Posts Tagged ‘stand up comedy’


  1. Hyping Gigs Kills Friendships: To achieve anything in comedy I have to do gigs all the time. Other than a lack of funds, another thing gets in the way – real life. To this day, I still vaguely wish I could do nothing but perform seven days a week, thus obscuring my lack of people skills, but I have other projects and *drumroll please* friends. Friends that I would like to see more than once a year. Imagine what that is like for a second, civilians. Not to mention, I am a performer who is an acquired taste at best. I purposely chose to create comedy shows that do not shy away from divisive subject matter like politics & religion and IT IS SO HARD getting butts in the seats as it is. No matter how many days I spend tacking up fliers/plugging the gig online/paying Facebook with my own money to plug the gig online, average attendance remains around 50 people per gig, maybe, on a good night.
  2. Are there not enough middle-class, straight white males complaining already?
  3. I saw the work of my peers and acknowledged my weaknesses: Do I continue to delude myself that I may be capable of something I am not? Comedy is a constant reminder of my limitations. Am I any good? This requires some honest reflection. There is nothing more painful than being honest with you. In fact, it is the ultimate kick in the teeth for your self-esteem. However, I know based on seeing videos of myself, the shows I was getting booked on and the responses I was getting from folks after shows, whether I was improving or not. The answer is a resounding no. If I have indeed been spinning my wheels for years and years and still do not seem be where I wanted to be, maybe it is time to take a sabbatical. My inferiority complex is more vibrant now than it was back when I started: I still do not think I am 100% ready for the road. I find myself on shows and look around a green room of professional comedians, people who really know what they are doing, and wonder how I have pulled off this charade for so long.
  4. I was starting to go crazier than I already was in the first place: Is comedy killing me? Some comedians are just Iggy Pop-esque fun addicts. Most humans are. We all naturally want to have as much fun as we can all the time. Comedy is fun, but the buzz I get on stage fades. Conveniently, more alcohol is widely available, depending on the venue. In addition, the diet of your garden-variety amateur night host is probably one of the worst of any profession aside from touring funk band. Am I putting myself in jeopardy by continuing to be around the booze and awful foods? Seeing fellow comics almost die around me because of years of unhealthy living is enough to convince me of the need for change. Open microphones are monstrous creatures that feed on hope, happiness and souls. (Remember The Nothing storm monster from the 1984 film “The NeverEnding Story.”) On any night I could, I would go to an open microphone and sit at a darkened table, working on my material I could barely read by candlelight before going up. The tragic paradox here is everyone else does the exact same friggin’ thing. I was typically prepping jokes for an audience of other comics who were not going to laugh at them even if they had listened to them. Because, hey, they did not write them so how funny could they really be? After all, I did not laugh at his or her jokes either as I was pacing around in the back trying to memorize my set. Just like everybody else does. Rinse and repeat.
  5. I Never Had Self-Delusions Of Grandeur: I have no desire to be famous and am therefore less inclined to work like a desperate hooker stuck on the track during a rainstorm. However, the seven billion other acts all have their eye on fame. I do not really want to be a comic, you just are whether you want to be or not. It is like an undetectable birth defect you tragically do not identify until it is too late. I was out of college, one Foreign Language credit short of a worthless double BA in Journalism and Political Science with a lifetime of loving stand up. I was convinced now was my time to share my voice with the world. Cut to “my first of many mistakes.” Many comics claim to want to share their beliefs. They are full of crap. They just want to be famous like everybody else; the only difference is they need it more. I thought I wanted to live on forever in the public’s collective memory, silencing my fears of mediocrity and dying un-remembered. In hindsight, I realize I just wanted validation from my peers, which is much more rewarding to get from family and friends. I hate myself. I was devoting my free time to writing jokes & performing. The only way to beat everybody is to do an insane amount of stage time. I needed to put my civilian friends on the back burner. I convinced myself I should do comedy at the expense of everything else. My dream of getting regular stage time eventually became largely a disappointment. Earlier this summer, I realized I was just going to have to half-ass try forever or cut my losses. 8-22-15 10 PM AST, I opted for the latter.

If I was getting into stand-up comedy to become famous, I never should have started in the first place. Hundreds of thousands of people get into stand-up comedy every year. Out of all of those people, only a very small percentage of them are even truly funny. A smaller percentage of those people can make a living off stand-up comedy. In addition, an even smaller percentage of those people become famous. Talent alone is not enough. Comedy is not a meritocracy. I would have to get lucky and catch a break. Be at the right place at the right time. (Alaska is not that place. Never was. Not now, not ever.) Even that is not enough. Your stand-up comedy is a business and I have to treat it as such. It takes time, a lot of time. Combine all of those elements and I still will probably not become famous in even the loosest possible sense of the word.

  1. It Is A Self-Destructive Pastime: Until I write ‘comedian’ on my passport and tax return, it remains just a hobby. It is an expensive one too. Getting to gigs is not cheap, and if you are like me & lack the depth perception necessary to drive, it rules out many opportunities. If I was getting into stand-up comedy because I needed a hobby, I need to stop right now. I need to find a hobby that is more fulfilling. I may suck at graphic design or video editing or whatever, but at least I will be having fun. It is a given that you will suck at stand-up. There will be times when nobody will laugh at anything or just dead silence, even when you are the headliner. (Exhibit A is embedded into the beginning of this post.) Other times, people will boo and tell you not to quit your day job. One out of five times that I go on stage, I maybe do consistently well. Bosses would fire workers for succeeding 20-30% of the time in any other industry. (The notable exception here is meteorology.) I have found other ways I would rather spend my time and I was never that great of a comic in the first place. Moreover, after 7 years, I have only reached the ranks of a mediocre local hobbyist. That is probably enough time to spend on that. It is hard to be funny when I am angry and I find myself getting angrier and angrier. Anger is not something I am trying to cultivate further in my life right now any more than it already is. Therefore, I decided to let comedy go.
  2. I Finally Admitted You Have To Accept Your Place In The Economy: I can get laughs, I am adequately skilled at my particular brand of book-smart comedy but it is a niche genre. I have a style that will not earn me money outside of gas and Taco Bell. Are my priorities in the right order? Many people, comics included, will tell you the most important thing in the world to them is their family. Unfortunately, comedy is not very kind to your real-life family. Comedy is predominantly a waiting game. Maybe it is time to take that night class and bump up the contributions to my Roth IRA. Otherwise, I am going to have to figure out how to put the important things first and make all my decisions with the number 1 most important thing in mind: I will never make money at this. After seven years in comedy, I thought at least it was time to break even. There are several mandatory requirements: a half hour of original quality material (which I possibly have), a car (which I lack the vision to operate), self-promotion (which I loathe with the passion of a thousand suns), work ethic (which I sort of have) and luck (which I never had & never will have). Even if I had all those things, I probably would not know what to do with them without a decent writing partner. As the fellow retired comedian Evan Jacobs once put it, “the best-case scenario is suicide.” I spent years uncomfortably marketing myself like a brand of toothpaste for corporate gigs. I did comedy out of a compulsion. It is a calling, much like preachers and traveling salesman. You do it because you cannot imagine life without it. Even if you kill it every night for a week, a working comedian cannot be truly happy. With the amount of work going into being a professional, I lack the time & motivation to maintain close relationships and have a non-dysfunctional family. Let’s face it, am I really going to skip out on a headlining set that might get my writing packet seen by Conan’s staff to see my hypothetical adopted kid’s baseball game? My hypothetical adopted kid is not putting organic, free trade, small batch bacon in the fridge. The only thing to bring lasting happiness is validation, but comedy in general is ultimately a forgettable art form; as disposable as an old newspaper. Once I have left the stage, people are already laughing at the next person. There is no money in comedy. I will perform free for most of my career; there is very little difference between bringers & charity benefits. When I actually start to understand who I am and how to be funny on stage, I will still make very little money.

I have worked my way up to guest spot and hosting. It took me a long time to get to this spot as it is. It may take another three to have the connections to become an in-demand feature middle act. I am stillunable to quit my day job because a feature spots does not cover your bills, let alone unexpected road expenses. Your neglected, long-suffering spouse makes the house payment while you make fun of them on stage. Years later, I will hypothetically have finally reached headliner status and I can finally quit my day job and focus solely on comedy. I still will not make a living wage, especially with credit card debt incurred during the lean years. In that decade I spent pursuing my comedy dream, I could have become a genuine success at my day job. I could have invested my extra money into savings. I could have been able to afford to fix what is wrong with my house. Comedy costs entirely more money that it needs to. At its best, open microphones (aka comedy gym) are shows where anyone can perform & the only place to try out new material. You hate to go sometimes but you have to; there is no way around it. They often do not comp or discount food/drink, not to mention the travel costs and the price of…ummm…substances necessary to gain courage before performing and afterwards to washing away the hurt from said performance. Multiply that dollar amount by four times a week for close to a decade and I theoretically could have afforded to go back to college. I need to stop wasting my time. The host will usually only give you five minutes of stage time. It is insanely difficult to make people consistently laugh in that little amount of time. So now my fellow comics carpool an hour to an amateur night, be on stage for maybe 3 minutes and someone boos. The same thing happens the next two weeks in a row. We have just wasted time, money and gas. It is not worth it because it’s an insane business model. 

  1. The Magic Is Gone: When I first started, I had a much-romanticized vision of stand-up’s capabilities and possibilities. I saw it as an opportunity for the ultimate expression of an individual artistic vision. Andy Kaufman, Lenny Bruce & Bill Hicks will remain my biggest heroes. Three very different methods of making people laugh that equally inspired me to give it a whirl. What I failed to factor into the equation was that most of the time I was sharing my precious creative vision with violent drunks, psychopathic cokehead club owners and over-worked servers who could not physically give less of a fuck about the three dead white guys I mentioned earlier in this paragraph. As a former drummer, journalist and record label owner, I have a long rich history of quitting things, so stand-up is just another disappointment to add to my ongoing list.
  2. I Forgot Why I Got Up Here In The First Place: Most comics do not even begin to break out of their shell and slide into their true voice until about seven to ten years into doing stand-up. Maybe it is time to consider another career path. Comedy is for the long haul. Most of us will never make it. Hell, I have been at it for over 7 years straight and I am not an inch closer to where I wanted to end up. I lack the patience & attention span necessary for the work I still have ahead of me. I need to stop wasting people’s time. After going to all of these sketchy bars all over Minnesota & Alaska and having bad set after bad set, on more than one occasion I subconsciously decided mid-set I was not even going to try to improve. I would be on stage and just get angry with hecklers, say whatever is on my mind sans punch line and in general put out a terrible, wretched hack product i.e. the aforementioned Exhibit A. All of this because why? It is all because I was too mentally exhausted to care about putting some genuine effort into getting better. In these instances, I chose the coward’s route and wasted the audience’s time. They came to laugh and now instead they are in a crappy mood. Other comedians have been waiting back stage and I took away from their time. The host has wasted his time trying to get the crowd back. That is when you know that you need to do yourself and everyone else a favor and quit.
  3. I Am Not Having Fun Anymore: I got to the point that no matter what I tried, no matter what shows I did, no matter how great the crowd response, I still just did not feel it anymore. Well then, my friend, it is time to hang up your spurs. Back in the day, running into miserable road comics that sound like I do right now made me want to scream at them “THEN FUCKING QUIT ALREADY!” If all I am doing is going through the motions and the passion has died, it is time to send this sexless standup comedy marriage out to the glue factory.
  4. It’s Never Enough: No matter how well I performed, it was never as it could have been. It is the definition of irony. I performed to gain authenticity and thus self-confidence. However, if I already had positive self-worth, I would not need the applause so I would not need stage time in the first place. It is a vicious cycle. Now take this puzzling contradiction and factor in how much you start to hate your own jokes. Even my funniest jokes are not hilarious anymore once I have told them what sometimes feels like eleven hundred billion times. By the way, it is worth noting that nobody usually laughs when coming up with his or her jokes; I very well may have permanently lost the ability to surprise myself. Moreover, at its core, the true essence of quality joke telling is tricking the audience.

Without the constant pressure of trying to fill my need for validation, I have actually never been…more miserable. I should at least not want to eat a shotgun shell. I do not need to worry about comedy anymore. I could go be the 36-year-old person who goes back to school. Nevertheless, the truth is…it never goes away. I will always want immediate feedback. I am not planning to kill myself anytime soon but I do still truly, deeply care about stand-up comedy. I acknowledge that I remain marginally competent at other creative art forms like DJ-ing, writing blogs no one reads, etc. The whole time in the back of my head, all I think of is that I would rather be telling & writing jokes. It is not as good, it is not as satisfying. I will never stop wondering if this is what I was born to do. It is akin to a horrible ex-girlfriend I was miserable with that I know is no longer worth the effort. I am smart enough to stay away but no one else feels the same. I am still not even sure I can say I “quit” something you cannot be fired from. It just sounds better than “stopped volunteering.”


Locust Lecture Dead At 6

After 6 1/2 years of proving music still hurts, I am sad to report the Minneapolis-based radio show Locust Lecture will broadcast it’s last episode tonight at 10-12 PM CST. As a co-creator of the show at Radio K with the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus, it’s more than a little depressing to see it go.

Of all the wonderful things I was apart of in Murderapolis, Locust Lecture is inarguably what I am most proud of. Currently hosted by DJ Either/Or, Fuzzy Christ, TK1 and Evil Intern Lemmy, there is without a doubt no show like it past present and future included. Characters like Edel Hardcore, Archibald Winterbottom and Ian Docherty. Skits like “Poetry Of The Damned” and “Robots With Tears.”

I challenge anyone to find a playlist featuring new tracks by Mastodon, Mouse On Mars, Venetian Snares & Gay Witch Abortion in a row. The goal was always to be as abrasive as humanly possible and we were if nothing else consistent in that mission statement. The first song we played was “Dead Babies” by Alice Cooper and the last song tonight is rumored to be “I Hate You” by Electric Wizard. I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.

The reason was as I understand it the new programming/news coach Sarah L.and/or other pro staff changed the policy allowing specialty show alumni to stay on the air as long as there was a student co-host. This change happened last month and because the student co-host can’t run the show solo over the summer, the show is cancelled.

TK1 told me he is talking to Evan P., CEO of Fancy Pants Gangsters Netcast Network, to see if the show could be picked up. TK1 says he plans to grab as much digital archives as he can. The music library we amassed and curated will stay in studio, I plan on paying Zach J. whatever he needs to keep the website up and running.

The radio frequencies are 770 AM, 106.5 FM and 100.7 FM in the Twin Cities metro but you can also listen online at radiok.org or listen on your iPhone by downloading the free Public Radio Player app from the iTunes app store. To learn more about the show, please visit locustlecture.org


New Location (in March): St. Paul (Lilydale) in the former Diamond Jim’s.

Existing Location: Ramada MOA in Bloomington

http://www.jokejointcomedyclub.com/JJCC/Your_home_for_Minneapolis_Comedy.html


It would appear to be the case that whenever someone with my admittedly common Christian name does something admirable and newsworthy, almost immediately someone else with my name feels compelled to do something  idiotic and noteworthy.

Teh Interweb's Secret Hidden Location

Teh Internetz>Interweb

Exhibit A: Nathan Hall successfully survived two tours of duty in Iraq while serving with the South Dakota National Guard.

Exhibit B and C: Nathan Hall arrested for gang activity and selling weed to pay off…wait for it…his weed bill.

/Face palm


You Never Know Where The King Will Show Up Next

You Never Know Where The King Will Show Up Next

10. How Rorschach learned the true meaning of Christmas. It’s a holiday miracle!

9.  This is gonna hurt my Internets rep, I just know it.

8.  For the School Of Americas Instructor who has literally everything.

7. And to think I once thought that my high school career aptitude test results stated I’d be best suited for undertaker or taxidermist. My theory is I botched the attitude questions accidentally when they gave us a break half way through and I loaded up on Peanut M& M’s and Dr. Pepper. It put me in a better mood than the first half in the morning when I didn’t have any caffeine in my system yet. That’s like 2 different people taking the same test – of course the answers didn’t make any sense at all! And speaking of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde…

6. …this has to be the only thing worse than Julia Robert’s fluctuating accents in Mary Reilly.

5. Hardest game ever? (Pun fully intended, emphasis mine.)

4.  Xeni Jardin, you were the B.A.M.F. reporter I wish I had been, the one I never will even hope to be. You are my intellectual dream woman. Consider yourself hearted. (BTW, if she and Rachel Maddow ever kiss, that’s gonna be my screensaver wallpaper until I dizzie.)

3. This is my jam. This is my anthem. This is the touch, the feel of cotton. This is the fabric of my life. Mr. Narrator, this is Bob Dylan to me.

2. Desperate for last minute racially-intolerant Halloween costume ideas? Done and done.

1. My favorite horror author of all time is H.P. Lovecraft. (Re-Animator, et al) Tragically, unlike the equally great Clive Barker and Stephen King, he’s never been given the definitive celluloid treatment he so richly deserves. Two sites have semi-recently contributed excellent essays on this subject, namely Evil On Two Legs and Helium. Also, I fully realize it’s rumored that Guillermo del Toro is attached to essentially every upcoming movie in the entire frikkin’ world at the moment, but I’m still uber-excited that he might get to re-make “At The Mountains Of Madness” after all.



New Poll

Posted: April 30, 2009 in Uncategorized
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