Thursday, 30 November 2017

Ups and Downs

My last blog post pretty much consisted of me whining about losing a gig, and talking about how hard I think I work. Maybe a little (lot) obnoxious, but it was therapeutic at the time.

I don't regret writing it. But, I want to point out that while it made not have seemed like it based on that blog, I'm very aware of (and immensely grateful for) all the opportunities I've had so far in stand up. I've been incredibly fortunate to do some of the things I've done over the last couple years. I was just frustrated that I lost out on one of those things.

I've been told over and over that stand up comedy, much like any walk of life, is full of ups and downs. Every time you think you have it figured out, something will bring you down. And every time you're down, hard work and persistence will pull you back up. I was down a couple weeks ago. Right now I'm in the clouds. I've had a fantastic run of shows since that last blog.

*On a side note, before I get into said shows, if you're "down" right now (in comedy, work, life, whatever), it sucks. But it'll go back up. Put your head down, work, keep moving forward. What goes down, must go up!*

Two weeks ago, I spent a Friday on the road to Medicine Hat with Simon King. I haven't had a chance to work with Simon before, but I know he has a good reputation, and all the comics that do know him speak very highly of the man. We had a great conversation on the drive down about comedy (I love picking headliner's brains), and he introduced me to coffee with butter in it. Fucked if I can remember what it was called, but it was outstanding. We got to Medicine Hat, started our show, and about 2 minutes into my set, the microphone checked out. It put me in the enviable position of working a corporate show, with a dance floor in front of the stage, without a microphone. (A comedian's dream!) I got through it, though. Had fun with the crowd and it turned out to be a good time.

The next morning, Simon and I hit the road back to Edmonton pretty early. He had another show to get to that night, and I had to meet up with Mike Dambra to hit the road up to Cold Lake for a sold out Saturday night show. I really liked rolling with Simon, the dude LOVES to talk comedy, and he gave me some great advice. We're working together again in the new year, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Saturday night, Mike and I had a show in Cold Lake. We did a couple gigs there back in April, and they were 2 of the best shows I've been a part of so far. I graduated High School up there, and it's always great catching up with old friends. We only had one show this time around, at Bean Trees Cafe's new Grande Parlour Theatre (pop in if you find yourself in Cold Lake. Incredible food and great people!). The show was sold out, and the crowd was red hot from the get go. In addition to some familiar faces (Victor & Lisa) coming by, a couple friends from my old job at the Canex out there came to the show. I worked there when I was 16 or 17, and working with some of the ladies at that store was one of my favourite memories. After Dambra DESTROYED the room, I went on stage to close it out and thank everyone for coming, and two of the fore-mentioned ladies, Jody & Darlene, surprised me with some baked goodies for my birthday. The audience sang happy birthday, and it was a really dope way to end a great night.

Jody, me, Darlene, and Bob Mattice  at the end of the show in Cold Lake. :)

I took Sunday off and hung out with Shay and my dog, and went back to my day job Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday night, I was fortunate enough to get to open for America's Got Talent runner up Drew Lynch at The Comic Strip in West Ed. The shows were packed, and the audiences were so excited to see Drew that getting them hyped off the top was as simple as saying his name. We had 3 great shows, and after each show, Drew hung around, shook hands and took photos with everyone that wanted to. Watching the way he interacted with his fans, and getting the opportunity to talk comedy with him for a little while was very eye opening for me. He was just a normal dude that found a way to make his mark in this business, and he seems genuinely grateful to be where he is. I can only hope if ever reach anywhere even close to his level of success, I handle it with that kind of class and humility. 

Drew rose to fame after appearing on America's Got Talent. He's a comedian with a severe stutter. I opened each show by saying "Who should we get to open for the kid that can't talk?? How about the kid that can't see??"
Thursday night, I was back at The Comic Strip, hosting for Nigel Lawrence and Brett Forte. Working with people you like can make a good show into a great show. I was feeling really dialled in after the last week of opening, and fell right into crowd work. I'm still a white belt when it comes to talking to the audience but I feel like I'm getting better at it every time I host. I think the key is just believing in yourself and going all in. If you half-ass it, they have no reason to come along with you. Some guys hate hosting, but I'm really starting to enjoy it. And as a new comic, if you can get a grasp on MCing, you make yourself a million times more employable. 

Friday I did a a show at CFB Edmonton with Paul Sveen. My Dad is ex-military, and still works on the base, so he popped by with a couple friends for the show. And for the second Friday night in a row, I got to open without a microphone. This time it didn't quit mid-set, the entire sound system just wasn't working from the get go. We ran with it, and actually had a pretty good time.

Saturday, I went to Red Deer for a show at the Legion with Brent Ayton and Todd Ness. The turnout wasn't what we were hoping for, but we made it through. Brent and Todd are both a real pleasure to watch on stage. Brent's writing might be the best in the city, and Todd is a great comic and a great guy. I struggled a little in the middle spot, but the guys covered for me, and I think everyone that came out felt like they got their money's worth and had fun.

All in all, it might have been the best week of my comedy career so far. Getting a chance to work with so many great headliners, and having the opportunity to study their acts, and talk stand up with them is invaluable. 

*Tomorrow (Friday) night, I have a corporate show with Mike. Who wants to bet something goes wrong with the mic?*

A couple weeks ago, I was down. Right now, I'm as up as I've ever been. Like I said, in any walk of life, you'll have peaks and valleys. When you're on a peak, take a second to look around and enjoy it. When you're in a valley, put your head down and start grinding. You'll find your way out.

Thanks for reading, and supporting me. I appreciate it more than you know.


Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Why bother?

I'm in a frustrated mood. I usually try to be as positive as possible in these blogs, on my podcast, and pretty well anytime I open myself up to the public at all. But today has been frustrating, and because this is my blog, I'm going to rant and complain for a few minutes. 

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).