I wonder if people ask themselves this question from time to time? I think it is the most important question a performer can ask themselves. Why comedy? Is it more accessible than say, acting? Is it more mainstream than being a mime? I am constantly trying to figure out why comedy appeals to me so much and not something a little more lucrative like hedge fund manager.
I grew up in a small town in South Carolina called St. Matthews. It was so small that the big event in my childhood was when we got a Hardee’s (Carl’s Jr). I was always a shy kid, so making people laugh was my way of connecting to them. I think it still is. A way to talk to people without engaging in actual conversation. I had a stutter when I was younger. So bad, that I had to go to a speech therapist provided by the school. That made it difficult to just converse with people normally, so maybe a sense of humor formed from there.
When I was in high school, I had the reputation of being the funny, quiet kid. I had great friends who allowed me to be me. They didn’t disapprove of the things I said, to the contrary, they said sillier things. I was the guy that wanted to be different. I didn’t want to do what others did, and I think because of the speech impediment it made it easier to do whatever I wanted because I was already a little weird in other’s eyes.
That carried over to the military. I was enlisted, but that didn’t mean I was going to just be an airman and that’s it. It is hard to crack jokes and not be serious all the time in an environment that wanted to be serious all the time. That was when I started writing a blog and getting the silly out there. I also got in trouble a bit for not being dead serious at times.
When I left the military, I was lost. That was my purpose and now it was gone. A friend suggested I go to an open mic one night and it just clicked. Everything just seemed like training to get me to this point in my life. It’s like meeting the person of your dreams. I loved getting up on stage and saying all these silly things to make people laugh. I loved watching what made other comics different. How they got away with things others could not. Facial expressions, tone of voice, cadence, the deliberate time of joke delivery, all these things fascinated me, and made me want to venture off and do nothing but perform.
It wasn’t until someone asked me if I would perform for them and they would pay me that I had given any hard thought to comedy as a career. That was when I shifted and started looking at it as a way to support myself financially instead of just mentally. This is basically where I am now, I perform all over the country and I use that money to pay bills, and put large shoes on my kid. I love doing it as a career. I love to travel and going to new places and seeing new things. I love trying to solve the puzzle every comedian is faced with: How will I make these people laugh? About the only thing I wish I could change about my career is the amount of work I get.
Why are you a comedian? Have you asked yourself that and actually tried to answer it truthfully? Is it a way to get attention? Are you looking for the fame? Did you have “get on stage” on your to-do list? Whatever your reasons, I hope you understand it so you can achieve your goals. Thanks for reading and I hope you return next week.