It's been 43 days since I left home. I still call it home, I guess because I haven't landed anywhere yet. I've been living in and out of a car with sweetboy. It's so strange, because that city felt so little like home when I finally decided to leave.
When I left Denver, it felt like I was blindfolded. It made me think of that Halloween game, where I would reach into a bowl of peeled grapes, one of my shittier friends whispering over my shoulders, "That's eyeballs, dude. You know that, right?"
Then, I curled my fingers around the gelatinous orbs that were slipping through my fingers. I imagined what those eyes had seen before they'd been cut from their sockets, about the calamari-and-psychopathy aftertaste of what I might be consuming. Doubts swirled in my mind, should I be doing this? If I didn't, I faced the peculiar possibility of starving, because this is a universe where you only eat on Halloween. What was I supposed to do?
43 days ago, I shoved those eyeballs into my mouth with the literal blind faith of a desperate person and let my teeth squish down on unverified matter. A surge of relief kissed my anxious nerves one by one as the sweetness of fruit greeted my tongue, instead of the horrifying opposite. I had been right all along.
If that's a clunky metaphor, what I mean is, I started a project called Here Today, and I'm finally figuring out what that project is. For my own sanity, I have to state that this isn't a promotional blog about it, it's just what I'm working on and what I believe in, in terms of the grand scheme of things, so it may come off sounding a little proud and self aggrandizing. This also might be a squirrelier than usual piece of writing because it's covering a lot, conceptually. Maybe I'll have time to break it down more in Chicago.
I've been writing about money and influence and how I sort of hate them, but I can't help but thinking about them constantly. I haven't gotten to the part about capitalism yet, but suffice it to say, I'm a jaded about that, too. What I've been trying to figure out is what the best way to maintain a balance between those two things is. A system that loves everyone seems unsustainable, but a system that appreciates only the individual seems gravely prone towards corruption. How do you survive, how do you succeed, without taking advantage of others, or having them take advantage of you?
I believe you have to sacrifice, to some degree, to make things work. That's a scary thought because I will fight, and fail, and fight harder and fail harder when faced with certain sacrifices. No one can tell me how to be. It took me fucking long enough to figure that out already. My existence is on my terms, which so far means I don't make much money. I get by. I started doing comedy and realized that everything had to halt in order to let me do comedy.
As everything halted, my ability to survive became more difficult. If I wanted to do comedy for a living, I had to make it a job. That became a puzzle; how do I get paid to do this? I learned about starting showcases, learned about clubs, learned about corporate gigs and casinos. Everyone's version of making money is a little different. I can't say for certain that any one of them is the real way to "make it." It really depends on what you're looking for.
I know that what I'm looking for involves remaining true to myself, and it sounds tired and arrogant, but I can't let it go. I can't pander to people. I don't connect that way, moreover I'd lose what makes me different. I don't think there would be a point in my contribution, in my jokes, if they were about the same shit as everyone else's. This led me to a very jarring and bitter view about comedy clubs.
I don't give a flying fuck about comedy clubs. I think they're a vestige of a less evolved time, they're interested in churning out little joke machines that can do what works in their rooms, makes them look good at corporate events. They're safe. The risks you take there are still within the same parameters. They don't want anyone who wants things to change. They don't want me, I don't want them.
I have to admit that this might be a puzzle I'm rejecting. I could make the rationalization that working a club is another riddle, just something I have to solve in order to get what I want. For whatever reason, I don't believe that's the real puzzle.
What I really want to figure out is how to make entertainment an intrinsic part of community again. That's what I got from going to open mics. That's what I got from running my showcases, from performing. I met people, I talked to them, looked them in the eye. Doing comedy gave me the ability to talk to people, learn from them, and yeah, even care about them.
Comedy is an interesting thing. You can say hostile, horrible, or outright crazy things to people, and they will listen. Even if they don't like or don't agree with you, they're in a position to listen. You're not challenging their beliefs, you're demonstrating yours. They can watch, first hand, what it's like to be a particular kind of person. You can see into a person's imagination, their soul, their consciousness. When it works out, you connect with them in a way some call holy. Being able to reach out to people like that, I think, is a far more powerful tool in creating a better world than any politician or religious leader has offered.
Comedians aren't there to convert you, they're there to demonstrate themselves. Your conversion comes from recognizing them as humans. That's why such broken people crawl to these stages. We need to be recognized, validated, as humans, and by doing so, we build something bigger than ourselves.
Yeah, they're dick jokes, bad relationships, bits about depression, or "what's-the-deal-with..." There's plenty of things you may not find funny, but they're human. You can observe the opposition, the super-liberal or super-conservative, as a human existing without the need to confront them, and through that you know that that kind of coexistence is possible.
My hope is to help seed that ideal, that comedy shows teach coexistence, harmonious coexistence even with people that you might not like. Not only that, it's a reason for people to come together. That sounds like an airy, hippie idea, and maybe it is.
Putting live entertainment into venues that shut down once the acts leave, that don't operate locally segregates the economy of it. It doesn't give a reason for people to come back, and coming back lets a business flourish, ideally in a way that helps them build out the towns they're located in.
If comedians want to make a living, we need to find ways for the venues that host us to make money. If they're going to, we need to consider how their patrons stay employed. No big deal, right? If we look at live entertainment as something integral, as a way to focus ourselves economically on one another, particularly within our own zip codes, we can strengthen our communities. We can fix infrastructure, we can build businesses. As we try to marry those things, instead of sucking in money to keep the lights on, hopefully we can funnel it back out into making low income housing, fixing poor water quality, helping the mentally ill... do comedy.
Everyone I've met has a piece of this, but I don't know what it is yet. My hope is that when I'm done, I can topple the gates that need gatekeepers, that we can make an economy that includes us, needs us. I've only just started figuring this out as my place in things, and it's just the beginning.
I have traveled so much and I am usually exhausted. I only just started figuring out what it is that I'm trying to do through the very humble avenue of little shows. My hope is that as I keep feeling my way forward, I'll be able to find out how everyone fits together. I can solve the equation of money and influence.
If all that works out, I guess I'll have made it.
About A Blog
I'm a Denver Comedian, occasional cartoonist and person of interest to someone, probably. These articles are really too long.