Wednesday, January 26, 2005

In The Moment and Into The Future

Another paradox: Live in the moment, and keep the long-term in mind.

I was just reading various articles about various stand-up comics... 12-year veterans, 15-year veterans... and it reminded me about my "place" in the scheme of things. I'm a 7.5-year veteran (6 years on, 12 years off, 1.5 years on). How good will I be in 4.5 years when I'm a 12 year veteran? How about another 7.5 years when I'm a 15 year veteran?

Doing it for a long time doesn't guarantee success. And there are some people who burst on the scene with amazing acts in a very short amount of time.

So what's my point?

As usual, the point is that there is no point.

The reason I sat down to record something for the second time today is that I was relaxed a bit by reminding myself about the lack of a time limit. And even though I need to be in the moment to be good at stand-up... or at anything, for that matter... I also have to remember that there's some amazing horizons awaiting me several years down the road.

As long as I focus on getting better, good things are going to happen.

Maybe not this month. Maybe not next month. Maybe not next year.

But they will happen.

And every step of the way, "good things" come in the form of a lot of little rewards from a lot of little audiences. Sometimes they come from singing in my car on the way to the Improv. Eventually, bigger rewards will arrive (oh, like, National TV appearances)...

As long as I keep working on staying centered, and thus (thus?) staying "real".

Oh, sure... I could get National TV spots as a neurotic asshole.

But that's so unoriginal.


I'm thinking about focus today because I'm not (focused).

Part of my problem (if we want to call it a problem) may be sleep deprivation. Or it's just one of those things.

I guess we can't be totally focused 100% of the time, can we? Or can we? Can we? Huh? Is anybody out there? Is anybody in here?

Perhaps I should get some sleep.

"Slip slidin' away..."

Chomping At The Bit

I didn't go up to Hollywood tonight, which is actually last night (1:40 AM... BEEEEP).

I also didn't go up to Irvine, which was "Plan B". Thought I'd hang out, watch the show, and maybe have a chance to perform if somebody fell out.

As much as I wanted to get back up on the horse after last week, it just didn't work out. Priorities, man. Priorities.

Had some work to do at the office, and (more importantly) had to go over some details with Stephanie about her new (as yet to be purchased) vehicle.

Hollywood ain't going anywhere.


I'm kidding you (and myself) with the "Ommm" thing. I'm a bit antsy. Reaching to get back to being centered, but mostly flailing. That's okay. It's not disabling. Just a little annoying.

I watched "Collateral" a little while ago, just before the stroke of midnight. Great movie. Inspirational, too. Man, oh, man... I want a piece of that stuff. And why not? This ain't no dress rehearsal, buddy! If you want it, here it is, come and get it (Badfinger).

Even though I'm flailing a bit, I'm still more on-track than off. If that makes any sense at all. Does that mean I'm like a train that's only partially derailed?

In any case, I feel that little ball of energy inside of me that I mentioned last week. It's in there, and I have to use it for good, not evil.

So much of my life has been like the Tazmanian devil, spending lots of energy to spin around and around in circles, but not moving too far... eventually tiring of the spinning, slobbering all over myself, and going to sleep.

To heck with it. Why change. Time for bed.


But seriously, me. This is different. It is. I should stop writing about it, and just freakin' do it. Or I could keep writing about it _AND_ do it.

Yeah, that's the ticket.

Good night, me.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Goodbye, Johnny

It's the end of an era. Cliche, but true.

Even though he was 79 years old, his death still came as a shock.

Should we call it "The Day the Comedy Died?".

Whatever we call it, the words will be cheap. They always are at times like this. There's no way to dump our collective memories into letters and punctuation marks in a way that will give the uninitiated reader a clue about the significance of Johnny Carson.

So I'll stop my feeble attempt now.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Ontario Improv (Initial Contact)

I (finally) called the Ontario Improv. Didn't get to talk to the person responsible for booking, but left a message with my phone number, website, and a quick FYI pitch about my campaigning at the other Southern California Improv locations.

I'm, like, fully recovered from this week's rejection. Unless you count the added determination I'm feeling to keep the ball rolling. I'd call that "recovered". Keeping one's head down (or inserted in one's ass) would be an example of _not_ recovered. Turning disappointment into added determination is, as I said, an example of "recovered".

The preceeding was brought to you by The Department of Redundancy Department.

Fight On, and on, and on...

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Centered... Mostly

I've gone up twice at the Hollywood Improv since my last blog post. Right now, I'm thinking it would have been nice if I'd blogged immediately following the performances. Oh, well. Can't go back and change that. So instead, I'll work backwards from the present...

Right now, today... I'm disappointed. As much as my attitude has been "centered" and focused in recent weeks, finding out that I won't be performing in the "Improv Booking Showcase" tomorrow night put a little damper on my mood.

Okay, a big damper.

Maybe a medium one.

This past Tuesday, I had as good a set as I've had at the Improv Jams. And in my opinion, I've crawled my way out from under the bottom of the pack. I left there thinking I had a damn good chance for a call-back... EVEN THOUGH I KEPT REMINDING MYSELF THAT I HAVE NO CONTROL OVER PEOPLE'S OPINIONS, WHERE I FIT-IN, ETC.

Okay, so the good news is that I was able to call-in for a spot for the first time. Matt Komen was kind enought to send my name to Reeta, and I got put on the list at #10... without having to go through the usual cattle-call lineup/scramble to sign-up.

And the good news from the week before is that I once again had a good set... with different material than I used this week. I thought that might count for something. Maybe it did, or maybe it didn't. Who knows. Just because I didn't get into the showcase doesn't mean Reeta isn't tracking the material I'm using. She was there during both sets, keeping notes (as she was doing for all of the other acts).

It's a little bit of a rollercoaster ride of emotions, but not a drastic one. Yeah, I'm disappointed. But no, I'm not discouraged. There's a big difference.

Deep down inside, I finally believe that I belong on this path. I belong at the Improv. And eventually, someone else will agree.

I don't want the positive gains I've made in my attitude to get buried beneath today's "setback". Strike that. It isn't a "setback". Just another test. Many more tests will come and go. That's the nature of the biz. And many, many people will come and go.

As for me, I'm enjoying the journey more than ever. It's all connected: family, day job, Hollywood. And lately, I've been fortunate enough to be in tune with the energy inside of me... able to recognize tension, and release it. Let the energy flow. It's helped my sets at the Improv, my singing at home, playing with the kids, solving problems at work.

It's all connected.

So, message to self...

Don't let one little thing like "not getting a showcase" destroy all of the enlightenment you've been feeling. Continue to be good. Continue to believe.

And don't forget to breathe.

Friday, January 07, 2005

"All The World's A Stage"

It's annoying to be "always on". At least, in that annoying way we think of when we think of people who are "always on".

On the other hand, there's a more subtle way to be "always on".

With the proper care and feeding, an attitude can be developed that allows the world to be your stage without driving other people crazy.

At least, that's the theory I'm working on.

It's not about working on developing an act in a vacuum in the wee hours of the morning, in front of a mirror, in the bathroom, or while driving on the freeway.

It's about "being".

There's a certain way of thinking, feeling, breathing, wandering... sustaining an amused point-of-view... that will just naturally improve those brief moments under the spotlight.

At least, that's the theory I'm working on.

So, let's see if I can prove this theory. Think "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". The vehicle I'm working on is myself.

Once again, it's nothing new. Just a friendly reminder.

If you want to be funnier on stage, don't work so hard by yourself on the freeway. Work on not working so hard at it throughout the day.

Be aware. Be friendly. Be amused.

And above all, just "be".

To Believe, Or Not To Believe?

As much as I try convincing myself that I'm "worthy" of success, deep down inside, I still don't believe it.

Can you believe that?

In a way, that's a good sign. It means my ego isn't totally out-of-check. It means I have a somewhat healthy view of myself as an average Joe.

But it also means that I'm still clipping my own wings. The ceiling has been built by me.

When will I learn?

Will I ever learn?

It's the same pattern over and over again. Make the team, and sit on the bench. Learn to draw, then put away the art supplies. Become a decent musician, and hide in the corner of a deserted coffeehouse.

I feel like I'm on the verge of something. Like something's going to pop. But contrary to popular belief, the popping isn't going to happen "out there" somewhere. It has to happen "in here" (he wrote, mentally pointing inside of himself).

What have I got to lose?

My guess is that I might lose a lifelong belief that I don't "belong" in the places where I want to be. Aside from that, I can't think of anything else.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Surprise Performance (Serendipity, Baby!)

I read my e-mail today, and saw a message from yesterday, asking me if I wanted to perform tomorrow.


It was from Kristian Vallee. He books the "Hot Shots" shows on Tuesdays/Wednesdays at the Irvine/Brea Improvs.

To make a long story short, I got a spot. Six minutes. About 125 paying customers.

Fun, fun, fun.

Good times, and good preparation for re-entering the ionosphere (what?) at the Hollywood Improv next Tuesday.

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." -- John Lennon

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Happy New Year (USC 55, OU 19)

This blog is about stand-up comedy. So why is the title of this blog entry about USC kicking the crap out of Oklahoma tonight? Because that's all I can think of, that's why. And because I went to USC, that's why. And because I was a linebacker at USC, that's why.

Somehow, I need to tap into this energy more often.

USC won tonight for a number of reasons. Some known. Some unknown. One thing I want to take away from the post-game analysis is how much fun Pete Carroll has brought to USC.

I think that's one of the reasons USC outplayed OU tonight. They were loose. They just gripped it and ripped it. They let their talent fly. Fun, baby. Have fun.

It's a constant reminder for football, comedy, and life in general.

Grip it and rip it.

Next Tuesday, I'm going to act like Coach Carroll and his team when I go up to Hollywood. It won't be the first time I do that. Just another reminder. And it's what it's going to take to compete and win up there.

I'm coming off of the bench, baby.

Fight On!!