What's that thing called where you can't come up with something to write? Oh yeah, I wouldn't know because I always got shit to jot down, son. So what if I wrote this on toilet paper ...
We did our first open mic, which feels like forever ago, at a place called The Creek and the Cave. The sign up was lottery style, where we all put our names in a bucket and the host pulled the names in the order they would get their 2.5 minute spot. Most of the open mics at this place are between 2 and 3 minutes. The room filled up rather quickly, which was a pleasant surprise at first, but as the show unfolded, we learned that 99% of the crowd was made up of comics waiting for their turn to go up.
I don't think I've ever fully appreciated the metaphysical black hole that appears between you and the audience when you're performing for a room full of people who are in their own heads about their upcoming 2.5 minute set. The scariest part is the furiously Pavlovian applause response at the beginning and end of each set. No matter how little they react during a set, they break into an applause usually reserved for when Beethoven unveils a new symphony. Where was that energy during the set?
That being said, I can see how the open-mic process is a necessary evil. Why? I'm not sure, maybe because it's tradition here. But seriously, anything in life that we subject ourselves to can have its benefits if you're able to find and appreciate them. The trick here is to be able to identify when a situation goes from teaching you something about yourself to damaging you and becoming an obsession that you madly pursue (e.g. Moby Dick).
There's certainly some knowledge to be gleaned from working the 2.5 minute set in front of comics. But if one is not completely honest with themselves about why they are submitting themselves to the process, I could see that person quickly becoming bitter about how paying their dues should have gotten them further along. How many times can a person make the 30+ minute subway ride to a show, bomb for 2 minutes, and make the sad ride home feeling alone in a city where you're never more than 5 feet from the nearest person? Surely only the deluded would subject themselves to this process that would strip them of any self-worth in the pursuit of killing for 2.5 minutes (I should look in the mirror more often...I need more queef material).
Well. It doesn't make sense to be in NY unless you're completely focused on why you came here in the first place. I came from a place where stage time was plentiful and people didn't live on top of one another. Because there is so much to do in this city doesn't mean I want to work 13 hour days, 6 days a week just to 'be' here. Being here isn't the reward, it's apart of the process of the life I have chosen.
Living here does have it's benefits. All that you might need to grow can be found here. The open mics are filled with people who came to NY to learn lessons they couldn't have learned anywhere else. To make the analogy, you never know if the girl who is out of your league will reject you until you go up to her and ask. There's a level of necessary delusion in being able to mack on a girl, let alone anyone you don't know. I can understand why there are so many people who have a short memory to make it through today. Others can't seem to let go of the past. Again, it comes down to being able to know when a situation is helping you and when it is hurting you.
The city has told many people they didn't have "it." And many of those people never seem to "get it." I wonder what keeps those people motivated? That's a scary thought. Swimming against the current of your true self in the deluded hopes that you'll be able to breathe underwater is more depressing than anything I could ever hope to write.
This city will make you live your life to the limits necessary to justify why you're here in the first place. Otherwise it'll make you question yourself in ways that will corrode even the best defense mechanisms and it'll turn you into all the fears you once hid so well from. Either way, you'll be you.
I suppose I should add here that I'm not here to be focused entirely on comedy. I'm here to experience growth, to enjoy life and experience whatever it is that's around each corner. It's a nice day out. The sun is shining. The wind is gentle. The buildings are majestic. Getting locked outside is all that separates me from being homeless. Fuck. I'll risk it.