Written February 4, 2015
So I gave up my first stand-up spot here in Portland just now. I don’t feel good about the material I’ve written, which was just on Sunday night, mind you. I don’t have it memorized and will be damned if I go on stage not knowing my own shit. That’s a good way to guarantee that I’ll never go on a stand-up stage for a long while, maybe ever again. I don’t want that. I am mush at the moment. Brain mush. Heart mush. Soul mush.
Some of this is overthinking the entire situation. I’ve been on stage before doing stand-up. Back in the summer, I did ten sets in Phoenix. Three of them actually went well. Those three felt natural. The other seven were terrible. The reason they went well is because I knew my material inside and out. Spent weeks on honing it. It also helped that I had a friendly audience that was also being entertained by improv comedy in the same show. The Outliars shows were something else altogether. But right now, I’m inside my own head, and know that I can’t be there for this to go well.
I don’t expect to ever make a single dime doing stand-up or improvisational comedy. It’s a performance beckoning that my soul has and wants to do, and has since high school. I didn’t know that performing improv comedy was going to be the way the urge manifested itself until I saw an Outliars show back in March 2013. Seeing that show with my friends really changed the direction my creative life was going. Let’s go back a few months more from this point.
It was November 2012 and I hated my dayjob. I had just gotten a promotion at the credit union I was working at, so I was doing mortgage things instead of checking account things. Everyone was my age at work, and we were all kind of just clock-punchers there. My ambitions were so much higher than that, though. So I looked around at Phoenix and saw that there was a new theater group forming in January. This was the ticket. I could write and be around theater people, who are some of the most fun people to be around in this life. So the group meets and we hit the ground running, ready to create a show from scratch. There’s about 15 of us, and we’re all on the same page…for the first month. We’ve met every Saturday night for all of January and February 2013, and it was a great social endeavor. Until the auditions were to be held.
We had a show. A program! We had a program that was inspired and well-written. As the head writer of the group, I had cobbled together 75 minutes worth of creativity from the eight of us who co-wrote the project. It was all very decent. Divided were a few of us already from the rest of the group, who used illogical arguments to soothe their egos when things got heated. Those divided few showed up early to the audition night with their own versions of the sides (parts of the script), and seemed not surprised at all when the rest of us showed up at the agreed-upon time to the auditions. Disorganization was everywhere. Tempers fumed. Breaking apart was inevitable. Profanities were flung. The group had devolved into a grade-school recess of mutiny and tears.
So the theater group was no more, no matter how much hyping well-laid plans were subsequent to that night. I was lucky to remain friends with many of these creative people to this very day. Their talents deserve to be recognized by those in the wielding power of influence. Weeks later, we’re at the Outliars show and I’m a changed man forever. The wit and looseness of the players on-stage was something to witness. It was pure happiness.
A year went by from the time I was at the show until I was able to get enough time to commit to the Outliars. In that year, I focused on becoming financially stable, self-publishing a book, and growing my network of creative people. March 2014 came and I was in. From then until the end of December, I will treasure always the people I was able to get to know, play with, grow with, and write with. It’s one of those invaluable experiences that is really like 500 different experiences, the sum total that can’t be quantified.
May 3rd, I became a full-time player with the Outliars. May 18th was the first time I did stand-up. July 4th was our Independence Day show and I was tickled pink to have opened for my scene partner, Milly, who ended up doing a killer first-time stand-up set of nearly 13 minutes. I mean, she fucking crushed. 120 shows over these 10 months at venues all over the Phoenix Metro area left me with a grin my face that was ear-to-ear as I drove west on the I-10 the morning of December 30th, on the way to Portland, where I am living now.
So I thought I was ready to go on stage to begin doing stand-up again tonight. I’m not. I just wrote material on Sunday night, and I have a hook. But I don’t know it by heart, and I’m not in the right mindset to get on a foreign stage and have a spotlight on me yet. It’ll be a couple weeks from now that I end up doing it. Muscles aren’t built overnight. Right now, I have very few muscles except for writing every day and physically working out my body so that doesn’t become utter mush. So it’s time to really go work out and get them back, maybe make them better than they’ve ever been. Ten sets in a lifetime isn’t enough for me. I want more. I’ll have more. Gymtime.