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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Every Day You Don't Do This Is a Day You're Not Getting Better at It

I turned 45 on the 13th of June. In comedy years, I'm headliner age. I recently was passed from being a showcase comic to being an opener at our local club. But I've only been pursuing comedy since I was 37. The problem is, most people in the industry will look at me and do the comedy math and think that I've been doing comedy around 25 years, in which case, I should be much more accomplished than I am.

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.


  1. You're a constant source of inspiration, brother.

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