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.