I lost out on a gig today. It wasn't anyone's fault, and it certainly isn't anything to lose sleep over, but it was a show I was really looking forward to. Normally, I would look at something like this with a glass half full mentality; "at least I was considered for the show in the first place". But for some reason today it's really bringing me down. A festival that I'd really, really like to be a part of is currently accepting applications, and I'm pushing myself harder than I have since the Funniest Person back in May to study my act, punch up (make funnier) everything I can, and really get my act polished up. I think maybe the pressure I'm putting on myself is starting to take a toll, and whether I like it or not, my mind is slipping into "why even bother?" territory. At least as far as comedy is concerned.
(You were warned. This blog is going to be whiny. I half expect to wake up tomorrow morning and wonder why I wrote this blog to begin with. But I want to vent tonight).
My 2 year comedy anniversary is in January. And going into my third "season" as a comic, I have my mind made up that I want to take bigger steps than I did my sophomore year. A headliner I look up to recently told me that I have a very "old school" approach to stand up and dealing with a headliner. I try to stay out of their way. If I know he/she likes to tell jokes about a certain topic or touch on certain things, I try to avoid them. Things like that. Not because I don't think they can follow me, but because I'm of the mentality that they're the main event of the evening. My job as the opener or emcee is to help set the stage for them to have as easy of night as possible, and for them to do the absolute best they can, so people go home happy, and want to come back for another show. And while I still believe that, I feel like in this upcoming year, I need to start looking out for myself a little more. I want to buckle down, push myself harder than ever, and really take that next step toward becoming a headliner myself.
That brings me back to the festival I mentioned earlier. I showcased for a different festival a couple months ago, and while I didn't mail it in or anything, I went into the show with the mentality of, "I'm playing with house money. This festival is for headliners. I'm not supposed to be there, so I have nothing to lose." I went in with the idea that I probably won't get it anyways. And I think you could see it in my set that night. I don't want to make that mistake again. I'm 100% focused on getting to the next level. I can see the gap between my act and the way a headliner crushes, and I'm obsessed with trying to close it.
That said, it's still a pretty big gap. Im not looking for anyone to blow smoke up my ass, I'm just being honest. Still, I take pride in the improvements I've made on stage this year. Instead of going into this festival with the "nothing to lose" ideology, I'm trying to have a "make it as hard as possible for them to say no" thought process. I'm not a headliner, and I think maybe some would say that I don't belong on a show like this yet. But at some point, every opener needs to open (awful pun, I'm sorry) a door or two for themselves. I want to start pounding on those doors. If I don't do something to move even a *little bit* closer to doing that every single day, I feel guilty. Like I'm slacking off. It's a good mentality, but it eats away at you sometimes.
Comedy is fun. I enjoy the creative process of writing, testing, working on my act. And frankly, if it wasn't fun, it wouldn't be worth doing. It certainly isn't from a financial stand point yet. I could go back to just working a normal job, and make a lot more money. But it wouldn't fun. I desperately want to get good at this. To be able to call this a career is something I dream about almost every day. I've accepted that that dream is totally obtainable, but it comes with a lot of work attached. I know that inevitably I'm going to have days like today, where the work doesn't seem worth it, and the dream doesn't feel worth chasing. I know/hope that tomorrow when I wake up, I still have that "kick down doors" mindset.
Every week, I record a podcast that about 50 people listen to. I work on jokes that I can tell to a room of 15 people on a Wednesday night. I see my girlfriend and dog for about an hour a day, and my friends and family even less. I chalk all of it up to paying my dues, with the end goal of making a living telling jokes. Some days I can't help but wonder why I bother. And then I write a blog like this, and it reminds me.
I'm going to go listen to my set from last night. Thanks for letting me vent.
( I just read this back before I hit "publish", and it's just a mess of me whining, and bragging about how I think I work hard. But I haven't posted a blog in a while, and it motivated me. So fuck it).