Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Feel Like Venting...10/8/19

It's been a while, eh? Does anyone still read this thing?

I don't post in here often anymore. Partially because I get enough of an opportunity to talk about myself on my podcast every week (rememberthegamepodcast.com). Partially because I don't have anything interesting to say. Partially because it takes time to write these stupid things, and a blog five people read when they can't sleep isn't at the top of my priority list these days. But I feel like blogging today. So if it's 3am and you're laying there staring at your phone, hopefully this helps.

I mentioned it a couple weeks ago, but it's been three years since I quit my forklift job at Uline and decided to try and take a run at being a comedian. I was already doing stand-up, but it was a secondary hobby/source of income to my day job and life. I hated my job at Uline, I was working a ton of hours, hated the company's direction, philosophies and work environment, and decided that at 32 years old, it was time to swing or get out of the batter's box. Fortunately, my friends at Pro-Am Sports hooked me up with a job that included some very flexible hours, and they helped ease my transition into the wonderful/awkward/stressful/crazy world of being a self-employed comedian.

I've really struggled with this lifestyle change over the last couple years. I didn't go to any post-secondary school, and I have no real skills or education aside from my High School diploma, but (in my opinion) I have a great work ethic. I was raised that way. I always had a job, and took pride in showing up every day and trading my employer an honest day's work for my paycheque. My mindset since I was fourteen was that everyone should have a job, and they should punch the clock everyday and work hard. Going from that life to one where I'm my boss, there is no guaranteed paycheque, and my job is to write jokes and find people that will pay me to tell them has been harder than I thought. I can't help but feel like...I don't know what the word is...loser? Failure? Slacker? Bum?

And the problem isn't so much in a "finding work" sense, because I've been ridiculously fortunate to make some great connections in the industry, and I've managed to stay busy enough to eat every month. But I put a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself, and I feel like no matter how hard I work to book shows, write jokes and stay relevant in comedy, it's never enough. I can send emails for hours, and if at the end of the day, nobody has replied, I feel like I didn't accomplish anything. Like I took the day off. It's not the right mindset at all, there's only so many bookers and clubs out there, and there's A LOT more comedians than there is shows, but it's just a feeling I'm unable to shake. My girlfriend is the most supportive person on the planet. She's never said I'm not working enough or making enough money, but I feel this unquenchable thirst to show her she backed the right horse when she supported me quitting my day job. That's what motivates me, and it's what makes me feel like I'm never doing enough.

I'm on the road more than ever before, too, and I've come to the conclusion I don't like it. The idea of going on tour for a few months or something just sounds like hell to me. I like my own bed, my dog, my girlfriend. I hate sleeping in hotels, and being away from home. My friends and family have pointed out to me that I'm never around anymore, and it really wears me down sometimes. I hate it, because I feel like I'm letting them down. But the hours comedians work are the exact opposite of most people. I don't know if it grinds on other comics as much as it does me, but it's been a very hard thing to get used to.

I've said it on here many times, but I decided shortly after I started comedy that the career I wanted was one in Alberta. I always tell people at the corporate shows and fundraisers I do in Western Canada that small town comedy shows are my favourite shows, and I really mean it. The people are awesome, the shows are rad, and it's usually not more than a night to two away from home. That's what I want out of my comedy career. Most comedians hate doing corporate shows; I love them.

I don't plan to ever record a comedy album, I don't care if I ever get a major festival or blow up on-line and become famous. I just want to make my girlfriend proud, help provide for our family, and spend as much time with her and my dog as I possibly can. I don't want to have a boss telling me what to do. I want to be my boss. I just have to learn to relax and enjoy it now.

There really is no point to this blog, I guess. If you read this, and it comes across like I'm just whining about my life, I am. But it wasn't my intention. I love my life. I literally have everything I could ask for. My days consist of walking my dog, writing jokes, and talking about video games on my stupid podcast. I do feel like I'm slowly adjusting to the self-employed life and learning to enjoy it while still keeping my foot on the gas. But some days are easier than others. And today has been a "you aren't working hard enough but if you work more you'll be ignoring everyone that you care about" day, and I had to vent. And what better way to vent than via a blog 5 people are reading at 3am?

Thanks for reading. Go Rays!


Wednesday, 9 January 2019

My Comedy-Versary 01/09/19

My comedy anniversary is coming up later this month. I'm not a big "New Year's Resolution" guy, but when my comedy-versary (I'm not sure why that's got the red line under it, it's totally a word?) comes around, I like to try and set some goals for my upcoming "stand up season".

When comics meet for the first time, "How long have you been doing stand up?" is a pretty common ice breaker. It doesn't really matter, but it's something to get the conversational ball rolling. I think some people put too much stock into how long a comedian has been comedian-ing (again, real word). Some people inflate the numbers by including those first 2 years where they only got on stage 5 times. Sometimes a comic will tell you they've been at it for a long time, and you look at where they are and you can't help but feel bad for them. Once and a while, someone tells you they've only been at it for _____, and you're both impressed and jealous of how good they already are. But at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter how long they've been a comic for. It only matters if they're funny, if they're fun to be around, and if they sell tickets (the order of those qualities varies greatly, depending on who you ask.)

I'll be entering my 4th "stand up season" in a couple weeks, and I'm 100% positive that just as many people have felt bad for me as have been impressed (I don't think anyone has been jealous). When I look back, I'm really proud of some aspects of the last year, and really disappointed in others. If you're a creative person, and you can't see ways you could constantly be improving your creation, you need to give your head a shake. I know that at various times this year I've been guilty of "taking my foot of the gas", and it rattles me, because I know I could be a much better comic than I am if I could just keep my eye on the ball. (Cue the lazy eye jokes).

I have, however, worked really, really hard on giving it everything I have when I'm on stage over the last year. Maybe not always at open mics, but when someone is paying me to tell jokes, I'm going to give them everything I have. A big part of that was quitting my day job in May and deciding to try take on comedy full-time. This has become my livelihood now, and I look at comedy as a business, instead of a hobby. I feel like I can honestly say that if you hire me to perform on your show, I will do everything in my power to give you the best show I can. I don't "take shifts off" anymore, and I really take a lot of pride in that.

I try to be self aware, and I know where I need to improve. I'm dedicated to trying my best to focus those areas. As I start to take the (overwhelming) step into doing 45-60 minute sets and headlining shows, I'm putting more pressure on myself than ever to experiment and grow as a comic. I love watching really good headliners just crush on stage, not so much because they make me laugh, but because they inspire me. I won't be satisfied until I can do what they do.

Part of getting there is experimentation and forcing myself to step out of my comfort zone. I'm trying to shift the direction of my joke writing away from relationships and my many, many physical shortcomings, and lean into more observational, every day things. I find it a lot harder to write jokes about, but I also get a far greatest sense of accomplishment out of it. I know in the long term it'll make me a better comedian.

My Comedy-versary Resolution is to stay focused. Stop being hard on myself, stop comparing my comedy or career to others, and to just try and get a little better every set. Just keep taking one step at a time. As long as people keep hiring me, I'm doing something right. And if they stop hiring me, I'll go back to just writing jokes about my lazy eye and Shaley.

Thanks for reading this, supporting me, hiring me, heckling me - just paying attention to me. I appreciate it.


Thursday, 3 January 2019

Happy New Year! 01/03/19

I forced myself to write 100 of these in 100 days in 2018, and then I wrote about 3 more afterwards. I need to find a happy medium between those numbers. I might try for the 100 in 100 again, though. That was fun. 

I hope you all had a great holiday season, and I hope the 'January Blues' aren't hitting you too hard. Getting back into a normal routine after a couple weeks of just eating and drinking always sucks. If you're hating it, just try to stay positive, and remember that Summer is only about 6 months away! Ugh....

I spent Christmas out in BC with my girlfriend, Shaley's, family. It was a lot of fun. While we were driving back to Edmonton on boxing day, we were talking about the hype that goes in Christmas now. Christmas decorations hit the shelves on November 1st. We spend 2 months getting all wound up, and then just like *that*, it's over. I think I like the anticipation more than the day itself. 

On a side note, one of my favourite things about visiting family in BC is the drive out there and back with Shaley. Our schedules don't align too often these days. As much as we joke about irritating each other, I like it when we get to spend a day or two in the car together, talking about places we want to go and stuff we want to do down the road. Most of our vacations over the last 5 years came from a discussion in the car. 

2018 was a big year for me. First and foremost, I decided to take the leap and become a "full-time" comedian (I believe the technical term is a "bum"). The money isn't great, but the freedom is. I love the time I have to write and work on other projects. Giving up having a bunch of spending money for that freedom and lifestyle is a no brainer. I still have days where I feel like a loser, who needs to get a regular job and "be the man of the house", but I'm gradually forcing myself out of that mindset. Shaley has a great job, I'm slowly starting to make more money, and I clean the house, cook dinner, and take care of our errands and our dog when I'm not on the road. It's really working well for us, and that's all that matters.

I found a beautiful girl, that supports me and every stupid idea I have without question. It's cliche, but I don't care about fame or money. I have everything I need already. I think some of the comics I go on the road with probably get sick of hearing me talk about her. Shaley is the best thing that's happened to me in 35 years. 

I hope these two ladies never realize how much better they could have done
January 21st will mark my 3 year anniversary as a comedian, and I have big goals for year 4. I think they're all pretty realistic, albeit a little ambitious. It's going to take a lot of work to reach the level I want to be at by the end of the year, and I'm excited to try. A lot of great comedians and bookers have given my advice and opportunities over the last 12 months, and I'm truly grateful to all of them. Thanks to all my friends (in and out of comedy) for supporting me, and picking me up when I need it. Thanks to my family for the overwhelming encouragement, despite the fact that your 35 year old son/brother/cousin/nephew/whatever is unemployed and makes fun of all of you in front of strangers. And thanks to Shaley and Molly for pushing me and being there for me no matter what. Love you. 

Aside from comedy, Shaley and I had some great times this year. We tried to avoid getting run over by scooters in Vietnam, fell in love with Tokyo, and drank beer at Wrigley Field in Chicago. It was so much fun. We'e settled into our new place, and we're even talking about adding a 4th member to our little clan in 2019! (A four legged member, sorry Mom). 

I shut down my original 'Adam Wastes Time' podcast, but launched 'Remember The Game?', which is a video game podcast I've been kicking around for a while. The download numbers for it have lapped my original podcast a couple times already, and I'm REALLY enjoying it. I'm excited to focus on growing it's audience in 2019, and I can't thank everyone enough for listening to it, sharing it, and most importantly, appearing on it! Video games are my drug, and I'm really pumped to have a side project I can work on that revolves around them. 

I'm still *verrrrry* slowly chipping away at writing a book. It's a much bigger task than I anticipated, and I don't imagine I'll ever let anyone read it, but it's something I've wanted to try forever. I don't have a New Year's Resolution per say, but if I did have to make one, it would be to really focus on this thing, and try to finish at least a first draft this year. The challenge becomes finding time to work on it without taking away from my joke writing, which has to be the priority now. (And is also something I should be working a little harder on). 

Anyways, this is long enough. I just wanted to touch on 2018 and post one of these. I'll try to be a little more frequent with them this year, for the 5 of you that read them. If you made resolutions, I hope you stick with them. If you didn't, that's cool, too. Just worry about getting through each day as happy as possible. Forget what anyone else thinks of you, and focus on cutting the negative stuff out of your life. And if that doesn't work, weed is legal now.

Happy new year.