Things I’m Tired of Hearing

I’m not a generally happy person. That’s ok! There’s a general misconception that not happy = sad. It’s so much more than that.

I work a day job from 9–6 that doesn’t value me and is more than likely going to fire me by the end of this month. That’s ok!

I’m a pretty good comic (it’s taken me a lot of time to say this and really believe it) that doesn’t have much of a career in place. That’s ok!

I am, for the most part, pretty lonely and have a hard time seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s ok!

Maybe I’m a little different, but I doubt it. Most people see my general demeanor and feel like it’s their responsibility to try and build me up and make me believe it gets better. This is where I get upset. Intrinsically, I know that everything is going to work out, it always does. I don’t mind the struggle, I don’t even mind being undervalued and underappreciated, it’s the process!v What I’m tired of hearing is people approaching me with solutions that I’m not asking for.

Look, I know most people come from a place of meaning well when they say “just keep plugging away,” or, “things aren’t that bad, it could always be worse!” Yes, I know, but that’s not what I’m asking for. In fact, I don’t remember asking for help or opinions. Not to sound hopeless here, but sometimes I want to sit in my own shit. It’s not my intention to make it my life, but I can accept when things aren’t going well and I can take that for what it is. Not everyone needs someone to fix them, and not everyone needs to tell me these things I don’t want to hear ever again:

“You’re overexaggerating!”

Ok, maybe. But if I show you something that says I’m gonna be terminated from my job on a certain date, trust me, I’m not overexaggerating. Let me be angry, let me be sad, but please don’t tell invalidate those feelings by telling me I’m “overexaggerating” because even if I am, you’re being a dick by telling me so.

“Other people are dealing with this too!”

Great, it must suck for them too. There’s no glory in “grinding” and “hustling” it is what it is: a grind and a hustle. Sure, other people are frustrated, slighted, and looked over, but that’s not encouraging. If anything, it further cements the idea that we’re collectively, not going to make it.

“You’ve got to get over it”

Do I? From where I’m standing, focusing on a problem that I can’t fix is at the very least, a way to motivate myself to do something, fucking anything. Let me ride the high of bashing someone else’s success to try and create my own. I know I’m stubborn, but fuck, let me be mad for a little bit.

“You’re funny!”

I know. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can work a room, and honestly, I don’t need a fancy TV credit (but I’d like one) or some kind of production deal (I’d really like one) to prove that. I chose to go into a form of entertainment that has no defined career path and I honestly don’t feel like I need some cool credit behind my name to validate my jokes (this has taken a lot of time to come to terms with).

“She’s just not that into you”

 

Ok, maybe I should listen to this one.

New Shows, New Life, New Wife

Hello hello!

I hope this blog post finds you well!  I know that we probably don’t know each other (or we know each other too well), but thanks for stopping by.  Unless you got redirected here after searching the max fine for public indecency, in which case, get the hell outta here!

Firstly, I want to invite you to my new show First Rodeo on March 26th.  Killer lineup.

It’s a cold first week of March here in New York, and I don’t know if that’s what’s getting the ol’ writing juice flowing, but it’s a-coming and it ain’t a-stopping.  Recently I’ve found myself muttering weird phrases to myself that sound poetic and/or cryptic.  I can’t tell if this is me going crazy, or the outline to a Sam Shepard-esque play, but things are cooking in my head.

At this point, if you’re reading this, you probably know me.  I’m a manic depressive with a pretty serious drinking problem (hoo boy that’s hard to type), and have a tendency to overreact and look for meaning in things that don’t need it.  But here’s the skinny:  I am miserable.  I really don’t have a reason to be sad- I moved into a great apartment in a beautiful neighborhood, I’m seeing a lady now (I think), and for the most part, I’m doing more comedy than I have since moving to New York.  For all intents and purposes, things are going great.  But just because things are outwardly good, internally, the shit has hit the fan.

Last week, a guy who I really looked up to and admired took his own life.  Brody Stevens was a great comic, whether you knew it or not, he was a true oddball and twisted the form into something beautiful.  Brody was known for his positive energy and his inability to just let an audience be mediocre.  A lot of comics say there’s no such thing as a bad crowd, just a comic that can’t turn them around.  I’d love to believe that.  I’d love to believe that.  I’d love to put all the onus on myself to entertain, but some crowds don’t want it.  I run a weekly bar show (every Wednesday at Niagara in NYC at 8PM (please come)) and I know that for the most part, these were folks strolling through the neighborhood that I or my co-producers harassed into seeing comedy.  Sometimes, these people are receptive, sometimes they want to laugh.  Sometimes they want to sit quietly because they’re nervous someone will shit on them if they leave.  Sometimes they’re a homeless lady that pissed all over themselves and are hell-bent on disrupting a potentially great show.  These are all truths and these are all things I’ve seen in the last few weeks.  Not all crowds are good, that’s a fact.  But regardless of who was in an audience, Brody Stevens would make them remember him.  Brody was a true talent and a believer in the power of laughter.  He was also incredibly depressed.

It’s scary to think about, especially when you see someone you respect (who also had an unexplainable passion for baseball (the greatest sport ever played)) that just can’t take it anymore.  I’ve been there.  I’m still there most days, and it’s a fight to keep going.  Most days, especially now, I wonder about why I’m doing what I’m doing.  What’s the point in this stupid chase?  What’s the point of waking up to do a job I hate so I can support myself enough to muster the will to get to an open mic or a bar show with no one there?  What’s the use?

A couple of weeks ago, I was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.  Essentially, my heart is thickening and will eventually cause my blood flow to stop.  I guess I’m lucky.  I can turn a lot of it around with some massive changes, but that’s a scary thought.  It’s ironic that my heart has thickened the more I’ve softened up and let people in.  Like this is some cruel poetic joke that was written by a high school hopeful writer  It’s so easy for me to just say “fuck it” I’ll keep living the way I have because it hasn’t killed me yet, when in reality it has.  I don’t known why I’m writing this, but I feel like this is some sort of weird accountability thing that I need to take care of.

Life scares me.  I never thought I’d live past 25, and I thought I was ok with that.  I don’t want to die, but I don’t know how to justify living when the world is ending around me both literally and figuratively.  I don’t have any answers, I don’t have any solutions, but this is where I’m at right now, and it’s fucking awful.  I want to believe that eventually, I’ll be able to quit my day job that makes me want to put a gun to my head and I’ll be able to sleep in and do comedy full time.  It’s what makes me happy.  I know that sounds cliche, but doing standup saved my life and I feel like it’s being pried from me and my thick heart.  I want to perform.  I want to write.  I want to connect with people.  I’ve been so isolated (my own doing) for so long that I don’t know what it’s like to have real friends.  I cut myself off because I don’t want people to worry about me if I suddenly die or just disappear.  I’m not suicidal, far from it, but I am terrified that I’ll drop dead at any moment, and I don’t want people to lose a step in their day because my heart said “nah, later, guys.”  I know that’s depressing, but I like to think of it as a wake up call.  We need each other.  I need you.  I need you to know you’re loved, and that I love you.

It’s so scary living in a world that is currently being split apart for so many reasons that don’t matter.  It’s so scary that hate is so openly delivered that yeah, it does make sense in a lot of people’s minds to be done with it.  I get it.  I guess what I’m saying is, we gotta do better.  I have to do better.  This isn’t meant to read as some call to action, it’s just that I can’t keep a journal anymore and this is me trying to get my thoughts out.  Hopefully, I’ll see some of you at Our Wicked Lady on March 26th.  Let’s get together and have a good time.  I need this.

Here’s a joke to end this:  I’m in a love triangle right now.  I like this girl, she doesn’t like me, and I don’t understand geometry.

I love you.

Laundry Night

Hey gang,

Thanks for stopping by, whether it’s your first or last time here, I appreciate it.  It’s been a wild few months, sorry I haven’t gotten back to you.  Everything is good- I have a girlfriend now and my Braves are number one in their division, this is great.  I’ve got a bunch of shows this month, but I’m very excited to announce that I, along with my two pals, Donnie Sengstack and John Rosenberger, will be starting a show at the iconic West Village mainstay, The Bitter End.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited.  The Bitter End has been a bucket list venue for me since I was a little kid playing music.  There’s a lot of history there, a ton.  All the greats have recorded albums there, Bill Cosby, Woody Allen, John Wayne Gacy Jr. etc.  No, but for real, that room has a lot of history and it’s exciting to be able to produce a show in a space that I’ve known about since I was a little kid.  The show was going to be called Liz Phair, but I think we’re settling under the moniker, Laundry Night.  I’m nervous, there’s a ton of history in that room, and you can feel it the second you step inside.  If you go on their wikipedia page, the number of my idols that recorded live there is pretty daunting.  Our first show is July 3rd at 11 PM.  Please come.

Aside from that, I’m quitting drinking.  Today is day 4, which makes me 4 days better than you.  What a time to be alive.  I’d love to see you and talk to you, and love you, please come to a show.

Farewell, ya pescatarians.

My BPD and Me

Today is November 26, 2017.  The year is almost over and I’m currently in a nameless coffee shop in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  Ok, it’s a Starbucks- I am a slave to the corporation.   I have a show in two hours in some hostel, and I haven’t really gotten a chance to write this before.

I suffer from a mental disability called Borderline Personality Disorder.  The National Institute of Mental Health defines it as: “a serious mental disorder marked by a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning. These experiences often result in impulsive actions and unstable relationships. A person with BPD may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last from only a few hours to days.”

I’ve been living in New York for almost two months, and it has not at all been what I expected.  The first three weeks I was here, I probably told myself I was going to quit doing stand up comedy every day.  I briefly entertained the idea of going back to school, maybe find a job that paid well, tried to start a family, essentially give up.  I was not happy.  I started to get scared that maybe I chose to do something that I wasn’t able to sustain.  I think everybody going through a major change probably feels that way, but this was the first time I thought, “Holy shit, I should quit.”

I can’t keep track of how many tinder dates I went on the first month I was here, none ending well, but I don’t know if that was the intention in the first place.  I felt incredibly isolated in one of the most densely populated cities in the country, and I think I was looking for a way to connect with other people.  I’m good at finding faults, mostly in myself, and that fueled a long string of “she’s never going to like me, I’m too fat, too shy, etc.” and boy howdy is it easy to make a prophecy like that come true.  I don’t think I’m ever going to be over my ex-girlfriend, and I’m starting to accept that.  These blogs are just a place for me to vent, I think.  Weird.

Comedy is tricky.  It’s important to be funny on stage and gregarious offstage.  I’m not so good at talking to people when they can talk back.  I know that’s a control thing.  BPD can make it hard to effectively talk to people, and I think one of the reasons I found comedy to be so cathartic was because it’s the first time I’ve felt comfortable communicating with other people.  I know that seems hack, and it probably is, but I loved doing stand up because it was like hitting the release valve on a pipe that was about to burst.  Over the years, my reasons for doing standup haven’t changed, but my motivation has.  Making people laugh is the greatest feeling in the world, and I feel like I do it as much for myself now as I do for other people.  I’m not saying that I’m the greatest comic in the world, or that I’m writing revolutionary jokes, but every now and then someone comes up to me after a show to say they connected with something I said.  It feels good.

I knew that moving to New York meant “starting over,” having to prove myself to some of the best comics in the world.  I’m not patient.  I didn’t see results as quickly as I wanted to, and it made me nervous.  I felt myself shutting in and becoming a hermit.  But something’s changed recently.

I treat this blog like a journal, and hopefully someone can find something from it so it doesn’t seem as self indulgent as it feels.  I started writing and performing like I did when I first started standup.  I stopped worrying about finding the exact laugh line, or where the punch was.  I just started speaking about what made me laugh throughout the day, like I did when I first started.  I stopped focusing on how much I wasn’t getting booked, and I stopped relying on other comics for my happiness.  Man- it feels so good to just do something for yourself.

I guess I’m trying to loop this around to dating.  BPD explains why I get so frantic and drastic about the things I’m highly passionate about, like comedy, but it’s also characterized by unstable relationships coupled with an intense sense of abandonment, among other things.  Every first date I go on feels like a marriage proposal.  When I don’t get a call back or my texts go unanswered, it feels like a divorce.  I wish I could explain that to someone, specifically my ex-girlfriend.  I don’t know if you’re reading this, but I’m sorry.  I never meant to be as aggressively depressing or intensely angry, I mean it.

Knowing what I do about BPD (admittedly, not a whole lot), makes it easy for me to explain on paper, or a wordpress site that no one reads, but it’s so hard to explain to someone on a first date, “Hi, I’m an intense person.  Like so intense that I am going to probably obsess over every word I say.  And no, not in a cute way where I’m nervous, like in a way where I am legitimately terrified because when you get up to leave, that could be it for me.”  Goddammit do I beat myself the fuck up.  I do this with relationships, romantic or friendly, and I do this with comedy.

I live in a constant state of depression, which kind of feels like a fog, but I’m starting to see through it.  Comedy is getting better, I’m recognizing when I’m wandering into a manic state, and I’m starting to sort of figure it out.  Feel free to reach out, I need the friends, but if you want to talk, I would love to listen to someone else today.

 

I love you, most of you,

Max

Just a quickie

Hi, I live in New York now. I like it a whole lot. I’ll be doing some Midwest runs in February and April and I would like to see you. I’ll have fresh shirts and fresher jokes. This is terse because I’m currently folding laundry. I love you.