One of the significant developments in 2011 was my deepening love for the craft of stand up comedy. Podcasts by comic Marc Maron (WTF Podcast) and Adam Carola’s podcast were vital to my intellectual survival during my last year at the Postal Service. I was hired by RoadRunner Records to photograph comedy legend Doug Stanhope as he filmed his latest special in Salt Lake City. I discovered a deep admiration for Louis C.K., Anthony Jeselnik, Joe Rogan, Bill Hicks, and others.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
As far as I’m concerned, the aforementioned comics and podcasters are among the most enlightened human beings I’ve ever encountered, and flatter them I shall.
I know this will sound so stupid, but bear with me on this. Around the end of December, I had a little come-to-jesus talk with myself: I want to learn to do stand-up comedy.
Instantly, I get all up in my head about this. I have layer upon meta layer of analysis and self criticism about why I would want to do such a thing. It’s ridiculous.
On one level, let’s be honest: I’m a LEO. It’s in the stars for me to be kind of a narcissistic sonofabitch.
On another level, maybe it’s just a healthy, natural reaction to imitate one’s heroes.
Or perhaps now that it’s pretty clear I’ll never be a Bishop, this looks like my only chance to be behind something that resembles a pulpit.
At any rate, I am committed to mastering the 5 minute open mic.
I started attending open mic nights at The Complex and Wiseguys. I started carrying a note pad with me everywhere and making notes. Started writing jokes and stories. I accumulated what would probably end up being 10 – 15 minutes of material, and then at the urging of one of my great friends, Super Nate, I picked a date and committed to hit the stage.
Last week I made my debut. Tuesday night I did the open mic at The Complex, and the next night, at Wiseguys.
I’m not going to detail how the sets went, I’ll just share a few observations:
It was a LOT harder than I thought it would be. I’ve been performing and doing public speaking since I was 12 years old. Between being active in church, being in top leadership & training positions on my mission, working as a corporate trainer for a few years, playing in orchestras, rock bands, brass quintets, and as a soloist since the 7th grade… you would think that a mic and 3 – 5 minutes would have been very easy for me to handle.
I got a few laughs and a few nice compliments at The Complex. The next night at Wiseguys, I was surprised at how nervous I was. 3 minutes is hard to gauge when you are trying to make an audience of 75 people laugh with blinding stage lights in your eyes. It’s disorienting.
Many of you have asked when I will be doing these open mics and have said you’d like to come watch. I REALLY appreciate your enthusiasm and support. Let’s talk for just a second about child birth: It’s fucking gross.
Except for when it’s your own kid, then it’s an incredible, humbling experience. But in 99.999999999999999999% of all cases, it’s just an ugly, messy process that involves people sitting in very compromising, unflattering positions, blood, goop, crying, spanking, and bright lights…
…not much different from the first stages of learning to do stand up.
It’s going to take a while for that ugly, gross, alien-like baby to look cute and start making pleasant sounds.
That being said, I’ll let you all know when my features have filled out, when I don’t look like an alien grasshopper, when I can keep my formula down.