Little Reid Big City #19
I am only a couple weeks away now from my year anniversary in New York City. It’s already been a year –I am in a state of minor disbelief. Lately at work, I’ve been taking extra bathroom breaks, sitting on the toilet, and listening to old sets of mine I recorded on my phone. It helps pass the time, while also providing some insight into just how far I’ve come. Listening back to even February (sometimes I don’t dare dredge up October and September, they were a little rough), I’m amazed how far I have come. I hear jokes and wonder, “Where did I think that was going? Why couldn’t I get to the point?” I was so jittery on stage, I could hardly stick to a topic, and if I did a lot of the times it was so abstract with no real point or reason. Then again, some of the sets went great –as nice as it is to think I’ve improved so tremendously, I can’t be unreasonable and hate everything I did back then. But the point remains: I’ve come a long way.
I think the first five months were the worst. I lacked confidence, didn’t know anyone, was alone for a while heading out to mics and shows. I was lonely, and you can hear it in the jokes I was doing: “Do you ever get depressed and start eating ice cream, only to stop so you can save some for when you’re depressed tomorrow?” After that though, I found my group of friends, started getting booked on shows, and everything has gone uphill from there. Those first months though, I am happy to know I will never have to do that again, but on the same note happy that I could get through it.
This past week I was booked on five separate shows in the city, the most I’ve been booked on in one week as of yet. These were also some of the best shows I’ve done in the city as well –incredibly booked, great audiences, great reactions. I’m starting to get really confident in some of my material, and finding a way to lead audiences into my more abstract jokes. One of my new bits, one I actually really like, is surprisingly observational and clear to understand. It’s a joke where the idea is so relatable yet unaddressed, that one of the bigger laughs I get is by simply stating the truth of the matter. This is something very new for me. Yet I still perform it in my style, it still feels very “Reid” despite being relatively simple and straightforward. I’ve been pairing this with some shorter punchier jokes in the beginning, and have found it is so much easier to tackle the more abstract, convoluted, patience-requiring material I love so much. These are the kinds of ideas I would have never thought of when I first arrived. Sure, I knew I had to lead audiences into my style, but most of the time this was done by sacrificing what I like for what works with the audience, so that when I finally did make the leap into “my” material, they were still lost. I’m learning how to guide people in and make what I do relatable, as absurd as that may seem.
This past week felt especially good considering I was still feeling down about missing some work at my home club in Cincinnati. A good friend of mine, Ryan Singer, was heading back for his first headlining week there, and had hoped to bring me with him as his feature. I was really excited about it, the owner had told me even the year prior he was looking for a time when I could feature (doing the middle, 20-25 minute act) there, and I was looking forward to returning. When Ryan suggested it though, it was shot down, and for good reasons. It was Ryan’s first time headlining there, it would be my first time featuring there, not to mention that given our styles it would be the weirdest piece of shit ever. The show would simply be too much of a risk, and though I understand that, I was still disappointed. I found this out only a week after getting rejected from the Comic Strip for very similar reasons –being too alternative, too weird for club audiences. My confidence took a definite dip. Yet it felt like this week New York was making it up to me. Some of the people I performed for (namely the drunk patrons of a Thai restaurant on a beach) were clearly not my type of crowd, were not into comedy, and were not seeking out the strange and alternative. But when I did “my” material and did great, hell, better than I could’ve imagined given the scenario, it felt very good. Sure, I can be a risk, what I do is not really within the norm, but I can still make people laugh –and if I do that one where I kiss myself as a twelve year old boy just right, I can make them laugh hard.
This year has been very difficult at points, but I don’t think I’ve been happier with any other choice. I’ve learned and improved more than I could have anywhere else almost, and all it took was feeling like a wet piece of shit for a few months.
GUEST SENTENCE: Reid from October –“Oh, I’m a sad little boy. Why is the joke about the new Bible I’m writing not working? Boo hoo, I wish I had friends.” As OctoberReid went over his sentence allotment, he will not be returning.
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