Twenty five years ago (July 11th, 1994) I started doing stand up comedy. I honestly never thought it was something I would do for a living. I was looking back at some old journals and this is something I wrote about seven months into comedy:
“It’s a lot of work (stand up comedy), but the number one thing is to enjoy yourself when you’re doing it. If I ever lose that feeling of enjoyment for comedy I’ll stop doing it.”
25 years later that’s the thing I always try to keep in the forefront of my mind: To have fun. Actually it kind of took my wife, Steph, reminding me to do that, but regardless having fun is really the only thing in this business you can control. I stopped worrying about what shows I got booked on or what material I should do or whether or not I should do crowd work or if I should spend part of my day recording myself talking to phone scammers. I just did what made me happy and that has truly helped me more than anything.
If I could give you three pieces of advice for longevity in comedy it’s:
1. Do everything! Improvise, act, write your own sketches, teach comedy, volunteer. I always found that if I was struggling in one area those other areas would pick me up.
2. Take chances! One of my most ridiculous bits I ever did was singing about a potato. A 3 minute opus to a potato. It required every ounce of energy and commitment to do the bit and sometimes it died a horrible death. However, it’s the thing that got me noticed. I remember opening for Lewis Black and he was so blown away by it he asked for a tape of my set that included the Potato Song so he could show it to HBO and his management team. A couple weeks later I asked him how the meeting went and he said, “Well...I laughed.” Not quite what I hoped, but taking risks on stage helped me stand out. Here's the Potato Song in all its glory!
3. Help others! Lewis Black helped me out and many other people have helped me out along the way. Tell people they’re funny and help them if you can. A kind word or action can go a long way. When I lived in Milwaukee, I decided to venture down to Chicago and audition for Second City. I bombed the audition and was told I didn’t pass. Frances Callier, who’s a very talented actress and comedian now living in LA, worked at Second City at the time. I remember she called me out of the blue to tell me I was funny and to not give up on this. I didn’t give up and I got into the Conservatory the next time I auditioned. I don’t know if she realized what a difference that made, but it was the little push I needed to keep going. You never know when something positive you say is just the thing someone needs to hear in that moment. Her and her comedy partner, Angela Shelton are currently on NBC's "Bring the Funny!" Collectively known as Frangela and check out their website here: FRANGELA
Thanks everyone who has supported me over the last 25 years it really means a lot and I look forward to the next 25!