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LITTLE REID, BIG CITY #9

By Reid Faylor

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written this, and as I again sit in an airport (for avid “reiders” (HA) this is the third I’ve written from such a place), I figured I would again open myself up to you, as if an open face sandwich, but no lunch meats here, instead: emotions.

That is the best opening line I have yet written.

Though plenty has happened in the last few weeks, I’ll keep it focused on a couple key events. In the second week of December, two comics from my home scene of Cincinnati came to visit –Alex Stone and Mike “Meat” Cronin. They’ve been filming a web series enticingly titled “Web Series” and came to visit in part to film a couple segments with Andrew Short and I. It was good to see them again, it felt like no time had passed, and pretty quickly we were cracking jokes and filling each other’s lives with smiles.

Alex and I talked fairly intensely after a show about the benefits of living in New York. He remarked that there are clearly plusses: stage time, opportunities, and multiple shows a night especially can help you refine your jokes. But the audience and the kinds of shows you perform at left him ambivalent. Do you really get a good reid (HA) on a joke? Does it only acclimate you to performing for comedians, leading you to craft material for only the back of the room? I argued with time you begin to get a feel for it. It depends largely on the kind of comedy you do – if it’s simpler in nature, it may not get a rise from hardened comedians; if it’s more challenging or strange, it may be easier to find common ground with other performers, inflating the laughs you would really get. Then again, some jokes that make comedians laugh are in reality just really good jokes. I tend to do material that’s more abstract in nature, so I’ve been working hard to distinguish what category I fall into. Of course my good shows fill me with confidence, but I’m also led to wonder whether the laughs they receive are genuine.

A week ago, when back for the holidays, I had a chance to test this. Performing a set at my roommate’s “Dave Waite and Friends” show at Go Bananas comedy club, I had eight minutes to really assess my new material in front of a real crowd. Through some Christmas miracle, the kind that devalues other, more significant miracles, the club was packed nearly to capacity. I went second on the bill, and felt great on stage –I was completely at ease, in control, could improvise and enjoy the set. My first two jokes worked perfectly, and my closer did well. The third joke though had some rough spots; people were on board at first, but at the turn to the absurd were lost. It finished out well, but the reactions after the show let me know what kind of joke it was. My girl friend (a “real person”) said subjectively that the joke lost her; another comic watching told me it was his favorite joke of my set. It was a joke that clearly fit into that second category –one meant for the back of the room.

Performing at my home club, I was reminded how important a good club and a real audience can be. After just one set, I had so much more certainty as to what was a good joke and what needed work, and moreover, how to fix the weaker material. This is definitely the advantage of a smaller scene for a newer comic –to learn definitively what works and what doesn’t. Yet, my performance was still marked by what I gained from New York City: better stage presence, increased confidence, more control.

There was one other advantage Alex proposed to doing comedy in New York I had never considered, a benefit to smaller shows, open mics and smaller audiences. He said that in some ways it’s good not to have a big crowd, a good club and an earlier opportunity to get paid for comedy; in an environment with those opportunities, you perform for the crowd, to please them. In a scene like New York, on the other hand, where the rewards are harder to come by, you perform to please yourself. I guess that’s actually pretty comforting –a benefit to dealing with failure. In some ways before it looked like an issue of quality versus quantity, but there obviously is some quality to the quantity you get in New York. And again, these are just the open mics –booked shows are something else. I’m starting to get booked on some, so I’ll have to see how the dynamic changes.

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LITTLE REID, BIG CITY #8


by Reid Faylor

Hello everyone. I have a question for you: can you guess what is in my mouth? Some of you may be thinking, “It’s probably a swear; his mouth is full of swears, on account of bad feelings towards New York City.” You’re wrong. It’s ice cream. The flavor? Cookies and cream.

This is as good a sign as any of my optimism.

My last blog post was full of sailor-talk-laced motivations and rough realizations that I need to work harder. And I’m not sure what it was, but it started to work. I was ashamed prior of the four shows I did in a week, and the week of my realization, bumped, however slightly, the number up to six. After that week, I did eight. This past week, gladly interrupted by my visiting lady-friend, I did six shows in just three days. All together this does mark an improvement, but now even this seems like too little –I need more.

I’m really starting to appreciate doing multiple shows in a night; something that back in Cincinnati was a rare treat. At some venues here I can literally perform upstairs, finish, walk downstairs, and perform again for a mostly different audience. I feel myself getting more and more comfortable, and the jokes I’m doing are feeling stronger and stronger. I remember when I first started performing, I would sometimes stand in front of my mirror and deliver my jokes fully animated –natural, fun, exactly myself. But when I would get on stage, that delivery would diminish to something a little drier, less excited, restrained. Now it seems every show I am performing the way I would perform as if in front of my mirror –I’m unrestrained, improvising, fully utilizing my voice. I feel full of feel-goods.

On the advice of Nikki Glaser (via Robbie Collier), I’ve started off every morning with writing. Just about twenty minutes of free writing immediately after I wake, completely stream-of-consciousness, in an attempt to empty out my brain. I’ve done it for a couple weeks now, and it seems to be making a difference. I always get trapped in loops of comedy thoughts; this seems to clear it out. I wake up and can swiftly rid myself of “baby bottoms” and “dog dick”, or whatever words I am always impelled to write for reasons which confuse me. After that, my writing the rest of the day seems more focused and less meandering. I’ve even started getting into other writing projects! I finally started on a book I’ve been preparing to write for a few months now, and I am pairing up with a friend in LA to write some comedy shorts. I am feeling more motivated than I ever have to do comedy.

In summation: yeah!

Now, a guest sentence from Dave Waite (Rooftop Comedy Festival, fresh haircut): “If you want it … you better want it (laughter) … can I be the conductor of the fuck train? The engineer? Boom. Ah … I better shit … got to get going. How far is it to Chelsea?” And upon having it read back to him, “Yeah. That sounds good.”

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LITTLE REID, BIG CITY #7


By Reid Faylor

So in the past week, things have not gone great, but I will say: damn good. My last blog post spoke of depression and “getting-super-down” on things, with the promise of a turn around. Indeed, that promise has been fulfilled.

Two weeks ago, I went through a period of extreme doubt in stand-up. But after my conversations with W. Kamau Bell, a few good shows, and some experimentation in the stand-up I do, I can fully say I am back and not only reinvigorated, but feeling a new-found love for stand-up. I’ve been feeling more comfortable at every open mic, doing new material, improvising, and hell, just having more fun on stage. I’ve even started getting onto some weekly booked shows, which has given me an escape from the tedium of open mic after open mic –I now have an audience to look forward to every once in a while.

I have had some realizations though. Namely: I’m not working hard enough. I’ve always felt this; I know the level of commitment I need to have. My girlfriend, for example, is an art major at Xavier University, and every week she has to pull all-nighters, spend at least one day of the weekend working every waking hour as well as most weekdays after class, and her professors still say this isn’t enough. I love comedy as much as she loves art I feel, but my drive can hardly match this, and it should. Last week, I performed four times. Granted, two nights were spent working on a treatment for a webseries, and some of the spots were longer, but I repeat: four times. Overhearing a conversation with James Harris, a wonderful and respect-deserving comic here, he mentioned that last week he did five spots. On Monday.

Yes. There is a hell of a lot more I should be doing.

I was writing as I heard this, waiting for a show to start, and struck by the moment, I wrote down exactly what I was thinking. Swears, at the time, seemed very necessary:

“Buckle down and fucking do this. How many did you do last week? 4. How many did James Harris do on MONDAY? 5. Buck the fuck up.”

If you noticed, I use the word buck when I feel serious. Also –I unintentionally rhyme. But the rhyming helps you remember all that shame and such. My youthful boy-body needs the tough talk, to get it motivated, to get me into it. My boy-body needs the harsh words. The sailor talk. Blue language.

So I’m doing more. I have to. This week I’ve already performed at more shows, plan to double the amount, I’ve started writing the moment I wake up every morning –I’m getting excited about it again. Whatever I went through two weeks ago was rough, but I’ve come out of it more dedicated than I was before. So I guess it was good. Yes. Sure.

Next week: back to despair! “Yeah, Reid, I missed you…” Yeah, I missed you, too, you consuming fire of sadness. I missed you real good.

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LITTLE REID, BIG CITY #5

by Reid Faylor

Before I begin, I’d like to respond to some of the comments I got on last week’s blog, as I felt they were very encouraging:

“Good job guys ..” -Mikey Mouse.

Whoa! Thanks Mikey! And your website, a certain “factspenisenlargement.com” was really something, too. Thanks for your interest!

“This is one of the best credit restoration companies used by many around the world.” –Johnny Carter.

Mr. Carter! Wow! Thanks for reading, and thank you even more for the credit restoration company info!

Thanks for reading, guys!

Amber Preston, a wonderful Minneapolis comedian, stopped by for a visit this week. She was in town for some NACA auditioning and visit-making, so she slept on our air mattress with its Batman sheets. The sheets used to be mine. In college. I went to Minneapolis over the summer to do some shows and visit friends, and it felt strange to look at the New York scene from a Minneapolis perspective.

I went to two shows with Amber, representing in my mind the best and worst of the New York comedy scene. One was “Hot Soup”, a booked show put on by Matt Ruby, David Cope and others, and despite a small attendance at first, every comedian that went up put on a great show –some of the best comedians I’ve seen in New York, all together, making all sorts of sillies. It’s the kind of show that in many ways is unique to New York –intimate setting, great rising comedians having fun and trying out material, relaxed. It’s a show you strive to be on.

The other show was an open mic, in the middle of a day on a Saturday -45 comedians, two minutes apiece, no audience, long. Amber seemed to do fine with it, but remembering my time in Minneapolis with it’s friendly comedians, great shows, and welcoming atmosphere, I felt almost ashamed waiting through this mic and it’s uninviting tone and tough crowd. Having a fairly bad set didn’t improve my mood about it either.

I started comparing New York to the other cities I’ve done comedy in –San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Cincinnati. There seem to be some bigger highs, but the lows feel lower and more punishing. It’s a harder place to stand out in, and it constantly makes you prove yourself. This definitely makes you better, but the total absence of comfort in the scene (at least for now) makes it a far more difficult task. I definitely started to miss my home scene in Cincinnati.

That was Saturday. On Sunday? Worked all day to replace my roommate’s car battery (out of town, going to get ticket unless we moved it), got an unknown object hurled at my car by an infuriated New York driver for unknown reasons, and received a $130 ticket for holding my phone in my hand (Note: Not talking, not dialing, just holding). Needless to say, by the end of the weekend, I had a fairly horrible opinion of being in New York.

But last night, talking with another comedian who moved here three months ago, her horror stories made me feel better. Car towed, four tickets, phone stolen, rough entry into the scene. She recounted her first two months as miserable and essentially God-awful. In month three though? Optimistic, happy –at ease. It all takes time. I know this will get better, but until it does –ice cream, unemployment, and a plant I bought in depression (Vivian) will soften my woes.
Next week: I probably get depressed and buy more plants.

Finally –guest sentence! This comes from Amber Preston (Aspen Comedy Festival, poor vision): “Reid, I didn’t send you my guest sentence after even requesting one and being reminded by you twice. Oh no!”

Poor form Amber. Poor form.

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Little Reid, Big City #4

by Reid Faylor


You know that one Beatles song? The one about how it, gradually, over time, continues to get better? I think it’s called “Back in the USSR.” Things have been like that song.

I came back last Monday from a trip to Fort Wayne (Indiana!), this time returning with possessions (yes!) and my parents in tow. We spent a day fixing up the apartment, building shelves, hanging window blinds and such, and decided to see the Punchline Magazine 5th anniversary show. While taking the subway out to Comix, my parents commented and how adapted I was already –I could use the metro card with ease, find my way around, ignore the homeless like they weren’t even people (well, I mean … ). I suppose I hadn’t really thought of it, but I do indeed feel comfortable here –it’s not foreign or alien, it’s normal.

Being away from the scene for even a week was strange. It took a bit to get back into the flow, to start getting to the mics on time and jump back into the schedule. When I saw some of the other comics, they had thought I had gone back permanently. After a week. Or maybe it was just one comic. Who I hadn’t seen in a few weeks. But that gives you an idea of the commitment of the comedians here: even a week off is equivalent to disappearing.

I’ve been talking to a lot of comics who also recently made the Ohio-New York transition, and it keeps coming up: it’s strange performing for only comics. A lot of people question whether it’s even worth it, if progress can be made without an audience. On one hand, I haven’t really polished a lot of new material, mostly from the incapability to get a good “reid” (ha! That’s my name) on a joke, getting only worn and bitter comedian reactions. Yet, conversely, all the stage time has gotten me a lot more comfortable, and I’m beginning to find more and more how I like to interact on stage –my mannerisms, method of speaking, timing. Also, it takes going through shows like this to get to booked shows with real audience members, so it’s not all this way. It’s a process. It can definitely bruise the ego, but I feel like progress is being made, if nothing more than getting comfortable with the occasional silence.

Highlight of the week: performing at a youth hostel for drunk, vociferous, and belligerent Canadians, and informing one such Canuck with a lip-ful of Skoal and sunglasses that his real problem was that “your mother threw away the baby and raised the afterbirth.” It’s actually a compliment, as I explained, because if he were a person –he’d be a terrible person. But for a living sack of uterus blood and placenta –not too bad.

Ah. Truly, there are reasons to keep with this.

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Little Reid, Big City #3

by Reid Faylor

As I write this I am sitting in the La Guardia airport, waiting for a flight to return to Indiana, a place of soy and subdued racism from whence I was born. Considering I only came to New York with an air mattress and a suitcase, it is now time to go home and gather my worldly possessions, which I love and define me. I’m four weeks into the move –not a bad time to look back and evaluate.

Before the move, I had a lot of anxieties about coming out here. I didn’t know: anyone (kinda); where to perform; where to live; or how to get money. Now: I know people! I’ve gone so far as to recognize people on subways and street-walkin’, and there’s someone to talk to at every show. I know a couple venues to perform (mostly for free even) every night of the week, as well as some of the more popular booked shows to go and watch. I have an apartment, in a neighborhood with only the fewest of stabbings, and though my temp job is done, I actually earned money and have job prospects. Everything I worried about before coming out here resolved itself so simply it’s actually somewhat surprising –they were all pretty inconsequential, more intimidating than they should’ve been.

Not to say there aren’t problems being here. For example: a long-distance relationship! Contrary to what I previously thought, it turns out it’s not a cornucopia of pleasures and feel-goods. Rather, it’s more a wicker basket type structure, full of late-night phone calls, anxiety, and difficult emotions. It’s worth it, but by no means necessarily fun. Also: work! Aside from waking up early and being drained from a day of toil, the commute from New Jersey to New York has been so long at times (read: five hours) that it’s made me miss shows. Thankfully it only lasted for two weeks, and now I know what to consider in my new job search, ideally something with a better commute, more time to think.

A little girl in the airport is chasing a bird along the ground. You’re not going to catch it. You are a dumb little girl. Now your mom’s yelling at you and I hope you feel bad.

It’ll be interesting to get home and see what my perspective is –what will seem different, how it’ll feel being back in familiar terrain. Won’t really get a chance to do much comedy performing this week, though the time to write will be very welcome. I wonder how it’ll feel returning to New York in a week; it’s been good being there, but I wonder if in my mind I was still treating it as a long vacation. Yippee!

And now: guest sentences from my comedian roommates!

Andrew Short (performed with Mike Veccione, neatly trimmed nails): Reid, I’m not here. You’re alone in La Guardia. I’m not even here.

Seeing as Andrew went over his time, his guest sentence will not be returning next week. Dave Waite’s sentence will be up for another go though.

LITTLE REID, BIG CITY

My name is Reid Faylor. I am a young, bearded, litte-boy-ish comedian from Cincinnati, Ohio. Only a couple weeks ago, I left Cincinnati for New York City. To do comedy. Yeah!

What I left behind: a nurturing comedy scene, almost all of my friends, a rather awesome girlfriend, a good job, cheaper rent, family, and a local burger which I feel to be very good. What have I gained –I guess that’s what this blog is about. New York can make or break a comedian, though I’m beginning to expect the process of making is oddly similar to a long series of breakings –not of bones, but of soft supple emotions.

A week and a half in, after easily (yeah!) finding a nice apartment (yeah!) and a job (yeah?), I’ve been able to perform a few times and watch a few other shows. Though some stigmas have broken down (everyone is better here, it’s hard to meet people, you always have to pay to perform), right now I’m beginning to realize the comforts I’ve left behind. I had gotten used to a safety net, to people who were familiar with and understood my sense of humor as a given, to a club that would book me, and to open mics that, likely because we had so few of them, had actual audience members. It’s strange being a nobody, to having to re-convince people I’m funny –it can make one seriously question their abilities, for example: me. For so little time in, I’ve already had one serious late night purge of “No! This is all bad! I need to start over!” followed by a sobering morning of “Well, this dick joke still seems good.” Following just my second show, which I admittedly bombed, I was advised by the emcee, “Hey, Failure, if this is the kinda shit you’re going to be doing out here, let me tell you right now, you can go right back to Cincinnati” –only to have the same guy buy me a beer, talk to me about comedy all night and train back with me to Queens. We’re now Facebook friends.

New York is friendly is in a strange way.

As hard as this first two weeks have been, it’s good to feel myself be truly challenged. This is hard, but it’s giving me something to work for and better insight into how I can improve. New York may be rough and the scene unfamiliar, but with even the briefest of introductions, I’m realizing just how much some of the comedians here really love comedy.

Next week: More comedy, less folk.

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