(Sunday Paper, Volume III, Issue 28)
Last weekend was about one much ballyhooed milestone:
I celebrated my 40th birthday, in case you didn't hear.
This weekend another mile marker entered the rear-view mirror:
Saturday was the four-year anniversary of when I started doing stand-up comedy.
And, since I get a little reflective when those anniversaries pass, this week I'd like to reflect on that.
I think I may have created '365 New Things In 2013' just to get myself to try stand-up. (You should peruse those - they're linked from 365 back to 1 at the top of the page there if you're interested in reading more...and I am thinking about reposting some as a way to keep posting on the John Sucich Facebook page more than once a week. Going back through some of them to find the one I link to below from April 2013 was fun. There's some good stuff in there and I'm proud of it.)
The funny thing is, even though I tried something new in one way or another every day for the 2013 calendar year, I didn't do stand-up. (I did do my school's auction for the second time and somehow finagled that into being a 'new thing' and those auctions were two great experiences that really got my performing juices flowing.) (There was also a third which was also a great experience, but that was after I started performing regularly.)
But I'd been carrying a notebook with me for about 15 years at that point and writing tons of possible material, so when 2013 turned to 2014 and it became apparent that I was going to leave teaching...well, 2014 brought with it a lot of change. And one change was that it was time to try this thing I'd been putting off for so long.
I think there was definitely a sense of desperation in that summer of 2014. (Part of me wonders if - leaving teaching, trying stand-up - this was my mid-life crisis and I am destined to die at the age of 72. But we'll get into that another time.)
I remember talking to my brother on my birthday that summer - it was a Monday and I was probably watching the Mets, because that's exclusively what I did on summer weekday nights back before comedy - and I told him I was thinking about going to an open mic. it was the first time I voiced it and it was an important step and then I hung up the phone and found one that was on Mondays for sure and I figured I would do it the next Monday.
And Monday, July 14, 2014 I was late but the host put me up near the end of the night and in retrospect I saw a lot of performers who I am now pretty friendly with and my first joke which I thought was a lock for laughs got nothing and I went through the rest of my set praying I would get something and then I got a hint of a laugh at one of my jokes near the end of my 3-minute set and that was enough for me to want to do it again.
And on Wednesday, July 16, 2014 I went to an open mic that no longer exists and did 5 minutes and messed up a little bit but got some laughs and a comedian told me afterwards she liked one of my jokes (and I'll never forget that she did that and I try to bring positivity to other comics because I remember how much it meant to me that she said that to me) and that plus the fact that I needed to see if my material was funny without the mess-up got me to keep coming back.
And I graduated from 'guy who only does open mics' to 'guy who occasionally gets booked on real shows' to what I am now...still plugging away.
I am not sure where I fall on the comedy spectrum right now. I think the best way to describe it is "comfortable."
I don't feel the sense of urgency I felt the first few years. (Everything for me the first few years was about getting to the next step. I think I felt that I needed to make up for lost time. Because I've said this before - I've thought about doing stand-up for literally 20-plus years. I definitely couldn't have done it 20 years ago - the rejection would have shattered me then. But I think I felt like I wasted 16 years and I think I wanted to jam those 16 years into the first year.)
Now, I understand comedy success, no matter how you define that, is not an overnight thing. I'm good at it, I think. I can be better. I can always be better. But I feel good about the gradual progression and I think I'm going about it the right way.
As you know by now (I hope), I have Framingham Comedy Weekend coming up in just a short week and a half. I'm hosting all three shows, and hopefully one of those shows turns into a regular hosting/booking opportunity. (Tickets and information for all three shows are available through this link!)
It's the right time for me to give the producing piece a whirl. And whether or not it is successful, I have another show the Sunday after, and I'll be working on bookings for the fall and winter again.
And I'll hopefully be at it for another four years....and maybe by then things will really start to take off.
*It goes without saying, but I need to say it because of how important it is to me: Thank you to everyone for your support along the comedy journey so far these past four years. If you've come out to a show, plan on coming out to a show, have asked me about a show, have encouraged me in one way or another - thank you. I have a pretty good memory for appreciation but for fear of missing too many people I won't try listing all of my thanks. Suffice it to say it started with a colleague who came to that very first one mic and continues with everyone who I'll see at Framingham Comedy Weekend.
*I hope you got that the title of this post is meant to sound in your head like a golf 'Fore!' Which is also a little tribute to Huey Lewis & The News and one of their best albums. ("Fore!" was the first one of theirs that I owned, and most people I know like "Sports" the best but I think I might like "Fore!" the most.) Anyway, I don't know if you've heard because there's been much more important news happening that might have overshadowed this: Huey Lewis has a hearing issue that may prevent him from ever performing live again. Which is a huge shame because he's a great live performer, on top of all the other reasons this is unfortunate news. But, even though he didn't make the list of '40 of My Favorite Things', Huey Lewis is one of my favorite things. And I thought of him when I wrote that title. (And funny enough, when I was searching back for the Auctioneer link above, I came across when I wrote about meeting him along the way in the New Things, and you can read that at this link.)
*I mentioned this in the Facebook post linking here and I also alluded to it above - it's been weird to go from the posting every day of the 40 days preceding my birthday to a week between Sunday Papers. I need to do better, because I loved the engagement of the countdown. I might repost some old 'New Things', I'm obviously interested in generating new content when I can...but count on more than just once-a-week on the Facebook page.
*I didn't expect to be digging back through so many old postings prepping this post. It was fun to read them, and I definitely think I'll be sharing some I enjoy with you. I encourage you to click through the links above.
*I'll be back next week to tell you about some vacationing, probably...maybe I'll even tell you about how my birthday went. Spoiler alert: it was great.