The Defining Narrative?

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When I sit down to write a blog post, it’s usually based on what I feel in the moment.  Yes, those thoughts and emotions may not last the next day, or next week for that matter.  But, they are part of the narrative and why The Stand-Up Diaries is such a compelling read.

My plans, thoughts and feelings can change from one moment to the next.  I am aware people read this that do not tell me.  Honestly, I have been through so much as a result of other people these last several years that I really don’t care what you think about me.  I’m broken, imperfect.  Some days I have faith, some days I don’t, while some days I have faint hope, while others I’m just sort of running my emotions on auto-pilot.  This is my life.  Take it for what it is, a life of struggle that consistently falls short.

I don’t have much of anything in my life at the moment in terms of what can define you, in a positive light.  What defines you?  If it defines you, I bet you take it for granted.  I know that some of you do.  I can tell, because…..well, I just can.  How often do you pray in church with tears down your face being thankful for everything that I don’t have? (job, family, kids, career, reliable vehicle, savings account….to name a few.  oh crap, throw a relationship/spouse into that mix too).  Some people I know of use what defines them to belittle me and to elevate their stature.  In times like those, it makes me feel like I’ll never get it right, no matter how much the fire burns within me to get it right and to prove them wrong.

In life you are defined by what you have, at least to the worlds eyes.  So, what do I have?  No family to call my own, no career, no job, no savings, no nice vehicle, no date on the horizon, no relationship, no pets.  I am aware that God does not see people in this light, but when everyone who has known you for years sees you constantly in the gutter, unable to so much as buy yourself a break, it’s difficult for me even on the best of days to go forward with bold confidence about how God sees me.  Some days I do, but most days I don’t.  Lots of people my age talk about how they struggled the way I did when they were younger.  Well, uh, that’s just it.  And somehow people think their struggles in their 20s compare to my struggles in my mid 40s.

So, how does a comedian define him/herself?

I could list many things that a comic can use to define success in stand-up comedy terms.  Certainly there are a few things I can point to that would define me, but what really defines me in comedy comes from what I do not have.

I am not nearly as successful as some would like to believe, even though I am probably the most authentic comedian around these parts.  Headliners don’t want to work with me, I don’t get asked to do out of town gigs, even with the open mic community.  I post video or audio clips that go unnoticed by most of you, without a single like or comment about its content.  Everyone else in the comedy community gets a level of interaction or excitement around their sets.  People are willing to engage them with comments about what they see or hear.  Don’t I deserve that same respect?  How do you think you’d feel if you work this hard at something, only to have nobody on the surface at least, appear to care?

I can’t get a paid spot on a show these days, let alone have someone that runs a room ask me to host or be a featured act that’s advertised ahead of time.  Speaking of which, it’s a good thing I take bad pictures most times, as it saves me the hassle of combing through countless minutes of video to find a more recent picture that makes me look professional, yet somewhat flattering.

This brings me to what is undoubtedly my favourite movie I recently stumbled across.  It’s a Bollywood movie.  Yes, Bollywood, as in a film from India that’s spoken 90% in Hindi and the other 10% in English.

Watch the trailer below.  You will not be able to tell me that this trailer didn’t make you smile!  (it will help to change your YouTube settings and watch this with its English subtitles)

Now, you may wonder what this film has to do with what I’ve been talking about.

The film, as you may have figured out, stars Shah Rukh Khan as a tour guide that helps a young lady to find her lost engagement ring.  (Khan is one of the most popular actors in the world and very good as his 25 year career can attest to).

Khan’s character in the film is defined very well by the opening sequence in the film.  He’s a tour guide.  Sure, he has no fixed address and sees the many sights Europe has to offer, but it isn’t enough.  He doesn’t have much.  His life is empty with little substance and has been fired several times from his job.

Then he meets the character of Anushka Sharma, the young lady whose engagement ring is lost.  At one point she tells Harry (Shah Rukh Khan) that he’s lonely and as long as she’s around, he won’t have to feel lonely.  It’s an amazing movie full of dancing, bright and vibrant colours and no vulgarity either.  You can rent it on YouTube or get it from your local library, when I’ve returned my copy.

No, you cannot lay your identity in a member of the opposite sex that takes a fancy to you.  But it’s a starting point.  A starting point that allows you to expand your horizons, someone to share your hopes, fears and dreams with.  It’s a starting point that gives you hope that things are on the right track, that you really can turn them around, a starting point that makes you feel valued, cared for and loved.  A starting point that makes you feel a little less lonely in the world.

I deserve a Sejal in my life, along with good breaks and some stability for my life in general.  I also deserve not to feel so lonely in my comedy career.

I am a Christian who got baptized that still struggles with their faith and hasn’t prayed much in the last several weeks.  What for?  I can’t get the attention of the young lady from church I asked out.  I don’t have much confidence to make a great employee at this point, despite the fact my references came back excellent when they were checked.  Employers mislead me and don’t keep their word during the job interview, and well, I’d like to say that comics fall into that same category, but that would have to mean they offer me something to begin with.

Being a comedian isn’t easy. For those of you whom the thought of going up on stage terrifies you, try going down a new path several years in and trying to do Christian themed material.  Nobody else does this in the province.  I mean sure, there is the occasional comic that will make a good, clean joke about Christianity, but it’s rare.  I’m trying to build a new identity and to put together a brand new half hour’s worth of straight Christian comedy, from start to finish, though most Christian comics I have followed do the majority of their sets as Christian comedy with clean material thrown in about themselves.

I’m trying, but it’s tough when you think people don’t care.  People will ask how it’s going, but nobody comes to watch and offer an objective opinion, let alone take the time to listen and offer an opinion.  Oh wait, only one person has done that so far on their own time to listen.  I know some that attend church won’t go to a bar and listen to an open mic night I’m performing at, so what am I supposed to do for me to get the word out and build up my profile?  Do a comedy night at a church?  Sounds like a great idea, but how do I do that?  Who can help me?  How would I market myself?  Which church?

My name is Trevor Dean, a comedian who is lost.  I’d like nothing more than to find my Sejal and maybe find my meaning, my purpose…..because I’m beginning to wonder if struggle is just meant to stay with me for the rest of my days.

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