Day 794: Bombing vs. Not doing so well

How do you know when you’re bombing? Is it the sweat beading on your forehead? Or that feeling of not connecting with the crowd, or any single person in it for that matter? Is it hearing crickets or getting groans instead of laughs? Is it someone from the crow yelling ‘You’re not funny’? Having had all of these happen to me, I can safely say I know what it feels like to bomb.

But there are many levels of bombing. At the top we have simply, ‘not doing so well’. This is when your jokes don’t hit as hard as they normally do, but significantly so. Like in a crowd of 100, whats normally 50 people laughing is now 5. So basically you’re still getting laughs, but you are just not doing as well as you normally do or should be doing. I had one of these sets in Playa Del Rey, at Tower 42. The room was packed with 50 people, mostly older, wealthy, pretty much all white, and getting tired as the night went on. I followed 2 really awesome sets by Kyle Kinane and Lachlan Patterson. As I go up, about 15 people leave the room to go to the bathroom. The room is kind of in chaos. I may have smoked some marijuana earlier, which doesn’t help in this situation. It quiets down and their energy is low, so instead of raising it, I just match theirs. And comedy is a sport of teaching, so you teach the audience to be a certain way, they will be. I dug myself a low energy whole, and it was extremely difficult climbing out. But I was getting scattered laughs, I was just not doing so well. But fortunately, Playa Del Rey, is a tiny city in the middle of nowhere along the coast, so nobody will ever really know, except everyone in that room.

The next level of bombing, would be ‘struggling’. This is where you are hardly getting laughs at all, and you’re working hard to remedy that. At points in my set at Playa, I felt like I was struggling, but it wasn’t quite that bad. Struggling is something other people can watch and say damn that’s a struggle, where as not doing so well, people can watch and just assume that’s how the comic normally does. Struggling is a gateway between levels, because a struggle can turn into a kill if you work hard enough and get them on board, or, alternatively, a failed struggle can end up in the next level down of bombing, which is ‘bombing’.

‘Bombing’ is where the crowd definitely does not like you. You often get groans instead of laughs, you look like you are struggling but also defeated, as your efforts won’t do you any good at this point. This level can also be called ‘tanking it’.

The next level down is, ‘eating sh*t’. When you eat sh*t, you and everyone in the mile radius around you can feel the vibrations of how bad you are doing. Maybe you’re not funny, maybe you’re having a bad day, maybe the crowd is just a bunch of assholes, but for whatever reason, there’s just no good coming out of what you are doing up there. Every comic has eaten sh*t once in their lives. If you haven’t, you have no reason to get better. Eating sh*t, almost always ends with someone from the crowd just letting you know that you have to get off. Where as the other levels of bombing can fly by with no crowd interruption, when a comic eats sh*t, generally a responsible, or standoffish, crowd member, will do his or her best to put a stop to it.

Generally, if you eat sh*t enough times, you will eventually be forced into the last, lowest level of bombing, which is called ‘quitting comedy’. Some people never fall this low because they just hang out in ‘bombing’ ‘struggling’ and ‘not doing so well’. It’s kind of a tragedy that they never eat sh*t enough to quit. It’s also equally tragic when a good comic has a bad few days, eats sh*t a few times and then quits when he/she should have kept going. But the point is, bombing is way deeper than just a ranking of how you do comedically. It eats at your soul. Bombing is a social event. You and everyone around you has it burned in their mind as they watch. Bombing regularly can be dangerous to one’s self esteem, but it can also make you fearless. It all just depends on how you process rejection. However, for it to make you a good comic, you also have to kill sometimes. For all bomb and no kill, makes Jack quit comedy or in some cases life.

But what we can learn from this, is that bombing is subjective, but can be categorized by its qualities. The key to being a good comic, other than getting your bomb on, is knowing when you are bombing and when you are not. Many comedians will fall on one of the aforementioned levels and still claim that they ‘killed it’. The point at which you stop doing that, you become aware of how strong you really are. And though I’d like to say I bombed in Playa Del Rey, I did, but it was on the highest level. I just didn’t do so well.

Day 793: Depression, Happiness, and Comedy

Depression. Often known as the mark of a good comedian. Some would argue that one can be both funny and happy, and I would agree! But it is very, very rare.

I’m no expert on happiness, as I don’t think I’ve ever been aware of my own happiness when it is happening. I seem to only know happiness in retrospect, when things were better. However, I am also aware when things are better than they were before, and that is a good feeling. Sometimes I wish I was one of those people who is just always happy and upbeat (minus the being annoying part, or maybe that’s just my negativity and if I was like them I wouldn’t care), and I think I can be one of those happy people, it will just take a lot of history to overcome. In elementary school I was a weird, introverted kid, people made fun of me for being fat (I wasn’t even fat, I was just chubby, and kids are mean), and I always felt different from everyone else. But I didn’t think of it as depression, just kind of dark ages. Then I garnered some popularity, confidence, and good looks in Junior High, and though I still didn’t feel happy at the time, I knew those were brighter days. But then I got into drugs as a 14 year old, and spun right into what I absolutely knew was depression. I had a dismal outlook on life, lived in fear and distrust of those around me. Then I got a job at a produce stand where I somehow learned that devoting myself to work made me happy, and I completely turned it around…also quitting the drugs helped. But then later in high school I started drinking a lot, and after doing ecstasy the first time about 12 years ago exactly, I fell back into a mild depression. I discovered emotions that I had repressed for years, but I still wasn’t ready to deal with them. Thus, I prolonged the cycle of ups and downs for another 12 years.

I generally get depressed in late February, when there’s a lot of rain, it’s still chilly, my birthday has passed and I’m feeling older, I get seasonal affective disorder from lack of sun, sickness and allergies are in season, and things are just plain wintery. Living in LA now it’s a little different, it feels more like spring, though it’s really not. But years would pass by, and I’d dread this time of year, just praying for May to come when the SAD goes away, and I start to feel alive again. At some point I just accepted this as normal. And when I started to become a comedian, it fed into what I was doing. I used the depression to generate motivation to be funny. The lower the lows, the more funny would blossom. And so depression and comedy become inextricable. But often times I discovered myself in a good mood being perfectly funny. However sometimes when I was really content, I’d just go up and bomb because I had no burn inside to do well. But then that would make me depressed, and I’d be great the next night. But it’s all a cycle, and one way of looking at things. A lot of comedians just feed this cycle even more with drugs and booze. And the highs our ego’s get from a great set, make us spiral into an abyss later.

Having done comedy every night for nearly 800 days in a row, I’ve sped up these cycles, of ups and downs, inferiority and superiority, and can see them for what they really are. An illusion. After 100’s of cycles in a row, they just become so ridiculous. I get a bird’s eye view of what the life of a comedian is like in a smaller snippet of time, and what can I say, it’s a joke. It’s like listening to your voice sped up, sounding like a chipmunk, and it makes you laugh, even though it’s the same words you were saying. So I’m starting to realize this whole game, of ups and downs in comedy, and maybe even in life in general, is the biggest, most hilarious joke of all time, written by the greatest comedian ever, God, or if you don’t believe in God, the greatest comedian ever…non-existence. And that we have more choice in this matter than we give ourselves credit for.

Anyhow, that’s my story, and I’m ready to drop it. Break the cycle. I’m gonna be the first comedian ever to achieve true happiness. It will happen on Day 1,000, maybe sooner. But I’ve decided that’s my goal now. And it’s not going to be that superficial happiness, contingent on possessions, achievements, a love partner, or anything external. It’s going to be from within. Just you watch! And hopefully it will inspire the same in other comedians and people as well. Even if it was just comedians, and I went down in history as the comedian who saved all comedians from their own dark, narcissistic, vicious cycles of depression and funniness, it would be such a great achievement. WE DON’T HAVE TO BE SAD TO BE FUNNY, Y’ALL! Some of you are thinking, “Hey I’m not sad!” Yea you probably aren’t funny either. Lol jk. Break that cycle!

That said, you still have to find a way to stay motivated and hungry without being down. Often when happy and content, we lose that drive, and that’s the hardest part. But say, if all comedians found happiness and then some discovered that maybe we don’t even want to do comedy anymore, well then we’d at least be sparing the planet a lot of bad jokes. Hell, maybe there was never really meant to be any comedians, and the people of the world must rely on each other equally to make themselves laugh, sharing the work, the funny, and the pain that comes with it. Or maybe there was only meant to be a small handful of comedians, and we treat them with a little more respect and love than we do. Because let’s face it, this whole problem of comedians being unhappy is because people weren’t nice to them in the first place. When I make you laugh, it’s not me, it’s the girl who pointed out my stomach rolls in 3rd grade. So do your part to keep the comedians happy in 2013. Even if it means sleeping with one.

Day 792: 2,000th Set of the Streak

Since I’ve started this streak on December 26, 2010, I’ve been tallying the number of sets and amount of time I do on stage. I take totals at the end of the week and add them up over time. In the first year, Dec 26 2010 to Dec 25, 2011, I did 906 sets and 192.5 hours on stage. So I averaged about 2.5 sets a night, and about 30 min of stage time a night. In the second year, I did 975 sets and 216.5 hours, so slightly more than the first year. Since then I’ve been going a little easier, probably averaging 20 minutes and 2 sets a night. All of this helps me keep track of my productivity and growth. When my weekly sets and hours are up, I feel a lot of growth, and stronger performing follows the next week. When the numbers are down, I generally gain rest and perspective, but I’ll be rustier going in the following week. Yes, this is so even after doing it every night. Rust never disappears.

So on Day 792 I finally hit the landmark 2,000th set of the streak, at Westwood BrewCo for an audience of about 10. This is an interesting time in the streak, because I’m not really in love with comedy right now. Not that I ever was, but I just don’t feel that passion to succeed as a comedian that I used to. Could it be that I’ve burnt myself out with all of these sets? Possibly. Or that my mind is just somewhere else, or I’m starting to wonder what it would be like to lead a normal life. The 700’s have been a lot of this, and I know it will pass. But I look back at when I hit my 1,000th set in January of last year. I was a monster. I was getting 4 sets a night, grinding all around LA, working on every new bit I had, with pages of unfinished jokes that I was eager to make work. I started making voice memos and recording my sets, I would go to open mics sit in the back and tighten wordings, I actually had an audition for Montreal, and I felt young and that the future was all mine. It’s crazy and just plain silly that one year later I feel completely different. That I’m still a grain of sand in an ocean, and I’m not that young anymore, just at 29. That if I don’t make it soon, my opportunities are gone. That I’ve cursed myself to a life of hard work with no play. Even with the breaks I’ve been giving myself in the past few months, and the things I’ve gained in the last year, a TV credit, college bookings, in’s at all the clubs in LA, I somehow feel more empty.

I know what you’re thinking, how did a blog post about tallying sets end up so depressing? Maybe that’s the thing, that this is what happens when you quantify your life. When you judge your effectiveness by numbers, of how many or how much of something you did or have. Surely quality matters too. How many of those 2,000 sets did I bomb, or not make proper use of, or was I not focused, or in a bad mood because I was working so hard? Countless. Had I just done 1,000 better quality sets would I be just as good now? Who knows. Probably not. I think that everything counts. And that’s why I tallied. And I’ll stick by that. But let it be known. 2,000 sets doesn’t make you any happier. But stronger, yes. And how you choose to use that strength I guess will determine your happiness. For me, it just might be using the strength to let go of this dream.

Day 791: Malibu

Today was an interesting Saturday, given it’s the beginning of Mercury Retrograde, and all sorts of weird stuff and technical difficulties are happening. Maybe I’m a hippie or maybe you actually observed some. For me, I locked myself out of my apartment, panicked for a while, only to discover I left the door open the whole time. Then, at Yogurtland, the credit card system was down so they let me have it for free.

I accomplished a lot today, I made breakfast, I had a personal training session, worked arms for once in a long time, got thai food, did my UCB 401 performance show at the UCB theatre, then headed over to Malibu for an outdoor show at a golf club, Malibu & Vine. I’ve never performed in Malibu before and only been here once otherwise to go to an overrated beach called Paradise Cove, which is like Spring break Cancun on one tiny strip for $20 and overpriced food and drink. Malibu is beautiful though, but this show was way up in the hills. The venue was gorgeous but it’s freezing and dark in the middle of February and the wind is blowing strong. I drink free wine hastily to beat the cold. I go up in the middle and it’s a great reception. My friend since elementary, Shelby comes with her fiancĂ© who I also went to high school with, and they are in the front row giving me the applaud support when I need it. I often tell people that the front row drives the show. The people in the back see the front laughing and applauding, and they follow, because most people are followers, especially when in a crowd scenario. So the set goes well, I sell some cd’s, one lady running around borrowing cash from people because I haven’t set up my Square yet to take credit card. My documentary guy, Julian is there getting footage, and after we go hang out downtown drink and go to a house party. It was nice going out and socializing in LA for once in a long while, and Julian and I needed a celebration break and a drunk talk about how the documentary is going to be so awesome. We had some good ideas, but I don’t remember them.

Day 790: Hair Stylist

So I realized I can finally afford a hair stylist. What’s the difference between a stylist and a barber you ask? About $40! Other than that they are pretty much the same…they both speak broken english, don’t really understand what you ask, and they don’t look great themselves. Or maybe I just went to the wrong stylist today, but the point is, it’s stylists only from here on out, simply because I can afford it now, and want to tell people I have a hair stylist. If you think you are a great hair stylist, contact me. I’m growing out my hair, to where I have some tangible curls. I’m almost there on the top, but have a ways to go on the sides, because these people cutting my hair keep making that part short. I do ask them to go extra short in the back, because my hair has the tendency to mullet, which is not a good look for a Middle Eastern.

Tonight I hit the Set List open mic at Flappers after acting class, then Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa, and finally Duna’s on Melrose. Good shows all around. My new hair is a bit more clean cut after the chop I got today, so people show some more respect. It’s like because I take care of myself, they care more to laugh and clap, given that the jokes and delivery are there. Anyways, my hair is still in an awkward phase, as it is growing out, which isn’t great for confidence, but the fruits of this waiting will be the most boingable curls in LA! Coming soon in the late 800’s…

Day 789: Highway 5

In classic numerology the number 5 signifies change. In 2011 I started going up and down highway 5 monthly to live a life between the Bay and LA. The 5 was a passage of change for me, it marked a new era in life, an era of changing my life path, and changing between my two homes, isn’t it crazy how that number irony works out? They could have named it highway 3 or 76. But it’s the 5, during a time of change in my life. I don’t know how long this era of change will last, but probably until I can afford plane tickets.

I dropped off my tax documents to my accountant, Jay Lee (CPA), in Fremont, grabbed some Thai food from Banana Leaf in Milpitas and jumped on the 5 back to LA. I rehearsed scenes for my acting class, wrote jokes in my head, made phone calls, sent emails, and texted friends, all while bumping my head to various tunes. I’ve grown to be ok with the 5. Not love, just be okay with. It has some aesthetic issues. 101 on the other hand is a freeway I could commit to. Though, this is the nicer part of the year to roll on the 5, as the rain has made things green and blooming. Starting in May/June it gets brown and ugly, something I find personally offensive.

I get back to my apartment, bring all my stuff up, rehearse with my classmate for a bit, then hit the road again to Thousand Oaks on the 101, my beloved. I’d never been to Thousand Oaks, but it has thousand in the name which is of utmost significance to what I’m doing right now with this streak. I roll out with my roommate Nick West and we land at Lava Sports Bar. The place is packed, but it’s noisy. It turns out great though and I just do the classics (it’s been a long day of driving and I don’t feel like thinking too much). Then NIck and I bail back to Sherman Oaks, the other Oaks city, where we live. I guess it’d be crazier and more ironic if Thousand Oaks was the one that I lived in, the city where I moved during and executed my 1,000 days of Comedy. But sometimes numbers don’t give you the perfect irony.

Day 788: Right v. Left Brained Comedy

Some call us artists. Yes, in a way. But comedians are also calculating, premeditating, brain-manipulating scientists, who travel around doing field studies on what works and doesn’t, simply by trial and error and checking boxes, a highly syntactical process. To a degree comedy is both a right and left brained sport. At least in my opinion, and the best comedy arises from a synthesis of both. A comedian need the left brain to control the situation, to enunciate the words in an intelligible manner, to set up jokes in a way that makes them executable, to structure the set so that people can follow. On paper, the left brain can write perfect jokes. Jokes that people could read, or even be told be a robot and would still find laughable. But then we need the right brain for everything else. The spontaneity, the improvisation, the emotional connection, the little natural subtleties of a relaxed person, that help us relax and find comfort. A comfort that the left brain can’t explain.

You can look at certain comedians and say he/she is a right brainer or left brainer, but it’s not always that easy. At first glance many would consider me a left-brained comedian, since I have a mathematical mind and approach to everything, I’m highly methodical, and my jokes are perfect. No one says the last part? Oh. Well still, I often get comments like, ‘Hey you are a great..writer’ or ‘I really like your robotic delivery’ or ‘if there was a joke structure contest you would win’. But what people don’t know, is that, although my left brain structures all of my jokes, most of the ideas come from my right brain, when I’m high as shit.

Yes, I smoke marijuana, since age 13. It’s become a staple of life. However I’m not a stoner. A stoner smokes to get stoned. I smoke to get things done that I normally am not apt to do when I’m in left-brained sober mode. Here’s a little anecdote. In my UC Berkeley upper division math days, I used to use marijuana to get an edge above the other students. No, not by selling it to them so that they are too high to get work done, which I did do on occasion. But rather, when I encountered a problem I could not solve in my homework, I’d set it aside, take a hit, open my mind and envision, and suddenly the answer would come to me. I’d then use my left brain to write it out later, and I’d always get it right. I ended up setting the curve in a few classes, getting seven A+’s overall during my term there. So what’s the moral? Kids say yes to drugs. If you have insanely strong will power and no girlfriend. Otherwise don’t try this at home.

After getting back into town from my trip to the midwest, feeling accomplished, I felt it was ready to end my 3 month long break from marijuana. I’ve been sorting out a lot of internal issues, and refrain from any drugs during that period. I generally take breaks every now and then but this was a long one. Finally feeling ready, I took a hit, just 1, enough to spike the right brain just a tad. It was amazing. I had all sorts of insights about things that have been going on that my left brain could have never explained. Then I head to SF to headline Cafe Royale and work out all the newer stuff I’m doing. And finally close the night with a set at Dirty Trix open mic in the inner Richmond, where I got no jokes worked on, but did get criticized by some spectators and then a dog walked in and it hit me, what if I started comedy shows for dogs?? It could be this huge new niche market for dog lovers, like people who take their dogs to dog parks, but now a dog comedy show to keep them happy and healthy. Sure there’d be a two bone minimum, but I think I could get tails in seats. Yea, see, only the right brain could have thought of this!

Day 787: What do you do with Money?

I’m asking, I’ve never had it. I mean I grew up on a $5 allowance a day, which is pretty good, compared to world standards. But in high school I stopped spending it on food, saved it up to buy large amounts of marijuana in bulk, and then resold in smaller quantities to other kids at my school. I effectively turned it into $10 a day, put it into savings, and just let it grow, and grow and grow, until I turned 27, lost my teaching job and moved to LA to pursue comedy, where I finally needed it. Basically my comedy career is funded on an investment put up by my parents, doubled by my efforts (or effortlessness, as you know if you’ve ever slanged before), and some teaching money I made from 23-27. I’ve burnt about 3/4 of it in the last 2 years in LA, paying rent and buying raw juice to fit in. When I moved to LA I knew my clock was ticking…that I had until about 2014 to make it or quit. Will I have to give up on this dream in 2014? Day 786 finally answered that question!

After booking about 50 colleges at the NACA Nationals showcase Monday night, I go back to my hotel and can’t really sleep, mostly because I know I have to get up at 4 a.m. to make my flight. I cab it to the Tennessee airport, and my first flight is to Chicago, where I have a whole row to myself to lay down. But it’s only an hour, and my next flight is to SF, it’s 5 hours, and it’s packed with fat Chicago asses. I get some of that semi-upright, horse-like sleep for moments at a time, and finally make it to SF. My plane was rowdy, full of a group of friends drinking, laughing, and telling jokes. I just wanted to sleep. I find it hard to believe that I’m the comedian sometimes, and I’m sure they would find it hard to believe as well.

My cousin Paul picks me up from the airport, and he has before, so it’s finally time I pay him back. I take him out to lunch at my favorite Afghani place, Salang Pass in Fremont. Me and Paul are big eaters so we got like 8 dishes and racked up a huge bill that for once, I did not stress about! Then I went and got a massage, not 60, but 90 minutes! And I left a fatty tip. Wow, it’s nice having money. I take off to headline the Punch Line in SF, and I don’t really feel like eating their pizza, so why do I always eat it? That’s right because it’s free and I don’t want to spend money. Not anymore! I pick up Indian food at Gaylords on the way. The crowd is light and I only make $100 off the show, but who cares! I’ve got money!

I still hit an open mic afterward, because just cause I have money doesn’t mean I can slack. But I do stop at the donut shop on the way back to Fremont. I get home after having virtually not slept in almost 48 hours. I look in the mirror and ask myself, what have I become? I had a landmark of financial success, but at the cost of being tired as hell. I stare at the rings under my eyes, shaking my head. Then I just put some $20 bills over my face and hit the sac.

Day 786: Everything You Need to Know about the College Market

Jk, this was my first time doing doing a college showcase, so I don’t really know much, but that’s a catchy title right? Might as well stay and read the rest of this blog right? Don’t leave! No!

As you may not remember, on Day 668 I got word that I booked a showcase spot at NACA Nationals in Nashville Tennessee. NACA is the organization that books most entertainment for college campuses. A showcase spot here means a chance to get a lot of money. Money is something that us performers don’t know a lot about, but we know it’s good! I spent months thinking about the hot 5 minutes that I would drop on this crowd of 500-1,000 college students. It’s advised to be clean, high energy, and appealing to the youth. I’m able to do all 3 on request, as I love pandering. I got in the showcase through my agency KP Comedy, who I was referred to be a very nice headliner I worked with. They submit my 3 minute sample, got me a 5 minute showcase spot, and now the rest is up to me on this chilly but sunny Nashville Day 786.

After a night of hitting the ‘Honky Tonks’, the strip with all the bars and live music in Nashville which only spans 4 blocks, I woke this morning to the sound of a jackhammer, because the hotel is remodeling their pool in the freezing February weather. I go for a jog down music row and it’s a real hip place, but it’s dead. Not sure if Nashville is a summer town or what. I search the area for a cafe or at the very least a corner store so I can get a drink, but it’s all music stores and industrial stuff, finally I stop at a gas station. Back at the hotel I take a bath to relax, but the jackhammer is still pounding away, and the sound is amplified in the bath tub, if you haven’t experienced that sort of thing before, it’s not ideal. I iron my blue shirt up nice preparing for my first NACA showcase. Blue is a likeable color…it’s cooling and pacifying, and everyone loves the blue sky, right? In competitions I almost always wear blue, and I have a pretty good track record of winning. You’re welcome for the tip. Glad you’re still reading this right?

I really want to get some authentic southern food while here in Tennessee, so I do some Yelping and discover Arnold’s Country Kitchen, in ‘the Gulch’ area of the city. I order the blackened tilapia (fish is brain food, you’re welcome), with spicy greens, butternut squash stuffing, sweet corn, corn muffin, and sweet tea. So, so good. Leave the place with a warm southern feelin in my tummy. I walk 10 blocks to the convention center, check in, and watch an empty room fill up with almost 1,000 students in about 5 minutes. They are loud, chatty, and not paying attention to the first two acts…then they start to get polite, and I go up in the sweet 6 spot, and do my job. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, and I moved a little faster than I sould have, but I got them in fairly quickly, and middled and ended really strong, with the bear and history jokes being major hits. After my bear joke one kid yelled ‘preach on brotha!’ The whole time I was worried about going over time and I actually ended with 16 seconds to spare. Nicely done! Coulda done an extra joke, oh well..

I get off stage not knowing how I did, but knowing it was pretty good at least. My agent said I nailed it. I nailed NACA Nationals Nashvile, that’s 4 Na’s in a row, Just like the song Na Na Na Na…Heyayay goodbye, or Master P’s uhhhhh Na Na, Na Na. I think that’s a good sign. We rush over to the auditorium, where we hang out at the agent’s booth, and just wait for college students at that show to come in and pick the talent that they liked for booking at their schools. Fairly quickly we are swarmed with schools wanting to get me. On one hand I took it as a compliment, on the other hand, I looked at the roster and saw I was the lowest priced out of most comedians, because I’m new and don’t have notable TV credits. But even at the lowest price, it’s more than I make…pretty much anywhere. School after school approaches, and to a lot of them I tell them I have family in their location, and honestly so. I realize I have family all over the US…Texas, Wyoming, the Carolinas, and New York. No wonder I have a pretty good feel for the different parts of the country. I get approached by nearly 50 colleges, some more interested than others…some saying they want me right away, and others saying they want to consider me out of a few others. Either way, I tell them that it’s my dream to perform at their college. Well, because it is.

My agent, Gina, takes us out to dinner, and unfortunately there’s no lobster on the menu, but I do order the salmon, and we get some wine to celebrate. I could have potentially made something like 100 grand today off of a 5 minute set. I remember when I used to pay $5 to do 5 minutes at an open mic, I guess this is compensation for all that. After dinner we have to go back to the booking marketplace again and I seal a few more deals. The next year is going to be a lot of traveling, but I think for once in my career I’ll be living comfortably. I grew up in a middle class family, but always hoarded my money. Maybe it’s because my sister was a splurger and I had to balance things out so my parents could still feed us? I just don’t know what to do with money, because even after a day of getting significantly richer, I walk 30 minutes back to my cheap hotel in the pouring rain instead of getting a cab, and set my alarm for 430 am, as I have to make my long, non-direct flight on Southwest.

Day 785: Lebanon to Nashville!

After 3 days of freezing my ass off it was time to get the hell out of the MidWest. I wake up at Wayne’s and we are going to the gym but he insists on frying me up some eggs first. I’m gonna miss this guy! After hitting some weights, showering, shaving, cutting the inside of my nose with the razor, and watching blood stream down my face, my cousin Peter comes to pick me up. Peter goes to SLU in St. Louis, and came to support at AGT last year on Day 441. He thought he was driving me to Nashville, Illinois, to which I apologized since that’s a lot closer, and also wondered why anyone would go to Nashville, Illinois, or why there is a Nashville, Illinois, or a Springfield Illinois, or a Lebanon, Illinois. Illinois is such a city name hack, and there’s probably another Chicago somewhere. We stop to eat come Mexican food in Mt. Vernon, also the name of a city in New York! Strike 4 Illinois, you’re gone! We drive through Kentucky, where everyone is a bearded man with a cap, and someone I wouldn’t want to be stuck alone with.

Finally we reach Nashville Tennessee at sunset, and it’s quite a sight! It has such a cool vibe to it. You can tell people here are fresh and upbeat. I’m staying at the Comfort Inn on Music Row, and the front desk guy is Indian, so I instantly relax. I iron my shirt and then we go drive around looking for food. Nashville is a very religious town, so street names are like Church Drive, Bible Ave, and Fear Jesus Pkwy. I’m not understanding why all the American restaurants are closed, and then I realize it’s because it’s Sunday here in Christian town, so only ethnic places are showing up on Yelp. We get some really good Turkish food, kebab, hummus, baba ghanouj, and cinnamon tea. We rush to Zanies Comedy Club, the only comedy club in Nashville, and I’ve heard lots of good things. We sit in the back and I get tapped on the shoulder, it’s my buddy TC Cope, who I worked with for the Anjelah Johnson shows at the San Jose Improv, back on days 96-99, super nice, positive, and funny guy, I forgot he was from here. It’s nice to see a familiar face in a new town. Makes you feel welcome.

I’m up 4th on a showcase put together by Chad Riden, who I was fortunate to meet through a contact of mine. The crowd is nice and warm and I do my unabridged NACA set for tomorrow, with 3 minutes added on to the end to lower the brow a l little bit and relax their minds. They got hot fast! I didn’t expect it to be this much fun or get the reaction I got. I was surprised that they really liked the math joke, really surprised that the Palestinian joke got an applause break, not surprised that the gay jokes got mixed reaction, not surprised that the bear joke got a little awkward, a little surprised that the history joke did so well, not surprised that the grocery store bit was relatable, but surprised that the ‘find everything ok?’ part got a wild applause, and finally, not surprised at all that they ate up the horny bit. After the show, people were saying it was the best show they’ve ever seen, and a nice fella named Bubba from upstate Tennessee told me I was the best act he’s seen his whole life, and that he once worked with a Lebanese guy at his job at UPS and he said he was the funniest guy he knew and that if he hadn’t worked with him he wouldn’t have made it through 30 years at that job, so he loves the Lebanese. Unless he’s talking about people from Lebanon, Tennessee, which is a neighboring city. Not to be mistaken with Lebanon, Illinois, a hack of a hack. It’s crazy that I can now say that my number one fan is a guy named Bubba from Tennessee. He made me promise I’d come back to Nashville, and we all know I keep my promises.

Day 784: St. Louis Revisited

Today is the third day of my trip to the heartland, or as I call it 5 days without kombucha or kale. I slept in this morning, bundled up in my blankets, listening to the freezing Illinois wind blowing outside. I lied in bed for a while and then I thought I smelled brownies so I ran downstairs, and I was right! Wayne baked brownies! If I didn’t love this guy enough already. I ate them with my breakfast of eggs, pork, mashed potatoes, veggies, and toast. We eat and he tells me about his date last night. The old fella’s getting more action than me, that’s for sure! We look out at his pool, which he told me he jumps off the diving board after hitting a gravity bong and then comes up from the water an exhales. I want this guy’s life! While being 20 years old and in California.

My show tonight is in St. Louis. I was here in the 430’s last March for my AGT audition, where Howard Stern affirmed that I had made the right life choice in choosing comedy. It was a milestone, but also made me question his judgement. I’m really not liking comedy that much these days. But I have to finish this God forsaken streak. After breakfast I take a bath and relax, feeling great after days of traveling and being on the go. Wayne drives me to downtown St. Louis, where I’ll get picked up in a few hours from 4 Hands Brewery, a really cool spot. I walk in and order a Chocolate Milk Stout and this girl at the bar starts talking to me. She’s very nice and we are having a good conversation, until her husband comes, who’s not as talkative, nor as interested that I do comedy. Things get awkward, they leave, and I order some hummus, because well look at me, and also an array of spicy walnuts, peanuts, and pistachios. My friend Ben Flug shows up with some ladies. We drink some more and then drive to the venue, No Name Comix. They bought the space, and turned it into a comedy venue using (very comfortable) car seats instead of chairs. Very creative, and homemade look.

Then we walked 10 blocks in the 30 degree cold to get tacos. I don’t know what’s less California, the 30 degree weather or having to walk 10 blocks to find tacos. The taqueria is run and staffed by Romanians, but the tacos are surprisingly really good. 15 people show up to the venue and it’s a show. Wayne is on the show too and I love his act; it’s dark and perverted and not at all like him in person. I headline doing about an hour of fairly low energy reflections of our deepest thoughts, and we all had a great time, despite the loud music and screams of people having an amazing time at the bar next door. A guy wanted to buy a cd but I didn’t have one, and it was crazy because right before I left home I told myself I should at least bring one cd. Coulda made some bucks. But let’s face it, we know I don’t do this for the money. Otherwise I woulda quit at Day 1. I do it to be able to brag about it on my blog. After the show a girl asks me to hang out back at her condo, and told me how comfortable her bed is, she was cute too, but I insist that Wayne take me back to his place, cause I mean, what do I really want to wake up to tomorrow, shame or brownies?