Comedy is a weird art form. Not in the covering yourself in peanut butter and calling it art sort of way, but in what it holds to the individual performer. Comedy can also be seen differently depending on who is viewing it. I guess I’m saying like all things, its relative. An audience member may just see it as weekend entertainment without any extrinsic value. Some may see it as one of the last true mediums in which truth can come through unfiltered. As with the audience, the performer may see it the same way. Some may see it as a way to just get seen and make money. Others performers may see it as a delicate art form that has been thrown into bars and seedy clubs for too long. Comedy is a bit different to me.
When I started doing comedy in 2004 it was a last ditch effort to bring some meaning to my life. I was about to be discharged from the military, I was diagnosed with lupus the year before and I was going through a divorce and separation from my daughter. I felt that at 23 the good days of my life were behind me and that there was nothing else for me. I sat in my room that entire Sunday trying to figure out a way to end my life that would not hurt that bad. I wanted to die. I just didn’t want it to be messy. I just hurt so much that I wanted it to end. I just wanted some peace in my life for once. Then my friend called and asked if I wanted to go to an open mic in town. I said yes mainly because I knew my schedule was pretty open, I could hold off killing myself til later.
We walked into this dark dank room that looked like one of those old classic jazz bars where the musicians are smoking the best dope and someone is going to get knifed by the end of the night. The host of the open mic was real polite and got me to calm my nerves. I had nothing planned. I just went up there and talked about myself for about 5 minutes and walked off stage. When I walked off that stage though, the weirdest feeling came over me. Happiness. A Happiness I had not experience in a long while. It was like I was hit with a shot of b12. I found something that gave meaning to my life. To watch people laugh and enjoy themselves. To perform and bring smiles to the faces of an audience. Every weekend for 3 years straight I went to this comedy club and performed. I went to every show and I experienced every act you could imagine. Comedy became more than just a hobby or a way to make money it was my life line back from the brink, from a despair a lot of people do not come back from.
This is why after all these years and the set backs and the club closures and the failures that a professional comedic career contains I continue to do it. While most of the people I started doing this with have long since given up, I continue to get up on stage at open mics and drive 500 miles for little money and tell jokes to hostile crowds in the corner of bars. Because comedy kept me alive. The least I can do is thank it when I can.