I live in Spokane Washington. Spokane is the second largest city in Washington state, yet because of it’s location (about an hour from Idaho) it is more conservative city then other large cities in this area. I say that because a career in comedy is tough in a town where the arts are an after thought and most of the business owners in town consist of people that inherited 75k from their “nana” and decided to open a bar.
Whenever I talk to a fellow comedian in town, it always comes to why I am still in Spokane. Spokane isn’t where you blow up your comedy career. Spokane is where you find out if you love comedy or not and then you move somewhere else. When they ask me why I am still here and they tell me I am good enough to be somewhere else I get a small anxiety attack. First, from the thought that another comic thinks that highly of me and second because that has been a daily battle for me for the past five years.
Comedy is what defines me. That isn’t a bad thing, if you are in an area that values that sort of thing. In Spokane, that does nothing to the masses. It’s like telling someone you are a professional hula hooper, or a forklift racer. It seem more odd than anything to the layman that a comedian would be here. Spokane does that to people.
My kid lives here. That is about the only reason I have for being here. I don’t want to leave my kid and only get to see here every couple of months or once a year. I like having daily interactions with my child. This is what tears at me. Follow my dream to the ends of the earth or be a decent dad? Distance isn’t a factor in determining if you are a good dad, but I feel as one of the only black adults she knows, I have to help her navigate life. That’s my duty and I take it seriously.
With rumors that the only comedy club in town will be closing down, I feel like one of the longest performing comics in town, I should be setting up a place that can fill in. The problem is Spokane is on an entertainment island. Boise is 6 hours. Portland is 6. Seattle is a day and a half by buggy (my preferred method of travel). People rather go to those towns to do comedy than Spokane. Can that be reversed? Yes. But how long would that take.
I like to tell the other comics how I got where I am. Which isn’t very far. I have brute forced my career so to say. I haven’t attached myself to a niche in the market or used a savvy media presence to gain more attention. I have gain more shows from just going to where I am supposed to go and just performing. I don’t think I am good at the other methods. I don’t think I could work a niche for too long before I just decide to go crazy. I half ass my social network stuff. So for my skill set, I think I am in the place I am supposed to be. I think in 3-5 years I will be doing more nationally, but this is the result of lots of driving and getting in front of the right people.
I am honestly scared of not doing more. Not for the money or fame, but of the people that would see me as an example that they can make it work in Spokane. It scares the gas out of me.