It’s a pretty standard question every comic has answered at least a couple hundred times. ;) I was interviewed recently and got the chance to really reflect on it. And while I can cite tons of influential experiences and people (seeing Cosby live at the State Theatre in New Brunswick when I was in junior high, the Robert Townsend specials me and my cousin Mel used to sneak and watch in the middle of the nite, my Uncle Carl making me tell him a new joke every time I saw him, living with my Dad, who is quite possibly the most undercover silly person on the face of earth), there is one thing in particular that really set the wheels in motion:
About 5 years ago, I was seeing a pretty awesome guy. And one night we were on the phone having that “what would you do if you could have any job in the world” conversation. I won’t say what his was because I think he visits here from time to time and I don’t wanna have a fight on my hands ;) But I remember telling him that I would love to be a comedian. And instead of laughing or dismissing it, he asked me if I had ever tried it. At that point in time, that was just a ridiculous question to me. TRY it? No way! I don’t know how to be a comedian!
But then he was like hey, it’s not like you want to be an astronaut or something. You can do this. He asked what I was scared of and I remember saying, “What if I go somewhere and try comedy and I’m awful and people I know see me there? I’ll be so embarrassed.”
So the next day while he was at work, he went online and researched open mics in Baltimore. He sent me a bunch of listings and was like, we’ll go to Baltimore. You won’t know anyone, and if you stink we won’t tell anybody.
Sounded like a plan to me. But we never got that far. For reasons I won’t go into, he and I grew apart, but before we went our separate ways, I found (or he found and sent to me — I’m not 100% on this part anymore, but I like to think he found it ;) an ad for a stand-up comedy workshop at the DC Improv. I signed up for it and remember being so excited when I called to tell him. At the workshop I met and bonded with three other aspiring comics, one of whom Dawan Owens has since become one of my best friends on the planet. We didn’t really pick up much in the 1-day workshop but it was enough to have met each other and have other like-minded folks to bounce ideas off and encourage each other. After about a month of weekend writing sessions Dawan, another new comic named Ron, and I went to our first open mic. And the rest is history…
Nearly 5 years later ‘he’ has never been to a show, but whenever I do hear from him, he’s always super enthusiastic about my career… I’ll always be grateful to him and it just goes to show that you never know who might come into your life and change its direction. And you never know what you might be good at if you never try. All you can do is try to be open to new possibilities.
Live your dream.