The joy is in the journey - a quote that is always a part of some inspirational account you run into on your Instagram. To be frank, for years, I hated the word journey, mostly because, I feel like whenever someone doesn’t know what the hell they are doing with their life they throw the word journey. "I’m on a journey, it’s my journey and it’s a-ok." Girl, you’ve been traveling for years, land somewhere already!
The pursuit of the next thing is so ingrained in ourselves. We are always searching for that next level, something that will be proof that we are going places and improving our lives, because being where you are right now might be good, but not good enough. That kind of pursuit of happiness can make you restless and lead to many disappointments. Luckily, not everyone feels that way. I recently spoke to some of my fellow comedians and I asked them “What is your dream in comedy?” And a friend told me “I’m already living my dream. I moved to New York to do stand up and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I might not be well-known and make tons of money but I run a great show and work with cool, talented people, having an amazing time, and to me that’s the dream.” I thought about that for days mostly because it was a fresh perspective, the one I don’t see often as everyone is so focused on getting to the next best thing, higher level and grabbing bigger opportunities.
I realized that being a successful comedian means different things for different people. Some might not see themselves successful until they are at the point where they are headlining theaters and having Netflix specials and starring in the movies, while for others it might be just having their own show in the city and just enjoying every moment of it. Only you can determine what is a successful comedy career for you, regardless of what you see on television. We can’t all be comedy superstars and that’s ok as we all have a different purpose in life. I’ve been in comedy since 2014 and I learned that the most important thing is to enjoy the process, where you’re at right now, at this moment, that's what you need to embrace. That doesn’t mean you can’t be excited for the future, or plan it, of course you should, you need to have a vision for yourself, but at the same time it’s important to understand where you are in your career now and how you can make the best of it.
Comedy is a funny business that requires a lot of focus. Sure, every profession requires that but I think that sometimes we see comedy only through the fun lens and bringing any seriousness to this fantasy of good time is kind of a drag. But the reality is that comedy is a part of show BUSINESS and the name is literally telling you it’s going to require some serious work. Making it as an artist and entertainer is much harder than people think, and although the profession looks cool and attractive there’s a ton of work behind the scenes. There’s no blueprint on how to make it in comedy, even if you are familiar with a few cardinal steps, at the end of the day the experience is different for everyone. Every stage requires dedication which is much easier if you learn to enjoy this, oftentimes, gruesome marathon. It can be hard going to countless open mics, rewriting jokes, getting booked, trying to maintain the balance between your day job, comedy and personal life as oftentimes something’s gonna suffer. It’s easy to lose patience when the progress is slow but if this was easy everyone would be doing it.
As I run a comedy open mic I often meet comics who started doing comedy recently and they are already frustrated with this process and often complain how someone is getting booked and they are not. The reality is they are simply not ready for a real audience yet but they fail to recognize that. Sometimes they think they started doing comedy too late in life so they have to hurry up and catch up, and it just doesn’t work that way. Every label you want to add to your name, comedian, producer, writer, it all requires a tremendous amount of time and effort and if you are just doing it for the label and not for the love of the game you will be having some real mental struggles in this business.
People ask me all the time, how can I sit through 12+ hours of hosting open mics per week and the answer is simple - I enjoy what I do. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have bad days when I just simply don’t have as much energy and wittiness to sit through it all but I realized that it is my calling and somehow I manage. It gives me a great joy when I see people’s progress, when just a few years ago they were working their bits at my open mic and now they are sharing those jokes on late night tv and Comedy Central. I’ve seen the work and dedication comics go through every day and I get a first row to their struggles and their success. It gives me direction and inspiration when I think of my own career and to me, that’s rewarding.
This comedy life is not for the faint of heart. Every open mic I open with "Welcome to the most supportive room, where all your jokes come to die. Now let’s have some fun." And that’s the secret to success: having fun trying to make it, cause if it’s not fun for you why be a part of it? Not like someone is forcing you to be a comedian. Laughter might be the best medicine but we are not saving lives, we are just trying to make it fun. So yeah, enjoy that freaking journey, I can’t wait to see where it takes you.