An airport is a very fickle thing. It seems like it is both loved and hated. For the most part, no one wants to be in an airport: No one is looking forward to sitting in the terminal. Its always about the plane. Its always about the journey ahead. The airport represents purgatory: a very expensive, dirty purgatory. You can’t move forward, and stepping backwards is not very easy either. Its the halt in the journey. There is a reason why they are called “layovers” and not “happy go lucky fun adventures”. Mostly just because that’s a bit of a mouthful. But still.I do however have to take a moment to thank them, airport security and airport food as a comedian for providing easy joke fodder for all these years. And yet at the same time, there’s something oddly magical about Airports. This is the place where several hundred family reunions occur every day, including those soldier family reunions that are posted on youtube, each of which is just as powerful as the last one (if you don’t have some sort of emotional reaction from those videos, you do not have a soul.) Airports can represent both the stall and conclusion of a long journey, and that doesn’t necessarily just mean a long flight. Plus who doesn’t love that Romantic Comedy Cliche where one of the lovers runs through airport security after the other one? Its a classic. If I had to pick any Celebrity to travel with, I would probably pick Catheriene Heigl, because I know that she will get me through security as quickly and comedically as possible. She’s the Meryl Streep of Running Through Airports: no one does it better.
This year, I’ve spent a great deal of time in airports. I’ve learned a lot from just sitting in the terminal, beyond just being on first name terms with the manager of the Burger King in SFO (Shout out to Juan- stay cool, dude.). Going off of that, I’ve also realized that literally nothing tastes better than airport Burger King. Sure, take your Chili’s or your Gordon Biersch and your fancy TV’s showing some form of ESPN, and your overpriced food: I’d much rather creep on the TV from afar and enjoy my Double Whopper in peace. Its much like how when cars on the freeway will tailgate SUV’s with DVD players to watch the movie: I’m gathering the benefits of owning (or in this case eating in a specific establishment) while still eating something delicious on a budget. That being said, the minute you leave the airport, Burger King is the last thing on your mind when it comes to dining options. Its all about the environment. From these experiences I have also discovered the perfect Airport/plane Television show: The Big Bang Theory. The Big Bang Theory epitomizes everything you need when it comes to an airport: its mildy entertaining, it holds your interest, but it is also light enough that you can enjoy any episode from any season of the show without having to know what “Bazinga” means. The runner up is Two and a Half Men which contains everything that The Big Bang Theory but also includes the fun game of “how long can you tolerate Charlie Sheen”. Basically, Chuck Lorre owns all Airport television programming.
For me personally, I’ve felt like my life has been an airport for the past couple of months: I’ve been sitting in the same place, and not really making any initiative to change that.To expand on this further, I have neither left the terminal, nor have I boarded a plane yet. I’m sitting in the same chair, by the same wall plug, making the best out of my time there. Just waiting for my flight. Theres been many times where I’ve thought about leaving: going back to home, back to my comfort zone. But no matter how many times I may have had those thoughts, I’ve been reminded of the potential adventures and successes that might come from moving forward; leaving this place. You can either leave and go back to what you’re used to, or sit and wait your flight to come to take you to new heights. And while I’ve enjoyed my time in the terminal, I think its about time my flight departs the gate.
One of the first things people ask me when they find out I do comedy (besides “how the hell are you going to make any money?”) is how I cope with failure, or bombing a set. To most people, this is viewed as the worst possible thing that can happen to a comedian, its a common nightmare that we all have when it comes to public speaking: trying to be funny or try to make a point, and no one responds. While it certainly isn’t the greatest feeling in the world, and I can’t exactly speak for every comedian in the world, what I can say though what most comedians will tell you is that bombing comes with the territory. Its part of the process. In order to understand what works in your act, you need to fail every once in awhile. Comedians of all levels will bomb an open mic or too before they leave the stage forever. Its just what happens. What’s thrilling to me about doing open mics and trying out new material is that it really could go either way: you could either kill, or bomb. The worst feeling for me comedically speaking is not being able to take that chance: to be sitting on a ton of material and not be able to even test it.
Throughout my life, I have experienced failure in the things that I have done. Everyone does at some point in time. But beyond my horrible foray into baseball as a child. That was the one time in my life where I feel like there was nothing I could really salvage from that failure. No matter what happens in this life, I will always hold over my parents head the fact that they continued to sign me up to be on baseball teams despite the fact that I had the hand eye coordination of a hyperactive Gerbil. I think the highlight of my “career” was the time a baseball hit me so hard, my thumbnail came off. But enough about that, lets get back to the point. While I might have failed a decent amount in my life, I always believe that failure is a great teaching tool. If you get something out of that failure, you’re still moving forward to some degree. Just sitting back and dwelling on it will keep you in the same spot. I think this is one of the many factors that led to me pursuing comedy: when it comes to comedy, you need to improve off your failure.
The first time I bombed, I could see it coming. I just got a bad vibe from it. I messed up my pre-gig ritual. The pages of my Moleskine were falling apart. I was following a pretty well known comedian in the local circuit, who (as always) killed her set. It was just bad comedic juju. As I got up on stage, the meager amount of people there could smell my fear. It was so strong that even the Old Spice Guy would have objected to its fragrance. Hesitantly, I told my first joke, the opener, the one thats supposed to get everyone going….it fell flat, hard. The lack of noise in that room was palatable, beyond a guy in the back eating chicken wings with the gusto of a Velociraptor and making noises scarily similar to the time I tried to cook Top Ramen in my microwave. We usually remember the times filled with noise, but times of silence can be just as powerful. I’ll never forget that silence for as long as I live. Never one to back down, I solidered on, and continued with my act. I don’t remember the context, but I do remember vaguely at one point talking about potatoes, and that sparked a few pity laughs from the crowd. I normally view pity laughs as very frustrating useages of space and noise, but anything to break this agonizing 5 minutes of silence was fine by me. Thankfully, I finally reached my final joke, and apologized to the crowd and said I’d do better next time. It was a good room, so they applauded, appreciating my willingness to stand up there and basically talk to myself. And while that initial failure really hurt, it refreshing in a way. With that failure, I understood what I needed to do. I realized that night, that this wasn’t just something I did as a hobby. I realized this was something I needed to do to survive. If I go too long without performing or writing, I get incredibly cranky. If I’m mad, I’m either hungry, or haven’t performed in a couple of weeks. So rather than lettings this failure drive me away from doing comedy, it drew me closer to the art form. I appreciated it, because I realized how hard it really was going to be to accomplish anything in the field. And that night I realized I was willing to do whatever it took to get there. Even stand in front of a bunch of drunk people staring at me, not saying a word.
From that point on, Bombing didn’t seem that scary. And neither did failure. Things don’t always go right, you’re bound to fail at some point. That’s just life. The key is what you do with that failure. If you are willing to fail and learn from it, nothing will stop you. I know I’ll bomb again at some point. I’m trying my best to have that not happen the next time I perform. Or the next time. But I know that at some point it’ll happen. But I now know that by failing one night doesn’t mean I should give up comedy. Its just another opportunity to learn more about the art form I’ve grown to love.
When I was a child, cartoons were a very large part of my life. As a child I lived for the weekend, not just because I got to eat a doughnut for breakfast on Sunday, but because that’s when all the good stuff really came on. I willingly (!?!?!) woke myself up at 6 am each Saturday morning and raced downstairs, eagerly awaiting whatever awaited me on FOX Kids, and what have you. At that point in my life, Cartoons were above everything, even sports. I remember one day actually screaming at a College Football game because it bumped the new Spider Man episode from being on. To this day I think that is angriest I’ve ever been about anything.
I took my cartoons seriously. Like any little kid, anything cartoon related/cartoons themselves were the only way to get me to do anything, as well as the key to my heart. If my second grade teacher had given me Digimon cards for every correct assignment instead of some lame sticker that had a Cat on it, I probably (no, definitely) would have rocked the Second Grade. I still remember I got over my fear of the dark as a young child just so I could get a new Spider Man Action Figure. If I hadn’t been promised an action figure, I probably still would be afraid of the dark right now.
Cartoons taught me a lot about life too. Especially not to believe children’s toy commercials. If there is any modern day equivalent to highway robbery, you have to look no further than Children’s toy commercials. My dozens of broken Transformers angrily thrown into the corner of my childhood room stand as a testament to this fact. Also, literally no children’s cereal is even remotely nutritious. I still dream of one day having the “Kids Cereal Commercial” Breakfast: a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, Four Bananas, 2 pieces of French Toast, and 3 scrambled Eggs, and approximately 4 gallons of Orange Juice. Its not remotely good for you, but damn does that sound like a fantastic meal right now.
One of my favorite Cartoons/Characters to this day remains Sonic the Hedgehog. My Best Friend and I used to rent the same Sonic the Hedgehog VHS tape from the video store and watch it every weekend. Sure we knew all the lines, but we didn’t care. It was our Citizen Kane. It was a true animated masterpiece in our eyes. To this day whenever we hang out, there is usually a point in time where those old Sonic Episodes (which I ended up buying out of sheer sentimental value) for a good couple of hours or so. And through all the horrible video games he’s been subjected to over the past couple years (the one where he transformed into a wolf actually made me throw my controller; not out of frustration of difficulty, but at the sheer horrible-ness of the game itself).
Most recently, I rediscovered my favorite superhero/favorite cartoon had surfaced on Netflix Instant: the Spider Man Cartoon from 1994. Since this discovery, I’ve been working through every single episode I can with the little downtime I really have. From these forays into poor 90′s animation I’ve come away with several questions. First things first, why the hell does Peter Parker wear the same thing everyday? That would be more suspicious to me than the fact he was Spider Man. Wearing the same thing over a five season run seems like a pretty gross thing to do, even if you are an animated character. And the second one is: Why can’t I go back to those days? Where the only thing I really had to worry about was whether or not I would get back in time from Church to catch my favorite shows before the Football games came back on, and whether or not I could get to see the Digimon movie on opening day ( I did, and it was awesome. Pokemon rip off or not, I still loved that show.) I yearn for the simpler times that I took for granted.
Being on my own in a new state and a new place, I’ve been forced to grow up. I’ve moved away from the little kid that lived for cartoons: now I find myself (happily) living for something larger. But while my life is now full of adult choices and grown up things, its nice to spend some time living like a kid again, even if its by only just watching cartoons before I go to sleep. Its important to focus on the big picture, but also remember what got you there. Work hard, but every once in awhile let your inner child out to run around and go crazy.
Thats the only reason you’re currently standing where you are at this point in time anyway.
As of this morning, I am a contributor to another blog as well as being in charge of this one, http://www.pointsincase.com
There I will be writing comedy pieces as often as I possibly can, while still writing here as well. Doing double time, but its well worth it.
so check out my article there (a blog post from here) and keep it locked there!
One of the biggest passions in my life is Sports. From infancy, I’ve been going to various different sports games at various different levels of competition. To this day, one of my favorite things to do in life is to watch a game with my Dad. It often consists of eating some great (albeit horrible for you) food, getting to the stadium an hour early, taking out all the aggressions and stresses we might have had over the week at the officiating and the opposing team (a skill I personally have sharpened over my teenage years), then a swift quarter mile jog back to the car so we can catch the entire postgame show on the drive home. I’m not able to do it as often as I would like to anymore, but I cherish it whenever I can. Its something I’ll definitely pass on to my kids.
From all these games I attended, I eventually became a die hard fan of any Seattle Sports Franchise. Didn’t matter the sport, I immediately loved it. That being said as anybody familiar with Seattle’s sports cityscape knows, it isn’t exactly the most successful sports city in the world. As I recall, it was rated the most depressing sports city by Forbes a couple of years ago and for good reason. Throughout my fanhood I’ve seen the basketball team of my childhood be torn away from its rightful home (more on this in a later post), a winless football season, an incredibly infuriating super bowl, numerous heartbreaking playoff losses and close calls, and too many bad Baseball games to number. It hasn’t been easy, but through it all (even now living in the Bay Area) I still support my teams back home. I feel its my civic duty to do so, along with knowing that will make their inevitable upswing, it will be that much sweeter.
Being a Seattle fan is a lot like living life: there’s plenty of highs, but there are a lot of lows. Somedays are tougher than others. What being a Seattle fan has taught me is to enjoy the ride. No matter what your situation might be, try to find a way to be optimistic and truly enjoy it. It will make the moment when it all comes together that much sweeter. This is truly exemplified in my mind by being a Season Ticket Holder for the 2008 University of Washington Football team. That team,, one of the most respected programs in one of the top conferences in the country, did not win a single game. However than abandon the team of my childhood I stuck through it: I went to every single gut wrenching, painful, terrible football game. I watched every home loss, not just because I hoped for them to win, but also because I wanted to test my mettle. That team was terrible, but it was my team. I wasn’t going to give up on them.
Its a lot like life, in that sense. Things are going to be tough. Its not always going to go the way you want it. But you can’t abandon the team. You have to stick through the tough times if you want to truly enjoy the successes. Fighting through the tough times makes you enjoy the little things. On the surface, the blowout win the University of Washington gave to The University of Idaho was commonplace, something that was supposed to happen. But with it being the first win in Husky Stadium in almost a year, the roof nearly fell off. Everyone knew in that stadium that the team was back on the right track, but they were also aware this was just the beginning back to the top of the Pac-10 (at that time.). Life isn’t a game, its a long journey. Its difficult. Its not always going to go right, and you won’t always win. But if, like any Seattle Sports Fan worth their salt, endure the tough times and embrace the little things, the bigger successes that eventually come along will feel that much better, and be that much more enlightening. Being a Seattle Sports Fan has taught me to be patient, optimistic, and be humble in everything I do. I wear it as a badge of honor (see, thats why thats the title of the post!). As a Seattle Sports Fan and a person, you should not get too high, and you shouldn’t get too low. If you just work toward that eventual success you are pursuing, it will pay off. So when people look at me funny when they see me watch King Felix put on another dominant performance with about as much support as Frank Costanza’s male brassieres (the epitome of baseball frustration), I’ll know they aren’t looking at it from my perspective. To them, they see a terrible baseball fan. But to me, I see an opportunity for great success. And throughout my struggles and my failures in life, I will always keep that in mind.
So, I’ve come to realize that I’ve had this blog up for awhile, and I haven’t really talked about the actual experience of performing stand up comedy/ even showed some of my stuff to you guys on here. So first things first, here are two of my jokes right here, that performed the night of this post:
Now both of these occurred at an open mic I was fortunate enough to find on campus, called The Lounge. The Lounge is a monthly open mic that started on campus to give all students a place to truly express themselves and create freely, without any judgement. It was designed to be a place where you could react to the world, rather than just live in it. Because of this, The Lounge is usually compromised of an amalgam of artists and creators from rappers, poets, comedians, musicians, painters, and everywhere in between. No one is turned away at the door. In my 3 years of seriously pursuing and attending open mics, I have never encountered a venue quite like this. I really love the atmosphere and camaraderie that a Comedy Open Mic provides, but this is something I had never quite encountered before. The Lounge provides unique perspectives, which is backed by a great deal of talent. It gives the event not just an entertaining feel, but also an enlightening one. Its a place where people of all different backgrounds, states, and lifestyles come together and really display their passions. Its a very refreshing place to perform, and observe.
For awhile when I was on campus, I was trying to really find myself. I’ve been doing Comedy for a pretty long time, but I still had a tendency to freeze up on stage when I performed. I would rush my jokes because I was nervous, not because I didn’t think they were good, just out of instinct almost. If you youtube my old Stand Up videos, you’ll definitely notice that. As much as I loved being up on stage (and still do) I wasn’t fully comfortable up there. For awhile, the “being really awkward nervous and weird” schtick helped my act a solid amount, but at some point it had to go. And I give credit to The Lounge for slaying that “nervous beast”. By coming to a place with so many different performers and such a responsive audience, I was able to really experiment and find my groove. Since first performing there in October, I’ve noticed a great deal of growth in all facets of my craft. Writing, Stage Presence, Everything. I finally got comfortable. I go onto stages now and I don’t think about all the people looking back at me, like I once did. I just react to the world around me, say my say, and really enjoy my time up there. So my advice to any younger comedians out there that might somehow be reading this blog: don’t focus just on comedy-centric open mics. Yes, those are greatly important, but in order to truly be successful and versatile, I believe its important to go to a more diverse show. The ability to experiment and work on your craft in front of people is a true blessing. In this wild semblance of a career I’ve had, I’ve had some success, and some breakthroughs. But nothing really tops the watershed moment of first performing at The Lounge. That feeling of just being comfortable and just having fun with the audience, rather than trying desperately to put a show on for them.
Find your Lounge, and if you can’t, make one. Places like The Lounge are a true gift. I don’t know where I’m going to end up, but I feel forever indebted to The Lounge for helping me sharpen my passion, and letting me embrace my creativity. Long Live The Lounge, and other places like it.