Thoughts from a low level headliner

I’m in a strange place. I’m a stand up comedian.

Reading those words feel unreal. What the hell is a stand up comedian anyway?

I’m in a place where reality is losing it’s definition. I’ve read there is an age in our lives that define what mentality as an adult we are officially going to be forever. Although you grow older, your mind will look at life with the same thought process you had at the age you realized how you wanted to process the world.

I started stand up at 22. But I didn’t realize how I was going to identify myself in the stand up world until a few years in. It was around 27. I just knew I was going to fully chase this stand up dream.

At 27, I was, at the very least, a working feature. Enough money to drop the need for a regular job but not enough to move to California. That move was still 2 years away.

It was the beginning of not only defining my voice onstage but even more so offstage. It was the year I officially became unafraid to let the emotion pierce through my words and defend myself when I truly felt wronged. Even thinking of the exact moment now still makes my heart pump a little faster.

It was a moment where I realized my truth is my truth and that’s all I can fight with. I didn’t allow someone to power trip over my kindness. I officially told someone “Fuck You” but with the feeling of willing to lose it all.

What a fucking moment.

I still get nervous around comedians that have done more than I. I was standing next to a fellow comedian as we were beginning to board the same plane today. I didn’t recognize her at first but I was extremely exhausted. Also, I took an edible earlier that morning. But then BOOM! “Oh man, that’s _______! Oh she’s so cool and funny. I should say hi. Oh no, but I’m stoned. What would she think of me. And she’s probably in the zone. The zone of boarding this plane. Okay, I’m just going to blame this one on the earliness of the flight when we sit down one day and laugh it up. Alright.”

Then when we were waiting outside the baggage claim to be picked up, I just kept thinking, “Well now it’s just rude for you not to have said hi, Nick. She was there and you should have said hi! And now you really look dumb. Well, I got a haircut so maybe she wouldn’t even know it was me. I hope she didn’t see the Comedy Works hoodie I was wearing. I’m not a comedian. I’m just a fan.”

That’s how I was at 27.

But I’m not anymore.

I’ve been living off of only stand up for 8 years now. But other than a few big career moments, it’s hard to feel like I’ve progressed. Maybe that’s part of being driven. It’s never enough.

But God, why isn’t it enough yet! I’ve given up so much of a regular life that there is no clear path anymore. I’m walking through the woods. I hope all of it is worth it.

Lost love. Empty resume. Bad sleep. Tanks and tanks of gas. So many weird moments on this journey that only seem weird when you start talking about it. It all makes sense at the time. In the moment, there is nothing more real than what I’m doing. But looking back, it’s always a feeling of wonderment or confusion or looking for evidence that it actually happened.

Once the moment is over and the stage lights are turned off, did it ever really happen?

I geek out with my fellow comedians. I look up to so many. And there are too many names when people ask me “who’s your favorite comic?” But when they ask me, “so do you have anything coming up?” I’m back in that forrest.

When does it start feeling real? When is it official to the universe that I’ve made the right choice and I’ve followed the right path? Is it ever official? Am I ever going to sit down with that comic and actually laugh that I was intimidated by them as we boarded the same flight?

I’m struggling with knowing myself. I’m in a constant search to define myself. Much like at 27. Am I the guy that everyone tells me I am? What comes after the compliment?

Am I only existing when I’m onstage? Or am I doing anything important when I’m not?

Someone told me it’s about leaving a legacy. But does that mean dying without knowing your value? I hope I’ve done this right. I hope I lived right. I know I didn’t love fully but I hope they knew they were loved. And the joke is never done. The live performance is the purest. I just want to get to the point where you trust me and I can finally be who I am inside.

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