Thursday, 29 December 2016

Working on new material 12/29/16

Working on new material, writing jokes, trying them on stage, listening back to the recordings, it can fucking suck. But it's one of the aspects of comedy I've come to enjoy and respect the most.

At the beginning, it's not so bad. If only because you don't have a choice. You don't know what works, so you just write anything you can think of, and hope it sticks when you go on stage and throw it against the wall. Eventually (hopefully sooner than later!), something does. And now you have the premise for your first "bit". The goal then is to keep telling it, but a little differently each time, and shape it into something to be proud of. A polished bit that you can take up there and be confident that more often than not, it'll get a laugh.

I gained a TREMENDOUS amount of confidence once I came up with a bit that consistently got a positive reaction (my lazy eye stuff). I worked on (and still polish it now), that bit for months; adding a line here, taking something out. Listening back to recordings of it to see what got a laugh, what didn't. Maybe I approach it too seriously, but I time how long I go between laughs, and if it's more than 20 seconds, I work to come up with a way to either shorten what I'm saying, or find a way to make it funnier. One of the things I enjoy least when I watch a comedian is when there is just too much fluff between jokes. A punchline that misses the mark is excusable (especially when working on new stuff), but when it's just rambling for 30, 40, 50+ seconds, I have a tendency to tune out. By the time you get to the punchline, I've forgotten where you were going.

In my eyes, stand up comedy is an art. As a joke writer, we're artists. I love the freedom that comes with creating art. When you write a joke, you can write anything you want. One of the things I like thinking about is that every single killer bit that hasn't been written or told yet is just sitting out there in space, waiting for someone to come along, write it down, and make it their own. When I sit down to work on new material, I don't go into it with the mentality of, "if I don't come up with a new closer today, it was a waste of time". I just start letting the pen move, scribbling anything I can think of about a particular topic. I try not to get frustrated if nothing good comes of it. It's the thrill of the hunt. It's like fishing. You aren't going to catch a fish every single time you cast your line, (or rod, or whatever the term is. I don't know, I don't fish.) But you keep doing it, because you know eventually you'll get one. The thrill of the hunt.

I totally understand how comedians develop some jokes that work, and then just keep telling them. It's just easier to go up there and use the stuff you know is safe. I've been working on forcing myself to get out of that comfort zone. If I have a 5 minute spot, I use 60-90 seconds to tell an abbreviated version of a joke I know works, and then I try to experiment with the rest of my time. Either trying a new approach to an old joke, or a new premise altogether. Once I get bored of something, I struggle to keep any interest in it. Doing the same thing every night is boring. I want to hit a point where no matter how much time I'm expected to do that night, I have enough material that I can plug and play with my set list. Keep it fresh and exciting.

I don't have a lot of shows over the holiday season. Some open mic are shut down until January, and I just want to take a little time to hang out with family and friends, and focus on my writing. I can't wait to hit the stage in the new year with some new stuff. I told someone the other day; "I write for an hour, to come up with 5 minutes to take on stage, to find out 20 seconds of that 5 minutes of material is any good."

Louis CK once told a story about how he had a really strong closing joke. So when he would do an hour, he would coast on stuff that was OK at best for 15 minutes toward the end of his set, because he knew he had a bit that was so strong, he could end with it, and nobody would remember that the previous 15 minutes weren't that good. It wasn't making him a better comedian. So, he moved that really good joke to the FRONT of his set. He would start his hour with it, and it forced him to not only beef up that 15 minutes, but write an even better joke to close with. When he did it, he would move THAT joke to the front of his set. It constantly forced him to write more, and get better. That's the stuff that I find fascinating about the art of writing jokes.

I'm trying to employ that method of writing myself. Jokes I told in March, I look back on now, and think they're terrible. I'll never tell them again. If all goes to plan, I'll hit a point where I feel that way about every joke I have in my arsenal right now, too.

Force yourself to get better, and enjoy the thrill of the hunt.


Wednesday, 14 December 2016

From 5 minutes to 30 12/14/16

As I type this, it's 5:50 pm on Wednesday, December 14th, 2016. I'm laying in my hotel room in Grande Prairie, and in 2 hours I'm going to perform my first 30 minute set of comedy.

I hope that a year from now, I can look back on this post and think, "30 minutes? That's nothing!"

January 21st of this year, I did my first set. It was 5 minutes long, and I memorized every word I was going to say. 5 minutes seemed like forever. Then a few months later, I did a 10 minute spot. I wrote every single joke I had down on my arm, just in case. It felt like half an hour. And now, almost 11 months after my first set, I'm actually going to do half an hour.

I like looking back on this past year, and the ride that has been stand up comedy. I've had my ups and downs, (luckily the ups WAY outnumber the downs), but it's been one of the most exciting years of my life. I think about comedy all the time. More than I want to, to be honest. When I wake up, I feel energized and excited. "Maybe I'll think of a killer new joke today". I (usually) can't wait to get on stage that night. Comedy feels like this thing inside of me, and it's taking over my brain. Some days I want to shut it out and get rid of it, but I can't.

I don't know if I believe in destiny. I think that for the most part, life is kind of meaningless. We don't really know why we're here, what we're supposed to do. 200 years from now, I think 99.9999% of people won't even be a footnote in the history of the world. I like that mentality. It's helped me control my temper, stay calm, and just enjoy life. There's no pressure. Just be happy, be a good person, and do whatever you want to do. Destiny means that something is supposed to happen. I don't like the idea that anyone's road through life is already mapped out. I think people decide their own fate, and how they're going to get there. You decide what the meaning of your life is. I don't know if comedy is my destiny, but even when I try to get away from it, it makes me feel better than anything else does.

It makes me happy. Even when it isn't going well, I feel like that's where I'm supposed to be. Being on stage is just comfortable. And when I combine that mentality with looking back on this ride, and how far I've come in 11 months, it makes me feel incredible. I can't wait to see what comes next. The universe lined up perfectly for me to try this, with my job, my lifestyle, where I live. I have the single most supportive girlfriend anyone could ever ask for.

I still don't know why I'm here. Or why anyone is here. But when you find the one thing you want to do with your life, the thing you can't stop thinking about, it changes the way you see the world. I'm a different person than I was 12 months ago.

January 21, 2016, I did 5 minutes of horrendous stand up comedy. I've worked really hard, and received a ton of help from people. December 14, 2016, I get to do 30 minutes of horrendous stand up comedy. I can't wait to see what I'm doing 11 months from now.

Thanks for reading my self-indulgent blog, and listening to my dumb jokes. I say it on here all the time, but you get one shot at life. Spend it doing what you want. And Shaley, I love you. Thanks for being so supportive of me :)

I have to go tell some jokes.


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Struggling to find my focus 12/7/16

I've been trying to figure out how to word this blog for a few days.

I haven't been as focused on my comedy lately, and I don't know why. I've missed some shows, haven't written very much. Spent some nights hibernating and playing video games instead of grinding. And it wasn't even a grind. Going to a different open mic or two every night was fun. I felt like I was chasing a dream, and it made me look at life an entirely different away. I've never felt that focused or motivated.

Then about three weeks ago, it started to go away. I'm not sure why it did. There are aspects of stand up comedy that I don't enjoy. I think that, combined with a few other things, made up the perfect storm. Luckily (and thankfully), that feeling is disappearing. I've done some shows the last couple weeks, talked to some people, re-evaluated what I'm doing, and why I'm doing it. I wrote down some goals, which I'll get to in an upcoming blog, and as cheesy as it sounds, I feel like "I'm back".

I'm about 6 weeks away from my 1 year anniversary as a comedian, and over the next 7 days, I get to open for three very talented comedians that I respect and genuinely like in Shawn Gramiak, Lars Callieou, and Mike Dambra. I'm looking forward to working with, and picking the brain, of all three of them. I get to MC a show at the Comic Strip in West Edmonton Mall. And I'm going to make money to tell jokes. These are all things I thought would be cool to do someday when I started this in January, and now I'm doing them. It's some luck, and some older comedians being courteous enough to throw an opportunity at a new guy, but I like to think part of the reason I'm getting the chance to do this stuff is because I've spent a vast majority of 2016 focusing on comedy, and working really hard. When I step back and look at the adventure I've been on over the past year, and where some hard work and focus has gotten me, it really motivates me to work even harder.

I don't say that stuff to brag or try to make myself seem like a big deal. I'm not. An open mic comedian that walked away from a potential career to make fun of himself for $25 in front of 10 people at the age of 33 isn't anything to brag about. But in my opinion, it's something to be proud of.

I often beat myself up for not starting earlier. Some of the best comedians in the city right now are in their early 20's. I'm jealous of how good they'll be at my age. But at the same time, part of me is grateful I didn't start until I was 32. I don't think I was mature enough to tackle this 10 years ago. I wouldn't have appreciated the opportunities I've had. (I'm not saying the 20 year old comedians in the scene today are like that. Most of them are pretty awesome)

I'm not going to force myself to do stand up if I don't want to anymore. If I ever hit a point where it isn't fun, I'll quit. No hesitation. I thought maybe I had reached that point last month, but I haven't. I don't know what exactly it is I like about stand up comedy. I don't make a lot of money, I don't know if I really care that much about trying to get rich and famous. There's just something about being on stage and making people laugh, it's the sickest feeling. I figure I have 45, 50 years left. I just want to be happy for them. And as much as I resent it sometimes, comedy makes me happy.

Thanks for reading. And do what makes you happy.


Sunday, 20 November 2016

Sunday Rambling 11/20/16

Random Sunday night thoughts;

I've hated Sundays for most of my life. It feels like the countdown to the start of the new school/work week. I always found that after about 3 PM I couldn't enjoy the rest of the day, because I knew I had to go back to the grind in the morning. Since I started changing up how I live my life, I've found that feeling slowly starting to go away. I spent 33 years letting my brain program itself like that, it's going to take a while to reset.

I turned 33 on Thursday. I kind of wanted to go to a couple comedy shows and see if I could land a spot, as I wasn't booked anywhere, but my girlfriend convinced me to stay home. We had some friends over, ate a bunch of food, and just played video games and hung out. It turned out to be a really good time. As you get older, the amount of time you have to spend with people gets smaller. Be selective about who gets your time, but make time for the people that don't suck.

I thought 30 kind of sounded old, but 33 doesn't seem like a big deal. I don't think the numbers will really sink in until 40 now. All things considered, I think I'm pretty happy with what I've accomplished since 1983. I'm not a Ghostbuster like I originally planned, but things could be a lot worse. I have a great girlfriend, a house, good friends, and a supportive family. I could count my real problems on one hand. Life is good :)

Things are going way too well for me in Fantasy Football this year. I'm in 1st in both of my leagues, and right in the hunt of my two pick 'em pools. I expect the boom to drop any day now....

I don't spend much time watching sports anymore. I still catch Sportscentre almost every morning (NOT Sportsnet Central, seriously, how much does Sportsbet suck?), but I stay too busy to have any time to sit down and watch a full game these days. Luckily, Carey Price makes it so you don't have to watch the Habs games anymore. I'm embarrassed to admit  I was pissed when the Habs traded Halak for Eller instead of Price....

I published episode 5 of the Comedy Odyssey today. Listenership has been up and down, I'm still really trying to find my way with podcasting. I really enjoy recording them. Editing them kind of sucks. The feedback, good and bad, from those of you that listen has been very much appreciated. I don't plan on quitting anytime soon. It's really a different experience learning how to do something in front of people instead of in the privacy of a classroom or your house. I think, like stand up, it motivates you to work harder at it, so people can see you're improving. Or at least trying to, anyways.

Signed my first "contract" (?) for stand up tonight. It's just for a one off spot at a show in December, but I still thought it was pretty sweet. Every month it seems one or two cool things happen to me in the comedy world. Not knowing what's next keeps you moving forward when things go wrong. 

I've had a couple rough nights in the last month. Nothing crazy, but I've lost my focus on comedy, and had a couple moments where I caught myself asking, "why am I doing this?" I take it really seriously, and sometimes I think I let myself forget that it's supposed to be fun. I need to remember to just take a step back and look at it as an adventure. Not knowing what's around the corner is what makes it so fun. When I hit a point where it isn't fun anymore, I'll quit.

If you've ever sent me a nice message, come out to one of our comedy shows, listened to my podcast, or read this blog, thanks for supporting me. I don't know if or when this ride will end, but I'm glad you want to take it with me. I hope we end up somewhere nice.


Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Don't let anyone tell you what to do 11/9/16

I posted this on Facebook a few months ago. I think it still hits home:

"One of the guys I work with, probably the dude I like the most there, had his first child this week. Wednesday, his wife went into labour. And he was still working. I told him to get the hell out of there and get to the hospital, and he said we were too busy, and he'd go when he could. That's exactly what's wrong with society today.

Everyone has their own priorities. And if someone disagrees with yours, to hell with them. I think you probably spend the first 25 years of your life laying the foundation of that list, and then you tweak it as life goes on. I know for a fact that my buddie's family was a much higher priority to him than his work, but he felt obligated to stay. That's not being honest to yourself. Do what you want, what makes you happy. 

A few years ago, I wasn't doing that well. Shay and I had just bought our house, we had some money. Health. No worries. But I didn't feel right. Like I was just going through the motions, wasting time. I made a very conscious decision to start eliminating things/people that I weren't making me happy, and to start cramming as much positivity into my life as possible every day. I quit a very good paying sales job to go do something that I thought would be more fun (and it was), and I started phasing some people out of my life. I just decided I didn't want to be around them anymore. If anyone ever feels that way about me, I would hope they'd do the same. And it worked. I feel much better about life these days. I'm very happy.

I read something around that time that said "there is endless power in giving zero fucks." It's not the classiest sentiment ever, but it's spot on. I used to want everyone to like me. Now, there's a very small group of friends and family whose opinions matter to me very much, and if you're not in that circle, I don't really give a damn what you think. If I'm not hurting you, just let me do what I want. 

My current job demands a lot of hours from me, I work 55 or so in a 5 day a week, plus some weekends. I don't like it, but as of now, I've accepted the trade off, they get my time, and I'm happy with the money they give me for it. But if that job ever tries to overtake something that I feel is a higher priority (and there are a lot of them), then they'll quickly find out I won't be there anymore. It's a humble brag, but anyone that has worked with me would be quick to say that I'm a pretty hard worker (I think, anyways), and I do my best to help the team and pull my weight. But I've also switched jobs 4 times in about 12 years. Once because I felt they were trying to become to work their way to the top of my priority ladder, once because I just wasn't happy anymore, and once mostly for financial reasons. And even though the job I have now is very secure and well paying, I have no hesitation to quit, and no worry of getting fired, if it ever isn't a fit anymore. Because I just don't enjoy working. I like things that I find fun. And I wasn't out here just to let someone else tell me what to do all my life.

The moral of this ridiculously long post is that your life is a dictatorship. You call the shots. The only people that can get into your board of directors are your family, and your close friends. And that's only if you deem them worthy of a chair at the table. If someone doesn't like how you're running your business, then don't do business with them anymore. You have 24 hours a day to spend on anything you want. Don't let anyone spend even one minute of them for you."

As you probably know, I did end up walking out of that job at the beginning of October. I wasn't happy there, and my girlfriend and I decided the money wasn't worth it anymore. I wasn't sure what I was going to do, but the universe picked me up and led me to something better. I don't make the money I used to make, and I was 10 weeks away from a $4000 bonus, but I don't care. I will never, ever, do something just a paycheque again. If I don't want to do something/be somewhere, I won't do it/be there. Taking control of your life is the single most empowering feeling in the world.

I don't know what the meaning of life is. To be honest, most the time I really don't think there is a point. In the grand scheme of the universe, we're pretty insignificant. And that's fine with me. I'm going to just stand over here and do whatever the fuck I want for the rest of my days. Watch what you want to watch. Listen to the music you like. Eat whatever you want to eat. Do what you want. If you're miserable, but you're letting someone else make you feel that way, well, that's your problem.


Monday, 31 October 2016

Looking back on October 10/31/16

It's been almost a month since I quit my job. As has been well documented on here, I really struggled with it at first. I'm starting to adjust to a new lifestyle, though. October was fantastic for comedy, being able to dive in head first and not worry about getting up at 4am every morning made it a lot easier to just relax and enjoy the ride. And it's been a sweet ride :)

Earlier in the month, I got to be a guest on Nick McQuik's podcast, "The Quik and Slow Comedy Show." I listen to it pretty regularly, and McQuik is a good dude, so I was pretty excited to get the chance to record it. I think we spent more time talking superheroes than we did comedy, but it was a lot of fun. Did you guys know Nightwing hit his dead and that's what killed him? Or something like that, anyways. DC sucks.

Speaking of podcasts, I finally got mine on the internets. You can listen to my annoying voice any time now! "The Comedy Odyssey" launched on October 8th, on iTunes and at . It's been a real learning experience, not only learning how to record, edit, and upload a podcast, but how to interview someone as well. The show is pretty rough around the edges right now, but the feedback from friends and family has been fantastic. So thank you very, very much to everyone that has downloaded/listened to it. I promise to try and keep improving the quality of it, and I have a few guests upcoming that I'm really excited to talk to. 

My girlfriend's folks came out this way for Thanksgiving, and I got a chance to tell jokes in front of them on one of my favourite stages, Chicago Joes here in the north end. We had a great time, they're really good people, and they've been nothing but supportive of me since I first got into comedy. I made sure to tell every single joke I had about their daughter :) 

I got an opportunity to host the weekly "Battle to the Funny Bone" show at The Comic Strip in West Ed. The regular host, Ryan Short, was out of town, and he threw me a bone. The crowd that came out that night was outstanding, the battling comics killed, and Ken Hicks was the special guest helping me out. If you've never had a chance to check Ken out, you don't know what you're missing. Just one of those dudes you can't help but like. So big thanks to Ryan and the Strip for taking the chance on me. I really enjoy hosting, and it's something I hope to get more opportunities to do in the near future. Maybe I'll have to try and start my own room.......?

I spent some time on the road this month as well. I got to open for Lars Callieou in Fairview. We met some fantastic people out there. I'll be heading back up there in December with Mike Dambra, it should be a really good time. The next night, Lars and I got to do a show in Spruce Grove for their Chamber of Commerce Awards Gala. Big thank you to Lars and Norm Shaw for the opportunity, the crowd was incredible, and the room was great.

Norm, me, and Lars in Spruce Grove. I couldn't figure out how to tie my tie.

Then for the last week of October, I headed out to Thunder Bay with Lars and Ryan to kick off the opening weekend of a new club. We stopped over in Winnipeg on the way out, checked out the historic Rumour's Comedy Club, and got to do a spot at Ben Walker's open mic as well. It was a pleasure meeting some great Winnipeg comics, and a really fun show.

We checked out the Jets/Stars game Thursday night, and gave Ryan a crash course in hockey. I'm so glad that team's back. The atmosphere in the MTS Centre is crazy! I just need to check out games in Ottawa and Montreal (save the best for last!), and I'll have seen a game in every city in Canada. I don't have as much time to watch as I used to, but I love hockey. What the hell is up with the Oilers, too???

We picked up a Winnipeg comic, Carole Cunningham, and headed out to Thunder Bay Friday morning to kick off the first weekend of the Cricket's Comedy Club. We went on to put on 4 wicked awesome shows in 2 days. The club set up was rad, the crowds were RED hot, and we had some great chemistry on stage. The staff was great, and I can't thank Chris Mulawyshyn enough for having us. I really hope to get back out to your club again. We couldn't stop talking about how much we had on the shows. If you're in Thunder Bay, check it out!

Lars Callieou took me along to do a guest spot on all those shows. In just 9 months of doing comedy, I've been to BC for the Okanagan Comedy Festival, done shows in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and now Ontario. All because Lars gave me a chance to come along, work with him, and pick his brain. There are 50 other comedians in this city that could have gone instead, but I got the chance. I'm very humbled, and grateful to Lars for giving me an opportunity to start living a dream, and see what life is like as a pro comic. Some people might think this is me kissing ass, but anyone that really knows who I am know that that's not what I'm about. And frankly, I don't care what anyone thinks. I'm just a very appreciative person, who understands that nobody owes anyone anything in life. I'm proud to call Lars a colleague, and more importantly, a friend. I had more fun on that trip than I've had in a long time. Thanks guys.

Finally, on a note outside of comedy, a couple weeks after I left my job at the box factory, I got a call from Jack and Ken Cookson, asking if I would be interested in going back to work for their company, Pro Am Sports. They deal in sports memorabilia, and if you're into the hobby at all, you probably already know them. If not, you're missing out in the worst way. I don't just say that as an employee, and a friend, but as a collector myself. Their stuff is authentic, and top notch. 

It's the best job I've ever had, and they're willing to work around my stand up comedy. It's a dream scenario for me; hang out with friends and talk sports by day, and hang out with friends and tell jokes by night. Please, do me a favour and check us out, or pop by and say hi. Christmas is coming up!!! 

So that was my October. I took a massive chance when I left my old job, but I was miserable there, and I knew something had to change. I stayed positive, and now I'm in a spot where there isn't one part of my life I don't enjoy. Waking up excited every morning is a surreal feeling. When someone would ask how my day was going at my old job, my favourite response was "living the dream". It's still my go to answer, but now I actually mean it :)

Thanks for reading.


Thursday, 13 October 2016

Positive Thinking 10/13/16

*This is a big ramble of a blog, but I'm in a good mood, and feel like rambling. So I'm gonna ramble*

I don't like negative people.

Those people that just spend all their time complaining or getting angry. Everyone has their days, but when it's 24/7, it gets old fast. I was turning into that guy at my old job, I hated it there, was always losing my temper. So I made the decision to walk away last week. Best decision I've made in a long time.

I try to make a conscious effort to be happy and positive. I spend as much time as possible around people and things that make me happy. If there's someone/something I don't like, then I minimize the time I spend around it. More people need to make a conscious effort to surround themselves with positivity. If you focus on something positive, it'll spread into all aspects of your life, including your mind. And once you start thinking positively, positive things start to find you.

I've had my fair share of bombing lately. Working on new material can be tough, you never know how the crowd is going to react, and it can be harder to have that confidence that I think you need to have on stage when you aren't sure if a joke is going to work. I was starting to get into a negative mind set, and that reflected in my work. Head down, less enthusiasm. Thankfully, a couple friends/fellow comics pointed it out to me. I knew I had some negative thoughts about the material in my head, but I didn't realize how quickly it had spread. My body language, my delivery, was all negative. How am I supposed to convince someone that something is funny, if I don't believe it myself? So last night I did a show, worked on the same new material, but went into it with a positive mind set. And the stuff worked. It's all about positive thinking. Law of attraction.

I've been a little down on myself since I quit my job. I know it was the right thing to do; that place was the most toxic part of my life. I've just had a hard time convincing myself that it's ok to do something different. But diving headfirst into comedy has started to shift my mindset. I felt like a loser with no job, chasing a fantasy. So I took a step back, and worked hard to convince myself that I'm not a loser, I'm a dreamer. Why can't I make this my job? I just have to work hard. Nothing is impossible, you just have to be willing to work. So everyday, I tried to convince myself that I'm not wasting my time, I'm just not letting anyone else tell me how to use it. Surround myself with positive energy, and things/people that make me happy. If you do that, the rest will find you. I got a call yesterday from an old job, that I really enjoyed, and we came to an agreement for me to return there on a part time basis. It's perfect, I can help do my part for my family and bring in some money, but do it doing something I enjoy doing. And not only do I enjoy doing the job, but it's a job that gives me free reign to chase this comedy dream full time as well.

Some might say that it's all just a coincidence, but I don't think it is. I decided in my mind that this is what I wanted, and I got it. A month ago, I was exhausted, and spent 50+ hours a week at a job I hated. Now I have a job I love, that gives me time to work on something that I love. There isn't one aspect of my life I don't like right now, and it all boils down to having a good attitude, and thinking positive.

If you're unhappy, think about what makes you unhappy. Is there a way to fix it? Then do it. If there isn't, start taking steps toward removing it from your life. Everyone wants to be happy. The only way to really get there is to surround yourself with things that make you feel good. Set yourself up to think positively every day. Good things, and more importantly, good people, will find you.
I really believe that.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

I quit my job 10/6/16

Monday was my last day of work at the box factory.

I hadn't been happy there for some time. The early morning and long days weren't jiving with my new found night life, and I finally decided it was time to move on. For the first time since I was about 14, I don't have a regular job.

My plan was to start job hunting right away, but my girlfriend convinced me to take the month of October off, and just hit the reset button. I've been very fortunate to have a good friend that has hooked me up with a few paid gigs, and I'm going to take the month to just focus on my comedy, and try to figure out where to go next. It's everything I've dreamed of doing for months, and now that I have it, I've spent part of each day struggling with it.

I've never not had a job. I feel weird not having one. I have phases where I feel like a loser. Like Im just mooching off my girlfriend. Since I left my day job, I haven't turned on a video game, and I think I've watched 20 minutes of tv this week. I've spent my days getting odd jobs finished around the house, or working on my comedy. Writing, rehearsing, doing shows, and I've started learning the business side of the industry as well. But I can't shake the feeling that I should have a job, no matter how much I hated it. Like I'm letting the world down by not getting up every morning and going to work. We aren't struggling to pay the bills, we're not in any trouble at all. I have the blessing of my girlfriend to take this time and really focus on my future, figure out what will make me happy. But it's harder than I thought it would be.

I feel like Brooks in Shawshank Redemption, when he talks about life outside of prison. He's so used to life inside, that everything on the outside scares him. I'm not just going through the motions for the first time, and even if it's only temporary, it's terrifying.

Trying stand up comedy was one of the best decisions of my life. More than anything, I just want to get good at it, and do it for a living someday. I'm struggling with that lifestyle after 3 days. Writing jokes, getting on stage, performing, all the work? I love it. The freedom that comes with it? It isn't sitting right so far. I really hope I can convince myself to just embrace it and take the next step. I've been handed an opportunity most aspiring comedians would kill for; I don't have to worry about money, and I have all day to just focus on improving as a comedian. My girlfriend is supporting me, and I have people in the industry doing everything in their power to help me as much as possible. And all I can think about is how I should be at work. I suck.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

My 5 favourite shows (so far), and thanking anyone that's given me a microphone 10/1/16

On Thursday night, I performed my 100th set of stand up comedy.

For the record, 100 sets is a drop in the bucket to any accomplished comedian. Absolutely nothing. But if you want to do 10,000 shows, you need to do 100 first. I've said it on this blog before, but if you told me 8 months ago I'd be at this point I never would have believed it.

I might have been able to reach this "milestone" earlier, but I approached comedy pretty casually for the first few months. I track every show I do, and I did 4 shows in January, 7 in Feb, 4 in March. I started taking it a little more seriously around April, and that, paired with a new shift at work that opened up more evenings for me, helped me start racking up the stage time a little faster. I did 43 shows my first 5 months, compared to 57 in the last 3. My initial goal was to get to 125 by my anniversary at the end of January, and I've bumped that number up to 175. I'm excited to see how it goes down the home stretch.

So I've decided to dedicate this blog to listing my 5 favourite shows so far. I've met a ton of great people, and had a lot of fun this year. Every show has been a good time, but these are the ones I look back on fondest.

Before I get into that, though, I would like to thank everyone that has given me a chance to go after this dream of mine. Nobody had to put me on their show, and all these people have, multiple times.

Lars Callieou, Ryan Short, Jamee Nall, Ashley Soper, Nadine Hunt, Simon Glassman, Carina Morton, Travis Howell, Celeste Lampa, William Hannigan, Sterling Scott, Stephen McGovern, James Ross, Kevin Light, Arturo Grijalva, Mike Dambra, Alex Fortin, Simon Gorsak, Brett McCrindle, Scott Porteous, Ben Proulx, Ronny Lugoma, Hector Velazquez, and David Kopp. Thank you for the opportunities, the advice, and the good times. I owe you all at least one!

January 21, 2016 - Yuk Yuks

My first ever set of stand up comedy. Frankly, my set sucked. But this night changed my life. There's a recording of this set that I plan on never letting anyone else see again. So bad......

August 21, 2016 - The Druid

The last ever Druid Comedy Night. I went to this show almost every Sunday for 7 months. Some people went to it almost every Sunday for 7 years. It's still weird not having it around. I've spent more time on that stage than any other. Some nights it was awesome, some nights it was pretty rough. It was my favourite place to try new material, because if it worked at The Druid, it should work almost anywhere. That final night was incredible. Red hot crowd, 50+ comedians, 7 hour show. I took bullet that night, which I considered an honour, and stuck around to watch the entire show. That stage helped me improve more than any other. 

August 27, 2016 - Dakoda's Comedy Lounge (Kelowna)

I got the opportunity to be part of the third annual Okanagan Comedy Festival this year. We did 2 shows in Kelowna on the Saturday night, and they were in front of the hottest crowds I've ever seen. We could do no wrong those nights. Add in getting to spend a few days with some great people, and how beautiful the city of Kelowna is, and you get the highlight of my Summer. Plus David Kopp is a beauty.

September 7, 2016 - Dinwoodie Lounge

I did a guest spot at the Dinwoodie Lounge on the U of A campus. They do shows throughout the year, but the "welcome back" show is the biggest one of the bunch. The lineup featured some of my favourite comedians, and it was the biggest crowd I'd worked in front of to that point. It was an incredible show.

September 28, 2016 - Yellowed Casino (Jokers in Training Finals)

My first comedy competition. We performed on the big stage at the Yellowhead Casino, with a trip to Los Angeles on the line. I had a ton of friends and family there, and the crowd absolutely crushed. They were so good. I came up Short (get it??) and finished third that night, but it was still an awesome experience. I posted about it the next morning and said it made all the late nights and bombs from the last 8 months worth it. 

So that's it. Like I said, thank you to everyone that has ever given me a spot on their show. They've all been fun, and I'm grateful to all of you for letting me do something I love to do.

I look back at my first show and I'm genuinely happy with how much I've improved from then until now. My goal/hope is to look back on my 100th set when I get to 200, and feel the same way. Keep working hard, keep focusing on getting better at whatever you're doing, and learn to enjoy the process. Comedy is awesome.

"Doesn't staying out late every night doing comedy make it hard to focus on your work?"
No. Getting up early for work makes it hard to focus on my comedy.


Saturday, 24 September 2016

Everybody Bombs 9/24/16

*This Wednesday, September 28th, I'm performing in the Finals of the "Jokers in Training" competition at the Yellowhead Casino. The best set of the night is worth $500 US, and a trip to Los Angeles to do a set at the famous Comedy Store. The lineup of finalists is full of incredible comedians,  and they'll all be brining their A game to try and win this thing. This is easily the biggest show of my comedy "career" so far. If you're interested in checking it out, tickets are free, and can be found here:*

Thanks to everyone that came out and supported us in the prelims, very much appreciated!

Every comedian bombs.

"Bombing" in comedy, if you didn't know, is the act of going on stage to try and tell jokes, and not having anyone laugh at them. You stand up there, rambling, and there's just silence. Sometimes you can see the people staring back at you, sometimes the spotlights are so bright you can't see if there's even anyone out there to bomb in front of. I prefer the second scenario, because I can try to convince myself that I'm not bombing, it's just that nobody came to the show.

We've all done it. Some more than others. I've had my fair share of bombs already. Sometimes the audience just isn't feeling that show, and you see 6 or 7 comedians in a row go up and tell jokes to complete silence. Personally, I almost find that makes it easier to deal with, because I can tell myself I wasn't just the weak link in the chain that night. That's always been my biggest concern with bombing. The actually bombing itself doesn't bother me too much. It isn't fun, and I always want to do well, but I know it's part of the gig. And I mean absolutely no disrespect to the audience when I say this, but I don't really lose a ton of sleep worrying about what thought of me. I'm going to do my absolute best to make you laugh, and if I miss the mark, I apologize. But nobody can please everyone, and I don't think you can beat yourself up over it. I just use bombing as a learning experience, "this worked, this didn't", and I try to get better. Hopefully the next time you see me, I can connect with you better.

My biggest concern with bombing was, and still is, letting down the booker/promoter of the show. And the other comics. Being a big sports fan, I can't help but look at our shows like a game, and the comedians are a team.  I want to help the team win. When it's my turn to go on stage, I want to do well, not just because it's an awesome feeling, but because I feel like I owe it to the other comedians to do my part for the show. When I bomb, and I go back to face the rest of the comics, I can't help but feel like they're looking at me the way a hockey team looks at a guy that scores on his own net, or a goalie that gives up a brutal goal (and trust me, I know that look). It doesn't get to me as bad as it used, but I still worry I won't get invited back to the next show. Like they look at me like a liability.

I know now that we all bomb. Almost every show I'm on, someone does. And it's no big deal. We don't hate him/her. Just climb back on the horse and try again tomorrow. I've slowly forced myself to learn that if I bomb on a show, it doesn't mean I won't be allowed back. If anything, I use it as motivation. If I stink on a show, and the person promoting it gives me another shot, I'm going to work extra hard to make sure that doesn't happen again. I don't want to let the team down.

I think part of the reason some comedians are so hesitant to write and try new material is because with new stuff comes a greater risk of striking out. There's really no way to know if something is funny until you go up there a few times and try it. Once you get some stuff you know works, it can be so easy to just relax and count on those jokes. There's minimal risk of bombing, and if you do, you can tell yourself it was just an off night, that material usually kills. I understand now why veteran comics say you have to bomb to get good. You learn 100x more from losing than you do from winning. The key is to use the experience to get better, and not to just convince yourself you did fine, it was just a bad crowd. I have the mentality now that no matter how bad the audience was, there was something I could have done to make it work. I listen back to the recordings, as painful as it can be, and try to figure out what I did wrong.

One night at the Druid, I bombed harder than I ever had up to that point. It still might be the worst set I've ever had, just awful. Earlier on the show, the MC, Lars, told a story about how one night, he told the audience his friend was coming to do a set. Lars wanted everyone to just be completely silent for the guy's set; don't laugh, don't heckle, don't take a drink, nothing. His buddy went up, did 5 minutes to absolute silence. And then after it was over, they let him in on the joke. So I finished my set that night, admitted I bombed, and shook Lars' hand. As I was walking off the stage, Lars says, "Hey Adam, remember that story I was telling about how I told the crowd not to make a sound during that guy's set?"

My eyes lit up. Maybe this wasn't my fault! He set me up! "You didn't....." I said.

"Nope, I didn't. You just bombed!"

At least I was responsible for the audience laughing once that night.

He apologized afterwards, and we had a laugh about it. It did't bother me at all. That night actually really helped me start to convince myself that the other comedians don't care that you bombed. Half of them probably weren't even listening. We've all done it, we'll all do it again. When you're learning how to walk, you don't just stand up and run around the block. You have to fall down a few times first. And you learn why you fell, and what you can do to not let it happen again.

If you're a new comedian, and you go out to a show, and you bomb, don't beat yourself up too hard. Nobody is mad at you. We've all been there. Just use the experience to learn. Record your set, and listen to it. And be honest with yourself. If you got 3 laughs in 5 minutes, you bombed. But make notes. Take those 3 laughs, and try to do that more, figure out what about those jokes worked. Don't get discouraged. Comedy is an intimidating thing to get into. The comics on your show that went up there and crushed, they were where you are right now. And they used those experiences to learn and get better. Be your own biggest critic.

Embrace bombing. Remember the nights you bombed when you go up there and crush. It makes them 100 times better.

"I failed over and over and over again in my life....and that's why I succeed."
-Michael Jordan

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Put in the work 9/17/16

Stand up comedy is hard work.

But like anything in life, I think you get what you put in. If you work really hard at something, you'll eventually get rewarded for it. I firmly believe that. I've spent the better part of 15 years working in warehouses, and as much as I hate it, I've always worked really hard, and it's usually turned into promotions and opportunities. The problem is they were just opportunities I didn't really want. I've always thought "what could happen if I put this much time and energy into something I actually wanted to get good at?"

So that's what I've been trying to do with comedy. More than just going to open mic and shows now. I try to write as much as I can, and as I mentioned a blog or two ago, I have a few new ideas I really want to get off the ground.

The podcast is happening. I have the mic and everything I need now, I'm just playing with settings, recording and editing right now. (Massive thanks and shout out to my friend Patrick for the recorder recommendation). Now Im just trying to decide on a final format for the podcast. The world needs more podcasts people don't listen to. I also have a camera on order right now to start playing with Youtube. I have a couple ideas for that channel as well. As of now, I think the plan is for the podcast to be co-hosted by my friend Dave. It'll be just the two of us talking about anything we want. I'm going to touch on stand up and what I have going on as well, but I don't want to dedicate the podcast to it. The Youtube stuff I want to get going will deal more with that, along with my personal opinions on things. An open mic comic doesn't have a ton to talk about. But to me it's partially about just having fun and trying something I haven't really done yet, and partially about trying some of this stuff now, and working on getting better at it so that if I ever hit a point where any of this stuff could help my career as a comedian, I've already gone through some of the growing pains. I fully expect the podcast and video to suck, at least at the beginning, but you have to start somewhere. This kind of stuff has fascinated and interested me for a long time, so why not?

And I'm going to try and post on here more often as well. I think my end game is a hopeful weekly podcast, a couple youtube videos a week, and a blog every 7-10 days. I'm still working some long hours at work right now, and most of my evenings are dedicated to actually writing and performing stand up, so I don't know if those goals are realistic, but I'm excited to try.

I've been told that to make it in comedy, it's going to take a ton of hard work. Sacrifice. And I understand that. Maybe I don't know what exactly that's going to entail, but I know that I've spent about 1/2 of my life working at something I don't really want to do. So if I'm going to have to put in some hard work anyways, why not put it toward doing something fun? If I can't make a career out of this comedy thing, it isn't going to be because I didn't try hard enough. I'm having more fun with this comedy stuff than I have doing just about anything. I look back at my first couple sets of comedy, and Im proud of how far I've come. My early jokes and sets that seemed good at the time suck now. I hope in a year we can all look back at my jokes, blogs, podcasts, and videos, and agree they sucked, too. It means they're getting better.

If you come out and support our comedy shows, thank you. If you decide to follow the podcast or youtube channel, thank you. And if you're reading this, thank you. I'm doing all this for me and my happiness. But knowing someone else out there is enjoying it too makes it 100x better


I love this quote.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Busy couple of weeks! 8/31/16

I've tried to write this damned thing three times, and just haven't been able to make it work. It's been a busy few days, I haven't gotten a full night's sleep in a while, and just can't focus. So this might seem rambly, but.....bah. The world needs more rambling.

Fair warning: this is a LOT of rambling.

Since I started doing comedy in January, the Druid Comedy Night has become part of my weekly routine. I traditionally get pretty down on Sunday night, knowing work is right around the corner. I've hated them since I was a kid, when school was waiting for me in the morning. Having a comedy show to look forward to every week just made it easier. I said to one of the guys, it was like a reset button. It could be a rough week, you couldnt get a spot on a show to save your life, but you could always count on the Druid, and then start the next week fresh. A guaranteed chance to get on stage, and talk to the other comics. It was a sure thing. But after 7+ years, August 21, 2016 was the last Druid Comedy Night.

A lot of comics have been performing at the Druid for longer than I have. Some for the entire 7 year run. And I won't pretend to be as affected by the show's run ending as they are. But it doesn't matter if you've been doing comedy there for 7 months or 7 years, we're all on the same wavelength now; none of us know a time where there was comedy in Edmonton without the Druid. I hate being the new guy anywhere; work, school, a team. I've always banked on adapting by being the funny guy. Trying to fit in with a entire group of funny people wasn't easy. The time I spent at the Druid didn't just help me become a better comedian, but it gave me a chance to sit around and talk to a bunch of great people. It had the same feel a locker room does before a hockey game, we bonded like teammates do. It made me feel like part of the team.

That last show was one of those nights I'll never forget. I got there around 5:30, had a couple beers with the guys, and then the powers that be were kind enough to treat all of the comedians to an incredible steak dinner. We then got the chance to tell jokes in front of an absolutely sick crowd. It was special invite only, and people PACKED the Druid. It was shoulder to shoulder. Over 50 comedians, 7 hours. I got the honour of taking bullet (1st comedian to go up) on that show. I was one of the newest comedians on the list that night, and Lars had a dozen Druid veterans he could put in that spot, and he gave it to me. That's something I'm incredibly proud of, and humbled by. I finished my set, and hung around for the entire show, I got to watch so many great comics say goodbye to the stage we've all shared. It was an awesome night. Lars, Marko, and everyone else involved should be incredibly proud of the Druid Comedy Night. I said it at the end of my set, but I don't know if I would have gotten into stand up without that show and the support I received there. That stage changed my life. 

Then this past week, I was on holidays. My nephew Ben flew in from BC to hang out with us, and it was like summer vacation as a kid again for a few days. Stay up late, play video games, and do something sweet in the afternoon. Trampoline Park, laser tag, the waterpark at West Ed, we had a really good time. And then Wednesday, we hit the road for BC. Originally our plan was to drive to Quesnel to visit my girlfriend's family, and take Ben home, but Lars offered me a spot at this year's Okanagan Comedy Festival. My girlfriend Shaley has been more supportive of my comedy dream than I could have ever hoped, and even though I said I should go visit her family, she insisted I go to the Festival. (Maybe she just needed a break from me). So she and Ben dropped me off in Kamloops, and they took off to visit her family. I got to hang out in Kamloops and Kelowna, and live the dream of being a full time comedian for a few days. I told jokes in front of some incredible audiences, and got a lot of time to drink beer and bond with some great comics. I met a ton of wicked people, including David Kopp, who runs Dakoda's Comedy Lounge in Kelowna. That room was awesome, check it out if you're ever out there. Thanks for having us guys, and  for giving me the chance to come along, Lars. It was a blast. 

I also think I have a crush on the city of Kelowna. Absolutely beautiful.

Oh yeah, and I got to sleep in the same bed as Ryan Short and Kevin Light. Cross that off the bucket list. 

So that's been my last 10 days. I'm home now, back to the grind of forklifting during the day, and telling jokes at night. With a little draw luck, I'll do my 100th set in September. I hate my day job as much as ever, but I love my night job so much that the day one barely even bothers me anymore, except for the 3:30 am alarm. I say it almost every blog, but if you want to try something, do it ASAP. I hope whatever it is makes you feel the way comedy makes me feel. Which is really, really good! 

He who says "he can", and he who says "he can't", are both usually right. 

- Adam 

The last Druid list (about half complete)
Photo credit: Liam Creswick


Ryan Short  crushing it on Saturday night.

Good times, good people. So much fun.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Creative Outlets

One of the most satisfying, and hardest parts of stand up comedy is the writing. It can be so frustrating to plug away at it for an afternoon, and come up with absolutely nothing. But taking a basic concept and turning it into a bit that works is an awesome feeling. It might be my favourite part of comedy so far, the feeling of accomplishment that comes with coming up with a new joke.

It has my creative juices flowing. When I was a kid, I'd create stupid games, I really liked to write, and I fell out of that as I got old and boring. Comedy is reignited that spark, and over the past month or so I've had a few more ideas pop into my head. I dragged my feet with comedy for years, and now that I've dived into it, I'm pissed at myself for ignoring it for as long as I did. Im not going to do that with any of my other ideas anymore.

I don't own a computer or laptop these days. I get by with my iPad and my phone. But a few of the projects I have in mind are going to require a little more than a tablet, so I'm in the process of socking away the cash to buy a new computer and camera. (I hate having too much credit card debt, been down that road too many times before). I hope to pick some stuff up in the next couple months, and start plugging away at a couple side projects to go with my comedy.

I want to start a podcast, because the world simply does not have enough amatuer podcasts. My buddy Dave and I have talked about it for a while. I've read it can be a great way to improve as a comedian as well, just talking and thinking on your feet. Even if nobody listens to it, it's something I'd really like to try. 

I'd also like to start a YouTube channel. If people don't support YouTube it might not make it. Again, I don't know if anyone will watch it; but podcasting and creating videos sound fun, and editing and creating that kind of content is something I don't have a lot of experience at. I figure I can learn a thing or two, and explore a couple more outlets for my creative side at the same time. I'd also eventually like to try building a website to put it all together. An open mic comic with less than a years experience really doesn't need a website or anything, but it's not about marketing myself or anything right now, it's just about getting this stuff out of my system, and working on becoming a better comic, which is my ultimate goal.
I'd also like to use the camera to start recording and reviewing more of my sets. A couple of my friends have recorded sets and sent them to me, and watching yourself and reviewing your performances is probably the single best way to get better, IMO. 

I need goals in life, stuff to work toward. I've spent 10 plus years getting really good at warehouse work, and I hate it. If I put that same kind of effort into comedy and creating content, which I actually want to get good at, who knows what'll happen? So in addition to my stand up goals for the rest of the year, I want to have a podcast and YouTube channel up and running by January. I'm shooting for a couple videos/vlogs per week, and a weekly podcast. I'll keep posting on here as well, the feedback on the blog has been overwhelmingly positive, and mucho appreciated. 

I say it all the time, but keep trying stuff. Eventually you'll find that 'thing', and when you do, it'll change your life. 

I have a show tonight, gotta get going. Chase your dreams! 


Monday, 1 August 2016

Feeling inspired.

July was the biggest, busiest month of my comedy "career" so far. I got to go on the road for the first time, and I got my first opportunity to host as well. It did nothing but solidify my belief that I made the best decision of my life getting into stand up.

I got a chance to go on the road, and do a guest spot in Saskatoon, courtesy of Lars Callieou. Lars hasn't shied away from answering my questions and offering me advice since I started in January, and a few weeks ago, he offered to bring me on the road with him for the first time, and the two of us, along with Brent Ehtun, did a show at The Capitol Music Club. It was a blast, and everything I imagined life as a comic on the road would be, including Yahtzee at 2 am. I also learned some valuable lessons about the business side of comedy, and as Brent pointed out, it was awesome of you to show us how that works so up and close, Lars! 

Thanks a lot for the opportunity, man. Hopefully, we get to do it again soon guys.

A couple weeks later, I got a chance to host my first show, at Chicago Joes here in the north end. I've done that room a few times now, and I'm pretty comfortable there. I was really excited to get to try something new. It went pretty well, the comics killed, and I got some really positive feedback from the guys, and the show organizers. Massive thanks to Travis Howell for the stage time, and the opportunity. I hope to get to do it again soon.

In addition to these opportunities, I've been offered spots on upcoming shows hosted by established comics like Mike Dambra and Ben Proulx, as well as a chance to take part in the Okanagan Comedy Festival this year, courtesy of Lars again. I've worked really, really hard at this comedy thing the last few months, and seeing hard work pay off is one of the best feelings imaginable. And I sincerely thank all the guys mentioned above for providing me the chance to start taking steps toward advancing my career, it means the world to me.

Shaley and I had a long talk this morning about comedy and our lives in general. I've said it in this blog before, but I feel like I've finally found that thing I was looking for. This isn't a hobby or anything more. Comedy has become my life, after just 6 months. It's what I want to do. My obsession in life is just being happy, and doing what I want. And this is it. In the last 15 years since I graduated High School, I've had one job I really liked, and I left it thinking more money would make me happier. It didn't, but being at a job I hated again pushed me to keep chasing that thing I was looking for. And I finally found out. 

I don't care about money anymore, I need enough to pay my bills and live, and that's it. I turned down a big promotion at work and said I don't want overtime anymore. It didn't do me any favours at my job, but that's fine. I don't want to be there forever, anyway. And it's left me more time to go after this comedy thing. They say nobody should get into stand up to get rich and famous, and I agree 100%. Do it for the love of the game. But I've made it my goal to do it for a living. Not to get rich and famous, but to be happy.

I know I'm going to make it. This will be my livelihood someday. I won't stop until it is, and I'll do whatever it takes. I have some talent, I know I do. And I'm going to push that talent as hard as I fucking can to make it into something special. I'm not trying to be arrogant, I'm just calling it like I see it. There are some really talented comics on the scene with me right now, and I hope they all feel the exact same way. We can feed off each other's drive. 

Thanks for reading, and thanks for your support. Never, never, let anyone tell you you can't do something. Just figure out what you want, and do every god damned thing you can do to get it. The only person that can stop you, is you. 

"The first step, before anyone else believes it, is you have to believe it. There's no reason for a plan B because it distracts from plan A."

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Thanks for the spot

Stage time isn't easy to come by. I don't know what it's like in other cities, but here in the 780 (that sounds cool, right?), there are more comics than there are spots. Most shows have waiting lists to get a spot on, and book a few comics in advance for each week. Most also offer "draw spots" the night of the show. This is literally a "pull a name out of a hat" method to fill the last couple spots on a show, and you spend many nights driving to shows, just to enter a draw and hope you get a spot. It's fine with me, and most of us, as it's a fair way to dish out stage time. And it doesn't have to be fair. People running shows put a lot of work into them, and they're 100% entitled to decide who gets to be on it. Leaving a couple spots open for anyone to have a shot at is very generous, IMO.

This would be one of my first pieces of advice for a comic that's newer to this than I am. ALWAYS, ALWAYS thank anyone that is willing to put you on stage. They've sunk a lot of work into their show, and would totally be within the rights to just let their friends be on it every week. If you're a new comic, nobody in this industry owes you a damned thing, especially stage time, and they're taking a big chance letting someone brand new get on stage in their room. They obviously want to put on as good of show as possible, and there's a better than average chance that a new comic isn't going to light the world on fire up there. I've never understood the mentality of any comic that complains about how long they have to wait between spots, or where they're scheduled on a list. Stage time is the single most valuable commodity out there for an up and coming comedian, and if you don't show any appreciation for a spot on a show, the powers that be will have no trouble finding someone else to put on that will. 

If you don't like the way people book their shows, start your own room. I assume you'll find out it's not nearly as easy as it looks.

That's really it. I was just eating lunch at work, and started thinking about this. We're very lucky in Edmonton to have as many great rooms as we do to perform in. Make sure you take a moment to thank the people responsible for them. And to any and all of you that have taken the gamble of giving me a spot on your show over the last 6 months, thank you very much. I do my absolute best not to waste them. 


Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Get better, or get bitter

As I type this, it's Tuesday morning, and I'm on my first holiday in about a year. Total staycation, but much needed. Too many long days at work combined with late nights have my batteries as low as they've been in a long time. So I'm sitting on my deck, playing poker and writing this (FOR THE SECOND TIME. DAMN YOU INTERNET)

I had a show Friday, did a set at the Druid Sunday, won my second (yes!) Battle to the Funny Bone last night, and I'm on Scott's Mass Debate show this evening, which brings me with 5 shows of my 50th set. Baby steps in the world of comedy, but if you told me at the beginning of the year I'd have performed stand up 50 times by July, I wouldn't have believed it. My goal is to reach 125 by my one year anniversary in January. Should be close. Stage time is a little harder to come by in the Summer, but luckily I keep finding a couple spots a week, thanks to all the comics here in Edmonton willing to give me a place on their shows. It is mucho appreciated.

I was talking with a veteran comic the other day, and I just started picking his brain in regards to how to start climbing the comedy ladder. At 5 months and 50 sets, I'm still a pawn on the comedy chess board, and I'm in no hurry to move up. But eventually that's still my goal. One of the things he told me is "get better, or get bitter". I think it applies to almost anything you're doing in life, and it's sound advice. If someone is at a level you want to be it, you can either  put in the work they've put in to get where they are, or you can complain about not being there yourself.

The best way to get better at anything is to challenge yourself. I've been lucky enough to tell jokes to some awesome crowds, and I've stared down some absolutely cut throat ones. The good ones are what makes this so fun, but I actually really enjoy the tough crowds, too. Because that's where you get better. In any walk of life, getting knocked down and pulling yourself back up is going to make you much harder to knock down again. The path of least resistance is the path of least result. Be a glutton for punishment, embrace a challenge, and use it to get better. The people that are where you want to be pushed through the hard times and used them to reach the top. The ones avoiding the hard stuff are the ones standing there beside you, complaining. 

If you want it, go get it. Get better, or get bitter. 

(This was a better blog yesterday morning, but it disappeared of the face of the Internet. Still makes the same point. Thanks for reading this!)

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Blog III (The one where he fights Mr. T)

*NOTE - I just read this back, and Jesus, it's long. TL:DR version: I like comedy*

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! 

Friday, 8 April 2016

10 weeks later....

My last (only) blog post was a couple months ago, and it was a look back at my first 10 days as a comedian. I was inexperienced and naive when I wrote it. I'm a grizzled vet with 10 WEEKS of experience now!

I've done 16 sets in the last 2 months and change. I know it isn't a lot, but it's 16 more than I preformed in the 32 years previous. I mentioned in my first post how much I'd enjoyed my first few trips up to the mic, and I'm happy to say that a couple months later, that love for getting on stage has only grown stronger.  Exponentially.

While I certainly don't think I'm the best comedian in the city, (or on a single show I've performed on for that matter), I do think I'm better than I was in January. I've spent countless hours writing and re-writing jokes and listening to my earlier sets; which can be a painful, painful experience. And I feel like that work is slowly paying off. Stand up comedy is something that can humble anybody in 5 minutes, a lesson I've learned the hard way, repeatedly. But I've never gone into any show or open mic with the mentality that I was a lock to kill it that night. I've gone into each show with the mentality that I just want to be a little bit better than I was last time. I'd say I'm batting about .500 on that goal. It's a start....

While I'm not prepared to say I'm a good comedian, I am confident when I say that I think I can become a good comedian. I'm happy with my efforts away from the shows, writing, rehearsing, etc. I am, however, not happy with my stage time, and my efforts at obtaining more of it. Part of that is out of my hands; there are a lot of very passionate and talented comedians in this city, and only so many opportunities to get on stage. 

But part of it is me either convincing myself that I'm too tired to go out that night, or my work hours not allowing me to make it to a show. I made the decision that I was going to change both of those things. My job has recently moved me to a 5am-2pm shift. Which means I won't get as much sleep, but the door is wide open to go to just about any show I want to. That means it just comes down to me and how passionate I am about this. (Surviving those Sunday night Druid shows - 4 am Monday alarms will be a great way to prove to myself I want this as bad as I think I do).

I've made a list of goals that I'm determined to accomplish in comedy. I truly believe I'll reach them, it's just going to take hard work. And when you're passionate enough about something, hard work becomes pretty tolerable. Some of those goals include:

Headline a show.
Travel to perform comedy. 
Finish a second project (comedy related) that I've been working on for a few months. 
These, among several other personal objectives, will hopefully, potentially, lead me to my ultimate goal:

Have the opportunity to leave my job and tell jokes instead.

I don't think I'll achieve all this tomorrow, or this Summer, or in a year. I don't know how long it'll take. But I'm bound and determined to make them happen. You want something bad enough, and you're willing to work for it, there's nothing you can't do. 

Like I said, this city is full of awesome comedians, and having the chance to get to know some of them has been fantastic. The way they support each other, and their willingness to help and work with the new comedians like me, has been invaluable. I'm happy to be able to call them peers, and more importantly friends, and I hope that list grows over time. 

Thanks a lot to all my friends, and particularly my family for coming to my shows and supporting me. Shaley, you've been incredible, putting up with me and hearing my jokes over and over again. And getting to perform stand up in front of my Mom and Dad for the first time was one of the biggest thrills of my life. 

The say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I've taken 16 steps. So....what is that? Like, 999.9 miles to go!

Adam _____