Growing up when I was asked what I wanted to be I don't remember ever having an answer. Not a doctor, not a policeman, not even a ninja. I just never really thought of it as a decision that I needed to make when I was young. I figured it would eventually reveal itself to me and I would just know my calling and be happy with it. I had hobbies and interests that I liked a lot. I played football with my friends, I acted in plays, I helped out in video stores, essentially I lived my life in search of happiness and I found it in many different places but i never really found my calling.
Or had I?
Through out all of this looking the one constant thing in my life that would bring me the most happiness was stand up comedy. It started out simple enough with Gallagher smashing watermelons. While it may not seem the funniest thing out there now, when you are 6 trust me it was hilarious.
I must have watched his tapes hundreds of times, however as I grew up I started looking for even more. Now this was back before Comedy Central existed. Yeah that's right, I'm old. So I would scour the TV guide and find out when HBO was playing one of their famous hour long comedy specials. And that is when I was introduced to a man that changed my life: George Carlin, specifically his Carlin at Carnegie special.
Carlin not only served as an eye-opener as to what real stand-up comedy is but he also acted as a gateway drug. He led to Richard Pryor, he led to Lenny Bruce. He provided me with motivation that I had never really felt before in my life. I knew what I wanted to do now. I wanted to be a stand-up comedian.
By the time I had graduated from high school I had it all planned out, I would write jokes, and work open mics in town during the week to perfect my act. From there I would move to a bigger city and work there, and eventually be discovered and be well on my way to fame and popularity. The plan was in one word - flawless.
And then I realized I lived in the tri-cities and there wasn't a comedy club anywhere even remotely close to there for me to work an open mic at. I was busy taking care of my mom and making sure she was safe and well writing jokes became something I would do later. I found other jobs that I loved and provided me pleasure and so my dreams became a distant memory of a time when I wasn't thinking straight. I wanted to raise a family and be there for my children. I wanted security that working on the road as a comic simply cannot bring.
Stand-up still played an important part in my life though. Once I moved to Seattle I started to attend shows around town and through volunteering at Bumbershoot and going to these shows I was able to network and meet many wonderful local comedians. I am always looking for more excuses to attend a comedy show. I have been to every comedy venue in Seattle at least once, certainly enough to know that (at least prior to new management taking over) that the Comedy Underground was about a billion times better than Giggles, or that the Parlor in Bellevue is almost too hip and trendy to actually seem like a real comedy club.
Recently through my friendship with Greg those feelings from my childhood have come creeping back into my mind. Not so much the idea of being rich and famous because of my stand-up, that doesn't really happen as often as seeing people on Comedy Central or HBO would let you believe. No instead the thoughts are that if I don't go out there and try it I will never know if I could have done it. It's the great unknown right now.
But that isn't going to always be the case. I've decided that I owe it to myself to give it a valiant try. I recently started to network with some of the local comedians that I know to get advice as to what I should do and where I should go. Eventually I will truly test my will and my spirits.