Monday, February 11, 2008

Addendum: 1 Year Later 2/11/08

Well, here it is. As of tonight I've been performing stand-up comedy for exactly one year. 85 some-odd times at bat (I'm a little behind on the blog... sorry, I'll catch up soon). I've killed many and died humiliating deaths. I've accumulated many good times and a lot of anxiety. I've met many good people and a couple of fucking horrible ones. I've been on a handful of different stages in front of many different audiences. I've had people I've never met me thank me, and I've had the drummer of Alice In Chains be a fucking asshole to me (I win that battle by the way, by NOT being the drummer of Alice In Chains. Jake Merriman: 1, Alice In Chains drummer: 0). I've got to perform opening for headliners at the Comedy Underground and Mainstage. I've gotten to perform at Laff Hole. I've had the opportunity to write with an amazing circle of gifted comedians (Danielle, Solomon, James, and Paul). I've gotten to travel to San Francisco and perform at the Punch Line. I've gotten to perform with some heros (Cathy Sorbo, Dwight Slade, Craig Gass, Ari Shaffir). Most of all I've had the opportunity to tell my jokes on stage and have people listen to them. I am officially 1 year into the dream. So what have I gotten out of it?

Comedy is funny. There's is something about having your head on the chopping block over a period of time that will drive you slowly mad. It's a thankless job in that NO ONE wants to pay you if they don't have to (some exceptions apply, big ups to Laff Hole who will give you a cut even if you only do 5 minutes for them) AND audiences are vicious in their expectations of you even though not one of them would dare trade places with you in million years. You can not trust one comic you meet because it's all ways a competition. Even in this Disneyland we call Seattle where a landslide majority of the comics that I've met are incredibly nice and supportive people, there's all ways this arms length distance of "Who are you and how funny are you?" There are so many times where I ask myself "Why the fuck am I putting myself through all this? Where is this going? What am I doing here? Why do I bother?" I've seen so much evidence that people that pay to see comedy do not want to see the comedy that I want to give them. I've seen so many people so much newer than I am be so much more funny than me. I've shot past a lot of people and have had many people shoot past me. I've gotten so depressed and angry lately that sometimes I'll go up on stage with utter contempt and loathing for the people I'm supposed to entertain, then I'll have a killer set and want to fuck each and every one of them for it. I genuinely think that there is something very wrong with anybody that WANTS to put themselves through this repeatedly. Our culture is sick and retarded in so many ways and in so many ways we add to that. My comedy is not what I want it to be and I'm a long way from it being there. I'm tired all of the time. I know it would be so easy and simple to pack it up and put it away. I could even do it temporarily, I don't have to walk away forever. I would be so much happier. There are so many things I could devote my life to, theatre, film, music, derby ALL of which are going incredibly well for me right now. I could walk away from comedy right now, and it would be so easy, and I wouldn't even miss it.

And yet...

I love it. Warts and all. The shit goes flying away once you perfectly execute a joke and the audience love you for it. Only for that second they love you. They are prepared to hate you that next second, but for that one, oh God only for that one you have created love. You have created happiness, mirth, catharsis, understanding, joy. Those people put their faith in you and you gave them a reason to. You couldn't be closer to a larger group of people. They trusted you and you delivered. It's intoxicating. Fuck everything else. Fuck the bullshit, the hate, the gossip, the shitty treatment, the hecklers, the other comics, the competition, the stress, the anxiety, the anger, the pain, the lost time, fuck it all because you are there for only one moment and only that moment matters. Laughter. It's quick. It's brief. Sometimes it's an instant. Sometime you might, if you're having a really good night, you might get a whole 5 seconds of it. The length doesn't matter. That laughter is a drug and you will chase the fuck our of your first high once you taste it. Laughter is love. Laughter is our currency. Laughter is freedom. Laughter is hope. If we can still laugh amidst the ocean of shit our culture is swimming in right now, if we are that fucking insane that we can still laugh in the face of the horror that is the world that we live in. Then maybe there's a hope that our species isn't entirely doomed. For us, the comedians, the hopeless fucking martyrs that strap ourselves up on the cross night after night, if we can give them laughter, then we can know we did something right. One tiny little right thing that wont measure up to the evil of the world, but maybe, just maybe history can look favorably upon us in that at least we tried. At a hideous expense we gave people we didn't even know something they might not have deserved. But Goddamn it felt good when we were up there didn't it? It's worth it.

So yeah, One Year Later I'm still in it. This last one has been good, this next one may be even better. Or I may need to be institutionalized. It's apparent that quitting will not be an option. I'll see you out there.

Despite what I say, and often how I feel... I truly love you all.

Now please, for me, kill yourselves.

I will if you do it first.

I promise.

One Year Later Lesson: Comedy is funny.

One Year Later Back-Up Lesson: Tragedy is funnier.

Jake Merriman