It’s my 10 anniversary of doing comedy! Maybe. The first time I ever did stand-up was at a high school talent night. I did a bunch of jokes about “if Mr. Brady is an architect why did he design only 2 bedrooms for 6 kids?” I’m pretty sure I stole that bit from TV so that’s not really when I started comedy, or is it? If so, then it’s my 16 year anniversary. I also did stand-up 4 times in college, mostly “girls fart, isn’t that crazy” jokes, so if that’s when I really started then it’s my 14 year anniversary. But wait, after college I lived in LA where I worked a real club the Comedy Store, so perhaps we should start there making it my 12 year anniversary. But then again after a year the thrill wore off and my last 2 years in LA I only did 2 spots a week and mostly spent my time tanning, doing drugs, reading The Artists Way and making vision boards. So maybe that’s not when I truly when I started comedy. Then I moved to NYC, when I got here I actually called comedy clubs and was like “hello! I’d like to perform please!” And they were like “what are your credits?” And I was like “I lived LA.” And they were like “bye!” That led to about 3 years of me being overwhelmed and under committed. So if we minus those 5 half assed years then it’s really my 7 year anniversary… but then there were those 2 years in 2006 when I tried to quit the business, moved to the suburbs of Boston and got married because I thought I needed be “normal.” I did some comedy then but I was still one foot out, let’s include some of that time. Also sprinkled throughout were lots of improv classes and those 4 different improv teams I was on where almost everyone abandoned me to get “real jobs.” (Thanks a lot guys for not yes and-ing my dreams!) So really if we are only going to count the years I’ve been doing comedy consistently, I guess it’s my 6 year anniversary. Maybe. But what about all those times as a kid that I made my parents laugh as I ran around the house pretending I was Benny Hill? Does that mean I’ve been doing comedy for 30+ years?
Honestly I never how to answer the question “how long have you been doing comedy?” If I say too long I feel bad that I’m not further. If I say too short, I feel like I’m not honoring all the experiences I’ve been fortunate enough to have. If I think too hard about time I can get anxious and regretful about all the time I wasted and how much time I have left, and then I’m just wasting more time worrying about time. That’s why part of me hates any question of “how long have you been doing (fill in the goal/career blank)?” because the answer really only affects the person being asked. Often for me it starts that horrible mental cycle where I equate success to speed. I’m not saying don’t ask people that question, I’m just saying if you’re asked that question remember that the answer really doesn’t matter.
So I don’t really know how long I’ve been doing comedy. And on days where I feel rejected or hopeless I sometimes don’t know why I keep doing comedy. All I know is I can’t seem to stop doing comedy. I love comedy. I love comedians. I think comedy is one of the most powerful tools for healing and change. Every time I’ve tried to quit, comedy comes back to me and I embrace it (slow motion style like two long lost lovers reuniting on a beach) with a new perspective and a little less pressure. I think success is more than just “don’t quit.” I think success is also about quitting as in quit beating yourself up, quit comparing yourself and your journey to others, quit suffering with expectations about what should be happening. Instead use that energy to work hard and let things happen. Even the fucked up things, let them happen, they will happen whether or not you worry about them. So you’re pursuing something (not just comedy but anything) and feel bad that life has gotten in the way, try to remember and trust that life is actually leading the way.
And if you read this entire post, thank you. Writing this felt good, I hope for you, reading it felt good too.