This past week I was weighing whether or not to return to performing with the gusto I once had. Sure, I still do shows but I used to every night. This past weekend I found myself crying on the sidewalk because I felt left out. Yes, I have written a book that comes out in September and wrote and recorded a new song and have yet to make a video. But I am not writing new bits. Because I am not pursuing it vigorously, I am not getting the plethora of spots I once did. Saturday I had a meltdown below Highline.
Sure, when the comedy door closed other doors opened. I saw money when these other doors opened. I ceased really to care about standup. It made the festering wound of the club who had worked me to death and that I had gotten so much TV time and money for firing me as a thank you. It made up for the slap in the face time and time again by sexist male headliners about how women weren’t funny, and then backhanding me when I showed more natural talent than they did. Or even worse, accusing me of the nasty when I got gigs and TV spots they are not talented enough to get. Then there were the male bookers, who despite a routine about an ex of mine killing with audiences of both genders, refusing to book me because I struck a nerve, hit home if you will. In that toxic mix was a community that shunned me because God forbid I be an ambitious woman.
In between the no money, the doors not opening, my home club firing me, and my former boss slandering me after working me like a dog the choice was not hard. When I was offered a job as a talking head for an internet channel, got a chance to perform for the Saudi Royal Family, got a chance to record music and get it on the radio, and was selected to be a poster woman for a campaign as I acquired fans around the globe I thought, “Why not?”
A few weeks before my meltdown I was stopped by a ticket barker who tried to sell to me and I explained I performed. He asked where and I said not as much as I used to because I was writing a book. The ticket seller sensed there was something more and asked why I stopped performing. I told him I was following the writer path, which was true. He asked why I stopped performing and why I just didn’t go back, did someone tell me I didn’t have it? I made up some excuse about standup being dead which it sort of is and left.
Then the breakdown came. Sure, I had done a lot but what the hell was I doing with myself. I was twice as talented than some of those goofballs being picked to headline this and that. Some of it is the industry slant towards men, and women comedians who pander so to speak. Still, I knew I could destroy a room in ways those people never could. Why the hell was I unbooked on a Saturday night? I told myself when I was shunned by my community and the doors slammed, if it was meant to be I would have worked through it. I would have smiled, nodded, and apologized again for not being a man. Then I would apologize further for being an activist.
The next day I was walking and ran into a kid. He was drawing something on the Sidewalk for a comedy show. I asked who was performing and offhandedly he said, “Oh, a bunch of people with TV credits” and rattled off names. TV credits, I had more credits than all those people in a week. I wanted to snap at this little bastard but he had said nothing really.
That’s when I told God, because I am a spiritual person, that I was on the fence. Part of me wanted to say fuck the community full of chauvinistic rape apologists who smile as they trample on the rights of women, and women who have ambition. The wounds were still fresh from everything that went down at my old club. On the other hand, I missed performing and my fans constantly ask when I will turn up. While I love being onstage, I hated being shut out and forced to eat shit in regards to less talented men who havent done shit in years, had a cache because they had TV credits that were years old, and I was on the OWN network for almost four months once a week this year alone. Let’s not even talk about last year. I told God to guide me, make the decision.
I went to sleep and was visited in my dream by the dead version of Eazy-E. I have never met the man, but had been listening to NWA lately for some reason on my ipod. Eazy informed me that I belonged onstage, and that this wasn’t a choice for me and I had to stop making excuses and had to stop chasing it half-assedly. I mentioned my book and he mentioned that just as being a rapper made everything possible for him, comedy made everything possible for me. I then told him about the falling out I had with my home club once upon a time, and Eazy told me to get over it. He mentioned that while fallouts over money hurt, it was time to move on. Then he mentioned not to mind the haters, I was more successful than them and anyone who mattered wouldn’t shut me out. Eazy informed me it wasn’t about what I wanted, and that while my home club had fucked me over essentially my fans were much more important than some shit venue. There would be better venues, and I owed it to myself and to my fans to start putting in as many sets as I used to. Eazy told me I was being selfish, and that if I didn’t get back onstage this would strangle me.
I told him I wasn’t begging for stage time. He told me I didn’t have to. It would fall in my lap.
Then Eazy proceeded to hit on me. That’s when I woke up.
Maybe it was God answering my question sending the spirit of Eazy-E, a homophobic rapper who ironically died of AIDS to relay the message.
Maybe it was the Advil PM, I have been taking it because I had a toothache and couldn’t sleep. That will give you trippy dreams.
Either way the anger I felt stewing in me was lifted.
Within almost twenty four hours of that dream three bookings fell in my lap. An ease came over me as another phone call came my way for a new project from someone who had been following my career and was mightily impressed by my work ethic and called me a local New York celebrity. Of course, I also teach writing students (I work as a memoir teacher and instruct privately)and someone passed who recognized me from TV. While it boosted my ego (and does my ego need that) it also put a band-aid on an old wound.
Last night I was on my way to the Skinny. I saw some old friends of mine from my NYU days. I had thought we were close and cool, but they gave me the big diss, especially the girl. I wondered what I had done to her. After all, I was the only reason she passed Downtown Theatre. Sure, she could dance but she was as dumb as a stump. Then it occurred to me that for the past few years I had been making waves, and everyone had slated this dumb diva to make it and clearly she was not working. While the diss hurt, it was the universe letting me know I had been successful and that she was only my friend when I was at her minor level.
I went to the Skinny and I had a great night. Sean Lynch was fabulous, and I killed it. It wasn’t so much because I was awesome, but just because I was happy to be onstage and was just having fun with it. I wasn’t being worked to death by a club owner who didn’t appreciate me, and by a club manager who wanted me to rip off my open mic comics. I wasn’t being shunned by a room full of jealous comedians, apologizing for being hardworking and ambitious. I wasn’t being bumped out of spite because some former friend and producer viewed the fact I wasn’t allergic to achievement as a detriment. Instead it was a fun night and everyone and everything was awesome.
On my way home, I saw another former NYU classmate, a guy who remembered me and I remembered him vaguely. He informed his friends he had seen me at an NYU talent show freshmen year and I had killed it. I pulled May out from her suitcase and did a mini show for them. The former classmate of mine also mentioned he had seen me in one of my many TV appearances and that he was glad the Tisch investment had paid off and that he was proud of me for being so successful.
Successful? Does he know how broke I am? Does he know that I cannot afford a TV to watch myself on? Nonetheless, he had seen me and that was the first step in the right direction. The encounter was pretty cool and was the cherry on top of my iced cream sundae called a night.
Today I feel energized in a way I havent in some time. I want to get back onstage, write material, perhaps fall on my ass. Let people blog about me screwing up, I still have TV time they will never get and it’s only the beginning. I want the club dates and want to do well, and as a bonus I will promote my book. More than anything, I just want to be a good comic. Plus I owe it to the folks starting out, some who look up to me tremendously, to show them how it’s done and how it continues to be done. Perhaps Eazy was right, it’s not about what I want and I owe it to my fans.
The headlining nights at the big clubs aren’t so far off, I can feel it. People know who I am, people are watching.
The haters like my former friend and the club that fucked me over can choke on my success.
The friends and fans like my former classmate on the sidewalk are welcome to join my party any time.
Either way, for the first time in about two weeks I feel happy. My purse might be heavy in between my final proof I am marking up of my book as well as my brand new notebook to write jokes in.
Does that make me a Mutherfuckin’ G?
Eh, maybe not.