A Year Later And What Have We Learned?

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I am more than aware that it’s been longer than a year since my excursion to Los Angeles.  Comedy aside, the only other thing that bummed me out was not going to check out new restaurants while I was there.  Then again, I was alone in California and not the most confident comedian around, which may have lead to me not being that excited to do all these things I planned.  Sure, I walked by some Mexican taco places that were by the hotel, and they smelled amazing when walking past.  Yet, the allure of the familiar golden arches proved too much for me to ignore, especially with limited funds and McDonald’s within walking distance of the motel.

Quick sidenote here……when I got back from Oakland I returned the rental car, which was a ten minute trip from the airport.  I didn’t have any change on me at all, having burnt through my paper money.  So, I had no money for the bus.  No problem, I figured.  So, I walked on a Sunday morning back to the motel room.  A three hour walk ensued, which in all honesty was kind of refreshing and neat.  I wore my Dodgers jersey to make sure I fit in as best I could.  The main road was called Florence Avenue.  I walked past the famous cemetery where Ray Charles is laid to rest, and further up the road, found…….yes, another McDonald’s.  This one was on the corner of Crenshaw and Florence.  Guess what I found when I walked in?

I thought Crenshaw was like a neighbourhood, not necessarily a street.  It never crossed my mind that I might be in a part of L.A. that would make me stand out.  I wanted a drink so I went inside.  Holy crap.

I’m the only white person in the whole place, including staff!  So, I went to the till and got my order and the young lady behind the counter gave it to me and said “take care of yourself out there.”  Then I looked at her and said “what?  Does it look like I’m not from around these parts?”  She got this surprised look on her face.  Then I told her I was just kidding, that I indeed was not from around these parts, but from Canada instead.  A light hearted moment with a dose of reality.  Oh, almost forgot about the cops wearing bullet proof vests and carrying automatic machine guns around the baggage terminal at the airport.

Anyhow, back to the point of this post.

It’s been over a year and I’ve had time to think about what I learned from the open mic at Flappers and from the Comedy Competition.  Remember that I had a chance to go to the comedy store in Hollywood and get a spot there, but it would have been on the same night as the competition.  And with me being the rebel that I am, chose to create my own path, instead of following one that everybody else has taken.  Given how the open mic and the competition went, looking back I’m glad that I did not take up the offer on the comedy store.  If you’re gonna fail, it’s better to eat it at a smaller venue.

In these last few months, I have been able to lock in a bit more on how the audience sees me and what they expect when I take the stage.  Being able to read the audience and set the tone in the first 30 seconds to get them onside, is key.  It’s one of the things I struggled with for a long time, thinking that I just had to come up with a clever opening line.  Not so fast.  Instead of coming up with a clever opening line, you need to be in the moment and take stock of what’s going on around you.  Use it to your advantage.  Besides, even if I am in a new location or an unfamiliar situation, I am confident that I can come up with the right opener to set the tone and establish who I am right from the start.

It was all about confidence, of which I had none.  I fully intended on having confidence in spades, but when you are unsure of yourself to begin with, add to the fact you’re in another country and a major city, everything that you see you’re trying to process through a comedy filter, and it just messes up your head and confuses you beyond belief.  At least, that’s what happened with me.  But, when you are a visitor from out of town and unfamiliar with the local scene, if you at least know who you are on stage and have a good idea on how to manipulate the audience through your material (audience psychology/laugh triggers), it makes life way easier.

I would have liked to go to California with somebody.  Next time, regardless of what shows I do, I will make sure to go with somebody.  Just to have that reassurance would have made a bit of a difference.  But I was there, alone, not really feeling the love.

When I go back to Los Angeles next year, I will have the confidence to get on stage, and my head will be less cluttered from a comedy standpoint.  Life is too short to go it alone.  It’s the important moments to share with somebody that matter the most.  I realize this may not have been the most enthralling post of late, but I am working nights now and my my brain is just about mush, which can only mean I’ve finished my first week on the job and am looking forward to a couple of days off.

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