Taking God At His Word

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There have been times where comedy gets extremely frustrating, discouraging and demoralizing for me.  This is especially true when it seems like everyone else around me receives opportunities to do different things in comedy, while I sit on the sidelines.

Family support is zero, and has been that way from day one.  They never talk about it, and if I do, they get negative and try to demoralize me.  Friends coming out to watch a show are about as rare as me getting a date.  Lots of people follow me online, but maybe just once or twice in the last two years has anybody bothered to come out and support me live.

I feel like I receive the least amount of support from the comedy community and from comedy audiences here in the city.  If you gave the same opportunity to other local comics and we each advertised it, I’m pretty sure that I would generate the least amount of buzz.

The one thing that I have learned over these last few years is that God does have a plan for my life.  You may find that hard to believe considering the way that I have lived my life, considering the choices that I have made.  I know He has a plan for me despite the mistakes, and there have been many.

A few weeks ago there was a guest pastor delivering a sermon at the church I normally attended.  This particular Sunday I was not there, and after the service I received Facebook messages from my friends in the congregation.  It seems the guest pastor had a personal prophecy for me.  He didn’t know my name, and nobody told him about me before.  He said “I have word for Trevor.”

He said that “God has seen the horrible thing that was done to you” (I stopped the playback of the sermon on the church website and was like “really God?  Which horrible thing?  Take your pick!)  He went on to say that everything He has promised me will come to pass, and not to give up.

They say a prophecy given to you shouldn’t be telling you anything new.  In fact, it should be confirming what you already know.  I always had this sense that I was created to be different from the rest, that I was created to be a game changer, to do something big and bold.  To be a difference maker and to leave my mark on this Earth long after I’m gone.  He knew of the mistakes I made and will continue to make, while leading me towards what He has in store for me.  That personal prophecy is a pretty powerful statement, and one I will hang my hat on for the rest of my life.

Now, let’s get back to sitting on the sidelines wondering if my chance will ever come.  I’ve learned that if I keep moving forward and keeping a good attitude, or try to, that eventually the right people and the right breaks will come my way.  It happened with finding Jerry Corley and the Stand-Up Comedy Clinic.  It happened when I was added to the roster of comedians for The Laugh Shop.  Once again, I believe God moved and opened a door for me, and oh, what a door it is.  It’s one that no other comedian from around these parts would ever think of doing.  But sometimes, you need to put your ego, pride and risking damaging your “image” aside, and take a big, bold step outside of the box, by faith.  Here’s what happened.

I am leaving for California in a couple of weeks.  I have sent out emails to comedy clubs in Los Angeles and San Diego for opportunities for paid shows.  Then for some reason, I was lead to this one comedy club in Oakland.  Yes, Oakland.  In California.  A 5.5 hour drive from Los Angeles.

I ended up receiving a reply about a week ago.  The comic who runs the show said there was a spot that opened up on his Friday night show, with other professionals.  Originally I had planned for another local comedian to join me on the trip.  He was willing to add us both to the lineup of paid professionals, and adjust their time on stage to create sets for both of us.  I call that favour!

I looked on the website and these pros all seem to have credentials for t.v., big concerts and satellite radio appearances.  Once I got confirmation that this other local comic could not come with me to California, I let the booker know.  So I get an email back saying that I should be a part of the nightly comedy competition.

It’s usually a full house, in the upstairs of a popular restaurant in Oakland, with a low ceiling so it keeps the laughter in the room. There will be seven other comedians.  Three rounds and the audience determines who moves on.  Each round you only get four minutes.  Not only do you get prize money if you make it past the first round, but the winner would receive a spot on the paid show later that night.

So let’s recap.  I will be approximately 3,000 km from home, by myself.  I’ll be driving on the California highway for 5.5 hours with nothing but my GPS to guide me to Oakland, taking part in a competition where not only am I probably the least credentialed comedian of the bunch, but there are no guarantees that I’ll even get any gas money to get back to L.A., providing I make it out of the first round.

Is this part of my destiny, part of the personal prophecy that was spoken over me at church?  I once heard a pastor say that if it’s your destiny, you will need to step out of your fathers house.  That means that stepping out to meet your destiny requires you to be a bit insecure (ironic coming from a comedian), meaning that if you had all the answers and had everything figured out, you wouldn’t need God in the situation for Him to move.  Sometimes you have to take that first step based on nothing but faith, even if there are no signs around you to suggest this may be what you are supposed to do.

So, how do I approach this?  Well, I can tell you that these next few weeks I will be putting together 3 sets of four minutes each.  Brand new material will be mixed in with the tried, tested and true of Trevor Dean.

The next few weeks are critical.  I will take the stage at open mics to work on my material and I’ll be able to perform at the Stand-Up Comedy Clinic as well for Jerry and his students.  Imagine that, me, getting to help shape the future comedy minds of tomorrow!  It will be great to work with Jerry in person.

Since each comic in Oakland will only get four minutes, there is a strategy that I can use to get the most out of my sets.

Americans generally view Canadians as friendly and polite.  The audience will want me to succeed.  They will be rooting for me right from the start.  I believe this gives me an advantage over the local comics, or comics from elsewhere in the USA for that matter.

A comedian from another country gets the attention of the audience a little bit more.  They are more attentive and more responsive because they want you to tell the audience a story about where you’re from.  This only can be achieved if you have a solid start.

Most of the new open micers in Saskatoon need to grasp that concept.  They are usually dirty and vulgar, or else they say “how are you doing” and they will get a woooo or applause.  Remember, as comedians it’s our job to get laughs.  It’s important to get a laugh from a good opening line to give your set a bit of a lift.  Once you get that first laugh, it sets you up for the rest of your set, providing you can keep the momentum going.

Since it’s four minutes, I liken it to the comedy version of a “quickie”.  You get in, you get out.  But most importantly you should leave an impression upon the audience (or sexual partner, and hopefully it’s a good one).  I can’t have long, drawn out stories.  The jokes need to be clearly defined, clean and structured properly.  They need laugh points too.  With laugh points (laughing at certain intervals during the setup, most comics can’t grasp that one….they ramble on with a story and when it gets to the punchline it lacks the pop that it could have), you build that momentum.  It’s momentum that says the audience will willingly follow you wherever you go with your material.

When I look at the audience during my set, most are smiling or in a happy mood when they are listening to my set.  When I do my “mannequin” closer, I look into their eyes and I can tell that they are engaged.  I once was told that I should cut the setup of that joke to just one line before I deliver the punchline, and keep it short to like 15 – 20 seconds at most (this, coming from a “professional” comedian in the city).  I respectfully disagree.  It’s all about telling a story, with laugh points.  The audience is engaged and curious at the same time, because with the act-out I do during the setup, they are unsure what’s going to happen next but they will willingly follow right along with me.  Providing, of course, that I’ve presented my material with structure, timing and polish.

I remember that during the USA Election, Trump said if he loses the election it will have been a waste of time.  He wasn’t going to spend all that time, money and pooling his resources together over several months to put in all that energy and commitment needed…..to lose?

I kind of feel the same way.  Sure, it’s going to be scary and maybe a bit intimidating to drive 5.5 hours in a completely unfamiliar state with only my GPS to guide me.  It’s a unique opportunity that nobody else around here would have the boldness to try.  At the same time, I’m not fucking around.  I respect the stage, the audience and the host running the show.  I’m going to pull out all the stops and use whatever tricks are up my sleeve to my advantage.

I have a responsibility to represent the Saskatoon scene.  I want to do so well that when the host does a tour of Canada, he comes to Saskatoon to share the stage with other local comics.  I envision him asking me which ones would share the stage with him (there are maybe three comics who I could say can do 100% clean material if that’s what they need to do.  A clean Christian comic came through the city a few years ago, and the host said out of respect to this headliner, they should do clean material.  I was the only one that did, and the others were vulgar, creepy, offensive and rude).

I will broadcast my first round set on Facebook Live, on Saturday, May 27th @ 7:30 p.m. PST (meaning it will be 8:30 p.m. here in Saskatchewan).

I get lots of people viewing my posts on the comedy page and blog, but very few commenting on them.  I’ve felt like I have been on this journey alone for long enough.  I could use your support, whether it be through a Facebook message, posting on my comedy page or texting me.  I will be using a texting app when I get to California, so if you want I can give you the number to text me at when I arrive.

After all I’ve tried to do for comedy around these parts, and for you, it would be nice for you to step up and show your support.

Local media isn’t interested in my story, neither are my family. Heck, they aren’t aware that I will be out of the country for my birthday and my dad’s birthday (May 27).

I am going to do what I do best, in times of worry, fear, doubt or all three.  I’ll step into it, going it alone with nobody there beside me, in the physical sense.  There is a reason why I chose to email the club in Oakland, of all places.  There is a reason that caused the booker to be as accommodating as he was.  Am I a bit in over my head? Possibly.  But the fear of the unknown won’t stop me.  Not knowing how it will turn out, not having all of my questions answered won’t stop me.

If it did, then it wouldn’t be called destiny, would it?

 

1 Comment

  1. Vern
    Apr 29, 2017

    Go get em buddy….You DESERVE this!!
    The trip, the ballgame, the getaway…..and the comedy!
    I know you feel alone and I am sorry that life has given you this hand. But I do believe that God has a plan for you, and all the pieces must fit together for you to fulfill this destiny!
    If I have learned anything from watching your journey, it’s that you never give up….even when most people would have!
    Can’t wait to hear about your adventures in Cali.

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