Thoughts on a Decade in Comedy (In No Particular Order Because It Is Late and I Am Tired)

On October 18th, 2009 I went to an open mic at the Bethlehem Brew Works to perform. It went fine, so I went back. And kept going back. And here we are ten years later. Besides my relationship with my wife, comedy is the thing that I have stuck with the longest in life.

In ten years I have:

-Made friends with a lot of great people and largely managed to avoid the not great ones

-Released one comedy album

-Started a record label and helped friends release albums as well

-Appeared on television a few times

-Met and worked with a number of the comedians I admire most

-Rode in an elevator with a Very Famous Person while holding a T-shirt that had both our names printed on it

-Showcased at NACA National and a bunch of APCAs

-Gotten a college agent

-Become comfortable using the term “gig”, a word that made me cringe for most of my life for reasons I do not understand but think have something to do with the show Blossom?

-Wrote and toured a one-man show that I’m filming next month

-Married two people in a Pittsburgh planetarium while making Doctor Who and Star Wars references

-Been passed over for a ton of opportunities that friends got instead of me

-Learned to be happy when my friends got opportunities instead of me

-Gained one fake nemesis, and one real nemesis. The fake one is Ben Youngerman and the real one I won’t name

-Played “Eternal Flame” by the Bangels on the violin to a sold out crowd of hundreds of people who aggressively kept singing the song through to the end even when I tried to stop them before introducing a Minor Television Personality on the very same stage where I saw that same Minor Television Personality introduce my favorite band years before

None of this is meant as bragging. Just seemed like a good time to list some of the things I’ve done in the past ten years.

Comedy is fun and strange and I enjoy it and the role it plays in my life very much.

Comedians sometimes talk about how long it takes to really “find your voice” or “get good” in comedy. I’ve heard different numbers, but I don’t think I’ve heard any credible person say it takes more than ten years. It has to take less time than that because no sane person would keep doing something they were bad at for ten years. So I will admit now that I think I am good at stand up comedy. I’ve done it a lot, and it is my job now. The math checks out. 

Here are some things I have learned.

-Be nice. You should be funny too, but be nice first

-Bombing is actually very hard. Usually if you aren’t doing well the audience just stops paying attention and checks their phones

-You don’t say ‘Waka waka’ as much as certain bears lead me to believe

-Not everyone thinks five minute stories about giant chipmunk statues are as funny as I do

-If you ask people for things they will frequently say ‘yes’

-Sometimes they say ‘no’ and that feels bad but is ultimately fine

-You do not have to say ‘yes’ to everyone

-It is fine to call yourself a clean comedian even if you think it makes you sound like a dweeb

-Do not bring dweebs on long car trips

-Sometimes something you’ve written a joke about will be a Jeopardy! question and when that happens a lot of people will text you

-College students are not too PC, they just have basic empathy and they make great audiences

-Just because someone is funny does not mean they are not also a monster

-Comedy is fun