Set No. 41: Zombies and Drones
On the 20th of July, 2011, I went to the Coles open mic for the first time, in an attempt to start performing comedy again regularly for the first time in over twenty-five years. I came back the next week and did a different four minutes, because I had a bunch of them saved up in my head over twenty-five years — because here's the secret, kids, once you get infected by the stand-up bug, even if you stop performing, you never stop writing bits, not ever, even if the audience is only in your head.
Once I performed for four weeks with a different set, I set myself a goal, which I'm now willing to share. The YouTube video you see here is my 41st set at Coles in 45 weeks (I had to skip a few weeks due to travel, etc.). I've never repeated a set, a joke, or even a line since July of 2011, which has resulted in roughly two hours of original comedy performed since then. I'm going to go to 52 weeks, and for these last 12 sets, I'm going to record them all and post them here, and here. By the end of August, that will result in roughly 48 minutes of new comedy. I might bomb one week. If so, you'll see it.
What I love about this first video is that it demonstrates the life I've chosen. Since last July, I've been lucky enough to be part of some amazing shows. I've performed at Chicago Underground Comedy, The Comedy Bar, the Mayne Stage, Zanies, and the Wilmette Theatre. I've hosted, guested, featured, and headlined. That's not supposed to happen your first year, and I'm very grateful to Cameron Esposito, Adam Burke, and Dan Telfer, who were all instrumental in making that happen. But those shows were the gravy. The meat is what you see in the video. I'm performing after midnight on a Wednesday night. I have to bellow to be heard over the crowd noise. The El rumbles by and I don't break stride, I just bellow louder. My joke about Nixon bombs. Next week, I'll do it again. Like a boxer loves the smelly gym, or a ballet dancer loves the studio and her battered slippers, so do I love this room, like I've loved few other things in my life. This is where the work gets done. This is what being a stand-up comedian is like the vast majority of the time. You have to love the process. You have to love the work.