At least they prayed…
It does not matter how carefully we plan and dream, life is full of left turns and surprises.
I had my summer all planned out.
A book to write.
Classes to finish.
Blogs to write.
Parties to go to.
Gigs that made me thrilled with excitement.
And then life happened and I had to choose.
Six weeks ago I received a call that a family member was in the hospital and they were never coming home.
I caught the next flight out and canceled everything on my calendar to be with them.
I’d do it again in a heart beat.
Now the good news is, they ARE coming home very soon. And for that I’m thrilled.
The past six weeks were full of twists and turns and white knuckle dives as we watched this family member come to the brink of death and back again.
They are a fighter.
So if you’ve wondered where I’ve been. I’ve been at the bedside of someone near and dear to me.
It was the right choice.
I hope you understand.
I was only half crazy when I got married. Then I had kids.
So here I am in New York, minding my own business when what to my wondering eyes should appear? A comedy Dojo workshop in my little town, led by none other than Chili Challis at the Syracuse Funny Bone.
Chili was one of the judges for a comedy contest way back when. He’d seen me once, maybe twice on stage and I am fairly certain I stunk both times.
Most of you guys remember that story. Little old still struggling with stage fright, had only played open mics at bars up until this point ME,drove her shaking butt 15 hours to Indiana to put it all out there in front of the pros. If you guys recall, that was the show where I was told to never EVER do comedy again. Give it up, find something else – go do movies or something. And that was just my first night. I had to do TWO more sets after that. Good Golly Miss Molly.
That was also the time when my car got stolen upon returning home and learned if you are a comic, no one including the local police will ever believe your car was actually stolen and not repossessed.
Saving Grace to that whole week was one lone comic from NY who called bullshit on my entire set. I’d bought into this “I’m nobody special” lie and it really came through on stage. He saw it. He also saw a funny, beautiful woman behind the fear as well as potential and told me to go home, reevaluate not only my set, but my belief system. And I did.
I spent 14 months with a broken leg and took my entire set and beliefs about myself back to the studs and started over.
I remembered Chili from the contest. One because he looks like Jerry Garcia and is funny as heck and two his words were far more kind and I took them to heart.
“We all have bad nights, do this as long as you want to, whether you go pro or wind up with a really cool story for your grand-kids, it doesn’t matter. This is one of the scariest jobs on the planet. The fact that you got up there, says a lot.”
I’m back performing in Tulsa between trips to NY and my new voice feels more right than ever. When the notice for a dojo led by Chili came across my Facebook feed, I jumped on it. Tuesday night close to a dozen want to be comics met at the Funny Bone, we shared parts of our sets, worked out kinks, gave each other advice and got to know each other.
On Wednesday night we ALL came back for a show case, including three people who’d never done a live show before. Their courage fueled mine. Chili hosted the night and Thaddeus Challis headlined. They were hilarious and they made it fun for us, which translated to us having fun on stage and made an enjoyable evening for the crowd.
That’s how it’s supposed to work, and most of the time it does.
While it’s true the world is full of egos, there are those who reach out, reach back, and give a hand up. Comics are some of the most generous people you will meet. They are generous with praise, encouragement, and laughter.
You don’t have to be a comic to be generous and kind, you can do that in your every day life.
What dreams do you have?
They don’t have to be something as scary as public speaking, they can be anything. Why not try. You may succeed, or you may wind up with a really cool story to tell your grand kids.
Either way is a win.
You got this, now go for it!
My girlfriend and I are going to see Mark Lowry this weekend at First Baptist Church in downtown Tulsa. There are still tickets available and if you want to come, click on the photo below for more information. Hope to see you guys there! And yes, for those who know my history with Mark Lowry concerts, I am stopping off at the hairdresser BEFORE I go to the concert. No more senior citizen fliers for this chic.
FCC DISCLAIMER: No goods or services have been given in exchange for this endorsement. A lot of my readers are fans and I wanted to share concert information. I am not associated with Mr. Lowry in any way, shape or form.
I performed in a comedy contest two years ago. One judge told me to never perform comedy again after my first night. I had two more sets to do after that. Honestly all he did was piss me off — I may or may not have semi-intentionally torched that bridge while I was still standing on it. I may receive the grace at some point to make that right and I may not. I don’t know yet.
A second judge watched all three sets and then called bullshit on 90% of my jokes.
“If who you are communicating on stage is who you really think you are, then someone lied to you. Go find out who you really are, she’s the woman I want to see in your comedy next year.”
I then went home and promptly broke my ankle, had two major surgeries on my leg and was left without my go to for approval places, giving me 14 months to think about what both comics told me.
Neither judge was wrong.
I let fear rule my choices in jokes.
I wanted everyone to like me.
That was my first “big” comedy deal and I played it safe and I played it weak. I played “cute” to win people over.
It’s no wonder they didn’t like me, I didn’t even like the woman I pretended to be on stage.
I spent 14 months taking more than my comedy set back to the studs, I took myself there and I ended 2014 with a lot of letting go.
My trash pile includes:
Friends on Facebook who were only there because I thought I had something to prove — They were there as a see, you should have believed in me – look at me now kind of thing. Some were people I used to know but am no longer friends with and others weren’t even people I actually like in real life.
Names I’ve been called, things I’ve been told. Words like “lazy”, “Slut”, “Bitch”, “unwanted”, “stupid”, “bossy”, “Controlling”, “Bastard”.
Filling that wound with applause and achievements.
My need to control people by being cute or overly submissive.
Mind reading. I suck at it anyway.
Places and friends that are not safe.
Tilting at windmills — wasting energy and trying to change what cannot be changed. Controlling others.
Purposefully giving people a reason not to like me if I think they already don’t. Burning bridges while standing on them.
The desire to be known being over run by the fear of being found out. — that’s a big one and I’ll write more about that as the year unfolds.
Now you’d think after 30 years in a recovery program, I’d have all of this down cold. Notsomuch. One of the worst tag lines that’s going to take work for me is being told,
“I can’t wait for the day when I can prove to the world what a bitch you really are.”
That sentence alone has been the root of so many choices. That’s the sentence that I’ve allowed to define my actions and word choices for so many years. It also defined my sets and choice of jokes.
That’s the fear both comics saw manifest itself in that small theater in Indiana.
I learned a lot at The Cove. I learned that I’m not a bitch and that seasons pass just fine without my interference. I’m not any of those other labels either.
I’ve learned that I can know that for myself without having to inappropriately lean on those who already knew that for me.
So, I call a do over not only in my approach to comedy, but my approach to relationships as well and 2015 is just the year to do that.
Happy New Years you guys.