You've been warned.
It's Tuesday night. I've worked back to back 12 hour days at work (5-5), and performed comedy each of the last two nights (twice Sunday, and again Monday night). I think I've gotten maybe 7 hours of sleep since Saturday night. So if this blog doesn't make a lot of sense, well, bah.
Still loving comedy. I can't think of another thing that I enjoy doing so much that I'd be willing to give up that much sleep for. That alarm hits at 3:30 every morning, and it's midnight before I get to bed some nights. It's a boring old cliche, but I really feel like this is something I was born to do. Maybe not in a "get rich and famous sense" (although I wouldn't turn it down), but just in a "it feels right" type of way. My work weeks fly by, because almost every night from Sunday-Thursday I'm either getting on stage, trying to get on stage (more comedians than there are spots on shows means a lot of random draws), or writing and annoying Shaley by testing stupid jokes on her. Friday and Saturday are my catch up on sleep/do other stuff days. They save the weekend spots for the bigger fish in the comedy sea. Someday....
When I started going to these open mics, I would get really anxious before I got to the venue. Not because I was about to get on stage in front of a room full of strangers and make an ass out of myself, that really doesn't bother me, but because I wanted to fit in so badly with the other comedians. As in any other walk of life, there are some people that just don't get along, but as a whole the Edmonton comedy scene seems like a very tight knit group. You spend several nights a week together, facing down rooms of random people that expect you to entertain them. And I would always try to be polite and respectful, but above that, I would try to.....stay out of the way, I guess? I worried that that show would be the show where I pissed someone off, said the wrong thing, and would never get invited back.
Like I said, the comedians here are generally really nice. They don't turn new comics away, I think it's just more of a 'wait and see' approach. Which I get now. In just 4 months, I've probably seen 15 people come out, try comedy, and never come back. Maybe they bombed and were devastated, or just decided it wasn't their cup of tea. Some of them probably quickly realized what I did on my first night, that it really is harder than it looks, and decided it wasn't worth the effort to get good. The point is, I understand now why the veteran comics don't take every newcomer under their wing and start giving them advice every show. Not because they're snobs or jerks, but because they'd be starting over again every other week.
I just kept going back, keeping my head down, and trying not to bug people. One of the first pieces of advice I read when I decided to get into this was something like "don't worry about what the other comics think. Just go out every night trying to be a little funnier than the last time. If you put the effort in, people will notice it". It's worked for me. I don't feel like I'm 'in the way' anymore. I'm proud to call many of the comedians here my friends now. And it makes doing something you love that much more awesome when you can do it with your friends.
Some of them have gone out of their way to give me some really helpful advice, too. I listen to everything more experienced comics tell me, but a couple things in particular have stood out. I'm paraphrasing here;
"The problem isn't bombing. It's when you can't admit to yourself that you bombed. Learn from it."
I have bombed. Fuckinggggg hard. I absolutely sucked at a show recently, and when I got off the stage, the first thing I said was how bad of set it was. And someone came up to me and said the fact that you know that, and you can admit it, is a huge benefit to you. Go back, listen to it (the same comic suggested I keep recording my sets, which is a practice I've, grudgingly, practiced since day one), figure out what went wrong and work on it.
Makes sense. Like they say in sports, you learn more from losing than you do winning. *Insert Oilers/geniuses joke here*
"Don't take this the wrong way, but in your first year, nobody cares if your jokes are hacky. Just worry about figuring out how to be comfortable on stage. The jokes will come."
I made a comment to a comedian that I like and respect very much (he won't believe it, but it's true) that one of my problems is I'm afraid any joke I come up with is going to be considered hacky (easy jokes anyone can come up with), and he told me to not worry about it. Writing jokes is really fucking hard. Figure out how to get on stage in front of a room full of people and not look like a deer in the headlights. Then worry about your jokes. It really helped me relax and not worry about my material as much. I don't have to write a good joke for like, 8 more months!
And finally, "It's important to be humble and respect the comedians that came before you, but it's just as important to recognize your own natural abilities."
I didn't post this one to be all like "see? People think I'm good!". This comment really spoke to me. I absolutely believe in showing respect for the people that came before you, I expect it from new people at work, and I give it in situations that call for it, away from comedy included. But hearing this from someone held in very high regard throughout the Edmonton comedy world really felt good. There's nothing wrong with believing in yourself, and I think everyone can tell when they find something just feels natural. This just reminded me that it was ok to admit it. Yesterday, I was on my buddy Ryan Short's show at The Comic Strip (he hosts a joke battle there every Monday. Check it out, it's a good time!), and the lineup for it was just stacked. Headliners, finalists from Funniest Person With a Day Job, comedians like Alex Fortin, Dan Clarke, Ken Hicks, William Hannigan. Really funny guys. Established comedians. And I felt like belonged there. Not that I was better than any of them, because frankly, I'm not. But I didn't feel like I was out of place, or I'd bring the quality of the show down. I felt like I deserved my seat at the table. I have the advice above to thank for that.
I'm certainly not stealing every show that I appear on. But I feel at this point I'm confident I can bring something to the team when I get lucky enough to get booked on a show. I'm the Edmonton comedy scene's 4th line grinder. Suits me just fine. To every comic that has gone out of their way to give me any advice, or especially, offer me a spot on their show that they could fill with 100 other comics, thank you very much. I'm very proud to be part of this incredible community. I've said it a million times in the last few months, but giving stand up comedy a chance was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
If there's something out there you want to try, go for it. Worst case, you hate it and you don't have to wonder anymore. Best case, it becomes one of the greatest things that ever happened to you.
PS - I have a lot of friends and family from out of town asking if I have any video they can watch. Simon, a local comic, was nice enough to record my set from a couple weeks ago and send it to me. I haven't posted any video on YouTube because I don't think I've had a set worth posting. So for those of you asking for a video, know that I really appreciate your support, but I'm taking this really seriously. And it's not there yet. When I have a set that I feel is good enough, I will share the hell out of it like an egomaniac, trust me!