In my head, there lives a mangy alcoholic in a messy studio apartment, ripping up notebooks and picking at scabs on his stubbled face. He scribbles down three unintelligible words that he is convinced are brilliant before he walks, slumped shoulders, belly first towards his only window. He sniffs and looks through the blinds, which have been battered and bent from being pulled apart for his nervous investigations to the outside world. The outside world, to the alcoholic in my head, is a pink and fluffy place, a cartoon paradise blended together from Dr Seuss books and Roger Dean paintings, with clouds that wrinkle and fold like the texture of my brain, rivets of electricity pulsing through them.
Those clouds are held up and apart by neurons, little spidery branches that attach the sky to the ground, keep everything together, including the dented shoebox that houses his studio apartment. He rolls a soggy ended, unlit cigarette between his dry lips and yellow teeth. "This place is too goddamned much sometimes."
On the opposite wall, dressed in the alternate stripes of shadow and daylight, is a board full of pushpins, newspaper clippings and yarn. It's my schedule. There's a map of the US and places I'm supposed to go. The addict was tracking something very meticulously, at first, but now his cravings have gotten the better of him. What once was a structured map, with faces, names, places, with memories and plans, day dreams and ideas, has become an increasingly tangled nest of red threads.
I guess what I'm saying is, I haven't been on stage in almost 2 weeks, and also I could probably use a shower. I am trying to do something big, at least I think so. Maybe I am trying to do something very small, but over and over, like the valleys of a fractal; they're simple enough on their own, it's their scalability, their relationships to one another make them seem expansive. I will tell you more about that later. I don't want to mention it in the presence of the alcoholic, it upsets him, and I want to bring it to you with the excitement I have for it, not the strangeness of correlated problems.
In the time that I am trying to do a very big thing, I am very distanced from everything else.
Normal people might call that vacation.
I call it withdrawal.
I decided to leave Denver a long time ago. We could play "Pick a Motive, any Motive," for why I did, but increasingly, the reason for leaving was that there was nothing there for me to do and how out of place I felt in comedy. There were those that worked the club, using the disturbingly corporate phrase of "climbing the ladder," there were those that were becoming the local producers, and those that simply just enjoyed the tumbling of it all. I was none of them. I felt so bitter and left out. Now that I'm removed from it, I feel ... I don't know. It's different. Not bitter any more, but empty, I am missing something. I can never quit.
The alcoholic in my head has run out of his reserves; he can no longer keep himself locked in a room, sequestered from everything that hurt or even touched him. He's got to leave now, to step out into the bright sun and mention something to other people. It starts with a mutter, it ends with a frantic battle cry. Am I cursed to always feel insane? How many little monsters, addicts and aliens live in my cartoon brain with me?
I wonder if I'm a comedian. I don't seem to like doing the things I'm supposed to, one of which is making people laugh. I do, but only if I feel like they're laughing because I made them understand something. I don't want them to laugh because I said something silly. I want them to look in the face of the dark shit, the hard world and laugh at it. I want them to be brave, I want them to think. That's a lot to ask of people who want to do the exact opposite after having the world thrown at them all day long and are looking to unwind.
So, It's a complicated relationship I have with it; I love doing it, but the longer I do, the more it seems like there's something very specific that I want to do. It's not just telling jokes. I can do that, arguably pretty easily and I would do fine. I don't want to tell jokes. I want to tell whatever this is, this story that's got me on a leash, that claims it's got the reins to the real world and if you hold it like so, if you understand it, you can rule it. There is something very funny to me about finding out the dragon you had convinced yourself was going to destroy you is just the shadow of a lizard who didn't even know you were there.
That's a counter intuitive way of making a career out of jokes, but here I am, looking for the shadows and their sources. Here I am, because this is where I'm compelled to be. Without trying, there's very little for me to live for.
It would seem that there will forever be a chasm, some dark ridge that everything can fall into. No one I love, nothing I do or care about can stop me from falling into it. What those people I love do, what those things I care about can motivate me towards, is climbing upwards. Sometimes I think all it means to "make it to the top" is to have been so relentless in outrunning your demons that you happen to achieve great things as you attempt to surpass them.
The alcoholic swings open the door to his house, a shoebox wrapped in neurons like it's being squeezed by the roots of an upside down tree. He steps out onto the bright soil of my conscious mind and flicks his cigarette into a squishy shrub. The burn mark it leaves means I can't add multiples of 8 any more. Maybe it's some childhood memory that's now discarded. He walks barefoot, leaving grubby brown foot prints across the bouncy, soft landscape. My brain is a moon bounce. My brain is marshmallows and jelly. My brain is haunted by a need to speak, a sense of purpose, however weak, disheveled, and hopeless it may seem.
About A Blog
I'm a Denver Comedian, occasional cartoonist and person of interest to someone, probably. These articles are really too long.