Standing Up for Myself

It’s been almost a year since I first started doing stand up comedy and honestly, I’m pretty happy with how it’s going. When I started my full-time job in August of 2022, I knew I had to do something outside of work to stay productive and fulfilled. I’ve heard countless times of people falling into the 9-5 trap, where that’s all they do and nothing else. This might be an unpopular opinion but I don’t think adulting is as bad as everyone makes it out to be. Sure, I’m working forty hours a week and a part-time gig on weekends, but I don’t find these activities as frivolous compared to college. A defining difference between being a student and an employee is paying to learn versus getting paid to learn; I’ll take the latter any day. It’s also nice to not have to deal with night classes and essay deadlines, meaning when I write or read, it’s simply because I want to. A lot of my friends are showing their engagement posts online, some even having children. I can’t fathom doing either of those things right now. I nearly set my apartment on fire with a Pop Tart (impressive, I know) so I don’t think I’m exactly marriage material right now. Relationships like those are big commitments and I don’t feel I have the necessary life experience right now to follow through with it. It feels as though I’m playing a video game and each level is a different scenario with varying difficulty.

One of the levels I’m trying is comedy which is ranging from medium to near impossible. I ventured into this hobby for reasons stated above but also needing another creative outlet aside from music. When I was in high school, my sister told me of this comedian she was watching in her chemistry class (I should clarify the whole class was watching, my sister is very studious). His name was Brian Regan and it was a YouTube clip from his “I Walked on the Moon” special where he was talking about his visit with the eye doctor. I knew what stand up was before and thought it was neat, but this was the moment that opened the door to where I’m at now. 

The mere concept of going to some trivial appointment and exaggerating it beyond measure was hilarious to me. A few months later, I was given an assignment in theater class where we had to perform some sort of monologue in class. I don’t recall exactly what I did but I think it involved me doing some sort of impression of a dying cat. It was a lot of yelling and voice cracks that’s for sure. I guess it was good enough to get an A too. The next morning, my teacher came up to me in the cafeteria and said I should pursue stand up comedy. “You’re a natural.” he said. It resonated with me for years even if I didn’t do it until years later. You have him to thank.

The wonderful thing about this art form is you can find it anywhere in anything. As I’m writing this in a coffee shop, there’s just so much potential material from people watching, or the environment can spark new ideas or add on to old ones. It allows you to look at things from a unique perspective and cast aside any preconceived notions you have of someone or something. When you’re on stage, you’re vulnerable. This realization can be extremely jarring, especially when you work so hard on a joke or story, only for it to not be well received by the audience. To me, it’s the equivalent of getting rejected and I’m not just referring to romance. It’s similar to showcasing a new plan to a boss, only for it to be shot down; or filling out a maintenance request months ago to fix a hole in your apartment and they still haven’t gotten around to it (I’ve clearly moved on). All of us deal with rejection daily. While we should learn to say no to certain things, we should also learn to hear no as well, or hear nothing at all. What’s cool about stand up is it expedites this process. I’ve had plenty of jokes that receive no response whatsoever but the mere fact that I tried it is what matters. Plus, for the handful of jokes that don’t work there’s always one or two that do, which is always satisfying to see.

The video below shows my first ever showcase which I did back in March of this year. It was the culmination of going to open mics, getting chuckles and getting silence. It was the result of writing jokes at work to keep me busy and rewriting them at home to keep me busier. I may not have all the life experience in the world but I had enough to cash it in for a five minute set. It was unlike anything I’ve ever done before but gave me the such a natural high and rush I’ve been striving for ever since. In order to accomplish this, I have to save up more life currency which means I have to keep trying new things for new material. All this because of some moment in some lunch room in some small town many years ago.

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