God Told Me To “Take A Seat”

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A comedians life is never simple.  It’s one fraught with anxiety, self-doubt and the feeling that you are alone on an island.  Today was one of those days where at church, I felt convicted to change a major part of my act for 2019.

During worship my mind was racing.  Going into worship, I had a tortured mind.  Some comics or creative types will have this, feeling like their mind can’t ever shut off.  They are either thinking of material or coming up with reasons why things won’t work.

I had all these thoughts that I’m no good, as last week I got shit on pretty good by people who were supposed to help me.  I came away from last week feeling like a shit comedian and was publicly ridiculed for it, raked across the coals by my parents, lied to by an employer, torn down by a social worker that’s supposed to help me, and I cannot take a compliment in a job interview.  I don’t have the ability to say thank-you during the interview or comment positively on something an employer says.  I screwed that away in the first couple of minutes during the interview.  So here I sit unemployed still, and on assistance, 6 months and counting.

The day started with something inside telling me to bring a notebook to church, to take notes during the sermon and maybe I can get an idea for my Christian material.

I started talking to a couple of guys about something I found out about the Bible, and one gentleman gave me the perfect setup for my Christian routine.  It was laid out perfectly, in front of me.  He could see the wheels starting to turn.  Then worship happened.

When God wants to get through to me, I don’t need to pray or cry out, I just get convicted instantly.  It’s a feeling inside that I know is the right thing to do, and it gives me reasons why it’s the right way to go.  The conviction has to do with my Christian material.

In that moment I didn’t worship, didn’t sing, didn’t lift up my hands.  I was convicted and was hit with a revelation that I was going down a path that seemed right, but was against my best interests in the end.

Due to this conviction that came upon me, I am here to announce that I will not be performing any Christian material at any show for an indefinite period of time.  I prefer not to be introduced as the city’s only Christian comic, for the time being.  The only thing that will not change is the fact I will continue to be the cleanest comedian of the open mic bunch.

I came to the realization (conviction) that I cannot do something I don’t believe in.  Even if I don’t believe in what I’m saying on stage, I have to be able to say it with enough conviction to sell it to the audience, because in comedy the truth is what will connect you with the audience.  If you don’t have truth or authenticity in your act, you’re screwed.

In that moment I didn’t have lots of faith, either in God or in my ability.  I’m sure that He will give me a break and get me a job and stop having people shit on me, but I don’t know when.  Sure, people are worse off than I am, but at the same time, I’ve spent two years in total of being unemployed, and have had not one, not two, but three periods of unemployment that has lasted at least six months now.  I don’t have a bank account with money in it, in debt, the only pair of shoes I have is a 20 dollar pair that bruise my feet because they have no support.  You can tell me I have stuff to be thankful for at the moment, but I don’t really see it.  I just have questions with no answers.

Things could get better next week.  I could get a job that I need which helps me in every area of my life, but I’m not getting too excited about it.  I can only hope that I don’t screw up this interview on Tuesday and am able to convince the employer that I am the one who deserves a chance to work.

Comedy is the only thing I’ve had that has kept me sane and was that light at the end of the tunnel.  These last several years despite what went on around me, failed relationships, multiple job losses, family strife, I’ve had comedy.  It’s the one thing at the end of the day that I can look forward to.

You know what I cannot figure out?  During the prayer time before the sermon, I was right at the front of the stage, I’ve never been in that position before.  But when I got there, I got prayed over and my mind stopped racing.  The racing thoughts of me being a piece of shit had stopped.  Just like that.  I am probably the most tortured one emotionally and mentally in that whole congregation.  Nobody understands what it’s like.  So I wondered how in the world I didn’t end up in the looney bin, spiral downward further, turn to drugs or booze or kill myself.  How did it happen that I managed to stay on the straight and narrow path while my life turns completely to shit?

I remember back to the day when I decided that I was in comedy to succeed.  At first it was fun, but the more I got bullied, harassed, threatened and slandered, the more it hurt me.  Until the one day my bully pushed too far, and I started to push back.

I was getting ripped on stage by the host after each comedians set was done.  My friends sitting at my table were laughing at me.  In a room full of about 50 – 75 people, that’s embarrassing.  But in that moment, I made a solemn vow to myself, under my breath.

with everyone around me laughing at me, I told myself that I didn’t know how, or when, but there was going to come a day when I get better at comedy and make him eat his words.  I am going to one day be good enough that my friends will believe in me and I will receive compliments on my performance

I didn’t pray to God in that moment, and my faith was not that much back then, but in my mind I just knew that things would never be the same.  Then I got a temporary ban from the comedy club and was lead to my comedy coach, the only one who believed in me when nobody else did.  I didn’t even believe in myself.  But he did and I turned things around in such a spectacular fashion that nobody saw coming, the club MC made a bet with somebody else that I would suck after my coaching.  But I did so well, I got the most laughs that night and the most consistent laughs that night as well.

The faith I had to succeed in comedy dwarfs any faith people have.  I am serious.  I had an unwavering commitment to the process and instead of questioning my comedy coach, I decided to submit to his will and do whatever was asked of me, without question.

Why can’t my faith be like that?  Maybe because it deals with life in general, and comedy is really the only part of my life that I can control.  It sounds selfish and bad, but I could care less how you judge me.  What matters is I’m being authentic and true to myself.

Having said all that, at the end of the day I cannot do any Christian material (at the present time) with the state of my mind as is.  It can’t be done.

I could do material about struggling with my faith, which I openly do.  But to properly write that material will take some work on my part and right now I do not have the motivation whatsoever to begin to achieve that.  It isn’t like writing material about your struggles with daily life.  Since this is a faith issue, I need to be careful how I word things, not because I am worried about offending people, but to make sure I can produce material that will be relatable to others.  What’s the point of doing Christian material and being the only one in the province to do this, if it can’t be done right?

With Christian material, I feel like I can’t do it if I don’t necessarily believe it wholeheartedly, you know?  I could just recycle the few Christian jokes I have right now, but I don’t like to be like some comics that never write anything new and stick to their same old stuff.  I have to evolve and try staying one step ahead of the curve, even if that curve takes me off my charted course.

So, I will sit down soon and work the over ten plus pages of Christian material that I have right now.  It’s just ideas and outlines with nothing really concrete as of yet.  Right now it’s like I purchased a 500 piece puzzle and I put together the pieces around the perimeter, then dumped the remaining pieces in the middle of the puzzle and just left it there.

Most Christian comics will tell material that glorifies God.  With me, I feel like I need to talk about the struggles with my faith.  But if I’m going to go down that road, I need to have some sort of an end game, a conclusion to that story so people will follow it.  My material has always been about me struggling to fit in, not able to get it right, along those lines.  I want to try and stay true to myself, while making sure that I tell the story properly.

I will not do any Christian themed material until I have the following:

  • a 5 minute set
  • a 15 minute set
  • a 30 minute set

The first responsibility I have, as a comedian, is to myself.  I must make sure the material is authentic and true to who I am.  The second responsibility is to the audience, that I can deliver that material properly to get the desired result.  It used to be that when I was going through things, I could help get myself through it by using the struggle as material, whether it was me living at the Salvation Army for several months or getting dumped by my ex girlfriend not once, not twice, but three times.

That was easy to do because nobody else really knew the situation, so the moment I opened my mouth on these subjects, I was deemed to be the expert.  But with Christian material, I have a church body that will hold me accountable to my material.  I owe it to everybody involved to get this right, even if it means taking everything I created and tear it apart to remodel it.

One member of my church, a good friend, told me that my recent material seemed like I was making Christianity out to be a joke, God included.  That was never my intent.  The people who have followed me for a few years know this.  Also, the ten pages I have to work on is completely different from the previous Christian material I did.  The stories are compelling, well told, fun, and funny.

You don’t have to believe me.  You can even have cautious optimism.  I have neither of those things.  I have been working with the top comedy writer in Los Angeles now for almost six years.  God placed him in my path and allowed me to succeed when all signs around me pointed to failure. You have no idea how bad it got at the beginning.  If you think what I’m going through is rough now, it didn’t compare to the treatment I received at the hands of certain local comedians on a nightly basis, on stage and on social media.

But I rose from being repeatedly kicked around, rose from the ashes and pulled off a transformation (with my comedy coaches help) that nobody, and I mean NOBODY saw coming.  You have no idea who you are dealing with.  The rest of my life may not elicit much confidence, but I’m here to tell you that I have a firm iron clad resolve when it comes to my stand up comedy.  Nobody writes more, nobody has studied comedy more and nobody takes it more seriously.

Keep doubting my ability.  I made my critics look foolish before, and I plan on doing it again.

Also, there will be a return to the professional comedy club here in Saskatoon, where I will get an opening half hour set.  It will be clean, Christian comedy, and it (hopefully) will be on the last Friday of the month when the church takes a break from Friday night services to engage in fellowship outside of the church.

Wouldn’t it be fitting for the congregation to take the Friday off to come out to the comedy club, watch me work (get paid) as a professional comedian and do my clean, Christian comedy for a half hour.  No notes.  No breaks.

I back up what I say.  You can take it to the bank, this city will soon have a professional comedian working the paid comedy clubs in Saskatoon and beyond.

I heard a good definition of success today.  Success isn’t how far you’ve come in life.  Success is how far you’ve come from where you started.

Based on that definition, I’d say that Trevor Dean is the most successful comedian in Saskatoon’s history.

 

2 Comments

  1. Vern
    Mar 26, 2019

    The journey to success is long and winding, with many detours and obsticals. This path builds patience, perseverance and hopefully makes the destination worth the trials alongs the way.
    Please make sure that you stop occasionally and take in some of the beauty that surrounds you! Sometimes we are so focussed on the road ahead we miss the beautiful things found in the ditches, the forest and sometimes even the side roads.
    Try to use the “past” as the wind for your sails, but never allow it to be your anchor!
    I wish for you great success.

    • Trevor Dean
      Mar 26, 2019

      Not much beautiful around me at the moment. You try having three different times in your life of unemployment of at least six months and see what positives come out of it when you’re alone and a family that runs hot and cold.

      I still get publicly ridiculed by other comics for not being good enough to appear on their shows. Nobody ever has me on as an advertised featured act, yet newbies get the top billings? I’m on assistance and haven’t been able to drive since mid January because I can’t afford to. I get one check a month and it covers jack shit. I’m surprised I haven’t spiraled down any further. I’m just on auto pilot. Nothing excites me. Nothing really worth looking forward to. I’ve got to be the biggest joke in the church.

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