I’m Confused

funny confused

Dear Diary,

Becoming successful is confusing…

In the past year, I’ve done four shows at the Hard Rock Cafe, each one containing between 7-10 minutes of new material. On the last performance, I had my best set ever. But fuck me, now that I look back on it, even getting laughs and applause breaks isn’t good enough anymore. That’s right, homie: I’ve figured out how to feel depressed about doing well on stage.

Maybe depressed isn’t the right word. It’s more…dissatisfied. The artistic part of me recognizes that there’s so much more that I want to do on stage. I want to be spontaneous, work the crowd, let my mind wander, and most importantly, I want to have the confidence to do all of those things on the big stage.

My next step is clear:

I need to start my own room, where I will be able to sharpen my comedic saw every week. I also need to take an improv course. Oh, I’m going to need a microphone. Shit, I’m going to need flyers for the open mic, too.

That means I need money. Fuck. I don’t have any.

I guess I’ll have to start building a writing portfolio so I can bid and win copywriting gigs. Fuck, man. I don’t wanna do that…

Dude, all I want to do is write, go on stage, and learn how to be a killer comedian, but lately it just seems like I’m stuck in survival mode. Maslow might say that I’m trying to self-actualize before securing my own safety.

How broke am I? The other day, I thought about going to an open mic, but realized that it would cost me $7 to travel back and forth on the bus. I dully acknowledged that I couldn’t afford it. Fucked up? I guess that’s the life of an amateur comedian.

But, truth be told, I don’t feel like an amateur comedian. I feel like an amateur on the way to becoming a professional — there’s a big difference between the two. My last performance taught me that I can write material that can make people applaud with laughter.

But that’s not enough. There’s another plane of existence to explore. Case in point, the amazing Bill Burr.

If that’s not the height of stand-up comedy, I don’t know what is. You might not agree with what he’s saying, but you can’t deny that it’s fucking enthralling. He’s also great at improvising and working the crowd, which seems like standard stuff until you realize that he’s going off the cuff in CARNEGIE FREAKIN’ HALL DURING THE TAPING OF HIS SPECIAL.

Here’s the thing: whereas before I regarded the great comedians as magicians, I now believe that I have the opportunity to master the craft just as they have. I believe that if I put in the time, effort, heart, and soul into becoming the best, I can eventually be on the level of Burr, Stanhope, and my other heroes.

Will it take time? Sure. Ten years? Maybe. Twenty years? Who knows? But I have a rough idea of how jokes work. I can see that improvisation isn’t always truly improvisation, but sometimes more like catered material. I guess what I’m saying is that I am slowly seeing the dynamite behind the fireworks.

I was watching The Ultimate Fighter, and this one combatant* said that once you come to terms with the worst possible scenario, it frees you to fully engage yourself in the task at hand. It’ll take work, and I’m not going to be good at crowd work and improv at first, but I’ll get there. The worst that can happen is that I bomb, but I don’t need to be the best right now. I don’t need people to ask me to be a part of their shows. That can wait.
*He got his ass kicked

So….yeah. I’m gonna make some sweet, sweet monies so I can start an open mic, add crowd work and improvisation to my arsenal and become a great comedian and a great producer so that people will pay to see me perform comedy so that I can free myself from the worries of the flesh and move onto recognizing the Atman within me. After all, there are other worlds than these.

Until the next time we hold palaver, Namaste, Gunslinger.

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About Michael Jagdeo

My name's Michael Jagdeo, and I refuse to write about myself in the third person. I'm a Comedian from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In addition to honing my stand-up comedy act, I maintain this blog and write the weekly comedy article for blogTO.com.
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10 Responses to I’m Confused

  1. suitedpairs says:

    Another great entry bro! The worst thing that can happen is that you bomb. And it’s not that bad. You end up learning alot, not just about your material but about yourself as well

    • Hey Mike!

      My pavourite pilipino! How’s married life?!

      Yeah, you’re right. It’s not that the worst thing that can happen is bombing. It’s the emotional and physiological pyrotechnics that are triggered from a bomb, i.e. feeling tired, depressed, confused, worried, and perhaps worst of all, inferior.

      I was listening to a Ram Dass podcast where he was talking about the fact that from the time we are young, we learn how to seek approval from our parents, friends, teachers, etc. in order that we might become a functioning member of society. However, this often leads to a persona that has a fundamental negative belief about itself. We then find ourselves going out into the world seeking evidence to say that we are NOT BAD, rather that evidence that we are good.

      As Covey said, there is hope because, “…there is a gap between stimulus and response.” This gap is the way we interpret things. Hamlet said, “…there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” More specific to what we’re talking about:

      What is astonishing is the validity we give our reality. If we feel or think something, then it must be true, but if the very thoughts and emotions on which that assumption is based are conditioned from past circumstances, how valid can they be? This assumed reality might not be any more reliable than reading last year’s newspaper for today’s news. – Rodney Stephens Stepping Out of Self-Deception

      Great to hear from ya, homeslice! Can’t wait for the next video!

      Jagdeo

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  3. John St Godard says:

    Excellence post and Bill Burr clip. Amazing. I think Maslow is right. But you can do it all – in small chunks. Keep going, and thanks for sharing.

    • Hey John!

      Thanks man! And yeah, that Burr clip is so great. I’ve been listening to that clip over and over, trying to intuitively figure out why it’s so funny. It’s started to make me revisit the idea of writing my material that complements, nay, embodies, the way I speak.

      When I started out, I was just up there delivering lines, one after another. Hell, it still happens now. I guess it stems from the idea that I’ve read from a few comedy guides where they’ve told me that I should write in the format of Premise – Punch – Tag, and I don’t know anyone who really speaks like that.

      One thing’s for sure: I don’t speak like that. When I talk, I have an opinion, rethink it, consider the other side, and often come up with a nuanced truth that embraces both sides. I wonder a lot. I ask questions of myself and play devil’s advocate. Now, it’s just time to grow a pair and try it out on stage — repeatedly.

      And yeah, now that you mention it back to me, Maslow might’ve been onto something. Well, wait…if being broke and struggling and in turn recognizing that who I am as a person isn’t related to the money that I make, perhaps the struggle for safety and security can be wagon-way through the air to self-actualization (my ego just patted me on the back for that Adam Smith reference…and I let it). But maybe that’s exactly what he was saying. Hell, maybe what his pyramid actually outlines are the aspects of the ego that we must transcend in order to realize enlightenment (physiological, safety, belonging, and finally, self-esteem).

      Wowzers. Now that’s something to think about…

      Thanks for reading! Who knew that Maslow would rear his head after more than 15 years after my shadow first darkened his doorstep? Life’s funny like that.

      Jagdeo

  4. Anonymous says:

    You don’t need money to start a room. Just a lot of time and effort. Any place worth performing at should have a reasonable sound system/mic or be willing to invest in it. And promo happens online now, which costs nothing. my two cents. good luck!

    • Hey there!

      Yeah, I hear what you’re saying. And you’re completely right: it costs nothing to start a room. That said, the idea behind starting an open mic room is that I want it to be the proving ground from which I can launch shows where I charge people at the door. In that light, I want to start a room with the same approach that I’d start a paid show (flyering, etc.). I figure that if I can draw a crowd of 25-40 people to a weekly open mic, I can entice them to drop $10-15 on seeing the comics they loved to see doing longer sets.

      The other reason is that I don’t have the bus fare to travel down to the open mic right now. Come to think of it, if I had unlimited bus fare, I’d have probably started the open mic already. Lol. So perhaps that first paragraph in my response, while sound in reasoning, is complete horseshit, my ego trying to protect itself from the fact that it’s deathly afraid of starting my own room and nobody coming not even comics and being there lonely and staring at the bar owner as his eyes tell me, “You Liar!” because nobody has come and then he tells me he doesn’t want to do the open mic anymore and then I have to tell everyone that I told about my room that the open mic is cancelled forever because nobody came to the first one and then I feel bad and I feel even worse because hey those guys over there got an open mic to work what about me what does that say about me??

      Phew. Glad to get that out. Thanks. I’ve been trying to move closer to my pain, rather than farther from it, in an attempt to uncover the ways in which my ego uses fear to assert itself and paralyze me.

      We would like to think that we could leave all the pain aside and go directly to the payoff of interconnectedness, but for most of us that is not the case. One of the hardest lessons on any spiritual path is to understand that interconnection comes from the wisdom discovered through exposure to our pain, not in turning away from it. – Rodney Stephens, Stepping out of Self-Deception

      Thanks for calling me out on my bullshit!

      Jagdeo

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  6. Hey there! I’m a twit and changed my email address so I wasn’t getting email updates on your posts, sorry! Sorry again that you’re that broke, ouch. I’m sending another blogger your way hopefully, she wants to do stand up at least once as a treat to herself and I suggested you might share some tips on how and where, even though she’s in Arizona.

    • Hey HTBS!

      Ah, don’t worry about the broke thing too much. I’m starting to look at different challenges in my life as obstacles that will help me reveal my true self. Hindu’s have a term for this type of work called sadhana, which is the undertaking of any task that brings you closer to enlightenment.

      If your friend has any questions about stand-up, tell her to give me a shout via jagdeo [] gmail [] com! I wouldn’t give her any advice on the creation of comedy, per se, because I wouldn’t want to adversely influence her development, but it’d be great to connect with someone just starting out! Sometimes all we need is a push!

      Really glad to hear from ya!

      Jagdeo

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