It’s 7:46 in the morning, on Friday, July 13, 2012.
I was at a mic last night, at a bar called Cake Shop. The show started at midnight. It’s a mic, but there are a couple booked slots on the show each week. The booked comics get two free drinks.
A buddy of mine was one of the booked comics, and he didn’t want to drink. So he asked if I wanted a non-alcoholic drink too, since he was only going to get one. I said sure. And I got an iced coffee.
8 hours later, I still haven’t gone to bed yet. I laid down for a while, but sleep didn’t come.
And honestly, I’m fine with that.
Sometimes, you need an all-nighter. Sometimes, you need to push yourself to a limit, before you hit the reset button and get back to normal.
I think that’s basically where I’m at right now. The past month has been a blur. In the past 3 weeks, I’ve stayed awake through the night more times than I had in the past 10 years, combined.
I’m not sure totally why. But I have a rough idea.
I recorded five weeks ago today. Back on June 8, and then again the next night, on June 9. The Friday night show went fine. But the Saturday night show was the show.
It wasn’t perfect, by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it was pretty much the opposite. It was absolutely, 100 percent imperfect.
And that’s what makes it so fucking good. And so unique. And so everything I wanted it to be.
It’s weird. I’m sitting in my apartment, at my kitchen table, and it feels weird. It feels like I found a million dollars in a metal box, by accident, in the wall in my bedroom. And I haven’t told anyone yet. I’m just kind of sitting on it. And I’m not totally sure what to do next.
That’s not exactly what it feels like. But it’s a cousin of that feeling. My special is good. I know it for a fact. Not because anyone else will think it’s good. It’s good, because I think it’s good. It’s really, really hard for an artist to make something that is exactly what they were trying to make.
If I’d done a TV set, it wouldn’t have been exactly what I wanted it to be. If I’d done a Comedy Central Presents, it wouldn’t be exactly what I wanted it to be. But the set I did that Saturday?
Imperfect? Absolutely. Hilarious? Not always. Efficient? Not really.
Honest? Pure? One-hundred percent, exactly what I was, in that moment, on that night, in that room?
I’m proud of the set I did, and quite obviously, I have a vested interest in the project. But I also have been a comic for 10 years, and a fan of comedy for 20.
It’s something special. It’s something different. And I think it just may be the hardest thing of all: something new.
In fact, I know it’s something new. Because it’s 100 percent me. And I’ve never existed before. And so neither has my art. There are things close. There are things related.
But this is new. It’s million-dollars-in-the-wall new.
I should mention, by the way, that I have my own currency. It’s not a million American dollars. It’s a million Bryson-dollars.
I have no idea what the exchange rate is. Maybe it’ll be worthless. Maybe everyone will hate it.
Honestly though, I say that more because I’m supposed to, than because it’s a genuine possibility.
That’s the thing. That’s what I was saying. I’ve been a fan of comedy since I was four. I’ve been waiting for this to come out. So why should I pretend it’s not great, just because I was the one who happened to do it?
It wasn’t just me, by the way. The special never gets made without my friend, Andrew Drinnan, who not only produced it, but convinced me to do it in the first place. And there were four camera guys, and a sound guy, and there will be an editor, too. Not to mention the dozens of people who helped me talk out and hone the thoughts that I tried my best to communicate.
I’m getting off track, aren’t I? Let me try to be as frank and honest as I can.
It’s a little surreal, sitting here at my kitchen table. It’s been a little surreal for the past month. Because I know what happened. I understand the significance of that Saturday night show. I understand how talented all the people involved in this project are. I understand how amazing the editor is that Andrew and I are working with.
In short: I understand that I’m living in a parallel universe, until we release that set.
On June 9, we broke the sound barrier. But the sonic boom hasn’t happened yet. It won’t happen until we release it. So right now, basically, I’m standing around, knowing that a big boom is coming. But nobody else around me knows. They don’t know yet. There’s something surreal about that. I know I’m something more than the entire world thinks I am.
That’s what’s been so fun about the past month. And that’s why I haven’t blogged since the special. Because I know.
But I’m not supposed to know. I’m supposed to be humble. I’m supposed to be clueless, and I’m supposed to be shocked when people see the special, and it blows their minds.
But fuck that. When Lucas and I started this blog, the point was be as honest as we could be, about this experience.
Well, the blog is evolving, I think. It’s evolved already, of course. Lucas hasn’t written anything in a while, though he’s more than welcome to, if he ever feels inspired.
But I need to let it evolve again. I need to not be afraid of the truth.
And the truth is, I’m succeeding. I’m not just succeeding. I’m fucking crushing New York.
That’s what’s so amazing. I’m crushing New York. Crushing it. And the hilarious part is, New York hasn’t noticed yet.
I know what failing is. I did it for the first six months I was up here. I was failing. But here’s the thing: my failing had nothing to do with what anyone else thought of me. I was failing because I wasn’t evolving. Because I wasn’t taking advantage of what New York is, and what it has to offer. I was failing because I wasn’t taking advantage of my life.
Well, now I’m succeeding. And it has nothing to do with outside opinions. It has nothing to do with “proof.”
It has to do with the fact that I’m taking advantage of my life.
I don’t have a job. I don’t need one. I’m able to live - simply, but comfortably - off of money I received when I was basically still a kid. I worked my ass off for about three years, once I got out of college, and made a bunch of money. Probably mostly because I wanted to know if I could.
About two years ago, I realized that I needed to stop apologizing for how fortunate I am. So I quit my day job. And I just started trying to focus on comedy.
I’ve had a lot of unproductive days between then and now. And it’s a daily challenge, to this day, trying to figure out how to live a life well, when you don’t have - or need - a source of income.
This special - ever since I taped it, I feel like I could die in peace. I’m not in a hurry to die, or anything. But taping that special was kind of like that scene in Forrest Gump, when Lieutenant Dan dives off the side of the boat, and just starts swimming into the sunset. I feel like I kind of forgave myself, for being an imperfect fuck-up, and for not taking advantage of every available minute of my life. Every generation before me has died in a war - a war against money. I didn’t die in that war. It’s hard to not wish I had died on the battlefield, making someone promise they’ll tell my dreams that I loved them, since I’ll never get to see them again.
Well, I’m getting to live out the life I want. I survived. And that’s okay.
It’s okay, even though a lot of people don’t get to live the life I’m living right now. There are fellow comics that work their ass off, just trying to make ends meet. They can’t afford to pull all-nighters. They can’t afford to do 20 sets a week. It’s not fair. Why do I get to live the exact life I want, and they don’t? Why me?
(And that’s just my peers. I won’t even bother going 50 steps further and bring up the billions of people in 3rd-world countries)
I don’t know. So for two years, I’ve felt like if I’m not productive 24/7, it’s a slap in the face of everyone with a job. It’s an insult to anyone who hasn’t been able to pursue their dreams to the fullest. Every minute I’m not writing, or running to a mic, or doing something - that’s a moment that I should be ashamed of.
And I don’t know. After the sets last month, I just...forgave myself.
I can’t work 24/7. I can’t be productive 24/7. Nobody can. It’s just not possible. We’re always going to feel like we could have done more. We have to learn to forgive ourselves.
That’s what I did with this special, and that’s what I’m doing with this special. Is it perfect? No. It really isn’t. But is it something that I poured my entire heart into, and that I can be proud of for the rest of my life?
Yes. Yes, it really is.
I’m so proud of that weekend. I’m so proud of that moment. Of those shows. I gave it everything I had. I gave it my whole heart.
That Saturday night show, I gave it everything I had.
If anyone thinks I shouldn’t be proud of that, I honestly would like to hear the argument.
When it gets released later this summer, each individual that watches will be able to form their own opinion of it. Each individual will decide what they think.
If there are people that like it, I will be thrilled that what I made, makes them feel connected to me, and therefore more connected to the rest of their world. They will see the world as a more connected, less intimidating place.
If there are people that don’t like it, I will respect their right to have their opinion. I will respect them as independent beings, and in a way, it’ll make me happy to know that they too, are their own persons.
But nothing anybody thinks of it can possibly change how proud I am. I love it. And I love the life that I’m living - and the life I’m striving to get to - here in New York City. Here in Brooklyn. Here in July, of 2012.
I’m giving this life everything I have. That’s all I’ve ever dreamed of. That’s all I had hoped for, when I decided to move here. I hoped that I would be inspired by this city, and the high ceiling it provided.
I have no idea if anyone else thinks so. But I can tell you - from the inside, looking out - I am fucking crushing New York.