Sunday, November 10, 2013

Fear and Loathing

Comedians are like bitchy scorpions. There are only so many spots at any club, only so many people who can be on any show, etc. It's like we all can't have nice things. This is most apparent on car trips. It starts by bringing up one comic and then it is a trash fest. Some of it is out of jealousy that they got the spot we wanted. Some of it is out of fear that we might never get what we want. Some of it is out of insecurity because we must trash people we feel are lesser. Deep down, it is more fear. More fear that we will be forever trapped doing shit open mics, shit bar gigs, shit check spots, and at the end of the day we will languish in obscurity only to die unknown.

Early in my comedy career I saw people floating around who had been at it for years. One woman had been doing open mics for fifteen years and still sucked. I deeply hoped that wasn't going to be me. However, I was afraid it was going to be. I saw others seemingly never move from the bringer system, damned forever to be comedy cattle running and feeding off of dream grass only never to get the nutrients. At other venues I saw people bark for what seemed to be forever never to move up. And then I saw some people do the same terrible set for years with the same lackluster jokes. Running the open mic marathon it seemed as though the lanes were clogged like a bad LA traffic jam and I would never get the red light. As for the road, I did that as a feature. I opened up for guys who were either really funny and would never have their talent recognized, or incredible hacks that killed for audiences that didnt know better. For a while it felt like there was no way to make it.

As a comedian I never believe my fans or the audiences that love me. In the initial early stages of my career, I very well knew I wasn't very good. When I would have a bad set, it followed me for sometime in my mind. When I had a good set, I bragged about it. Some of it was that I was proud of my work. Most of it was because I thought it would never happen to begin with therefore feared it would never happen again. I was accused of having no humility. It was true. I was deeply insecure and not the biggest April fan. But humility is not thinking less of onesself but thinking of onesself less. I was thinking of April all the live long day.

Time went on and I accomplished some things. It wasn't so much talent but hard work. I will admit, there is always someone funnier, prettier, and a better writer than I could be at any given moment. However, none have pounded the pavement like I have. Even my enemies have to high five me for my work ethic. In order to accomplish that fear and loathing, I became even more bragadocious. I don't think it was an accident that I found myself more depressed than ever deep down. Yes I was releasing a book but why did I secretly feel like dog shit run over by a mac truck? Answer, I was chasing the wrong solution. I thought ranting about being a woman in comedy was the solution. If I were a man I wouldn't have to fight so hard. I had fans writing me letters. Fuck open mics. Let me tell you how successful I am. Want to read a copy of my book?........

This past winter, I found myself unsure of how to step up my comedy. How to grow. The answer was to drop the fear and loathing and to do the work. This past week I did a show where the audience was slower to warm up to a ventriloquist act. However they got into me and I ultimately ended up doing well. After I stepped offstage I didn't hear the congratulations from the audience or felt the love I received from my fellow comedians. Instead I could only focus on the fact they didn't dig me at the beginning of my set. I was talking to a fellow comedian about this and how I always focused on the weak part. The audience members who didn't like me. My comedian friend concurred that she did that too. We all did.

On my walk home I worried that I was never going to go where I wanted to go. I also worried that I was going to settle again. Then I realized no. That wasn't going to happen. The mistake I made was falling victim to the fear and loathing. My ego seduced me into taking April the Reality TV Queen and April the Author into comedy clubs. That person doesn't always belong. Instead, when I go to a club I am just another name on the lineup. My job isn't to primp my feathers and remind people of who I think I am. It's to make the audience laugh. Also, there is something to be learned from every comedian on the lineup whether they are a household name or whether they are unknown. When that is my attitude there is always something gained.

These days when I step onstage I take the twenty year old kid who was awkward and had a weird looking, antiquated puppet. She wasn't afraid to fail, and was humble enough to do the work. She took tanking hard only to keep doing more of it until she got good. The beautiful thing was she wasn't so egotistical she wouldn't take a suggestion. As a result, the Comedy God's smiled upon her again and again. She was a good kid, sometimes taking things too hard but always chasing the perfect set. She always knew she could do better and the secret was more stage time. These days I bring her to the clubs. Not April the Reality TV star or April the Author. Those two idiots wouldn't have been possible without that weird, determined, and tough kid blindly chasing a dream.

Good things have always happened when she has been around. Sure she succumbs to the fear and loathing, but only to get up and try it again.

I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl

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