One thing I have realized while being immersed in the New York comedy scene is that I have changed a lot. Not only as a comedian and writer, but as a person too.
Not sure if many others feel this way about themselves, but when I analyze myself, I am a far cry from that inexperienced guy getting off the plane at LaGuardia Airport with no idea of how he was going to start in comedy or if that girl from the plane was going to punch him in the face for accidentally pulling her weave when getting up from his seat (seriously, it was an accident).
It all started with a class instructed by Jim Mendrinos at Gotham Comedy Club.
I met some great people during that class, including Sonja Savanovic, who I now co-produce with for Comedians on the Loose. After that, we all went our separate ways and very few of us actually stayed in comedy. I stuck with the open mic scene for a good year; then life got in the way and I stopped. Kind of pulled a Judd Apatow, but on a much smaller and less important scale.
Then I got back into the comedy scene in April 2016 with Sonja Savanovic and went at it full force and haven’t stopped. We made the jump into production after an opportunity fell into our laps and haven’t looked back since then.
One thing I’ve noticed since jumping back into the scene is I have become a more confident person. My mother calls it “overly confident” but I call it embracing my inner savage. Sorry Mom, you just can’t win.
Why do I believe in my truth as a savage? Here’s why.
I don’t care what others think of me
At the start of comedy, I was very self-conscious.
I was worried about my physical appearance, how I sounded, if I was “gay enough”...the list goes on! My insecurities would play out on stage and blocked me from really owning my stage persona.
For stand-ups, it’s okay to have insecurities. Some of the best jokes have been written out of insecurity, but there is a difference between having insecurities and being insecure. Insecurities are shortcomings we believe are part of us that we can grow to accept; being insecure is a mindset that holds us back from our true potential.
Stand-up has really helped me to accept my own insecurities and really own who I am. It helped me get rid of the negative thoughts that I felt other people were thinking. Now, I really don’t give a damn about what others think and I can credit comedy for that. I express my opinions freely and go about life with the mindset of “I’m going to do me” while giving the world the middle finger.
I look at every situation objectively
Objective thinking is what made the difference to finding my inner savage. Before comedy became such a major part of my life, I was a people pleaser wanting to make sure everyone was happy and investing so much into the emotion of a situation. This is NO way to live life because you end up forgetting about yourself.
Now I focus on what makes sense and what doesn’t make sense in any given situation. Whether it’s in my professional or personal life, if something doesn’t make sense or is wasting time, I move on so I can learn and grow from it.
So what if others want to wallow in their self-pity or believe their own crap? We should never stress out over the things we cannot change and the truth is there should be no room for people who complicate things in our lives. As Beyonce says: “to the left, to the left.”
It’s not about being an asshole, it’s about doing what’s right for you. Plain and simple.
I’m not afraid to make moves to further myself
Stand-up comedy helped me develop the courage to go beyond and do more.
If you think about stand-up in a broader scope, it’s essentially public speaking. Public speaking is commonly listed as the number one fear for most people; it even surpasses death (shocker).
Once you have gained confidence on stage in front of an audience with your own raw material, you can pretty much do anything. Professionally, I’m more driven and organized and I’m not afraid to make a move that could potentially further my career. Even personally, if something can be done to help me grow, I’m all for it.
This is a much different mindset from the timid person I once was who was worried more about not appearing aggressive because I wanted everyone to like me; now I embrace the aggressive energy because it’s such a natural part of me and has benefited me in many ways.
Overall, I like who I have become as a result of pursuing stand-up comedy. It’s a common belief that comics hate themselves, but that’s not the case for me.
While I am different, it’s a good type of different and believe anyone can achieve some form of growth from diving into the scene.
How have you changed since starting stand-up comedy? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below!