a priori/a posteriori

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

At Times, New York Really Breaks You

I’m back in Austin, Texas, for this week, helping to host this year’s Funniest Person in Austin competition at Cap City Comedy Club.

I had a blast hosting last night, and I’m excited to host again tonight. My job at these shows is to do about ten minutes to warm up the crowd, and then after all the comics have gone, I have to do another 20-30 minutes while the judges deliberate.

Even though the audiences are dead tired by the time I get back on at the end of the night and there’s no chance to crush anymore, it’s still fun to connect with a crowd and play the role of comedically tucking them into bed.

The opportunity to have these longer sets is something I don’t take for granted, and no comic ever should. I miss longer sets like crazy. I haven’t featured at a club in months. Part of that is due to the New York move, but it’s mostly due to the major shift in my performance style, and my reluctance to book gigs because I don’t want to ruin the trust that clubs have in me that I’m not going to compromise what is, after all, the headliner’s show. I headline the occasional one-nighter, and fellow comic friends help me out by offering feature spots whenever they can, but I really miss having the freedom and support I felt - and the opportunities - that came when I was living down here in Austin.

Those longer sets exist in New York, to be sure. Just not in your first few months. Not at all.

I understand that for stand-up, New York has the highest possible ceiling, which is why I came, and why I will stay. I understand that in due time, if you’re good enough, you’ll have the chance to secure those sets that are longer and come in front of more people. And if you succeed in New York, New York can reward you with the exposure that helps you secure more and more of those sets, all over the country and the world, and gets more and more people to show up when you do them. And eventually - in theory - that success can allow you to start headlining shows and being fully able to make a show your own.

So in the long term, I totally see the value of living in a place like New York or LA, and pursuing your craft there. All I’m saying is that in this moment, I am back in Austin, and in a few hours I’m going to go onstage in front of a few hundred people that will be excited to see comedy, and I’m more aware than ever that I need to be thankful for that.

Time to shower and get ready.

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