When I was 12 I used to listen to a radio station back in Southeastern Ohio that had a stand-up comedy show every Sunday night at 6pm. This was radio in the late 80’s so it was super squeaky clean comedy. I fell in love with comedians like Brian Regan, Tommy Davidson, Emo Phillips and even some bits on there played by George Carlin. I was 12, I knew then that I wanted to be funny for people. Just the mere moment someone’s straight face turned to a smile due to something I did or said was inspiring to me as a child. All through school I continued to be a student of comedy. I expanded to Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor in my teens, all the while becoming a fan of other sources of comedy outside of stand-up. Towards the end of my high school years one of my friends made the comment “You should be a comedian”, that I had heard a few times before. I simply explained to him how frustrating and gut wrenching I would find it to try to connect with strangers each night trying to make them laugh when I knew nothing about them. I felt at that time that I was not ready for stand-up, and may not ever be ready as far as I could tell.
Years went by, I barely made it out of high school for various reasons most of which pointing back to lack of interest in anything my teachers had to say.
Finnally after years of working and on and off boughts of trying school again I ended up working for a music festival in Northwest Ohio. At this festival I found myself with the emcee duties. By this time it had been 17 years had passed and my concern for what others thought of my had predictably faded allowing me the ability to get up in front of these crowds and say whatever came to mind withing the context of the announcements I had to make. While on stage at this jam band festival talking to spun out hippies and drunk rednecks alike I realized I could connect with each of these folks just another that I could make them laugh without even anything ready to say that was funny. I just had to look them in the face and say something directly to them pretending as if I was addressing the whole crowd. That was it, I was bit. I finally found the place that I struggle to carve out to this day. The festival drew to a close for good in 2005 as I began to work as a sales associate for a company we will just call ‘Big Evil Monster’ Wireless. After a little over a year in the industry my patience for Columbus, Ohio drew to a close.
Just a word about Ohio to those of you that don’t know anything about it. Ohio is not much different then most places in the United States. There are fat people pushing carts around Walmart not because they are handicapped but because they have found some secret fatty food stamp program that requires them to maintain a certain girth or they will be cut off due to lack of need. This encourages them to give up on pushing the cart and forces them to seek out motorized scooters provided at the entrance so they won’t burn any calories travelling across this football field-sized free-market clusterfuck on the way to the ice cream isle. Thank you Walmart and the Ohio State Fair for providing places where fat fucks can go to orgy with foods that should be smacked the fuck out of their hands. Yes, what I am saying is, Ohio has these people but so do many states in the U.S. Difference is, most of those states have SOMETHING to offer like a beautiful landscape, a ocean, some mountains or at least the history that something worth a shit once lived there. Ohio has that small town vibe in every single part of it. I grew up in Lancaster, Ohio. Nothing special about Lancaster except that Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman were born there. Yeah, who fucking knows who they are, I do but I am going to pretend I don’t… The small town attitude is what drove me away. I moved to the NC Coast in May of 2006 to rid myself more of the people that had coagulated around me then the geographic location itself. It was time to flush out the friends. Boy, let me tell you, nothing separates the users from the true friends like over 700 miles of highway….
So in the process of moving to North Carolina I do two “first performances” One at a birthday party I put on for myself (yeah, the coagulated mass didn’t help me put it on, just the few true friends) and one at my going away party in April 2006. I sucked. I still have the recording of the first time I really attempted to do stand-up. There are some interesting tiny gems in it, but for the most part I had no idea what to tell people and had written all my material on little postcards.
Here i am another three years later and I have performed nearly 100 times from open mics, to music festivals to bar shows to comedy contests in actual comedy clubs to Last Comic Standing to my all time favorite, an 80 year old name Captain Bill’s birthday celebration.
With the amount of time I have done I can say I have no fear of anything that could lie ahead. I fear no crowd, I fear no challenge, I fear no failure. You have to understand every single night you go out there on stage someone is going to be looking at you and thinking about the fact they haven’t gotten laid in two years while staring right through you during a joke that normally “kils”. You have to find the ones in the room you connect with, get them on board and try gently to make others join them in having a good time. It is fucking brutal. Every show you will have one person that makes you want to quit comedy. You will have that one stone faced person that doens’t find you funny in the least. The one that you thought you had in mind when you wrote the joke they wouldn’t laugh at. That’s just a part of the deal. Keep on trucking, don’t worry about what they think, just keep the other ones enjoying themselves.
I will never be done. I will make people laugh even when they are just laughing at my laughter.
I am just glad to have found my place in this world. And it only took 22 years to do it.