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 🙂

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
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11 Responses to Getting Back On The Horse

  1. Cindy Allingham says:

    Michael, I suspect you are getting close to the answer. I’m gonna be blunt here. You may just have to frame the question first. No You Ain’t Gotta Be Famous Today, nor do you ain’t gotta be ‘successful in business’. If you like being funny, then keep performing, but enjoy it for what it is – enjoy each performance. Accept that you won’t get rich at it, although you might get famous but what if you don’t???? Not a lot of people do, you know. What if you are not funny, despite all your trying???? Not everybody can be. If you wanta get rich, find a greasy dirty business you can stomach and work incredibly hard all your life, as you have done in a number of jobs since I met you in 2008. But work on being happy and not scared and having acceptance. Love yourself, and then you can laugh at yourself and then you can be funny.

    • Hi Cindy!

      It’s so funny that you mention enjoying each performance, because in the past few days, I’ve had a complete change of heart with regards to how I perform comedy.

      I used to AGONIZE over every performance – AGONIZE. But recently, I realized that I’m funniest is when I connect with the audience. So now, instead of wracking my brain about what I’m going to do on stage, I’m slowly starting to go up and truly ENJOY MYSELF and build a relationship.

      It was tough, because as someone who prides themselves on their writing, it was completely counter-intuitive to be myself. When people told me I needed to write a lot and get on stage a lot, I thought comedy was about writing jokes and telling those jokes on stage. What I’m finding is that audiences want more than that they want to talk to ME.

      Oddly enough, this philosophy of enjoying myself, loving myself, and being myself has helped me grow by leaps and bounds in business. I’ve rarely shared my heart in my work, but now that I’m doing away with the corporate act and connecting with people on a more human level – where nobody’s wearing a suit and tie – opportunities are literally finding me! I have about $90 to my name, but I couldn’t feel any richer.

      Thanks, Cindy! You always know how to call me on my shit! I deeply appreciate it. 🙂


  2. this list sounds right to me. I’ve been thinking of making an appointment with a life coach, as far as the mentor aspect goes. Are you saying there that smoking weed was part of your recovery?

    • That could work! I’m always skeptical about life coaches because the term connotes (for me, anyway) a ‘wide-eyed enthusiastic never-achieved-anything-in-life talking head’, but if you can find one who’s achieved success in their lives, why not?


      I’d never smoked weed/cigarettes ever. I don’t drink, and after my grandma passed, I decided, hey, life is short, why not treed weed? For the first time in my life, the constant neurotic chatter in my life reminding me about everything I ‘needed’ to worry about in life was suddenly SWITCHED OFF. I had a clear head.


      That said, I would have never gotten better if I hadn’t met an AMAZING Naturopath who spent 10 hours in 4 months to really understand all of my issues, my family history, my diet, my mental state, my goals in life, and then created a customized plan to help me deal with everything, issue by issue by issue. If you lived in Toronto I could’ve introduced you guys!

      He also helped me deal with issues in the right order, which was interesting. Instead of helping me grieve for my dad’s passing (which I hadn’t been able to do for 9 years), we started with a half plate of veggies with every meal to improve my oxygen flow, which knocked out the anxiety that I thought I had. Adding exercise on top and therapy sessions thereafter helped me finally cry for my dad, and after that? It was like someone put a rocket on my back. It was like I was awake for the first time in a decade.


      Another caveat: I’m a rabid self-improvement nerd. I’ve read all of the self-help books, done the Tony Robbins courses, listened to the lectures, etc. So once I finally had my physical body above water, so to speak, and I resolved the blockages with my dad, I pretty much already knew or had the motivation to learn how to eliminate all of my negative behaviours, one by one.


      The three negative behaviours that were holding me back were:
      – Giving into my food cravings
      – Avoiding work
      – Avoiding getting on stage

      I synthesized, via Tony Robbins and everything else I learned, a step-by-step program to eliminate these negative behaviours. It was an arduous process in creating the step-by-step program, but in going through the exercises I created for myself, I was able to overcome each and every one.

      So I guess that’s the short-version of how I got better? Lol drop me an email via jagdeo [at] gmail [.com] and we can chat further if ya’d like!

      I’ve been really down in my life, man. Stayed in bed for months at a time, treated the people closest to me like shit, literally almost ate myself to death. Now that I’m out of it, or at least know how to anticipate and deal with my Achilles heels, it’s like someone’s removed the barrier to my dreams.


      • I was interested to hear you started smoking weed as part of the plan because I thought of trying that myself. I used to smoke it when I was younger but not for years and years. There’s definitely something I haven’t got past, like you with your dad- sorry. I can see you’re on a mission indeed. Thank you for the offer of an email. Really appreciate it. I might take you up on that but I would need to have a think myself first. For some reason I always find the concept of self-improvement a bit dubious, like ‘really? really though?’ But your experience here is something to think about.

      • *sudden, radical self-improvement I mean

      • Is the ‘Seinfeld’ calendar still working for you? That seems like it might be a good thing to start with for me.

        • Yeah, smoking weed was important. Hell, I grieved for my dad IMMEDIATELY AFTER smoking a joint. I literally cried right there on the balcony in -20 degree Celsius weather and listening to a soca song – not the way I thought I’d grieve, but it is what it is, I guess! Cavel – I Like (in case you were curious lol).

          But it’s important to note that the grieving happened AFTER I cleaned up my diet and lost at least 20lbs. I think my physical strength gave rise to the emotional strength I needed to 1) open up to the idea of really thinking about him and 2) crying for him.

          In that way, physical health, exercise, a healthy diet, AND marijuana all served as ingredients which produced a state in which I could really process my thoughts about him in a healthy way.

          Believe me, I know where you’re coming from when you say you’re dubious about self-improvement! I mean, if you look at the past ten years of my life, I’ve really only improved in the past 5 months…that’s…95% of the time spent reading up on self-improvement, 5% of the time ACTUALLY improving… …but it’s that 5% that makes the 95% worth it.

          It’s tough, because getting better isn’t like a classroom assignment where you have to ensure the essay is at least 2,500 words or something. There’s no fixed curriculum, as much as we’d like there to be. That Outcome Uncertainty made me give only a percentage of my effort. For example, I realized that I wasn’t reading books, I was turning pages. When I finished turning all of the pages, I’d give myself a pat on the back and two weeks later, back to the old Mike.

          But man am I ever glad that I stuck with it. There was always a part of me that ‘knew’ that I was capable of doing something great with my life. I’d give up when the going got tough, of course, but I guess perhaps I was falling forward?

          Seinfeld Calendar was a great thing! It was a really revealing process, seeing the difference between how hard I THOUGHT I was working and how hard I was ACTUALLY working,

          i.e. “Oh, comedy’s important to you, is it? So how come you didn’t go on stage all week? Oh, so you don’t really care about comedy, do you? Oh, you do? Well make time for it then! Making time for comedy is making time for YOURSELF.”

          Keep in mind…I’m far from done. I’m terrible at managing conflict, am horribly selfish, and my confidence is still below sea level. All negative behaviours that I’m going to address next (who knows,maybe it’ll take another ten years? I hope not!)…

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