My first time
Hey guys, the other night I posted on Twitter that if anyone had a question I would not only answer it, I would make it my next blog post so here it is.
The question that was asked was: What was my first job in comedy. I really think that when people ask that they usually mean, how did I get started so that’s what I’ll answer. To give you a bit of background, when I was a kid, like 8 or 9 years old, I had an abnormal love for stand up. I used to watch it on TV all the time and saw many of today’s biggest comics on what were probably some of their first TV appearances. Growing up in Casa Grande, Arizona you pretty much feel like there’s no way anything like that could ever happen to you so you move on with life accordingly. By the time I was in my late teens I really didn’t pay much attention to stand up and just did the things other kids did. I would occasionally catch something on TV but didn’t pay any particular attention to any of it. My life took some pretty weird turns and to get into all of that would be too much for any one blog post so we’ll just say, A LOT happened between my late teens and doing stand up. I’ve always been able to make my friends laugh until they couldn’t breath and one day when they were having an attack I remember thinking to myself, I should really be getting paid for this, then I moved on. Years later I was living a settled life with Juan in Phoenix, working an office job and I thought “happy” but sometimes late at night when I’d get up to go to the bathroom or was unable to sleep I would remember thinking, is this all there is? Is this really all my life is meant to be? I was very in love with Juan but something just didn’t seem right with the life I was living.
One night when I was at home with Juan we were watching Ellen Degeneres’ “Here and Now” on HBO. At some point during her performance people were going crazy and I looked at Juan and said, “I can do that” to which he said, “I know you can”. We forgot about it and moved on. Within the same week my Mom had given me an article that was really the review for Terminator 3, I don’t know why she gave it to me, since she’s my Mother and she KNOWS I don’t read (judge me all you want). I don’t really like reading and I find it boring but for some reason read this entire movie review, which to this day I don’t know why, or how, I finished because it was like 3 pages (yes on Terminator 3). So anyway, when I got to the end of the article there was a piece that said that the person who had written it was a local stand up comic and that he ran a contest called “Funniest Comic in the Valley” at a place called the Sets in Tempe and that if you were interested it was open to anybody you just had to go down and talk to Jimmy. I began to think about it and was definitely intrigued by the whole idea. That week I decided to go watch the show and see if I could work up the nerve to talk to Jimmy. When I got there it was really cool and packed, but nothing like I had imagined. The Sets was a bar/performance venue that was mainly used by local bands so while it was cool it was nothing like the places I had seen on TV. I watched the entire show, had a couple drinks and at the end made my way to talk to the guy that had been running the show to find out who Jimmy was and how I would get to talk to him. It turned out that Jimmy wasn’t there but the guy that was in charge told me that if I wanted to I was welcomed to perform the following week. I would get 5 minutes and that if I was serious about doing it I should prepare something. I immediately began to panic inside but it was too late I had already said I would be there. I didn’t tell ANYBODY that I was going to do it, I just started writing out a set on I can’t even remember what. I practiced over and over any chance I could get, in the mirror with a brush as a mic, in front of the TV with a remote control as a mic and while I was getting ready for the actual show. The day of the show would’ve been a Friday and was probably one of the most stressful days of my life. When I got there that evening it wasn’t nearly as packed as it had been the week before and they had done something different with the lighting which made it seem even more awkward. I ordered a shot of Jack and a Bud Light and waited for them to call my name. At the time I was still going by my legal name, which they butchered as usual, I made my way up to the stage and completely forgot EVERYTHING that I had prepared, I said a few things about the awkward set up and remembered maybe one or two things from my “set” and got off the stage at what was probably 3 minutes MAX. I had found out I had the worst stage fright but had also gotten some pretty big laughs and KNEW I had to come back. After the show the guys in charge had told me I was funny and that I should keep doing it. That was all the encouragement I needed to keep going. Since then I’ve done a million open mics and performed in EVERY situation imaginable and I’m still not EXACTLY where I want to be but I don’t wake up in the middle of the night anymore wondering if this is all there is. I’m happy with my life, I’m happy with stand up and I like working on new material. For me stand up really is what I’m meant to do. I say this because I know a lot of people consider it but I don’t think most understand the commitment and sacrifice that goes into a career in stand up. Most people just see the end result and think, I could do that, the same way I did when I was watching Ellen. They don’t see the endless nights spent writing material, waiting in line to sign up for open mics, doing open mics for comics who don’t always care about your jokes and in a lot of cases aren’t even paying and working day jobs at the same time. Doing all of this just to get an act and then you get an act and you’re still on open mics, then you FINALLY get paid and it’s $10 or dinner and a couple of drink tickets. Then you go on the road and you have to drive, if you’re lucky the other comics pay for gas but you break even or sometimes even lose money, because you really don’t make anything when you first go on the road. A lot of times you sleep on hotel room floors just so you can be seen by the person that books the room while you’re doing a 5-7 minute guest set. Another thing you don’t see are the failed relationships and lost friendships because you’re putting all your time and money into something everyone else seems to look at as a hobby. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not trying to discourage anybody I just don’t think a lot of people get what it’s really like. They always think, oh well I’m funny. To tell you the truth ANYBODY can be funny, it’s can you be funny in a room full of people that have never met you and can you put up with all the bullshit you have to go through to even make it past the open mics. Anyway, I hope I’ve done a good job of answering what my first time was like. Please leave any follow up questions in my comments below and I’ll do my best to answer those too. Hope you all have a good day and thanks for reading