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.


Thursday, 30 August 2018

#99 - Excited to be in Ontario 08/30/18

This morning, I'm sitting in the club's condo in Kingston this morning, getting ready for a three week run at the Absolute Comedy Clubs in Kingston, Ottawa, and Toronto.

I'm really excited for the chance to do these clubs again (Toronto for the first time). I had the opportunity to come out and hit Ottawa and Kingston last year, and they were a blast. It's fun getting to perform for different audiences and see some new cities, and there's a bunch of shows, so you stay pretty busy. The clubs are always packed, the staff are awesome, and the audiences are sick. A bunch of really fun shows. I owe my friend Mike Dambra an incredible debt for opening this door for me.

An extra bonus is that I have a lot of family out here that I very rarely get to see, so having a few of them come out to a show or two is really cool. My Grandma can't make it out to a show, but I have a Sunday off this week and I'm going to rent a car and drive up to Trenton to see her, which will be the highlight of the entire run for sure. Living on the other side of the country, I rarely get back this way to visit, so catching up with everyone is an insane perk to the job.

When I started stand up, I was driving a forklift at Uline during the day and hitting up the open mics at night. I'd spend my days fantasizing about life as a full time comedian; sleeping in, having the day to do whatever I want, travelling, and work for a few minutes at night. It sounds perfect. Now that I've been at it for a few months, I've realized it's a lot more work than I thought it was. I spend a big chunk of my day emailing and writing, begging people to let me get on their stage. It beats the hell out of driving that forklift, though. Be it comedy, or whatever I end up doing, I'm never working for someone else again.

If this comes across as bragging, that's not my intention. I'm just a guy that's gotten insanely lucky over the last couple years, and writes blogs about it. If you've read the last 98 of these things, I have to assume you're at least moderately interested in what I have to say.

Thanks for being interested.


Wednesday, 29 August 2018

#98 - Louis CK is back 08/29/18

A couple nights ago, Louis CK got on stage for the first time since he got called out for being a perv. As expected, a lot of people weren't too happy about it.

I'm not going to get into the details of what Louis did. If you don't know what I'm talking about, a quick Google of his name will provide you with everything you need to know. And I'm not going to sit here and defend him, because he fucked up and he deserves all the flack and heat that's come his way over the last year or so. That said, comedy is how the guy makes a living, and like him or not, he's entitled to do so. Everyone is. Just because you don't like it, doesn't mean it isn't true.

Michael Vick was convicted of running a disgusting dog fighting operation, and was sentenced to prison time. He got out of jail, and sure as hell, he found his way back into the NFL. I love dogs, and I fucking hate Michael Vick. He makes me sick, and if he had signed with the Broncos, I probably would've had to find a new favourite football team. The guy killed dozens of dogs, but he's entitled to work, and do what he can to make a living. 

And much like people are entitled to their right to work and make a living, people are equally as entitled to be excited that someone is doing so. I'm sorry, but you'll never convince me that someone deserves to be criticized for celebrating Louis CK's return to comedy. If they come out and defend what Louis did, that's a different discussion (that frankly, I'm not interested in having). However, most of the posts I've seen regarding Louis CK's comedy comeback have simply been comedy fans expressing excitement over the fact that their favourite comedian is telling jokes again. I haven't seen one person defend him until they've been attacked for supporting his comedy.

It's become a popular thing to say since the allegations came out last year, but I've never been a huge Louis CK fan. I appreciate his ability recognize his talent, no question. His humour has just never really been up my alley. I didn't really miss him when he was gone, and I really could care less that he's back. I'm ignoring him. I think what he did was greasy and wrong, but he isn't being charged with anything. So the most I can do is not support his comedy. The same applies to everyone else. If you don't like him, that's totally fine. If you want to start discussions and posts about what a piece of shit you think he is, go right ahead. Going after people that just want to hear his jokes again accomplishes nothing. 

That's the way I look at it, anyway. Someone will probably shit all over me for defending people that aren't defending CK, but that's the internet.

Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, 28 August 2018

#97 - Talkin' Hockey 08/28/18

I'm not even an Oilers fan, but when I see the number 97, I can't help but think of that McDavid guy. Hockey is only about 5 weeks away, so today I figured I'd just lay down a few random thoughts I have about the upcoming season and the NHL in general.

- I'm a Habs fan, and they are I will argue until I die that trading PK Subban was the beginning of the downfall of this team. The latest downfall, anyway. I don't know what on earth they do to fix it now, either. Obviously, Pacioretty will be traded at some point, but they aren't going to get a King's ransom back from him. Carey Price is a beauty, but at this point all he's going to do is cost them a top draft pick (although he didn't last year, I guess). Some have said the Habs should let Price go in the Seattle expansion, and I get the logic behind it if they want to straight up re-build, but to let the best goalie of the generation walk for free would make Bergevin or whoever's in charge at the time look like the biggest failure in the franchise's history.

- Canada as a whole is going to suck, actually. I'm certainly not a "just bring the Cup back to Canada" fan, but I love the Habs and have no beef with the Jets. The Flames and Oilers I can take or leave, and I can't stand the Canucks, Senators, or Leafs. Fortunately/unfortunately, the Oilers, Canucks, Habs and Senators are about 100 miles away from the playoffs, never mind the Cup. The Flames will be a borderline playoff team, but they aren't going to scare anyone. I think most would agree that the Jets are legit contenders, and sadly, the Leafs are knocking on the door. Go Jets. How wicked would a Winnipeg Jets Stanley Cup be??

- I think Vegas takes a step back. Lightning doesn't strike the same place twice. That said, they should be proud of what they accomplished last year, and I don't think they'll be awful this season or anything, but I do think they'll come back down to Earth. Then again, I picked them to lose all the way to the Finals last year, so what do I know?

- I think the Western Conference will be another battle to the finish between Nashville and Winnipeg, and unfortunately they'll probably have to play in the second round again. The new playoff format is broken, go back to 1-8 for fuck sakes. California will be competitive, and the Flames, Stars, and Avalanche will hang around, too.

- As far as the Eastern Conference goes, Tampa Bay has to be the favourite, no? The Leafs, Bruins, Penguins and Capitals will all be playoff locks, and Philly, Jersey, and Columbus will be right there, too.

- McDavid will win the Art Ross trophy again, but he won't win the Hart because the Oilers won't be anywhere near the Playoffs. I'm not someone that thinks you have to make the playoffs to be named MVP, but you have to be close. He's the most outstanding player in the League, no question. But you can't be 'Most Valuable' on a team that finished in the bottom 1/4 of the standings, I don't care.

Playoff Predictions:


1 - Pittsburgh
2 - Washington
3 - Columbus

1 - Tampa Bay
2 - Toronto
3 - Boston

WC1 - New Jersey
WC2 - Florida


1 - Winnipeg
2 - Nashville
3 - Dallas

1 - Los Angeles
2 - Anaheim
3 - San Jose

WC1 - St. Louis
WC2 - Colorado

Conference Finals

Winnipeg def. Los Angeles
Tampa Bay def. Columbus

Cup Finals

Winnipeg def. Tampa Bay

What say you???