I don't really know what motivates a comedian to stand in front of crowds. Either we think we have something to say that's worth hearing, or maybe we are looking for something and casting the widest net we can think of to find it. Maybe that's why people notoriously quit once they get into good relationships. The void is filled and they no longer have to shout to the masses to do so. For others, it's not a void we're trying to fill, it's something we're trying to let out.
I stood on the club stage to a near packed room, the lights stole my view of everyone's face. I was alone and surrounded. I told one of my favorite jokes to a wave of laughter only to feel so disconnected and empty that it was borderline painful. I spent most of my brief time looking for the light. I broke down in the green room. For awhile I was thinking about this movie where casinos would hire this sad guy they called the cooler to walk around. His depression would change the energy of a room so that people would start to lose, just because they'd pick up on his sadness. I wondered that night if I was the comedy cooler, but I later decided I simply didn't belong there. I left abruptly to go sit by the river.
I like the river, especially at night. The way the yellow lights cross over the surface makes it look like a painting creating itself. I like the sound, the cold. It made me feel peaceful, and there's something about the little harshness of cold water that helps when you're feeling pretty beat up inside. I understood that river more than the club I'd walked out of. It was there that it dawned on me that, "Dammit, I might be fucked. Again."
The last time I had that thought was when I quit my day job in March last year. The circumstances had a similar emotional context even if in reality they were very different. I knew that something had to give.
It's been hard for me to unpackage, but I have been feeling increasingly at odds with my home city and more specifically, my home scene. I've bounced back and forth between it being me, my own arrogance and sense of entitlement making me feel alienated to feeling like I'm always going to be an afterthought here because I don't fit whatever expectation is had of me.
I'm at the point now where I think it's a little of both. I'm leaving Denver in June. I've been slow to admit outside of a few people I've talked to in person, but now that it's become a reality and not just a daydream I don't really care either way who knows. I've hit some kind of wall here.
I don't know if it's that I don't fit with the direction Denver's scene is choosing, or if I'm watching normal growing pains of a midsized scene, but I do know that there's not a lot I can offer this town any more, and for the same reason, there's not a lot it can offer me. All of this is symbiotic. If you can help people, people can help you. The way these scenes work, the infrastructure they're built on requires key people, and those key people get a lot of say in how things go. If you're not one of them, you're at their whims and if you're not their style of humor, not easy enough to get along with or simply not in the same room as them often enough, you'll end up where I am.
I've watched the people that have been doing comedy for about the same length of time as I have,. Some of them are definitely finding a stride here, and some of them are faltering at hurdles I've managed to pass. It's hard for me not to get jealous and remember that those ahead of me aren't doing it to spite me. They've just found something, they have some focus, and a place here, at least for the time being. I don't, and I don't think there's anything productive about sitting here until I magically rise to the top of the Denver pool just by the dignity of time. There's not much more I can do here.
I got the opportunity to talk to an out of towner last night who's going through something similar in his home town, and he's in the process of leaving as well. That was a great conversation to have; the realization that it's not just me and it's not just this place, there's no war between self and other that leads to this feeling of alienation. It's just a point some of us get to. I remember this feeling, and it means it's time to go.
Mid June will mark about 4 years doing comedy for me, and because I've done it consistently the whole time and have no interest in stopping, that officially makes it the longest running thing I've been interested in. I will always love it, even with its sharp edges and hard times. I will love it no matter where it throws me or how long it takes to get there.
I feel like I am frequently stuck between "now" and "then," which hinders me from really understanding where either of those two points end or begin. I don't like to make plans. I don't like calendars, I don't like gridding out my days and hours like they're apartment complexes housing succinct little personalities. Tuesday is for open mics or work, Friday's for shows, 1 P.M. is for eating, or whatever, however you imagine parcels of time. I think part of why that fascinates me is that because time is effectively change, that it's sort of nonexistent unless it's being measured. What the fuck does now mean unless it is contained within more finite definitions, like 2:00, or Sunday?
Admittedly, not being able to plan or grasp "then" during "now" makes it very tough to figure out where I'm going in a profession that relies pretty heavily on advanced notice.
If time really does flow, not linearly but with currents, it must do so en masse like an ocean, changes come from the past, from the future, from the very complicated now. It can be overwhelming to know where you're supposed to go. When faced with an impossible decision, choose the option you don't know the answer to. If it hurts, you'll know for next time, and better yet, you'll know why not to choose it again. I don't really know what will happen when I leave, but I do know that there's only a limited number of things that will happen while I'm still here.
I don't really know where I'm going yet or how long it's going to take me to find it, or even if "it" has much more of a shelf life than anything else. Seems like every year I have one of these realizations, that some bigger risk is needed. I hope I figure it out.
About A Blog
I'm a Denver Comedian, occasional cartoonist and person of interest to someone, probably. These articles are really too long.