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Break on Through to the Other Side: Trying to Make it as a Comedian in Los Angeles

As I encroach on my first year in Los Angeles, I can see that the dust has yet to settle. In fact, it’s gathered and begun to form into a storm. Or at least, it feels like that in my mind. I have lived in several places throughout my life. The east coast, midwest, the islands of Hawaii, and now my life journey has found myself here in sunny Los Angeles.

Every single place I have lived has presented its challenges and level of comfortability due to my financial situation. Los Angeles has definitely been the riskiest, yet most exciting venture I have decided to experience.

I came here to continue to do stand up comedy. The only type of performance I think I could do very well in. I never had any aspirations to be an actor or speaker or anything of that sort. If I were to be in front of a lot of people I would only want to make them laugh. Why? Probably because I’m an anti-social lunatic who has a hard time communicating with people in normal means. Or maybe I just feel like the most effective method of entertainment is humor. Was that funny?

Of course, being in a scene where every single person wants to make it sounds like a daunting task, and by no means is it easy, but I found that most people I have encountered in the comedy scene here have been very accommodating and friendly. And although the chances of making it are always slim, I have never felt the pushback to stop pursuing stand up.

This life is not for the meek or thin-skinned. Just because the participants are welcoming does not mean the environment is. Countless nights of performing in sparsely populated dive bars way past midnight coupled with a few hours of sleep before working a dead end job will start to grate on anyone’s nerves. The promise of booze and more booze being the only immediate reward for a less than a mediocre set of jokes.

The only driving force is that one circumstance or lucky scenario where there are people in the audience that laugh at your jokes, the only validating factor in otherwise an endless array of unanswered questions about your own ability. Comedy becomes an unreliable drug, one that sends you shooting to the moon or crashing into the fiery depths of hell.

I have been trying to accumulate these experiences of working on comedy and film as a positive progression of growth as to not feel defeated that they may well end up doing nothing for me in the future. But if life is the accumulation of your experiences leading to an area where you can use the skills you have earned to make a living then right now I am living the life I always wanted.

It’s the life I earned. I have never sought to make things easy or expected life to be easy. The world has too many variables, too many people, too many dreamers to think that just because you have a vision doesn’t mean it has to come to true. In fact, statistically, most people that chase this life will end up not getting to experience it. So why do it?

Maybe I’m a narcissist, maybe I believe in myself too much, or maybe I’m quite the opposite. Maybe I’m a nihilist, willing to watch everything I have worked for burn to the ground because everything is pointless.

Regardless, I am still proud. I have faced many adversities head-on, with a calm demeanor and decorum that one has to have while facing uncertain times. Of course, I have slipped, lost my temper, boozed too much, but that’s the fallacy of being human. Sometimes things become too hard to bear. But that’s when rebuilding and becoming stronger comes into play.

As for my time here, it’s been a mixed bag, but mostly positive. I live on the east side of Hollywood and while not ideal, I think Los Angeles as a whole is a beautiful city. It’s so large and spacious that there is a sense of freeness in the air while you travel to the many parts of it. The palm trees, hot weather, all make this a prime location for anyone that loves looking at the sky. I have lived in some congested places with tall buildings that make you feel, if anything, constricted. The food and events are bar none. You will have experiences here. This is one of the most artistically expressive places I have been.

I have had a brush of negative experiences. The desertion of a roommate that almost got me evicted from my apartment; a bunch of rejections from well-paying jobs; nefarious encounters at my day job;  awful stand-up sets; and a bunch of missed opportunities.

I really do like living here. I have met some amazing, driven people that are only matched by their technical prowess for their respective fields. As for me, we’ll see what happens once year two begins. I have had amazing experiences. I’ve been on podcasts, been in a commercial, worked on short films, and I performed at the Ice House, Flappers, and have had the opportunity to be on Kill Tony at the Comedy Store. I have seen amazing comedians like Sinbad, Bill Burr, Kevin Nealon, Dana Carvey and even my comedy hero, Norm MacDonald.

So, in closing, thanks Los Angeles, it’s been a blast. Maybe I’ll be able to write another one of these next year.

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