Comedy and Your Significant Other

Comedy is a tough beast.  It’s even tougher when you are in a relationship.  I know comedians that have been with their spouse for decades and I know comedians that are on spouse three or four. This article will discuss ways to at least attempt to have a successful relationship.  I am not a marriage counselor so if you and your love are having issues, please seek one out.  I am just a guy that has seen and been through stuff.

I think it is important to sit your significant other down and have a discussion.  Let them know what to expect.  If you are a person that isn’t pursuing comedy that hard, then just let them know that it is a hobby of yours and you will be out on certain days.  If this is your dream and you are chasing it hard, you have to set them up for a lot of stuff.  It’s important to let them know what comedy entails. We as comedians, just assume that everyone knows what we do.  They don’t.  A lot of the time, laymen assume we walk on stage and just produce these organic dick jokes.  This is why you have to approach your mate, and tell them the truth, those dick jokes take a lot of writing and performing.  That means late nights at comedy clubs and bars.  It seems like a no brainier, but I can tell you of many instances where comedians were surprised that their lover didn’t know what dating a comedian meant.  If you are actually performing and making money, you have to let them know that the pay is low and the travel is aplenty (at least over on the west side of the country).  What this does is prime them.  They can then make the decision to continue a relationship with you if it means that you may not be around a lot.

Another big thing, I feel, is letting them know comedy show etiquette.  I have seen comedians come in with their spouse and they will raid the green room of all the consumables.  You have to be the one to tell them how to act (not everyone was raised right).  You should tell them that just because you are on stage or on the show, that they should not be causing a disruption to the show.  That free booze for you, the comedian, does not usually extend to free booze for your significant other as well.  I haven’t had an issue with this.  I have had an issue where my girlfriend at the time thought it was weird that I was in the green room before the show instead of chilling out in the audience with her.  What I did, was I sat her down, and told her that it may seem like I am making things up as I go, but I have actually plotted the course for the show (sometimes, I never said I was a great comedian), and I need the time to gather these thoughts.  See to your love one, it may be a night out, but to you it is your job.  Letting them know how you work before a show also keeps them from thinking that you get weird whenever you are about to perform.  Some comedians can just hang out right until they have to get up on stage.  Some need to be in a pit and raised by a series of ropes and pulleys unto the stage. Whatever it is let them know.

I travel a lot as a comedian, and I think a lot of people can not handle this aspect of comedy life.  You have to know if your mate is fine with being alone a lot of weekends out of the year.  Social media also gets in the way a lot as well.  If they can not handle you having your photo taken with a bunch of random people then you may need to go your separate ways.  I was dating one young lady that assumed I was just a party animal.  I am not, but if people pay to see you sling dick jokes, you better at least appreciate them.  So, when she saw a photo of me and some lady smiling, she assumed it was something nefarious when all it was was someone who gave me 10 bucks for a CD that they were probably never going to play.

Comedians are weird creatures.  We have a weird sense of humor and we tend to analyze a lot.  That is our make up.  If your significant other can’t handle these things, then it may be best for you two to call it.  I have told every lady I have been in a relationship with since starting comedy, that this is my first love.  I love writing and performing and since I do it to pay the bills, they have to understand that I will not cancel a show because it is on a Saturday and we were going to go to the beach, or because it’s your grandparent’s anniversary.  If you are going to treat it like a job then that means you may not be there for everything.  Being open and clear is the best way to have a happy, healthy relationship…I should have just written that instead of all this.

Private Shows And Film Success

I have a private show this weekend and I am always nervous about these things.  They usually want you to perform in front of a bunch of people that are probably forced there by a superior and so they don’t want to laugh for a myriad of reasons.  They usually want the show clean, which is something I can do no problem, but I am still anxious at the thought of maybe slipping and saying something terrible.  Another thing about these types of shows is that their definition of “clean” is different for a lot of people.  They are a volunteers for a Christian group so I am assuming all sexual innuendo is out the door as well as language.  Good thing I have a lot of material on my kid.

The short film I helped with got selected to be shown at the 50 hour slam here in Spokane!  When I saw the finished product I was amazed at how great it was, but I didn’t think we were gonna get selected to be a part of final selection.  I am really excited, and I hoped that after the show I can get down there in time to see our film get shown.

Photography has waned a little bit, and I think that is because I focused a lot on the artist community. Comedians don’t have any damn money!  I am gonna branch out and see where that takes me.  I have a facebook page dedicated to this endeavor, but I haven’t gotten too much work off of that.

Shawna and I were bored and so we just drove around the further reaches of Spokane and I will be going back to take pictures of some of the cool stuff I saw.  At the very least this will get me outside and walking around.  The weather is too good right now to waste.

My kid is playing softball and she is pretty good at the hitting.  Doesn’t understand a damn thing when it comes to fielding.  I was not a great fielder when I was playing highschool baseball, but I did know what I was supposed to do.  I like going to her games and taking photos of her, but I think she doesn’t like it because it draws attention to her.  Oh well, I’m her dad, I’m supposed to embarrass her.

Sacrifice

If you want to make a career out of show business, you will have to know that sacrifices will have to be made.  That is the name of the business.  If you want it bad enough, you will have to sacrifice something.  The entire business is all about doing what the next guy won’t do in order to get further in your career.

When you first start out, especially in comedy, going out to open mics.  That means you have forgo all the things you would do with that 2-3 hours that you had available.  You have to give up on hanging out with your friends every weekend.  You have to tell your kids sometimes that you are going to be somewhere else when they want to hang out with you.

If you are lucky enough, you may start getting paid for comedy.  If that is the case, you will have to see how much you are willing to give up to make more money doing comedy.  If you have a full time job, you might have to sacrifice your vacation time in order to get to shows.  Some people (like me) make almost enough to just not even worry about work anymore, but not there yet.  So, you might have to go large portions of the year broke as shit.  If you are not willing to do that then keep your job and don’t go into comedy full time.

People who are full time comedians have to sacrifice yet still.  If you are gone almost every week you have to have a great relationship.  If you have kids, they may have to get used to seeing you a couple of days a month.  When you are living out of a suitcase you sacrifice a lot.  Like what channel CSI comes on.  When you are home you know.  When you are in a different part of the country, you have no clue.

At this stage in my career, I am sacrificing time with my kid.  I am sacrificing spending time with my lady.  I sacrifice these things because I really want to succeed in comedy.  I want comedy to be the thing that pays my bills, and in order to do that I have to do things like go to open mics on night I would rather not.  I do shows that I know might not work out, but in order to pay the bills I have to do it.  I give up having a full time, great paying job.  I do that because I love comedy so much.  If you can’t see yourself doing this then there is nothing wrong with just having comedy as a hobby.

Comedy And Relationships

I have been doing comedy for almost ten years and in those 10 years I have been in two relationships.  In those two relationships, I have had so many fights about comedy and it’s after effects that I stopped counting long ago.  If you are going to pursue comedy, you will need a partner that is not only secure in the relationship, but also encouraging.  I think the biggest reason for falling outs is that a lot of the time, people see comedy or theater as a hobby, not something someone can really do to earn a living.  That is the big reason why I ended up going to college.  My girlfriend at the time (We shall call her Miriam…because that was her name) wanted me to get a good paying job.

I have seen more often than not that the biggest reason a relationship falls apart because of comedy is when the person that is not a comedian starts feeling like they no longer matter.  This is on the comedian.  You can not expect to have someone as a back up plan when there are no open mics or shows that night.  It is always important to let them know that they are very important to you.  You have to understand that a relationship with a comedian is not like dating a banker.  There are late nights and drunks and even a mean spirited little person.  With that said, you have to have a partner that is secure enough that they will come with you to events or they can find things to do when you are not around.

I think when people get into relationships with comedians they have to understand first of all that you are dealing with someone that doesn’t think like you do.  They may see things a little twisted.  They may make fun of things that are sacred to you.  If that is the case then you need to find someone that can sit still at Nanna’s funeral (Who puts a hat on a body in a casket? Of course I’m gonna laugh.).

There will be instances where they are out until weird times of the night because they are out doing comedy and no one likes comedy when the sun is up.  They will also be accosted by drunk old men, women, and children.  If you are used to being the center of attention then you might want to swipe to the left of that comedian on tender…or is it right?  I should probably research these jokes.

Women are a huge part of the comedy audience.  They may approach the comedian and talk to you.  Your loved one has to be secure enough in themselves that they will see this as someone that enjoyed your work and move on.  If this person wants to bang you and they suspect that then you as the comedian should know that banging the fans, while enjoyable, can be hazardous to your relationship.  It’s all about trust.  Does your mate trust you around a pari of boobs?  If not then you should probably either leave that relationship so you can bang who you want or sit them down and ensure them that you are not banging ever woman that tells you they enjoy your show.

I have seen some relationships where the comedian had to choose between comedy and the relationship.  If I was ever confronted with something like that I would leave that relationship.  Comedy is my life.  It is what I love and it is what defines me as a person.  I could never just get a normal day-to-day without comedy being an outlet.  I would honestly rather swallow a bullet.  But since I don’t like massive head trauma, it is best that I get out of any relationship that would ask that of me.

People often ask me if I think two comedians can be in a worthwhile relationship.  I don’t know.  Every time I have seen it it has not worked out to well.  Either because the two in the relationship have different ideas on what comedy is to them, or one gets more work and it causes a strain on the relationship.  Or someone in the relationship is just a douchebag.

I don’t have any good observations on women comics.  Most of the women comics I know are single.  When they get in relationships the guy is usually really protective because most comics are guys and guys (for the most part) like vaginas.  It is hard for a lot of men to see their lady as the center of attention.  The married comedians I know are doing pretty well.  Maybe because they are not as broken as their male counterparts…I don’t know…I just observe and report.

Like any relationship, a relationship with a comic is about trust.  Do you trust that comic to come home without someone’s saliva on their genitals? Do you trust them to not spend their show money on cocaine?  Can you handle going to bars and traveling miles and miles for little pay?  If not then just date a banker, or a mechanic, or one of those guys that fixes air conditioning units for apartment buildings.  You may not want to be around someone who’s life is about making people laugh.  Or you may have found an asshat.  I don’t know.  I just observe and report.

 

 

Looking Into Yourself

The closer I get to this comedy competition the more I start looking within to evaluate my faults as a comic. Everyone has them if they look hard enough. I think that is probably one of the best skills you can learn as a comedian…hell even as a person. If you know where you are weakest, you can either strengthen or hide that weakness. Comedy competitions can expose a comic’s weakness. If you can’t do clean material to save your life then you will have a hard time in a clean comedy contest. If you take too long to set up jokes, then you will suffer when there isn’t a lot of time to do so. Here are some of my major faults and how I try to deal with them.

Performing in Spokane is a blessing and a curse. I get a lot of stage time, but I get A LOT of stage time. That doesn’t really prepare you for contest where time is a critical component to success. It might be alright to go over your time at an open mic, but it is not a good idea when you are competing. I have trouble with this. I think a lot of comics do. We like to get up there and make people laugh. If someone isn’t forcing you off the stage you will take that time! That isn’t the case in larger cities where they can have almost 50 people to do an open mic and they give you 2-3 minutes HARD. You go over by a second and they cut the mic off and ask you not to come back next week. I have lost two competitions because I went over my time. I think the best way to solve this problem is to set the timer on my phone. There are apps out there just for this purpose. Just set it and watch your time and that should hopefully solve that.

Another problem that is not just with Spokane, but a lot of places that set up in bars is material. Your material gets a lot darker when you have to perform in front of a certain group of people. I think that is because that is what gets drunken people paying attention. You get em with the hard stuff and then see if you can work in your normal material. What has happened with me though is that I get dark real fast and that can turn people off. I have to remember my situation. That is where the host is a really important piece. If they know what they are doing, a host can find out what you should be doing before you even get up on stage.

Some of my material can take a while to get to a place. I have tried chopping them down a bit, but I see that is a result of all the stage time early on. I could get on stage and waste 20 minutes setting up jokes that had a reward, but when it comes to competitions that is time that can be put to doing more jokes. That is the focus for me of this competition, to throw more jokes out there. That way when compared to the person that did one great; if you did 3 great jokes then you can be seen as a better comic. At least that is the theory.

I think my biggest fault as a comedian, is also my biggest fault when I am off the stage. My shyness. I hate using that word! I feel like a 4th grader whenever I say shy or timid. See, getting up on stage isn’t as natural for me as it may be to a lot of other comics. I was the kid that was terrified to read in class and never asked a girl out unless it was on a piece of paper. I avoid saying goodbye to people at work because I don’t want to talk to them and I don’t talk to the audience while I am performing because I don’t know if I have had enough time talking to people to come up with a proper response. I am a mess. That is why the first thing people say when they find out I am a comic is, “You? But you hardly talk!” Now, the shyness, at least for me, has a origin in my self-esteem. As such it is impossible for me to take praise. In my mind I cannot see why anyone would think I was attractive or smart or funny. Now, this is a paradox because how would I get paid to do comedy if I didn’t think I was funny enough. Hell, I don’t know! It just happened. It’s probably like when someone gets paid to bang out on camera. What I am trying to get at is that my self-esteem puts my head in places that sabotages me. Sometimes I will get on stage and my brain will say, “You are not funny!” and then I start acting like it. It has kept me from sending out my promo package and getting more dates because I get so down on myself that as a comic, I can’t function. There is no easy fix for this. This is my brain juices we are talking about here. This has been my make up for 40 some odd years. I have doubted myself out of prime opportunities. No matter how much people enjoy my comedy and me as a person, my self-esteem will not allow me to enjoy it. I have a hard time writing a Bio for myself, or telling people to come to my show because I can make them laugh. I try not to say I am funny out loud because I am afraid that the universe will make me pay for those words. I doubt my advancement in the competition because of how others did. This is no time to doubt this! I have to just believe that I am funny enough to do well in this competition. This is the chance I have been waiting for, and I do not want to be sabotaged by myself. If I lose, I want it to be because someone bested me, not me doubting myself.

The Road Comics’ Car

If you are a road comic you know how important a nice car is.  That car is basically your life blood.  If you don’t have a reliable car, you will find it very hard to get to shows.  I am always looking at what car would serve me best in terms of helping me get to shows and keep the cost of maintenance down.  Since starting comedy I have had about 6 cars and the best one was an old beat up 84′ Honda Accord.  It was rusted at the bottom of the doors and the engine sounded like a souped up go kart, but it got me through many places and it saved me a lot of money on gas.

The car I drive now to shows is a 2006 Chrysler 300 with all wheel drive.  I like the car for almost everything except two.  First, since it is a touring model and not a higher trim level I have to calculate the gas milage myself and though it isn’t hard, it’s easier to have the computer in the car do that so you know if something is amiss with your car right away.  Another thing is that it gets under 25 miles to the gallon on the highway (I have been able to get about 24.5 mpg out of it though).  That may not seem like a big complaint, but when you can save upwards of 25-50 bucks on gas per trip it means something.

What I look for in a good road comic car is 1. gas milage 2. comfort 3. maintenance cost 4.AWD.  Now if you live in California or the deep south you don’t have to worry that much about snow, but when you are doing shows in the inland northwest having a car that can get through a Montana winter can keep your lights on.  Gas milage like I said above is important.  I used to work with this guy that had a Hummer.  Now he could get anywhere he wanted with the thing, but it is not a gas sipper at all.  At best he was coming out even after a trip because of the gas being used.  I look for 25 mpg and above unless you can sacrifice some things for say AWD (like I did with the 300).  Number 2 is comfort because I think if the car is not going to be enjoyable you are going to be miserable when you get to the show.  It’s important for me because I am taller and I need more leg room.  If you are a tiny person go ahead and get a smart car and be happy.  Comfort also means you need something to distract you from a 800 mile drive through some of the more boring places of this great land.  I need an auxiliary port in my car so I can listen to my podcast.  I have tried driving and listening to just what radio stations my antenna can grab from space and…it wasn’t pretty.  Maintenance cost are important because if you are having to keep it in the shop more than use it then it is not a useful tool.  I used to have a 2003 Audi a4 and it was a great car, but in the 9 months I had it I had to spend 3 grand in repair cost.  Even to fix the terrible cup holder was like 400 bucks!  I love AWD!  It is one of my most important factors when I am looking at a car because it means I can transverse more areas in the winter when the roads are rough around here.

Now, I know things like insurance are important.  I just like to look for the things above first and then worry about the insurance later.   If you have a more, let’s just say…suspect driving record then you may want to consider that.

Ok, I gathered some cars that I think would make great road comic cars:

Accord

Honda Accord: Great gas milage and they are reliable.  If you get an older one you may have to get a new radio so you can listen to the music on your phone, but other than that great car.

Sonata

Hyundai Sonata:  Gas milage and pretty comfortable.  I have been though a lot of Montana in one of these.

legacy

Subaru Legacy:  You can’t go wrong with any Subaru.  I find them comfortable and they are pretty easy on the pocket maintenance wise.  Again, the older you go the more you should invest in a stereo so you don’t have to listen to Spanish music for 500 miles (unless you want too…I don’t judge.).

Terrain

GMC Terrain:  I love these cars.  It’s an SUV so you have more head and leg room.  It isn’t a big ass SUV.  With this car you are getting up to 30mpg!  And since it’s newer you will have all the safety options and entertainment options available.  If you still have great credit you should go get one.

2015-Cadillac-Escalade-exterior-front

2015 Cadillac Escalade:  You rich bastard.  Why are you doing road gigs?  Are you trying to shame me!?  What the hell could you possibly want with the 250 bucks you are getting in Pocatello Idaho!?  Don’t you have stocks you have to manage?  Why do you taunt me with your riches!?  You probably have satellite in that big fucker don’t you!?  You have a helipad on top?  You disgust me!?  Can we carpool to the next show?

Comedians In The Real World Part 2

This is the epic conclusion to the minisieries that is Comedian in the real world.  I am excited at the fact that I was able to pull off two of these sons of bitches in a matter of minutes.  I just wanted to get it all out before I forget.  Hell, I even wrote notes!

Something comics tend to think will happen but doesn’t is that when they invite their friends, they will forever have their buddies following them from dive bar to dive bar cheering them on as they search for laughs.  That is now how it will work.  This is how it works 100% of the time.  First you will get all of your friends to come see you perform.  Then the more you do it the less your friends will show up.  Then, before you know it, you are now there every week by yourself cursing your friends.  Just stop that and go by yourself.  They won’t be able to meet you in Idaho Falls when you have to do a show in front of the horniest people Idaho has to offer.  They won’t be there every night so you need to get used to it.  Just cut the cord.  I ever asked anyone to come with me.  I didn’t need the drama, especially if you didn’t do that well.  They will try to talk you up again, but you know you sucked that night.  Just leave them home and save them for the bigger shows.

Your significant other will not understand what it is about comedy you love so much.  They may like to laugh as much as you do, but they won’t understand half of your jokes until they are polished.  I tell my girl jokes all the time and she gets half of them and the other half she tells me to get rid off because no one will laugh.  Then, she will see me perform the same jokes on stage and they will work and she will be dumbfounded.  She doesn’t understand that to be noticed in comedy you can’t stay in Spokane.  That a drive may help your career (Seattle has a great scene and so does Portland) you may need to make sacrifices and that may be the hardest for those grounded in reality to accept.  Now, my girl is not like that.  She tells me all the time that I need to get out there.  I am more concerned with my quality of life at this point.  I get nervous about blowing 100 bucks if it means I will not be able to pay a bill.

Money is the biggest reality check of them all I think.  “If I had the money!”  is something every comic has said at one point or another.  If you had the money you could take a plane to a city instead of drive 9 hours.  You could actually get something to eat.  These are things that help if you got money.  If you don’t you are spending a lot of time in a job you don’t want hoping that you can get a lottery ticket (if you could afford one) and be instantly wealthy.   That way you can go to all the big cities and stay just long enough too…I don’t know…get more wealthy.  That is the thing about money.  If you had enough to do what you wanted would you still have the drive to do the little things.  Would you still want to go to Ellensburg on a Thursday night for 100 bucks?  Maybe, but maybe you can snort pixie dust off a hooker and stay home.

Driving a big thing as well, not as big as money, but it is up there. If you are a road comic (a lot of us are).  You are driving a lot.  You have to plan accordingly.  You can’t feature in Billings Montana for 100 bucks a night if you drive a Ford Expedition.  It will take at least 300 just to get there.  You need reliable transportation and you need fuel efficient transportation.

I’m telling you.  Once you realize these things as a comic life is so much easier.  You then start to plan out stuff. You get a decent car and you plan guest sets in places that you know if you do a good job they will call you back.  You keep your friends the hell away from open mics (unless you don’t want to see them again) and you make sure your significant other can take a joke.  You then get to know comics and pretty soon you can be doing one nighters in the back woods of Oregon for 300 bucks.  It’s the good life!