When I was in my 20s, I did standup comedy. For years, I didn’t tell people about this part of my past, and in retrospect, I have absolutely no idea why.
For people who know me well now, the fact that this is a hobby I once had probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise. I think my ability to make people laugh is one of my best qualities.
I’ve only recently begun thinking about the time I spent doing standup because I happened to be in the room when my kids were watching America’s Got Talent earlier this week. A (very funny, by the way) standup comic auditioned for the show, and when I saw her name, I thought she might be someone I’d performed with a few times doing warmup shows at a New York comedy club. I found her on Facebook, messaged her, and heard back within an hour. I don’t think she remembered me, but yes, this was the club where she’d gotten her start. It was her.
My kids know I did standup, but having performed with someone my kids saw on TV (and thought was funny) definitely boosts my street cred (See how I’m using their vernacular? That boosts my cred too. Unfortunately, using the word vernacular takes it down a notch).
I don’t think often about the days of doing standup, but seeing this comic on TV did get me wondering. I don’t know that I really made a conscious choice to stop doing standup. I just sort of petered out. It was lots of fun, and it felt amazing to stand on stage and have people laugh at jokes I’d written. But at the same time, there were things that just weren’t for me. Again, for those who know me well, I’m a morning person, and late nights are definitely just not my thing. Unfortunately, comedy clubs are the kind of place that get going after dark. And those nights when I was just a little “off,” there was a drunk heckler in the back of the room, or I did new jokes that just fell flat? That didn’t feel as amazing as getting the laughs.
So, when I saw this comic on TV, I wondered, what would have happened if I’d taken that fork in the road instead of the one I did take? Would I be writing this blog from a fabulous home in the Hollywood Hills, waiting for my driver to come take me to the set of my sitcom? Would I be on tour, selling out big venues? Would I be sleeping in dingy hotel rooms, doing standup in small comedy clubs in the middle of nowhere? Would I be, as my fellow comic has been, earning money delivering groceries around Los Angeles, still doing standup at night, and hoping that America’s Got Talent would finally be my big break, more than 15 years later?
I don’t know, and I’m happy to say, I’m really okay with not knowing. Would I have regretting never trying my hand at standup, something I’d always wanted to do? Probably. Do I regret walking away from it, instead using my sense of humor to teach my kids difficult lessons, keep my students engaged, and get myself through hard times? Not for a minute.
Thank you, I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your waitresses.