Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Feel Like Venting...10/8/19

It's been a while, eh? Does anyone still read this thing?

I don't post in here often anymore. Partially because I get enough of an opportunity to talk about myself on my podcast every week (rememberthegamepodcast.com). Partially because I don't have anything interesting to say. Partially because it takes time to write these stupid things, and a blog five people read when they can't sleep isn't at the top of my priority list these days. But I feel like blogging today. So if it's 3am and you're laying there staring at your phone, hopefully this helps.

I mentioned it a couple weeks ago, but it's been three years since I quit my forklift job at Uline and decided to try and take a run at being a comedian. I was already doing stand-up, but it was a secondary hobby/source of income to my day job and life. I hated my job at Uline, I was working a ton of hours, hated the company's direction, philosophies and work environment, and decided that at 32 years old, it was time to swing or get out of the batter's box. Fortunately, my friends at Pro-Am Sports hooked me up with a job that included some very flexible hours, and they helped ease my transition into the wonderful/awkward/stressful/crazy world of being a self-employed comedian.

I've really struggled with this lifestyle change over the last couple years. I didn't go to any post-secondary school, and I have no real skills or education aside from my High School diploma, but (in my opinion) I have a great work ethic. I was raised that way. I always had a job, and took pride in showing up every day and trading my employer an honest day's work for my paycheque. My mindset since I was fourteen was that everyone should have a job, and they should punch the clock everyday and work hard. Going from that life to one where I'm my boss, there is no guaranteed paycheque, and my job is to write jokes and find people that will pay me to tell them has been harder than I thought. I can't help but feel like...I don't know what the word is...loser? Failure? Slacker? Bum?

And the problem isn't so much in a "finding work" sense, because I've been ridiculously fortunate to make some great connections in the industry, and I've managed to stay busy enough to eat every month. But I put a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself, and I feel like no matter how hard I work to book shows, write jokes and stay relevant in comedy, it's never enough. I can send emails for hours, and if at the end of the day, nobody has replied, I feel like I didn't accomplish anything. Like I took the day off. It's not the right mindset at all, there's only so many bookers and clubs out there, and there's A LOT more comedians than there is shows, but it's just a feeling I'm unable to shake. My girlfriend is the most supportive person on the planet. She's never said I'm not working enough or making enough money, but I feel this unquenchable thirst to show her she backed the right horse when she supported me quitting my day job. That's what motivates me, and it's what makes me feel like I'm never doing enough.

I'm on the road more than ever before, too, and I've come to the conclusion I don't like it. The idea of going on tour for a few months or something just sounds like hell to me. I like my own bed, my dog, my girlfriend. I hate sleeping in hotels, and being away from home. My friends and family have pointed out to me that I'm never around anymore, and it really wears me down sometimes. I hate it, because I feel like I'm letting them down. But the hours comedians work are the exact opposite of most people. I don't know if it grinds on other comics as much as it does me, but it's been a very hard thing to get used to.

I've said it on here many times, but I decided shortly after I started comedy that the career I wanted was one in Alberta. I always tell people at the corporate shows and fundraisers I do in Western Canada that small town comedy shows are my favourite shows, and I really mean it. The people are awesome, the shows are rad, and it's usually not more than a night to two away from home. That's what I want out of my comedy career. Most comedians hate doing corporate shows; I love them.

I don't plan to ever record a comedy album, I don't care if I ever get a major festival or blow up on-line and become famous. I just want to make my girlfriend proud, help provide for our family, and spend as much time with her and my dog as I possibly can. I don't want to have a boss telling me what to do. I want to be my boss. I just have to learn to relax and enjoy it now.

There really is no point to this blog, I guess. If you read this, and it comes across like I'm just whining about my life, I am. But it wasn't my intention. I love my life. I literally have everything I could ask for. My days consist of walking my dog, writing jokes, and talking about video games on my stupid podcast. I do feel like I'm slowly adjusting to the self-employed life and learning to enjoy it while still keeping my foot on the gas. But some days are easier than others. And today has been a "you aren't working hard enough but if you work more you'll be ignoring everyone that you care about" day, and I had to vent. And what better way to vent than via a blog 5 people are reading at 3am?

Thanks for reading. Go Rays!


Wednesday, 9 January 2019

My Comedy-Versary 01/09/19

My comedy anniversary is coming up later this month. I'm not a big "New Year's Resolution" guy, but when my comedy-versary (I'm not sure why that's got the red line under it, it's totally a word?) comes around, I like to try and set some goals for my upcoming "stand up season".

When comics meet for the first time, "How long have you been doing stand up?" is a pretty common ice breaker. It doesn't really matter, but it's something to get the conversational ball rolling. I think some people put too much stock into how long a comedian has been comedian-ing (again, real word). Some people inflate the numbers by including those first 2 years where they only got on stage 5 times. Sometimes a comic will tell you they've been at it for a long time, and you look at where they are and you can't help but feel bad for them. Once and a while, someone tells you they've only been at it for _____, and you're both impressed and jealous of how good they already are. But at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter how long they've been a comic for. It only matters if they're funny, if they're fun to be around, and if they sell tickets (the order of those qualities varies greatly, depending on who you ask.)

I'll be entering my 4th "stand up season" in a couple weeks, and I'm 100% positive that just as many people have felt bad for me as have been impressed (I don't think anyone has been jealous). When I look back, I'm really proud of some aspects of the last year, and really disappointed in others. If you're a creative person, and you can't see ways you could constantly be improving your creation, you need to give your head a shake. I know that at various times this year I've been guilty of "taking my foot of the gas", and it rattles me, because I know I could be a much better comic than I am if I could just keep my eye on the ball. (Cue the lazy eye jokes).

I have, however, worked really, really hard on giving it everything I have when I'm on stage over the last year. Maybe not always at open mics, but when someone is paying me to tell jokes, I'm going to give them everything I have. A big part of that was quitting my day job in May and deciding to try take on comedy full-time. This has become my livelihood now, and I look at comedy as a business, instead of a hobby. I feel like I can honestly say that if you hire me to perform on your show, I will do everything in my power to give you the best show I can. I don't "take shifts off" anymore, and I really take a lot of pride in that.

I try to be self aware, and I know where I need to improve. I'm dedicated to trying my best to focus those areas. As I start to take the (overwhelming) step into doing 45-60 minute sets and headlining shows, I'm putting more pressure on myself than ever to experiment and grow as a comic. I love watching really good headliners just crush on stage, not so much because they make me laugh, but because they inspire me. I won't be satisfied until I can do what they do.

Part of getting there is experimentation and forcing myself to step out of my comfort zone. I'm trying to shift the direction of my joke writing away from relationships and my many, many physical shortcomings, and lean into more observational, every day things. I find it a lot harder to write jokes about, but I also get a far greatest sense of accomplishment out of it. I know in the long term it'll make me a better comedian.

My Comedy-versary Resolution is to stay focused. Stop being hard on myself, stop comparing my comedy or career to others, and to just try and get a little better every set. Just keep taking one step at a time. As long as people keep hiring me, I'm doing something right. And if they stop hiring me, I'll go back to just writing jokes about my lazy eye and Shaley.

Thanks for reading this, supporting me, hiring me, heckling me - just paying attention to me. I appreciate it.


Thursday, 3 January 2019

Happy New Year! 01/03/19

I forced myself to write 100 of these in 100 days in 2018, and then I wrote about 3 more afterwards. I need to find a happy medium between those numbers. I might try for the 100 in 100 again, though. That was fun. 

I hope you all had a great holiday season, and I hope the 'January Blues' aren't hitting you too hard. Getting back into a normal routine after a couple weeks of just eating and drinking always sucks. If you're hating it, just try to stay positive, and remember that Summer is only about 6 months away! Ugh....

I spent Christmas out in BC with my girlfriend, Shaley's, family. It was a lot of fun. While we were driving back to Edmonton on boxing day, we were talking about the hype that goes in Christmas now. Christmas decorations hit the shelves on November 1st. We spend 2 months getting all wound up, and then just like *that*, it's over. I think I like the anticipation more than the day itself. 

On a side note, one of my favourite things about visiting family in BC is the drive out there and back with Shaley. Our schedules don't align too often these days. As much as we joke about irritating each other, I like it when we get to spend a day or two in the car together, talking about places we want to go and stuff we want to do down the road. Most of our vacations over the last 5 years came from a discussion in the car. 

2018 was a big year for me. First and foremost, I decided to take the leap and become a "full-time" comedian (I believe the technical term is a "bum"). The money isn't great, but the freedom is. I love the time I have to write and work on other projects. Giving up having a bunch of spending money for that freedom and lifestyle is a no brainer. I still have days where I feel like a loser, who needs to get a regular job and "be the man of the house", but I'm gradually forcing myself out of that mindset. Shaley has a great job, I'm slowly starting to make more money, and I clean the house, cook dinner, and take care of our errands and our dog when I'm not on the road. It's really working well for us, and that's all that matters.

I found a beautiful girl, that supports me and every stupid idea I have without question. It's cliche, but I don't care about fame or money. I have everything I need already. I think some of the comics I go on the road with probably get sick of hearing me talk about her. Shaley is the best thing that's happened to me in 35 years. 

I hope these two ladies never realize how much better they could have done
January 21st will mark my 3 year anniversary as a comedian, and I have big goals for year 4. I think they're all pretty realistic, albeit a little ambitious. It's going to take a lot of work to reach the level I want to be at by the end of the year, and I'm excited to try. A lot of great comedians and bookers have given my advice and opportunities over the last 12 months, and I'm truly grateful to all of them. Thanks to all my friends (in and out of comedy) for supporting me, and picking me up when I need it. Thanks to my family for the overwhelming encouragement, despite the fact that your 35 year old son/brother/cousin/nephew/whatever is unemployed and makes fun of all of you in front of strangers. And thanks to Shaley and Molly for pushing me and being there for me no matter what. Love you. 

Aside from comedy, Shaley and I had some great times this year. We tried to avoid getting run over by scooters in Vietnam, fell in love with Tokyo, and drank beer at Wrigley Field in Chicago. It was so much fun. We'e settled into our new place, and we're even talking about adding a 4th member to our little clan in 2019! (A four legged member, sorry Mom). 

I shut down my original 'Adam Wastes Time' podcast, but launched 'Remember The Game?', which is a video game podcast I've been kicking around for a while. The download numbers for it have lapped my original podcast a couple times already, and I'm REALLY enjoying it. I'm excited to focus on growing it's audience in 2019, and I can't thank everyone enough for listening to it, sharing it, and most importantly, appearing on it! Video games are my drug, and I'm really pumped to have a side project I can work on that revolves around them. 

I'm still *verrrrry* slowly chipping away at writing a book. It's a much bigger task than I anticipated, and I don't imagine I'll ever let anyone read it, but it's something I've wanted to try forever. I don't have a New Year's Resolution per say, but if I did have to make one, it would be to really focus on this thing, and try to finish at least a first draft this year. The challenge becomes finding time to work on it without taking away from my joke writing, which has to be the priority now. (And is also something I should be working a little harder on). 

Anyways, this is long enough. I just wanted to touch on 2018 and post one of these. I'll try to be a little more frequent with them this year, for the 5 of you that read them. If you made resolutions, I hope you stick with them. If you didn't, that's cool, too. Just worry about getting through each day as happy as possible. Forget what anyone else thinks of you, and focus on cutting the negative stuff out of your life. And if that doesn't work, weed is legal now.

Happy new year.


Monday, 29 October 2018

I Love "Controversial" Comedy 10/29/18

It's been a while, ol' blog of mine. I hope life is treating you well.

I've been staying busy away from the blog. Next week, I have my first opportunity to do an hour on stage. I'm getting pretty comfortable with 45 minutes,  and I'm excited to push myself out of my comfort zone. It's funny, I still remember when 10 minutes seemed like an hour...

One of the things I really enjoy about standup is being able to see how you're improving as a comedian. Like working out and taking progress pics, I can watch tape from 6 months ago and see a ton of stuff that I wouldn't do now. I'm sure that'll be the case for years and years to come, and that's probably the thing that motivates me the most to keep working. I never want to like one of my videos that's more than a few months old.

On that note, I've really rediscovered my love for writing and creating new material lately. With this hour coming up, my focus has shifted toward churning out and going through the process of "polishing" some new stuff. Taking a joke from a new idea to something I'm comfortable saying in exchange for people's money is a long road. And, as I'm sure all creative people do, I get into slumps all the time. A stretch of days/weeks/months where I can't seem to come up with anything new. Once that starts, it can take forever for me to get out of it, and I just stop writing altogether. Taking on the new challenge of doing more time than I ever have has really kicked me in the ass and got me putting a pen to paper, though. I have three or four new bits that I really feel are turning into something good, and sometimes all you need is one idea to semi-work, and it can start a chain reaction. Nothing feels better than getting a laugh off of a new joke, and it not only gets me writing more, it gets me more excited to hit the mics at night, because I have something new to work on. It's exciting!

Which brings me to the reason I decided to write this blog today in the first place. I've been really trying hard to get away from just writing relationship material. I like that type of comedy a lot, but I feel like I've become to reliant on it. I made a conscious decision to try and write jokes about things that have nothing to do with me and my girlfriend, both to challenge myself and to try and grow as a comic. I'm proud to say that the new stuff I'm working on not only has nothing to do with my girlfriend, but I really do feel like it's some of the best stuff I've written in the last three years. I'm sure in another couple years I'll hate it, but it motivates me to keep going, knowing that (in my mind, anyways), I'm improving as a writer and a comedian. 

It's also all pretty clean stuff. I realized about a year ago that my future in comedy would probably be as a corporate comic. And while I don't intentionally try to write clean jokes, my sense of humour just steers me in that direction. It doesn't bother me, but I do find myself admiring comics (both on the world famous level, and right here in Edmonton), that can get on stage and talk about controversial, "offensive" subject matter. Particularly in a society that shifts more and more toward making sure nobody gets offended every day. 

I'm envious of comedians that are good at walking the line, because I'm not. I think it's a special talent, to be able to talk a topic nobody wants to talk about and not only talk about it, but make it funny. Comedians are artists, and as such, we have a right (and some may say, an obligation), to create the content our talents and inner voices want to create. We then share those creations with the world, and open ourselves up to judgement every time we do. Some comics, like myself, play it safe. We stick to inoffensive, happy-go-lucky jokes that are almost guaranteed to not turn any heads or ruffle any feathers. Other decide to push back at society, and go after the topics people don't want to laugh at. They often say what many of us think, but don't want to say ourselves. I think there's something admirable about that. 

People have every right to be offended, be it by a joke, an event, a holiday, whatever. But people also have every right to make a joke, host an event, or celebrate a holiday. If you don't appreciate what someone is saying, turn them off. Walk away. Frankly, that will probably hurt them more than just telling them you don't like what they're about. But if you're one of the comedians out there telling jokes that make people mad, keep doing you. Comedy, and the world, needs you right now.

I have a great deal of respect for anyone that's willing to get on stage. It takes some balls to get in front of a room full of strangers and try to make them laugh. But when you work clean, the biggest risk you run is bombing and having people think you're not funny. When you push the envelope with your jokes, you not only chance that an audience won't like you, they'll find you offensive. That's the modern day equivalent of being labeled a witch...

Keep on keeping on, comics. We need you.

Thanks for reading. 


Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Being Away From Home....09/12/18

I've been away for two weeks, which in the world of stand up comedy, really isn't that long. I guess in most worlds it isn't. And while I'm not crippled by homesickness or anything, I'm looking forward to going home for a few days. I miss my girlfriend, and I can't wait to see my dog.

Admittedly, I'm still taking baby steps as a comic. This is only the second or third time I've been on the road for more than a few days, but I totally get why some comics say it's the hardest part of the job. My girlfriend and I don't see a ton of each other, even when I am home, because of our schedules. She leaves for work early in the morning, and I usually head out to shows or open mics in the evening. We text and talk on the phone, and when we get time to hang out, we make the most of it. Being away for any real length of time takes away that couple hours we spend together having dinner, and that's kind of shitty. 

How a comedian does this job with kids at home, I have no idea. I'm not saying they shouldn't or anything. I just have a lot of respect for those that can, because I can't imagine how hard it must be after a while. The closest I have is my dog, and it's driving me crazy not having her around. To have a couple kids in that spot? Man.....

But what do I know?? I'm not a parent. Maybe you look forward to the break?? A little peace and quiet, sleeping in. Haha, maybe having kids at home are why some people become comedians in the first place!

I have one more week of shows with the Absolute Comedy clubs here in Ontario, and it's at the Toronto club. Pete Zedlacher is the headliner, and he's an absolute killer, so if you're reading this and you happen to be in Toronto, pop by the club!

Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Good Times in Kingston 09/04/18

This morning, I'm heading to Ottawa for a week, after finishing off a great week of shows at Absolute Comedy in Kingston.

The shows themselves were awesome. Every audience came to play, they were dialled in and energetic right off the top, which is perfect, and we had a lot of fun. I was a little rough around the edges on Wednesday night for the first show; it was my MC debut with Absolute and I could tell I was a little nervous. I also caught the red-eye out from Edmonton, and I hadn't really slept in a day and a half which didn't help. I settled in the second night, though, and overall I think I'm pretty happy with the shows.

The staff were ridiculously accommodating, too. They were so nice to us each night, and it really helped me relax and get comfortable in a new setting. I can't say enough good things about everyone out here, and I really hope I get a chance to come back and do it again next year. Thanks guys!

The real prize of the week was getting a chance to catch up with a bunch of my family. I was born out here, and moved away before the 1st grade. Most of my family still lives in or around Kingston, and I don't get many chances to come out here and catch up with them. A few people came out and saw a show at the club, which was much appreciated. We had Sunday off, and I rented a car and drove out to Trenton to visit with my Grandma, which was the absolute highlight of the week for me. My Dad's brothers and I took her out for lunch and caught up, and then after we dropped her off, we went out to my Uncle's place to partake in the Blank family tradition of drinking a lot of beer. We sat outside drinking and catching for the night, and despite not feeling great Monday morning, it was awesome. I came back to Kingston that morning to drop my rental off, and had a chance to get lunch with my Mom's brother that afternoon, too.

Like I said, getting the opportunity to perform at these clubs is fantastic, but getting to visit with my family at the same time makes it perfect. This week couldn't possibly have gone any better. Now it's off to Ottawa for a week of shows at the Absolute club up there, and I can't wait. I love that city, and the audiences at the club are some of the best I've ever been in front of.

Life is good.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, 31 August 2018

#100 - 100 in 100 08/31/18

100 blogs in 100 days. I don't know who should be more excited... Me, because I accomplished something I set out to do, or everyone else, because these blogs won't be rammed down your throats anymore.

When I set the goal of writing all these things, my mentality behind it was that it'll get my writing muscles flexing first thing in the morning. That worked perfectly for the first few weeks, but after a while I started struggling to come up with something to talk about. The last month or so, there were actually days where writing this blog made me feel less inclined to work on my other writing projects, because I was burnt out by the time I finished the blog. In hindsight, I drastically underestimated how difficult writing a daily blog would be.

I also had quite a few days where I worried about pissing people off with these. Every single day, "Hey guys, read more about me!" Blogs like this are self indulgent, without question. As I went on, though, I really did start developing a thicker skin in regards to other's opinions. I never forced anyone to read a single entry, I merely posted that I wrote it in case anyone was interested. Looking at the stats, readership has dipped slightly from blog 1 until yesterday, but not by very much. It looks like a lot of people that read the first entry read most of them through today's. If you read all of them, some of them, one of them; thanks for taking an interest in what I have going on. I really do appreciate it. 

I'm not going to stop blogging now, but I will pull it back a little. Prior to setting my 100 in 100 goal, I blogged a couple times a month. I'm going to shoot to post a couple a week moving forward, but I won't force it anymore. If I don't have anything to talk about, I won't get up in the morning and stare at my laptop trying to think of a topic to write about. 

Like I mentioned earlier, my goal was to get myself into a mindset of doing some writing every morning while I drink my coffee, instead of playing video games for an hour. I think it's been successful, but the real test will be tomorrow morning when I wake up and know that I have no obligation to write anything. As I've said many times in these blogs, the thing I find hardest about doing stand up is forcing myself to sit down and work on my jokes. Hopefully, this blog project has developed a habit of writing something everyday. I want working on my jokes to be the same as showering or brushing my teeth; just part of my daily routine. 

So once again, this is it for a few days. If my constant posting about these blogs on Facebook and Twitter has irritated you, today's your lucky day! Well, tomorrow is. 

If you've been reading them, thanks again.