I’m typing this from a Starbucks in Montgomery, AL. I just finished brushing my teeth in the store’s sink while in a town I swore I’d never come back to. It’s two hours until showtime in a venue that has changed twice over the last 72 hours. I’m exhausted. It’s day 10 of a 27 day tour that will leave me in New Orleans for a week. At this point, I couldn’t tell you the difference between a floor in a dusty house or a soft bed in a 4 star hotel. I’m counting down the minutes until showtime when I pick up a microphone for hopefully a handful of people. This is my communion- and every night I recommit myself to the Gods that pay me in checks, loose cash, or a plate of medium rare chicken wings at a redneck bar outside of Asheville, NC that I pretend to enjoy through a forced smile while watching my friend who is being called a “homo kike” as he does his best to quell the crowd of angry drunks.
Last week in Charlotte, NC I met an investment banker that swore he hated the idea of live stand up comedy until he saw our show. I thanked him and he gave me $15 for a t-shirt. I folded my measly excuse for merchandise and as I gave it to him, he said “you must like what you do, man!”
Do I Like What I Do?
At 20 years old, I had my dream job, my dream girl who I thought (and most days still do think) I was going to marry, and a roadmap to what I thought success looked like. I was in college, determined to finish and go to law school where I would become the GA congressman who would change the state. I’m currently sipping a watery coffee hoping that I make enough to pay off the minimum on my credit card this month.
I haven’t slept much, I keep waking up to the idea that I’m not alone on a semi-stranger’s couch, but back home with the dream girl that left me when I chose to pursue an almost impossible career. I’m a shell of who I used to be, a drunken ego hoping to be stroked hard enough that I can one day tell myself “You did what you needed to do, now go home.” I’ve probably smoked 300 cigarettes in the last week. I sit in silence with my friend Dave Losso as we traverse the highways of Alabama behind a truck with a swastika bumper sticker. This is my penance for dropping out of school and letting the one get away.
I’ve performed comedy in roughly 20 states. I’ve cried on the L train in New York, I’ve gotten robbed in Pensacola Florida, and I’ve thrown up in a Burger King inside of Kansas City, MO. I’ve gone weeks without seeing my bed and I’ve gone longer while drinking myself to sleep every night. I used to be happy. I used to be proud of myself. Ryan Singer told me that we have the best job in the world, and he’s not wrong. Bringing joy and laughter to strangers is rewarding in ways that I couldn’t put into words. But is this sustainable? Am I going to be there to take care of my dad when the Parkinson’s progresses? Am I going to be able to take care of myself?
“The worst thing I ever did was get good at comedy.”-Dave Waite
Last night in Huntsville, AL I performed in a craft beer brewery that was converted from an old high school gym. The irony of not graduating high school was not lost on me. I was pat on the back, hugged, and one person quoted jokes to me that I haven’t done since performing in Huntsville two years ago. My ego was swollen to points that mirror my toe when I get a gout infection from too many cheap fast food burgers on the road. What these people didn’t know was that I was inching to the door to sit quietly in a smokey bar for dollar beer night. What these people didn’t know was that every centthey gave me for a button or a t shirt was my dinner. What these people didn’t know was that I needed them so much more than they needed me. I miss feeling loved outside of 5–30 minute increments. I miss feeling like I did more than give a few people a few chuckles.
Do I Like What I Do?
I can’t tell if it’s the fact that this is my third cup of coffee in thirty minutes or if it’s the lack of sleep. Maybe it’s both. I’m still counting down the minutes until I go looking for a venue that may not draw even two people. The last time I was in this town, I was almost taken out by a Mack truck when the kid driving told us that he had flipped two cars and watched one explode. 86 minutes. I haven’t had a home of my own in almost 6 months. I’ve found catharsis in something that may force me to stay isolated for as long as I continue to do it.
I spend most days scribbling on napkins or typing on a phone screen that’s shattered but I can’t afford to replace. This is the birthplace of my ramblings that I hope get misconstrued as humor. I text my ex girlfriend almost every day to tell her that I miss her and that I love her. I hope she’s happy. She hasn’t responded since Thanksgiving. I incessantly check my e-mail every few seconds hoping to hear back from bookers or festivals, validating my ego and abilities. I look at Dave who I’m on the road with. He has the luxury of sleeping most drives. I grit my teeth and keep my eyes on the road. “You wanted this, you wanted this, you wanted this” I repeat to myself. I wish I had the natural talent of my best friend, Ben Cramer. He’s touring Europe next week with his band. I wish I had the level headedness of the person that introduced me to standup in an abandoned shed, Michael Rowland. More than anything, I wish I didn’t feel so compelled to keep doing this.
Do I Like What I Do?
I love this. I regret every choice I’ve ever made, but I couldn’t imagine not doing this. My coffee is getting cold and I feel the beginnings of a migraine, but I could not even for a second consider fixing iPhones and computers behind the “Genius Bar” again. I can only hope that it pays off. I can only hope that soon I’ll at least have an air mattress on a semi-stranger’s floor. I can only hope that this is worth it, because at this point, I’m so fucked if it isn’t.