I came in 7th in the 2015 San Francisco Comedy Competition. I tried my best, I think. I left the state of California with a check and a broken heart. The last time I felt this way was when I didn’t get into the finals of the Spokane Comedy Competition all those years ago. Personally, I thought I was good enough to be in the top five, but the judges thought otherwise.
When you get your ass handed to you like this, you start to wonder if your head is to big, or you think more highly of your abilities than you should. The second to last night I put on a performance that I thought was worthy of placing. I felt good about it and the crowd buzzed. I can’t explain it, but you could feel the energy coming off the audience. I didn’t place that night, and I was just a zombie driving back to the hotel room. I couldn’t believe it. I kept questioning the things in my head. Did they not believe I had a heart attack? Did they not like the description of child birth? Do I look too stupid? All these thoughts popped in my head, I was just heartbroken, like a love had just left me.
I wanted to make the finals so the comics in Spokane could be proud of me honestly. A lot will tell me I did alright to my face, but when they are with others, they will let the truth be known.
I won a prize for my photography at the fair! It wasn’t for placing it was like a consideration award. My photos were posted for all to see. That is what I really liked. My eye basically shown to the rest of Spokane. It was a great feeling.
I got accepted into Idaho Laughfest down in Boise Idaho. I am excited. Why? Because it is a festival and not a competition! I can just go there and do my thing and not worry about scores and stuff. I can also hang out with the comics without that layer of competitiveness seeping through.
I am for real for real gonna start the podcast….soon.
People say you learn more from the failures than the successes. Well, since I am writing this from the airport in San Francisco instead of a cozy hotel room, I can tell you that that is partially true. You CAN learn from your failures and your defeats. Even if it is something as simple as “The world is not a pretty place”, you will learn something.
The past two weeks I have been competing in the San Francisco International Comedy Competition. I did not advance to the finals. Unlike most shows you do, at the end of the competition you are given a graph that charts how you scored. That can help you if you want to know why you didn’t advance. I got to see how I scored in the categories in which they were judging. This is an easy example. Sometimes you have to dig deeper to find meaning in why you failed.
Say you are doing a show and you bombed. You may think it is easier to look outward to find the cause of the disappointment, but 99% of the time it is within where the problems lie. Did you not sell your material? Did you curse like a sailor and the show was in a retirement home? Did you start off wrong and couldn’t right the ship? These are things you can think about the next time things don’t go as planned. Since these are things you can change they are also the easiest.
What did I learn from the competition? I learned that I may not be the best at short format sets. I learned that I need to work on my material (who doesn’t), and I learned that I can hang around, but there are just intangibles that the audience (or in this case the judges) don’t see in me. Now I can try to fix the first two things. I can write stuff to help in shorter sets, I can rewrite stuff, but the intangible part is something I can only change through stuff like appearance where I can give the perception that I have traits that I may not posses.
The biggest lesson I think every comic can take from failing is that this is life, and life is hard. Sometimes things don’t go your way no matter how badly you want them too. The best way to correct this is to get back up and keep moving forward. I know it is easy to say, but for me, sometimes very hard to do.
Being a comedian is a difficult dream, especially for those that don’t also dream it. I think the hardest thing for comics just starting is to understand that just like life, things will not go as planned. Not everyone will have your same mindset. What you have to do as a comics is do your best to prevail.
We have all heard stories of the athlete or actor that got told no at every corner, and eventually they were able to make it. What you have to know is that they are one of the few. Not everyone that has a roadblock in their way to their dreams will be able to get over it. You will run into the booker that doesn’t like you because in your video clip you sent to him, you wore jeans on stage. You will have family members telling you that what you are trying to do is not possible and to think of other things to do instead. I am here to tell you that there is not a 100% chance that you will become the next Will Ferrel, but you also don’t need those people in your life.
When you hit a brick wall, say you can’t get booked somewhere, or you get turned down for a festival or something, there is a tendency to see that as a sign that you were not supposed to make it. I have told myself many times that I am not suppose to be doing something because my progress was impeded. Sometimes you can be your own worse enemy. What I have learned to do over the years is stare deep within myself and focus on the goal at hand. That usually means forcing myself to do something that I am too afraid of, like this comedy competition.
Our outcomes may not be the same. You may go on to become a star and I will forever perform in dive bars across the northwest. One thing you should never do however, is let someone stop you from seeing whatever dream you have to its final conclusion. If you don’t make it to the end? Well, you may learn something about yourself along the way.
I had a great time in San Francisco. Mainly because I did well in the competition. I will be going back down there to perform in the semifinals. San Francisco was cool. I got to see the Golden Gate Bridge…not that long though. I was too busy driving across it. I think when I go back next week, I need to go out and check more things out.
I am still waiting to see if the photos I took for the fair will be winners. They have been teasing the results for awhile now, and I am sure that I didn’t win anything, I just want to see who did.
I got invited to Idaho Laugh fest and I am super excited. I have never been to a festival. I don’t know what to expect, but I am ready to hang out with other comedians and make new connections.
If you are doing competitions and festivals, then you should be ready to do more than compete. You should also be ready to rub nipples (I don’t think that’s the right term, but whateves) with the other comedians. This is the surest way to get more work. How do I know this? Most of my work this past year has been a result of doing the Seattle comedy competition and meeting a lot of different comedians from all over the world.
There are some things you have to take into account though. You have to remember than these are people. Not NPCs (non playable characters) in a video game that are just there for you to use. No one wants to feel used so don’t just take all the booker information you can get from people and don’t give them anything in return. If you have a club or a regular show in your area, let them know. That way if they are coming through town, or they are trying to stitch together a little tour, they can maybe line that up. Every little thing helps. I thought that the information that I had was not enough for these guys that live in the big city, but it turned out that it helped some comedians add days that they would have otherwise be sleeping in their cars, instead of making money.
I am not the best with just walking up to people and starting a conversation so my comedy does the speaking for me. A lot of times I will get done with a set and someone will come up to me and that is how I became friends with them. If you are more extroverted then me, then it will be even easier to hook up with different comedians and get more shows out of it. I have gotten all kinds of cool info from comedians that just liked what I was doing.
Another big thing you have to remember is that this business is about reputations. If you are known to stiff people and do messed up things at shows, it doesn’t matter how much info you have, a lot of comedians will stay away from you. I guess what I’m saying is: Don’t be an asshole. No one is gonna stick their neck out for you if they know you have a reputation for touching the bar staff or taking dookies on stage.
This is an important aspect of being a comedian, and if you can master this part, you will see your shows, and hopefully your bank account, grow.
Last night’s show. Well. Before the show. There were more people there when the show started.