Saturday, June 13

Romanticizing demons

Alcohol seems to go hand-in-hand with two seasons: summer and winter. I've experienced some cravings as of late due to the long hours of the day and the increase in temperature. These days used to beckon me for day drinking, patio shenanigans, and making friends with complete strangers who had the same objective as I. What's strange is I'm now acting as if it is winter, rarely leaving the house and cuddling with kitty under the blankets despite the humidity. This past winter, I only left the house to go to work and the liquor store. The clerks at Central Avenue Liquors saw me more frequently because I hated my job and needed something to do in my off-hours. When I wasn't at work during the winter, I usually had cracked a beer or two before 5pm, and a call to Pizza Luce was in the near future. During the winter months, I was largely in denial of my problem. Who cares! It's -15 degrees. I'm just keeping myself occupied for the next few months until the trees aren't so naked.

Now that it's summer, I've caught myself thinking back fondly to last summer. Working at a restaurant that specialized heavily in its wine list meant I was often taking home shitty table wine or wine left over from weddings. On nights I was working weddings, we were given one or two shift drinks or shots to keep us going until the wee hours of the morning. I was rarely at work before 4pm, so sleeping in with a hangover never presented itself as a serious issue. Working in the service industry accelerated my drinking because I had access to alcohol and I was getting paid for it. What could go wrong?

I know I won't relapse, but sometimes I think holy fuck, it's 80 degrees and a tall can of Coors Light sounds incredibly nice right now. If I succumb to alcohol, "cunning, baffling, powerful," I'm going to backslide worse than before, and possibly have more problems than a black eye and bruises on my chest and back. I can't do that again, not to myself or those who care about me.

Comedy in the Twin Cities seems to be collapsing at an alarming rate. Not the quality of the shows, but the social dynamic of the community. Fuck, we're all working towards the same goal, yet everyone is exchanging abrasive words about who is funny or who is deserving of time or what is PC or who touched who after a show. In the last 18 months, Facebook has become a suicide mission for so many comics, myself included. What's that? You have a differing opinion than I? To the stakes with you! You will be burned and people will tag themselves with one hand while holding a pitchfork with the other. The lack of positivity and support in the community is bewildering to me. Messages and posts are misconstrued, something is quickly overanalyzed, and counterarguments are smashed into keyboards on a daily basis. To be clear, I'm guilty of taking part of this as well. But it isn't helping us towards the common goal of making people laugh.

My first time down to Acme Comedy Company was during the second week of November in 2011. I walked down the steps wearing one of my pairs of jeans with too many holes. I nervously looked around while a bartender poured some drinks and changed the channel from ESPN to The Simpsons. I had no idea what the fuck to do. Who do I talk to? Where do I sign up? How much time do I get? So many questions.

I went up the bar and introduced myself to a local comic who has been working at the club for some time. He took me over to the sign up list and told me to write and star my name to show it was my first time at Acme. He took me into the showroom and showed me the aisle to walk to the stage and explained I'll get a light at 2:30 and I need to be off stage by 3 minutes or else the mic will be cut. He also explained there wasn't an MC and my voice will get called over the speakers when it was time for me to trot into the spotlight. While I waited for the show to begin, I wrote out a set list and met a few people who would become some of my closet friends in the community. I made it through my set, got some laughs, and felt accomplished while driving home.

But in the last 18 months, I haven't felt that same sense of camaraderie. I'm anxious to see what the Seattle scene has to offer. In the last times I've performed out West, I've been welcomed with open arms, and while the faces and jokes are different, I'm sure they've had equal or similar problems with drama in the community. These days in Minneapolis, you can't say anything publicly without someone getting up in arms or making a shitty, outdated joke at your expense. When I voice my opinion, I immediately get shutdown because, holy shit, they have a different opinion than me or that my choice of words wasn't up to their par. The lack of acceptance in the Minneapolis comedy community right now is appalling. We could stand to be a bit nicer and a bit more supportive of each other. And maybe, just maybe, shutting the fuck up could work in our collective favor. But then again, this is just my opinion, and someone's probably going to have a problem with it.

Every time I log into Facebook, it's the same bullshit. Who is quitting comedy? Whose genitals are up for debate? Who didn't stick to their time last night? Why does that guy always wear the same thing on stage? Who just moved here and is fucking everyone? What open mic is just an excuse to suck each other's dicks? Which open mic isn't worth it anymore? Who advanced in the contest? Are rape jokes off the table? What constitutes as "PC" ? Who is way in over their head? Who moved to LA or New York too early in their career? What break up is almost certain and who is waiting it out? Why was attendance so low? Who had another bad online dating experience? Who had a one-nighter cancel without notice? Who drank too much at the show last night? Back to you, Cliff.

If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Easier said than done. Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr have all turned into easily accessible bullhorns for anyone who's anyone with an opinion. We can see each other fall apart in real time, witness public meltdowns between generations of comedians, and become indulgent in someone else's pain. These social media platforms have become catalysts in the onslaught of badgering. Instead of saying something assertively, you can now aggressively attack someone while hiding in your room in your underwear. Why are we fervently addressing our concerns to a profile picture instead of politely approaching a subject on which many schools of thought exist? Because it's easier. We need to spend the time and effort on closing the gap and communicating effectively through human nature instead of being assholes on the internet. And yes, I'm going to share this on Facebook, and it would be unrealistic not to expect some sort of response or argument that is different from what I've stated above. I'm well aware of what I've written and how I'm going to distribute this, just in case a bone is in desperate need of a picking.

Comedy isn't the same here anymore, and it's a part of why I'm moving home. I need to send text messages to people to procure the particular attendance of open mics and get togethers. I now leave right after my sets because sticking around for the backlash of snickering and eye-rolling has become monotonous and tacky. This scene isn't what it used to be, and that sucks. I'm looking forward to new opportunities in Seattle, and those include staying active in my recovery, minding my own business, and making people laugh.

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