Comic | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Secret To Rapid Weight Loss

the secret to rapid weight lossI’ve recently lost a bunch of fat and gained a lot of muscle. In fact, I’ve never been stronger in my entire life, and it all started with a picture of a dude on Instagram.

It’s not what you think. I know it sounds like that, but it’s not. NTTAWWT.

Four or five months ago, I saw a West Indian dude wearing a wife beater on instagram.

A few weeks ago, as we were packing for Cuba, my wife found my oooooolld old old old silver (well, silver-looking) chain (three circles one rectangle three circles one rectangle) that I bought 20 YEARS AGO for 25 bucks from a kiosk in a mall that has since been TORN DOWN. And when I put that chain on, I JUST KNNNEWW that I was going to Cuba full coolie: wife beater (which I’d never, EVER, worn before), silver chain, hawaiian shirt, belly out, fist by my side strangling the neck of a Sol.

So, I set out for Wal-Mart in search of the only item of clothing that I was missing: my father’s domestic uniform, le wife ah-beateurrrhh. I found it easily enough, and went to open the package to check the size, but the ever vigilant Eastern Bloc European grandmother heading up the section wasn’t having none of it. ‘Nah, son,’ she mirrored in Eastern Bloc, “You ain’t gon’ try that shit on MY WATCH: it’s in a package, son; that means you open it WHEN YOU BUYYYY IT.’ Again, all of that she said, in, uh, Eastern Bloc.

I even tried to sneak it into the Fitting Room! But that dastardly Filipino mother of three called Eastern Bloc on me and I got shat on AGAIN. ‘Eh yo son, you CRAZY? What I done TEEELL YOU?’

So, I had to take the wife beaters home and try them on there, as Eastern Bloc insisted. I get home, fling dong de wWHHOLE ah de bags dem pon de rivah, and unwrap les wife beateurs right there in the living room. Now, I’m thinking I’m just gonna ease into this muthafucka like it’s an XL, but yoooo…it was like an alligator was trying to pull a snake over top it’s own head! That shit was tuuuuuuuiiiiiiIIGHHHT!!

Just so happens there’s a mirror in the living room.

secret to rapid weight loss

I catch myself doing a Chris Brown freeze arms lookin’ like Harry Houdini trying to GET OUT, NOT IN, OUT, of a straight jacket upside down. And when I FINALLY get this thing on, before I can suck in my stomach, I look at myself in the mirror, and JESUS CHRIST, MIKE: YOU LOOK FATTER THAN DAD DID WHEN HE DIED.

So yeah, here I am, 15lbs lighter and stronger than ever. Bottle that in a pill and sell it,

Jagdeo

IMG_7991

IMG_8199

IMG_8174

IMG_8175

IMG_8176

IMG_8180

IMG_8181

IMG_8190

Posted in How To Be A Comic, Open Mic Experiences | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

This Is How My Mind Works

They say that great minds think alike. Some jokes start with sayings like that.

OPPOSITE

Now, as a comedian, you’ll typically take the opposite stance, i.e. They say that great minds think alike…damn, I can’t think of a joke here. Let me go to something else then I’ll come back and give my right brain a chance to work on the problem…

They say that great minds think alike, but I don’t know anyone great who thinks like I do. OK WHATEVER! It’s not the best joke. Let’s just move on, aight?

No? OK fuck. Ummm…They say great minds think alike, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. Did someone else come up with that? Let me check…Nobody ever connected those two sentences? Weird. It seems like such a hack joke. Anyways.

AGREEMENT

A less likely path is agreeing with the statement, perhaps because being agreeable isn’t the most obvious well-spring (well-spring, not wellspring, right?) of laughter, perhaps because to agree means to inherently lack conflict, conflict of course being a bedrock of comedy (every joke has a victim). That said, it’s still an option, i.e. ‘They say that great minds think alike, which makes sense because my wife eats like a shark.’ (It’s my attempt at Roger Dangerfield; if you’d like to try it as dangerfield, make sure you bulge your eyes when you say ‘shark’ and then give a annoyed to the point of being bewildered look)

NUANCED ANALYSIS

The third, and least traversed option, exists: a nuanced look at the quote. First, we might recognize that every quote has an opposite – but seemingly true – mirror to itself i.e. Great minds think alike vs. no two people are exactly the same.

Religious literalists often into this problem, i.e. The bible says do unto others but then also says eye for an eye. I remember sitting in church and thinking, ‘Man, there must be another preacher in the world right now doing a sermon on this very passage but inferring a completely different conclusion than the one my pastor is inferring…and both are going to seem entirely convincing to their congration. Amazing….scary.’

Oh wait, there’s the pun take on the quote, i.e. ‘They say great minds think alike, but I haven’t met enough sentient shredders to have an intelligent opinion on the matter.’

But wait, you say: stop. Stop right there. Read the quote again: great minds think ALIKE. It didn’t mean SAME. Ah fuck now I wrote all this shit based on a shaky premise like stevens? But wait, what then is the importance of the statement if you don’t take it to the extreme? Great minds think alike? Oh yeah? Doesn’t every think alike is some cases? Are you saying that ALL great minds share a statistically significant collection of thought patterns, rendering them alike in the way that they think? Yeah, OK. Yeah I’ll agree with that. But there’s more here.

To restrict great people to having the same mind would be too Western-oriented. In the East, they believe in Anatta, which stands for no self. A great mind, a Buddhist would say, is not the ultimate goal. Their version of the saying would be: great beings be alike.

Ok, but are there other options here? We can agree entirely, disagree entirely, or agree with caveats. Can we do anything else with an opinion?

Lets take a simple opinion so the task is as light as possible: I like Vince Vaughan movies.

So there are the extremes: I love Vince Vaughan movies VS I hate Vince Vaughan movies.

(Picture of Vince with nose guy checkmark in green superimposed, side by side with a picture of Vince with Jennifer Red X on it like Family Feud’s X)

Then there is the caveated, qualified opinion: I love Vince Vaughan movies when the guy with the nose co-stars. I don’t like Vince Vaughan movies when it co-stars Jennifer Aniston, because watching Jennifer Aniston is depressing. Why? I don’t know why…there’s something….something lonely about her. I have this feeling that she’s destined to settle by marrying a good man, but not a man she’s in love with. But then again, maybe I’m projecting my opinion of her archetype onto her, as in 45-year old 8.5 out of 10 Caucasian woman can never find true love. Maybe I’m doing what people do to celebrities where they pretend to know someone because they’ve seen them on TV.

Hm, lets try that one on for size. Perhaps a more complicated subject will provide more room for opinion options.

(Strikethrough) I love writing comedy. (/Strike through) I love writing.

Oh wait, there is the no opinion: I neither love nor hate Vince Vaughan movies.

Oh wait, there’s the confused opinion: Which one is Vince Vaughan, the tall Jew or the crooked nose Gentile? But wait, that question implies the auteur has an opinion. That’s not really a different.

There’s also the recognition that no opinion is static. For example, if Vince Vaughan decided that he would only do movies with the happy 34-year old Ebenezzer Scrooge, then after ten years I might say I love once Vaughan movies (just so I could get the bad taste of the Jennifer Aniston movie out of my mouth).

Then the real question is: did you exercise free will in forming your opinion, or is your opinion simply the result of biology, experience, and the effects of randomness? Because that’s what Sam Harris believes.

Sam Harris not only believes that there is no self, but he also believes that there is no free will. Your decision to read this far? That wasn’t really YOUR decision. That decision came about as a complex result of your biology, life experiences, and the effects of randomness.

For example, ‘I’ formed my opinion after falling asleep to that Vince Vaughan movie with Jennifer Aniston in Cuba. I say ‘that’ movie because I don’t know if there is more than one Vince Vaughan and Jennifer Aniston movie.

I wrote this while listening to EchoSmith’s Bright, you guys know that song? You make a girl go eww Whoo eww! Lah lah lahhhh

Who knows how that song colored my opinion as I was supposedly thinking about it free of influence? Who knows how the much the song influenced my mood, causing my synapses to fire like this instead of that?

I’m a genius. I don’t care if anyone likes this shit. This shit is fucking money, coolie. Or perhaps it’s not genius until the idea is laid out in a way makes it conducive to mass consumption? Hmmm…but wait. Shakespeare is revered broadly, but not popular. But as far as plays go, he’s the best…OK so yeah.

Can genius which is inaccessible to the lay person still genius? It is, if the best of the best agree on it.

No, bc the best of the best still have different tastes, and being judges well by one’s contemporaries isn’t necessarily an indication that one’s ideas will be valued by future generations.

But you can reach more people by making things clear. Shakespeare made things CLEAR through descriptive language and appeal.

Write a blog explaining difference between eastern and west philosophy in the way you explained it to Lisette in Cuba.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What’s So Bad About Being Embarrassed?

Inspiration for this post comes from a video in which Tony Robbins helps a man to stop stuttering. I wanted to apply the same psychiatry on myself to see what I could discover. I just needed the right question…


Tonight, I was on the balcony, taking in the lightning show. I love being out on the balcony in the summer, but rainy days are extra special.

I listened to a Sam Harris guided meditation session entitled, ‘Looking for the Self‘ and, with my eyes closed, seemed to plunge forward into space. I opened my eyes when I felt the g-force exerting on my chest, calmed down, and then closed my eyes again. This time, I was determined to keep my eyes closed.

The next time it came, I was ready and went for the ride. I went through. On the other end, I felt confidently calm.

A question’s been bothering me ever since I started my comedy career: What’s so bad about being embarrassed that causes me to shy away from performing stand-up comedy? With the confidence I felt in my blood, instead of shying away from the question, I asked myself, for the first time SERIOUSLY asked myself,

Q: Why’s it so bad to be embarrassed? When’s the first time you felt embarrassed?

A: The first time I felt embarrassed was when I peed my pants during the family portraits. We were in the middle of the shoot and my mom had to dry my pants before we could resume shooting.

Q: But what’s so bad about being embarrassed? That people will reject me? What’s so bad about people rejecting me?

A: Incidentally, I also peed my pants in grade 7. Yup, that’s right: grade fucking 7. And you wanna know when I peed my pants in grade 7? AT THE END OF THE FUCKING YEAR PARTY. Yup, that’s right. So guess who had the WHOLE SUMMER to agonize over what was gonna happen when the entire school found out that I peed my pants?

So, it’s September, and I get off the bus. I’m scared shitless (sorry, had to go for it). I walk up to the front door, and one of my friends remarks, ‘Hey, it’s PeePants!’ LMAO. That’s actually pretty goddamn funny, PeePants. And my worst fears are seeming to come true. But then people eventually find out, and you know what? They don’t really care. They don’t give a shit.

Q: What’s so bad about people rejecting me? Why do I need their love? What’s so bad about losing their love? What’s so bad about losing love itself? When was the first time I felt rejected?

A:Ahhhh…my dad not lifting me up…I’ll explain. When I was a child, I used to love when my dad would lift me up. That’s how I knew he loved me, and that’s when I felt most loved.

One day, we were coming back from doing errands or something, and he began walking up the stairs. He was about four tenths of the way up, and I asked him to come down, lift me up, and take me up the stairs in his arms.

He said, ‘C’maaaaan, come up stairs.’ And with that, he turned his back, and continued to walk upstairs. Feeling rejected, I began to cry. I begged him to carry me up the stairs. He didn’t come down, not a single step. That was the ultimate form of rejection, to go from doing the thing that made me felt loved the most to (seemingly at the time) never doing it again.

But he wasn’t rejecting me. He was teaching me to stand on my own two feet and be a man. To be responsible. And fuck was I ever responsible. I had a paper route by the time I was eleven and paid virtually everything after that with other jobs. Consequently, as I got older, I looked at him and thought, ‘Hey motherfucker, you ain’t done NOTHING for me. I got ALL this shit on my own.’

And, partly, I think, that’s exactly the man he wanted to create. Old school fathers don’t required their children’s love; only their respect and obedience. I grew up to a T how he wanted me to grow up. To be smart, like him. To be easygoing, like him. He molded me into his own image. A responsible, intelligent man. When he didn’t pick me up, he didn’t reject me; he was loving me. He was teaching me to be a man.

Q: And what if the crowd doesn’t love you? What would their rejection mean?

A: It might mean the rejection of your art, or of you, but what of it? The public’s love can never be true love, love worth having, because the public cannot love YOU, they can only love the IDEA of you, and that doesn’t have anything to do with WHO YOU TRULY ARE.

The love of the people that know you the most and care for you the most (for the right reasons, of course) is the most important thing, and you can never lose that. YOU CAN NEVER LOSE THAT. YOU CAN NEVER LOSE THE LOVE OF THE PEOPLE THAT LOVE YOU THE MOST. YOU CAN NEVER LOSE WHAT’S MOST IMPORTANT.

So get out there. It doesn’t matter how they respond. I can never lose true love. It’s always there. I can feel my dad’s love for me in my heart. I can never lose that.

You can never lose that, either.

Q:But if people don’t love me, won’t I eventually fail as a comedian?

A:No. People will eventually love funny. That’s all you need to worry about. Funny gets through every time. If you’re funny, you don’t need ANYONE ELSE.

None of this means, by the way, that you shouldn’t avoid embarrassment (i.e. in front of grandma, etc.). Don’t apply the prudence of avoiding embarrassment too broadly. It’s good to avoid embarrassment where appropriate.

But embarrassment, true embarrassment, the loss of love of those who you love the most, can never, EVER happen. Don’t apply the fear of losing the love of the people you love the most with losing the love of the public. Don’t apply that fear where it doesn’t apply. The ability to discriminate between people, things, and situations is the height of all intelligence.

Having the public’s love would be nice; not having it is not the end of the world. They don’t know what they want to love anyway; some Thought Leader tells them who they should love and they love. The same Thought Leader tells them to hate the person they were told to love, so they hate.

Posted in Open Mic Experiences | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment