In 1996, I saw Blaine Capatch and Patton Oswalt open for Rick Overton at the old Cobb's. I was 26. I thought, wow, I would love to be a standup. Too bad I'm too old to start something now. You see, I had tried standup once.
The week I turned 21, I went to the Holy City Zoo on Clement Street and signed up on their open mike list. I went on next to last. I didn't do well. I never went back. I had a whole other life in the poetry world. I was good at it. In the poetry scene, I could meet women, there were drugs, and I had success. The Zoo was all guys and if anyone had drugs they weren't sharing. Fuck it.
At 32, I got sober. There's a step where you have to take full inventory of your life. Most of these are resentments and fears. Through this process I also made a list of everything I quit because of addiction or fear. Comedy was on that list. I had a nagging "what if" in my heart. But school was also on that list. I spent years clearing my finances, getting back into school, and graduating. After that, I was in a "what's next" phase.
Three things happened:
- I saw Matt Besser's "Woo Pig Sooie" one man show.
- I saw Patton Oswalt four times in three days, including two shows from backstage at Cobb's.
- Christopher Titus' "Norman Rockwell is Bleeding" aired on Showtime.
All three shows were great for different reasons. Three different approaches to comedy. But they all had the same impact: this is something I should be doing. But hell, getting where I wanted to be would take me ten years or something, right?
I was 37. I thought back to that Cobb's show. Had I started then I would have had 11 years in comedy. I may have been headlining clubs, who knows? That's when I had to say "fuck it" again. Fuck it, I'll start now. Today.
In a few months, I'll emcee a show at the Punchline for the first time. It took me longer than I thought it would. The rest of my journey probably won't go as I think it will, either. But it will happen, and I'll experience it at every moment.
Blaine Capatch told me when I started comedy, "every day you don't do this, is a day you're not getting better at it." It's true. Every day you're not moving toward your goals and dreams, every day you don't start your wish machine, is a day you're going to be a What If instead of an I Am. I can't live with What If. I can live with I Am a Failure, if that's the worst case scenario. If you're the same way, start now. Whatever it is.