Saturday, October 15, 2011

Called Home

After almost a three month hiatus from standup I stepped back onstage this past Thursday. I wasn’t planning on a return. After all, I went through several phases when it came to my relationship to the art form that I had developed sort of a love/hate thing for.
At the beginning of the year there was the post reality show withdrawl where I demanded better spots from a club I had earned a ton of money for. I revived a dead mic and even the club owner told the manager, “We must be very nice to her.” But then because I wasn’t around as much after getting paying spots and after getting the shaft time after time they fired me from my own mic without telling me. Not to mention the bottom dweller comics, mostly the whole NYC scene at certain times, slammed me online or would talk about me as soon as I leave the room. In the words of the Amish, I was shunned. Or the Jehovah’s Witnesses would have called it fellowshipping. Translated, they were forced to deal with me when they performed with me but then wouldn’t seek me out outside of the club the way they used to. Or better yet, some clubs didn’t even open the door to me citing I didn’t have TV credits. I wanted to tell those morons I saw more TV time in one swoop than most of their regulars had in years let alone their whole careers. So translated, I was slowly moving out of it, putting it on the backburner.
Then there was the phase where I wasn’t hosting the mic, wasn’t doing business with my old club and for the most part was actually still doing shows. I cut down from the five or six I used to do a week and the weekends on the road to only doing two to three spots a week. While there was a general isolation and alienation from the community I didn’t care. I was actually enjoying being out of the drama and doing comedy for the sake of doing comedy. During that period I made some friends who were higher on the comedy food chain and were well respected. I also put away some decent sets. I booked shows where not only was I getting paid but I was doing well with national headliners. I was becoming a master of difficult crowds just by being myself. Despite my disgust with the politics of the art form I was starting to enjoy just being onstage again. Plus everywhere I went it seemed someone had seen me on TV and wanted a picture. It wasn’t all bad.
For a while there I started to get back into it again. While I didn’t pound the mics the way I once did, not caring that I actually saw money from comedy, I was starting to show my face again. I was starting to graciously accept that this art form is growth. That it takes a lot of time for someone to accept the respect allotted to them. That very few people make it. But it didn’t matter to me. However I was snubbed when it came to invites to audition for certain festivals and other things. It didn’t just bother me, it left me more sore than ever. In my heart I felt that if I were perhaps a weird looking alternative guy with a beard or the ethnic flavor of the week my journey would not be so downhill.
After that was the up and down phase where I would either do really well or tank out. Part of it was that I stopped caring whether or not crowds liked me. As a younger performer I would have broken my neck to make sure everyone enjoyed my set. I would have worked with a crowd. But at this phase if the crowd didn’t feel me fuck em. That’s how I felt. I had done a little TV time and was starting to do other things. Standup ceased to be the focus. There was no money or chance for exposure anyway. So little by little the club dates started to slip away. I started doing more internet stuff. And then gradually I just stopped chasing it.
At first I was angry about being kicked in the face when I had spent so many night barking in the rain for producers who were significantly less talented than I was. Or getting the snub from female comedians who felt they were superior when their punchlines about being fat and ugly were not only inferior but hack. I told myself there would be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow as I charmed audience after audience and won over the toughest of crowds. Sure I wowed them, I shut them all up, and I probably wasted my time. When asked about it I would just go off and feel angry afterward. Then I would sort of feel sad. But I was part of a web network, making vids that got considerable traffic, did several magazine spreads, had songs playing on the radio and made a movie. I didn’t need to be in the basement.
Then something magical happened. I found myself ceasing to care anymore. I was in the midst of the beginnings of my book publication. I was wrapped up in the official launch of YouNow and would perform sometimes up to eight hours live a day online. So it’s not like I was just making videos and not caring. Truth be told I found myself so removed from standup and began focusing on music, not because I wanted to win a Grammy but wanted to reach my fans. I almost wanted to stop labeling myself a comedian. I wanted to be a ventriloquist and maybe an actress. But I was sick of the pressure of having to be funny. Plus being a reality star was much more fun.
Then another magical thing happened. I started dating a comedy legend. Sure he was old enough to be my grandfather but I was open to adventure. I wasn’t even trying to advance my career. Hell I wasn’t even sure I wanted to do comedy anymore. I was up for another reality show that didn’t happen and just recorded another song. I was also on my way, and still am, to publishing my book. But I was like what the heck? However he seemed interested in my comedy. I didn’t want to tell him much. I am a reality star armed and dangerous with her puppet children struggling not to fade. He is a legend who won a Tony and an Emmy. But he told me he wanted to see me work. Meanwhile I was doing most of my stuff online and he didn’t own a computer. Then he asked me something crazy, “You afraid you might not be so hot?”
I didn’t know what to say. Was I supposed to tell someone who was a freaking genius who remembered every joke he ever wrote word for word that I was so burnt out I hadnt written in months? And these were decades of jokes. For the most part when I webcasted these routines were off the top of my head. I wasn’t like him. Plus I never let the guys I date see me perform live no matter who they are. The job of Mr. April Brucker, even if he is Jesus Christ, is to please me and then fade away like a good dirty little secret. Actually instead I just blurted out, “NO, NEVER!”
Even after it ended between us, and it didn’t last very long, not even a love child, I wondered why the hell he had been dropped into my life. Had it been the usual April doesn’t date successful men and when she does she feels like an inferior fool trapped beneath their shadow grappling like Sylvia Plath trying to get out of a self imposed prison? I didn’t know. Instead I did what I normally did, blogged about my angst and dissed him on my webshow. Then something strange happened. When I was doing my webshow my friend Nate Mitchell asked me to do his show in Brooklyn. I found myself saying yes. I went to do the show and it wasn’t crowded. Normally it wouldn’t have been a good thing but actually for me it was. I hadnt been onstage in a while and found myself getting the jitters. I actually found myself rusty in the way I dealt with the audience. Maybe it was because I had been sick. I also forgot one of my punchlines, not smooth, but then there were other parts of the set where I was able to roll with it. While it was a smaller crowd they were alright. I found myself getting my feet wet and somewhat curious to do more standup.
On the other hand I found myself actually bored of my old material. For starters I just felt like I am tired about talking about certain things. I want to write more but I don’t know what. I don’t even know if I want to write in a group. I actually hate writing groups but suddenly I want to know should I be in one? Should I be doing a one woman show? I found myself not knowing.
Then something weird happened. The next day like clockwork two people asked me to perform in their shows, and then a third. It’s like the live show dates are starting to pour in. I don’t know what to say or do except maybe consider writing new material and getting onstage more. Actually that is the next right action. I am being forced back onstage and to write more.
I would love to say I feel excited about performing live again and the prospect of being onstage but I don’t know. I don’t know how I feel. I just feel blank. Maybe it’s because the spark is gone and it is gone forever. Maybe it is because I don’t feel a part of and feel out of my element. Maybe it’s because I need something exciting to make me excited about writing again. Or maybe it’s because I have been around one too many times and am too jaded when it comes to the politics of standup. Maybe it’s because I know it is less about being funny and more about being either a male with a beard or the ethnic group in demand. On the other hand I am not unhappy about it. A tad unsure but I don’t know. Either way it looks like the universe is giving me a direction. I might as well take it.
But if you aren’t doing anything this Sunday and every Sunday from 8-10 pm EST on I host a show called Confessions. So if you have a burning desire to confess something deep and dark come on. Best Confession wins a fifty dollar donation to the charity of their choice. So share your smut, save the world. Love April

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