What’s To Lose When You Stand Up For Yourself?

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For those of you who may or may not know,  my life has been characterized by a couple of things, I believe. The first is that I’ve been an easy target all my life for verbal and mental abuse. When I was a kid, I had a group of friends, but they loved to pick on me all the time. I was nice to everyone, respectful and a decent student, but I always got teased and called names, even had a knife pulled on me by my bully, and he laughed as I got scared and ran home crying.

The girls in my class always stood up for me, because my guy friends rarely did since they were either egging the other guys on or having a good laugh from it. My parents couldn’t understand what was happening, and on a few occasions they stepped in to stop it. Then I got shit from those kids and it made things worse in some instances.

When I graduated from the eighth grade, I thought things would get better.  My parents were pushing me to choose a different high school other than Mount Royal  to attend, because while most of my friends from elementary school were going there, they were also the ones who picked on me.  It took a lot of arguing and convincing, but in the end I won out, and attended Mount Royal.

The first 2 1/2 years were an absolute fucking nightmare.  I got freshied several times, and picked on quite a bit too.  During this time some of the new girls I met were taking an interest in me, but my self-esteem was so shot that I didn’t believe they really did like me, and given that, there was no way in the world I would ever talk to them.  I had some teachers not put up with that bullshit and they came to my defense.  It didn’t help my studies though.  I was an average student at best, my overall average was anywhere between 68 to 75. Looking back I realized that high school wasn’t that difficult, and had I really applied myself I could have ended up on the honour roll and actually make my parents proud of me.

Grade nine I entered the track team and went for distance running.  A skinny guy like me who has ran from bullies for years should be good at running, or so I thought.

The first meet was at the field house.  The 800 meters was four laps around the track.  For those of you who have never been to the field house, I don’t know if it’s different now, but back then it was as dry as a bone, and after a lap you were sucking wind.  After the first lap I was in second place, only to see the entire field pass me in the next couple laps to finish dead last…..by a country mile.  I continued with track the following year and the cross country team in grade 11 and 12.

But grade 11 came along, and so did a new attitude.

In grade 11 I was part of the radio club, and was the DJ for an overnight dance held at the high school, I think it was a fundraiser of some sort.  From 7 pm til 7 am, and suddenly the cool, popular kids who were all in attendance saw me in a different light.  I also was the sports editor of the high school newspaper.  I remember hearing a conversation in my English class about how these guys goon it up in their games.  I wrote an article on it, but didn’t put my name down.

The day that paper came out, I remember getting some serious dirty looks from the guys in my English class.  They knew without my naming of names, that I was talking about them.  It was my way to dare them to fuck with me on my turf, because writing is something I do well, and the fact the school printed it showed that they stood behind me.  Then after that, one of the strangest events in high school took place.

The one day I decided that I wanted to change my attitude and how I saw myself.  I got up earlier than usual, and wore dress clothes, being my purple corduroy dress pants, and a pink, short-sleeve dress shirt.  I was a bit nervous but more excited than anything about showing off my look.

Well, people certainly noticed.  I made a point of walking down the hall where the senior cheerleaders were practicing, and one of them made a point of asking me if I had a hot date.  Then it got stranger yet when some girls started noticing me and liked me, but I still couldn’t talk to them.  Then the popular kids had a floor hockey team during the lunch hours, and they asked me to coach them.  Yes, you read that right.  Me, the bullied kid who never got much in the way of respect, to be a coach.  I put together the lines, played the warm up music for the guys….yeah, you get the idea.  Then they asked me to their parties.  They asked me why I didn’t show up to their place on the weekend.  Again, still  having self-esteem issues to the point where I didn’t believe they were being sincere.

So, by the time high school ended I was one of the more popular guys of our grade twelve class.  That made me proud that in the end, these guys could be nice and decent after all.

Then came the real world, where I felt like I had things mapped out.  I wanted to get into television sports, so I attended a broadcasting school to try and further myself in that regard.  After the school I interned at a local radio station here, while in the middle of the school I switched my focus to radio from the news & sports side of things.  I always liked music, and felt it was an extension of my personality.  Plus I hung around a sports reporter or two, and saw that their day was routine because they did the same things at the same time every day.  That bored me, and I liked the variety radio gave me.

But certain people at the radio station made my life hell.  Not to mention that my family wasn’t supportive at all, thinking that I was going into radio to be a big star.  Never mind that I saved up for most of the tuition myself, and that I was the one attending the school.  I gave it my best shot, but after two years I quit radio.

Then I tried different jobs, including a couple of stints working for my dad’s company.  I have had many, many, many jobs.  I’ve done everything from advertising, to radio, working in hotels, door-to-door salesman, delivery driver, paint store, Superstore, cleaner, dispatcher, warehouse, karaoke host, tutor, plumbing sales…you get the idea.  Most people I knew were confused because from the time they saw me til a few months later, I’d have a different job.

I’ve been arrested, assaulted at work, and bullied.  Still, regardless of the job or place of business, there were still people who made my life a fucking living nightmare.  Needless to say, I’ve been an easy target all of my life.  People were rude, ignorant, refusing to help me when I asked for it, not being trained properly, and being the scapegoat when things went wrong.  Thank goodness that at my new job there aren’t any of those people like that, well…there is this one guy, but I can deal with his ego and bullshit.

Anyhow, I’m sure you are wondering at this point how this relates to my comedy career?  I’m glad you’ve asked.

Like I said, I got into comedy because I believe that I have the basic tools to succeed.  I believe they are:

  • the ability to write
  • being called a dynamic speaker (asked if I was a trained public speaker)
  • quick witted
  • good story teller
  • can make others smile or laugh

I was living with mom and dad at the time I decided to get into comedy and make my debut in the competition on Monday, October 3rd, 2011.  My parents were set against it, saying I’d just embarrass the family and myself.  I went a couple weeks before to meet some of the guys and see what it was like.  I also spent three weeks learning my ten minutes of material.

That night lots of my friends came out for my debut to support me.  I finished 6/10 in the combined judge and crowd voting.  After that I kept going whenever mom and dad would give me a key so I could let myself in when the comedy was done at the end of the night.  That wasn’t too often though.  Once the new year came around, I found a place for myself and started pursuing comedy a bit more diligently.

This included me going to Regina on Saturday nights for an open mic.  Yep, I went to Regina for a 5 – 10 minute set.  Sometimes a friend came along for the ride, and after comedy we’d go to The Pump for karaoke and a few drinks.

Check the posting “Lets Get Ready To Rumble”.  This was from January of 2012 I believe.  That day I got severely trashed.  One person put up a picture of a train derailment and said that was my act.  The guy who ran things trashed me onstage and afterwards, then told me the types of things I should do comedy about.  When I asked for examples from my act, he just gave me a blank look and said I should come out for the rookie competition so they can trash me some more. Some of these guys didn’t even have the ability to put their real names to their comments, they just hid behind their e-mail address.  Don’t get me wrong though, Regina has a few comics who conduct themselves with class, but the ones who don’t, think that their shit don’t stink and that everyone should treat them like a comedy superstar.  Well, I’m sorry to say, but Dez Reed is the funniest comedian in Saskatchewan.  Period.  Plus he’s not a jackass and does have some compassion and class.  Read the comments from that blog and you’ll see what I mean.

Comedy in Saskatoon was better, but not by much at times.  There were a few things factoring into this.  For starters, my friends weren’t able to tell me I wasn’t any good, they congratulated every other comic for doing a good job, then thanked me for inviting them out and left.  Then there was the occasional beaking from the crowd, and getting teased onstage by the host or other comics.

Dez rides me harder than any other comic, he’s said that after my sets.  Even the one night when he said that I did very, very well, I still got it from him.  He’s said things about me after my sets to the audience, that make some people come up after the show and tell me that I should quit comedy, that trying to do stand-up comedy isn’t worth it when all that happens is you getting trashed so badly that your friends have no choice but to laugh at the way he pokes fun at me, because it’s funny, at least it is to everybody else.

He always said to get better or quit, and I’m sure he knows by now that I won’t quit.  I am sure he appreciates the contributions I’ve made to the club and the comedy scene in general.  Most of all, as hard as this may be for some of you to believe, Dez is a friend.  I’ve spent enough time with him over the last 1.5 years to know that he truly does care and hope for the best when it comes to me.  However……

The other comics barely get teased after their sets, if at all.  I’m always the one who has a minute or two dedicated to “tease Trevor” time.  Then again, I’m an easy target.  I always have been.  Not sure that will ever change.

The one thing that all this bullying, harassment and teasing has done is, it’s given me a voice.  Sometimes I have quite the big mouth that gets me into trouble.  The good thing with having a big mouth is, I usually save the lippy comments for Facebook or a blog, so people can’t readily line up to kick the shit out of me.  But with Facebook or a blog, I tend to get wordy, and sarcastic.  This leads to things being misinterpreted, or taken out of context.  Then again, how can I expect anything different when you sit behind a computer and type this stuff out.  How else are people supposed to take it?  It’s the world we live in today, where most people are wanting to not give you the benefit of the doubt and read into things more than is necessary.

With the comedy I have always tried to do the best I can to get those laughs, to build a foundation moving forward where I don’t get trashed anymore.  But, the teasing has been happening for months now, and when I went to the second night of the new location for the comedy club, it left me with an uneasy feeling for two reasons.

First, I was told that I would not be a part of the show that night, which meant I was the only newer comic that wasn’t asked to perform.  The second thing, and more troubling to me, was that this is a brand new audience we are exposing comedy to, a packed house every night.  I felt like it would give Dez, or other comics fresh ammunition to give it to me again.  Some of my friends didn’t like the way I was teased even when I did well, and some weren’t impressed by the vulgarity and offensive references that got more laughs than my clean sets.

Nope, none of that really matters.  In the end, it’s about getting laughs, whether they be at my expense or not.

Which leads me to the Facebook posting I did after that night in the new location which caused me to be asked not to be anywhere near the comedy club for a few months.  I was banned from the club a couple days after that posting.  Sure, it could have been handled differently, any fool can see that.

But, in the end I did what I needed to do based on my experience of being disrespected, teased, bullied and verbally abused after all these years.  I stood up, and said that it wasn’t okay.  Sure, I did it on Facebook, but what counts is that I said something.  Plus, because I was never able to get up in front of a big crowd before, I thought it was because people didn’t believe in my ability to get laughs and didn’t want to have to tease me again after my set.

I know that there are people among my friends, and comics who don’t think I will make it as a comic, and who don’t believe I can get the types of laughs necessary for a measure of success.  There are people who support me yet they are the first ones to laugh when I’m made fun of.

As of right now, I don’t miss comedy as much as I thought I would, given it’s been about a month that I’ve been banned.  At first it was a shock and hard to not have that confidence and swagger knowing that I was starting to get better with my sets once I got my present job and a place of my own finally.  But now, I’ve been too busy with work, and the arrogant co-worker, to worry about my comedic future.  Yes, there is just one of those types at work now, but I have made myself an asset to the team, and I’m sure I will stick around past the three months, so it allows me to stand up to this guy and tell him I’m not taking his shit.

He once asked me why it was that I never said thanks when he’s helped me, it’s like I don’t respect him (his words).

Respect from me isn’t freely given.  IT HAS TO BE EARNED!

For example, at work, this guy and me share an email account.  He told me in no uncertain terms that we are not equals, even though he is only one week newer to the company than I am.  He runs the service side of things and said under no certain terms am I ever to do anything with an email without him reading it first.  Yet it’s okay for him to not only look at what I’ve sent, but he takes emails that are for me, reads them and forwards them to management himself.  Let me ask you, has he earned respect from me based on his aggressive yet arrogant attitude?  I’d think not!

Hopefully, this has given you an idea of what being me is like.  It’s no fun when your family is against your dreams and isn’t interested in finding out what makes you tick.  I can’t tell you why I have been an easy target everywhere I’ve gone in life, considering that I try to treat people the way I want to be treated.  Yes, I know that comedy isn’t fair and in the end the guys who are the biggest assholes are sometimes the ones who get all the glory (on stage) because they get the laughs.  Yes, I also know that I sorta knew what I was getting into when I started this over a year ago, so it shouldn’t be a complete shock to me (which it isn’t).

However, and I’ll end on this note…. just because things have been a certain way because it’s the accepted way, doesn’t mean that you have to sit idly by and accept it.  You try to be a catalyst for change through your words, and actions towards others.  If and when my comedy career resumes, I will still stand up for myself when I get teased, but I might keep that stuff off of a Facebook posting.

What do I have to lose when I stand up for myself?  Not much anymore, because I’ve been kicked and kicked for so long that after a while you get used to the kicking and let it happen.  The difference is that now, once the kicking stops, I always get up.  Always.  It’s like Rocky said, “life isn’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you get hit and keep moving forward….if you know what you’re worth then go get it, but you have to be willing to take the hits.”  Watch it below.  I always take the hits, always.  But I shall keep moving forward every time I get hit.  Remember to leave your comments at the end of this blog.

 

 

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