LITTLE REID, BIG CITY #6
by Reid Faylor
Oh New York, you tricky trick. You goofy goof. You. To think last week I was angry with you, all upset and such. But now, now I have settled back into a deep and respectful “okay-ness” with you that feels warm and fulfilling.
Last week was essentially a shit week, as the last blog post may reveal –bad sets, tickets, a subconscious despair. But things can turn around so very quickly. Granted, I was in a bad mood about comedy in general; I severely doubted my abilities at it, stopped writing, and didn’t perform for a week. Which was stupid, and a little scary. Nothing specific had set it off, but a rolling wave of loneliness and what I call “grouchy” had washed over my dreams, making their clothes all wet and their aspirations damp. The week had pushed my dreams into the pool even though my dreams repeatedly said “no” and even told the week that its phone was in its pocket. But things can turn around so easily.
It was a process.
Despite my bad mood, I still loved comedy, I just doubted myself, so I couldn’t help but attend two live tapings of WTF (Marc Maron’s damned fine podcast). This was a good night. Saw good comedians talk and debate, met up with local guys, talked to some new people. Also, I got a call that night telling me I had gotten a job I hadn’t even interviewed for, one with a far easier commute than my last job in New Jersey. Things were looking all sorts up!
The next big piece in the Let’s-Make-Reid-Feel-Better puzzle was a surprise encounter with W. Kamau Bell. Kamau is a San Francisco comic and quite the hell of a guy. I met him during my time with the Rooftop Comedy Talent Institute, and he immediately in my mind became somewhat of a mentor –everything he said about comedy and writing rang true, and helped me develop a lot more into the performer I wanted to become. He was in town for his one-man show and happened to stop by the “Comedy as a Second Language” comedy show I was attending. It was great to see him again. We talked for a while, caught up, and one thing in particular stuck out from our conversation: he told me he was jealous. He was jealous that I got to move to New York, to go to a brand new place and start again. “You can be whatever you want to be,” he told me –it’s a great way to start from a clean slate and be the comedian you want to be. That struck me oddly true; I hadn’t realized the opportunity I had been given.
After a week of brooding and eating ice cream in the dark while playing Minecraft (a life destroying video game that I am building just the greatest sky garden in), on Sunday I performed again. I thought a lot about what Kamau said, and it put me in a better, more relaxed mood. Sure, in New York I am completely starting over, but I get to start over the exact way I want to. That night I performed at the Freak Show mic at the Ten Eleven bar, and for the first time in more than a year, I decided to just go on stage with no real plans and improvise. When I hit the stage, it felt good again, and I started talking –to the piano, myself, the audience a little. I started riffing about the Pop Tart store I had recently gone to, and improvised a joke suggesting that the Pop Tart sushi they served there was essentially “the idea of atheism made concentrate in food form.” I started spinning words, a whir of improvised phrases and analogies in an oddly poetic tone. It did pretty well. I then did a brand new joke I had worked on once, and had fun doing it. Leaving the stage, all the sudden I was excited again; I wanted to perform as soon as I could, improvise, write new weirdly meandering jokes, and get back into it. I had a good set, felt comfortable, and felt like I was doing exactly what I wanted to do on stage.
It was a peak, but with that definition comes the reality that it is a height surrounded by lower points and valleys (you see, like a mountain range! Metaphors –how fine!). I tried improvising at the next three shows I performed at, and they went fairly mediocre, none hitting the pace and feeling of the last show. But finding that freeness on stage and enjoying it again reset my opinion of comedy. I can do this, and when I do, it’s going to be done exactly the way I want it to.
NEXT WEEK: I peruse rugs online that I shouldn’t buy, and begin worrying more and more that the mosquito bites I keep getting may be bed bugs.
GUEST SENTENCE: My dreams (used to be about playing in the NHL, sometimes include myself, naked and vulnerable): “Don’t. Don’t do it, week. Goddammit, my phone’s in my pocket! I said I don’t want to go in the goddamn pool! My phone is in my goddamn pocket! Oh Jesus. You asshole. It’s a smart, phone!”