I’ll Take My Problems With A Serving Of Sadness On The Side

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I want you to think about your job.  Imagine being at work and trying to get through the day when you have personal problems on your mind.  Now try and concentrate on your job when those problems involve a relationship.

I’m thinking most of you would try to figure out a way to fix it, or to derive some sort of a plan to make it less crappy, because sometimes fixing a relationship 50% is good, because at least it gives you a foot in the door to restore it down the road.

Now, follow me on this one.  What if you have a relationship issue that you can’t stop thinking about how to restore or try and repair.  Does that thought process change if you are a stand up comedian?  You bet it does.

Comedians need to look at everything that goes on around them through a filter.  That filter represents their reality which they base their comedy on.  It’s like I heard more than one comic say; if something terrible or tragic happens in their life, they all of a sudden think about how it could be kick-ass material or a great closing bit.

Now, does this mean that the comedian purposely screws up to get the inspiration for amazing material? No.  What it does mean is that a comedian is an entertainer.  Entertainers by and large are those who have an inadequacy or a need to be filled by performing, whether it be the need for acceptance, accomplishment, love, etc.  Furthermore, a comedian is at best not quite their true selves on stage.  The problems they face may be real but the way they look at them comedically helps to separate themselves from the problem personally.  This allows the comedian to take an outside look at the situation to gain clarity or perspective.  But once a comic does that and thinks they might have solved this relationship problem, suddenly they now can’t stop doing material that follows the progression of trying to solve this problem.

The last six weeks I have done material about the amazing woman that I love, and lost, again.  That’s old news to some of you and that’s fine if you think that.  However, the material that I seem to create almost at ease based on the breakup always puts her in the best possible light as I have said before.  That’s because I take a look at Nicki from outside of myself, from a comedic lens.

Now, the opening line of a bit should be truth.  It gives the audience a chance to connect with you, and for the comic to establish some credibility for that joke.  When you spend almost two years with someone it doesn’t take very long until you start to realize the impact they had on you, or of what they brought to the table in a relationship, until they are gone.  It’s human nature that way.  You don’t know what you got until it’s gone.

I have a set to do Saturday night at the comedy club in Regina.  But there is a problem for me.  It’s a big one.

I got my set list all ready and committed to memory.  It’s a tight seven minute set that has been asked for.  Yes, the set is about 80% brand new Nicki jokes.  Yes, it’s material that again highlights her as an amazing woman while covering completely new angles.  The last few weeks have been easier for me to perform this material honouring her.

But the problem for me now lies in something I found out on Friday, something about Nicki that I did not know before.  It made the day a difficult one to get through, I won’t lie about that.  It made my day difficult enough to get through that I needed to pray and ask God to take my worry and hurt over the situation and let Him deal with it in His own way, in His own time.  I believe I found this piece of information out because it’s God’s way of really seeing if I truly can practice the art of forgiveness, true forgiveness like the seminar I referred to a few weeks back.

So now what do I do?  Comedy is the only way she really can see and hear how I am doing, how i am coping and about what I think of her.  But what I learned Friday is making me wonder if I can still do that material.  Should I scrap it completely after working it for weeks to get it down cold?  Then what would I do for material to try and get back into a hosting gig down the road?  Oh, the dilemma.

I’m changing.  At least I give the impression that I am with the sessions in working with my life coach, prayer and going to church, along with the forgiveness seminar.  While I am made out to be a piece of garbage (my opinion), there is absolutely no conversation or discussion going on at all, but not for a lack of effort on my part.  I believe that two people should be able to talk to one another.  But instead I feel as if I’ve known her long enough that I know how to communicate to her in this secret language of blog posts, comedy routines and status updates on Facebook.

So how do I go on stage tomorrow night, needing to not just do okay, but to really make a statement and kick ass?  How do I do that when every thought I have of her now reminds me of what I was told on Friday?

Well, I can take that in one of two ways.  I could let it ruin me, which I am sure she would like.  I believe she would like to see me fail, crash and burn.  Does a part of her still care?  Does a part of her still love me?  Is there a piece of her heart that I occupy?  Quite possibly, but based on what she has told others and myself I tend to take opposite of the positive side of things.  I could get on stage and make a mess of it.  Would she like that?  Maybe she would.  Maybe she would receive congratulations from other comics for doing the world a favour for being solely responsible for getting me to give up and quit.

Or, there is the other side to this coin.  It’s the side that says I keep doing it because I now have the emotion, the real emotion to be able to connect with in order to sell the material.  Lots of comics I see don’t have the emotion to tell their story, so they sound like everyone else.  If you sound like everyone else, even if you have something interesting to say you may not get the response you desired when you can’t step up and step out to have a unique, individual voice.

The audience wants to make a human connection with you, one where they feel like they have something in common with you.  Once you can establish that, they will follow you wherever you take them, and they will be rooting for you to succeed throughout the balance of your act.  I can make that connection now after learning what I did Friday, especially with my closer joke that has the emotion already built right into it.

I used to think that talking about the breakup was healthy for me.  But now the words I heard Friday I just can’t get to stop ringing in my head.  I need to forgive and just release those thoughts, but again, it will be two years next week since we first met.  Back then I wasn’t a confident comedian let alone a confident man for her to spend time with.  It took me almost three months of spending time with her to realize she was the best option I have ever had for a girlfriend.  Then the words came out of my mouth that we could get married if things worked out.  Then her eyes filled with tears because there was this comfort with Nicki that I never felt with anyone else.

We get each other.  While she may not fully understand what’s in my heart at times (I don’t blame her either), I have a pretty good idea of what’s in her heart.  Even when she tells everyone one thing, I am able to get to what’s in her heart.  There is something there that I need to pursue.  There is so much we didn’t do, that we should have done which would have furthered things a lot better.  There were promises made by me that I haven’t been able to fulfill because of the distance between us now. Real solid relationships take work on both ends.  I know that is what she wants.  I believe I can give that to her, and I think there may be a part of her that wants me to be that guy, to have a part of her always hope that I will fight for her love.  I took time away from comedy after the trial to build our relationship.  I am not above doing that again.

The jokes have the core element of truth in them, just that they are enhanced for comedic effect.  I also helped save the relationship of a friend of mine.  She was ready to give up on someone but I spoke to her from the point of view of this guy making mistakes because I made the same mistakes from the same place inside.  She reengaged and thanked me.  That made me feel good.

But like I said, after Friday, there is one question I want to ask her.  No, make that two.  Two questions that I have never asked her before in the two years I’ve known her.  Two questions that would possibly help me continue comedy.  Two questions that could help me focus better at work, providing she would answer them truthfully.  They are two simple questions that if I could get them answered would probably make my life more bearable to live, give me more clarity, more focus, allow me to be (somewhat) happy and to not have to live with this worry.

Worry can turn into regret.  With a comic, once the worry turns into regret it can lead to a slippery slope of behaviour.

So at 9:30 on Saturday night say a prayer for me.  I will need it.  This will be the most difficult set I’ve ever done because of the thoughts, the questions that will roll around in my mind while I am trying to get through my material on stage.  I’m changing.  I’m trying.  I’m not quitting comedy.  But it’s tough.  Very tough.  Especially when you know she is your future wife, future mother of your child.  You know what she is trying to accomplish with the silent treatment.  You know what’s in her heart, and I can do nothing to help except continue to remind everyone on the comedy stage about how big of a doorknob I am when it came to dating her.

This really sucks.  A lot.  But I will still keep trying for the foreseeable future.  I will commit to the pain on stage, the disappointment.  I will connect to it.  The audience will respond to that human connection to the pain.  The set will go well.  Then the question becomes “well how did that make you feel?”

Then what?  How do you top that?  I don’t know how to top it, all I know is that she probably won’t care enough to care.  Yes, with no response at all, us comics tend to exaggerate and obsess over the negative aspects, at least that’s how I approach it because the negative aspects are what she’s reinforced to me more than once over these last several months.  There’s nothing funny about that.  It’s just sad.  Heartbreakingly sad.

Say a prayer for me Saturday night.  I’m thinking I will need one.


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