Career Stuff

I recommend listening to Sia’s “Breath Me” while reading this post. Go ahead, click on it. Dramatic, right?

I think drama is unavoidable today, since, as a finale, the desire to reflect and tie things up is irresistible. I’m a little nervous and also listening to “Breath Me.” Please keep those things in mind while reading.

A year ago this past September, I quit my job in marketing at The New York Times to focus on stand-up comedy and writing. It’s a trite and privileged decision, abandoning the comforts of corporate American to pursue one’s “art.” It’s bold and romantic, I guess, but hardly unique – especially in New York City where one can eavesdrop on similar stories of “bravery” at any cafe on any given Tuesday at noon. Continue…

Thinking in terms of achievement and legitimacy, instead of creativity and growth, earns any “artist” a one-way ticket on the bitter bus to Hacktown. Lately, I’ve wanted to be booked on shows for approval and acceptance, rather than the opportunity to perform. I’ve taken it as a sign to perhaps accept stand-up’s persistent pleas to change its role in my life to “hobby.”

If I strain-out the ambition, I’ll be more able to enjoy the juice, right? A mind focused only on the quality of its product can create things without the nagging influence of their marketability. Unfortunately, the reality is, I can write as much as I want, but without performing, the material sits lifeless on my hard-drive. Continue…

As I merged onto the highway, the rain sounded like gravel on my windshield. Cars that weren’t pulled over were driving with their hazards on. Normally a 70mph pace allows you to outrun or pass quickly through a thunderstorm. This four hour drive was different. I had a rain cloud following me wherever I went, like a clinically depressed blob in a Paxil commercial. It was the universe reminding me that the elation of freedom turns quickly to melancholy.

For some reason I didn’t pack for this road trip, opting to just throw my clothes in the back of the car. Continue…

I know “Adrenalize” is the title of a recent and less-than-mediocre Def Leppard album. That’s exactly why I used it: I’m not afraid to be awesome. I am, however, afraid to death of being bored, and I seek to be “adrenalized” as much as possible.

Given my weakness for anxiety and panic (I have The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook if you want to borrow it), it seems masochistic to crave something from which I derive such intense discomfort.  Gambling, competitive pool, and stand-up comedy are all activities that a person with an overactive fight or flight instinct might avoid. I, however, seek out that risk and insecurity so I can control the release of the unstable brain nectar. Continue…

I never thought I would be able to do it. I figured I would skip a day and then start drinking again. Now that I’m at 195 days in a row of “blogging,” I have too much invested to quit. I wish I could, honestly, but it’s too late. I never watched Julia and Julia, but I’m sure there were more than a few days when she didn’t quite feel like making Duck L’Orange.

People who try to keep up with reading my entries can probably tell the days when I don’t really have anything to write about (like today). It seems simple, right? Continue…

I can never go back to my old career. I know that because I’m still getting emails from head hunters and I find them terrifying. Here’s a good one I got yesterday:

My name is Joi and I’m a recruiter at Axelon Services Corporation, formerly known as Algomod Technologies. We have your resume on file and I thought you may be interested in an opportunity we currently have available for a Technical Financial Analyst with a major Global Financial Firm located in Long Island City, NY.

Thanks Joi!  Is there any possibility I could just remove my brain and beat it with a rubber hammer like I’m tenderizing a raw chicken?   Continue…

I’ve mentored thousands of comics and I’m finally ready to bring all that knowledge and experience to the masses in a 6 week course. For $900, you can learn how to have a successful INTERNATIONAL career in Stand-up comedy.

Stand-up 101

Week 1: Crowd work and Hecklers
I will tell you my three-tiered approach to dealing with hecklers called ignore, acknowledge, ignore, insult, bring them on stage with you (The IAIIBOSWU technique) During this week we will also talk about crowd work. We will cover things like 1. Making fun of someone’s shirt 2. Where are you from? Never heard of it.

Continue…

As I talk to people about the series I’m developing, I frequently come across the distinction between a high concept and a low concept series. It’s something I never really thought about before and it’s taught me a lot about how Hollywood works. I should point out, I’m FAR from an expert on any of this.

A good example of a high concept show would be Weeds on Showtime. Here’s the pitch (or “logline”): “After the sudden death of her husband, a suburban Mom turns to dealing marijuana to support her family.” Anyone could start writing that series from the pitch. Continue…

It’s fleet week in NYC which means all the sailors get off the boat to puke on MacDougal street. Before hurling, they sometimes get dragged into a comedy show by a sketchy ex-con on the street handing out fliers. Lucky for me, it’s my job to make them laugh. If it’s all sailors it wouldn’t be a problem, but when they’re mixed in with a table of ten 60 year old black women and 2 Australian couples, it makes my comedy job tough. Luckily there was a really good MC who was able to get them to all gel as an audience. Continue…

This is a great city with a nice self consciously European vibe. They have bikes you can rent! I won’t be doing it because I’m afraid, but the idea is great. I would love to see something like that in Manhattan so the psychos could dismantle the bikes and turn their parts into weapons.

Montreal really wants it all (new slogan?). They’re holding on to this whole “we speak French” think pretty hard. I know this because the people who speak French on the street do so at a much higher volume than those speaking English. It feels like the Department of Cultural Affairs (an org I just made up) plants short balding men on the street to speak loudly in French on their phones. Continue…