a priori/a posteriori

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Encouragement vs. Discouragement, part 2

This is a continuation from Part 1.

It’s March 7. I’ve been in New York since I got back from home on January 3. I took one night off in January, and one in February. I’ve lost track of the numbers, but I did between 70-100 sets each month, which puts me on track for about 1000 sets this year.

In a way, that should be really encouraging. I’m working hard.

Objectively, I can see that. When I look at myself from an outsider’s perspective, I can see that I’m growing. And that I’m evolving as a comic. I’m getting better. Being in New York is a good thing for my career. It’s going to provide me with a ton of opportunities, as I continue to work hard here.

But night to night, as yourself, it’s hard to see that. Because one night doesn’t seem much different than the previous night. When you’re in the flip-book, you can only see one page at a time. You don’t get to feel secure by seeing that you’re moving. You just don’t.

So that’s what I’m starting to experience now. I’ve had a wonderful four or five months.

I’ll probably write a longer entry about this sometime, but let me briefly explain something: You know that “New York Comedy Scene” you’ve heard so much about? Well, it doesn’t actually exist. In reality, there are probably 8 or 10 different scenes here, if not more. They just all happen to exist within the same city. But they aren’t the same scene. You could become the king or queen of one of those scenes, and 80 percent of the comics in New York will still have no idea you exist.

This past October, I decided to embrace the scene that revolves around The Creek and The Cave, a restaurant/bar/comedy haven in Queens. In four months, I’ve hustled, and tried to be vulnerable onstage, and tried to stay true to my gut. And from what I can tell, I’ve become one of the more respected comics of that open-mic scene.

That’s very encouraging, and I’m trying to make sure I appreciate the respect of my peers, and embrace my role as one of the leaders of our particular open-mic scene.

But it can be tough. Tough, because even during the past 4 or 5 months - when I’ve been making so much progress - it mostly felt like nothing was happening. No one day was noticeably different than the day before.

The word I’d use is numb. You start to feel numb to what you’re doing. What you used to give a shit about, that’s just “Tuesday” now. So what do you do while you wait for a definable change? Is that numbness a good thing, because it means you’re so bulletproof, you can do 20 sets a week without going crazy? Or is feeling numb, and not even noticing doing 20 sets a week...is that what crazy is?

Does that make any sense? When you stop feeling pain, is that being tough? Or are you in denial that you’re going paralyzed?

I don’t know. Logically, I can look back at the past 5 months and see that I’m more respected. I’ve grown. But what is there on paper? What proof is there that I’m in any different a spot than I was? What proof is there that I’m stronger now, not just feeling less?

A huge part of this comedy game is not being crazy. But another huge part is not going crazy while you’re playing. Sometimes I feel like New York is the best place to go to find out whether or not you are crazy. But it’s also the easiest place to go crazy.

That’s New York. That’s stand-up. That’s life. It’s encouragement and discouragement, both at once. It's tough to figure stuff out sometimes. I don’t know what my own flip-book looks like.

No comments:

Post a Comment