I’m not a sentimental person. I don’t like to feel feelings that might make me cry, even happy cry. So I keep myself too busy to reflect. But right now, as I hide in the bathroom from my kids, I have nothing else to do… unless I want to referee another bout of “which kid offended the other first”. Which I do not.
When I think about it, 2017 has been a milestone year. It didn’t happen on purpose. I didn’t set out to do something impactful for myself. I just took a step. And that step led to another step. And before I knew it, I was in it to win it. Fulfilling a dream.
As long as I can remember I’ve loved to make people laugh. My biggest idols have been comedians. But I never ever never ever ever thought I could make people I don’t know laugh on purpose on a stage. It was just a dream. Something I admired other people for doing.
Some of you may not know… I don’t often mention it (I think I’ve only mentioned it 60 times today to my family), but about 6-and-a-half years ago I decided that I hate my job. Then I discovered Etsy and decided that if other people can quit their day job and sell random shat on a website, I can, too. And I can stay home with my babies and never have to wear dress pants again. But after 2 years and only making $36 I realized that I’m not good at making jewelry. Cuz I have absolutely no jewelry-making skills. But one thing it DID do was awaken my need for a creative outlet. And it was like an addiction. I had to have that release.
In 2015 I started blogging. When I looked back at all the things I’d gone through with my first marriage and raising a baby by myself while working full time and paying off debt that wasn’t mine, I thought maybe I had something to say. Maybe by writing about my situation with laughter and sarcasm I could give hope to a single mom or, even better, let women everywhere know that they don’t have to stay in a bad situation out of fear of failure. Whether it’s a job or a marriage or even a friendship, if it’s bad, get out. I promise it’ll be better than ok.
But after about a year it wasn’t enough. I wanted more of a connection to the people I was reaching out to. I didn’t want to STOP blogging. I wanted MORE. Then one day someone randomly asked me about my blog and why I started it. After going through the story I blurted out, “my next goal is stand up. By the end of the year”. What? It was DECEMBER! I didn’t consult ME about that. Well, now that I’ve said it I gotta do it. I didn’t make my goal by the end of that year… but it started the series of events that would lead me there.
I thought about it. The more I thought about it the more I wanted it. It was starting to move from dream to possible. Then I started writing. I researched the science of a joke. What makes people laugh. How to establish a setup and a punchline. The more I wrote the more it became my calling.
Eventually I searched for open mics. There was one right by my house. I reached out to the owner of the bar and he gave me the time/date. The following Tuesday I bathed my kids, put them to bed, kissed my hubs and I showed up. To a bar. I’d never been to before. By myself.
So here I was… a married woman, in a bar alone. I’d never been to a bar alone before. It was awkward. I was glued to my phone waiting for start time: 8 pm. I sent my friend, MC, a text, “I’m at a bar. By myself. WTF.” Next thing I know she’s on her way to hang with me so I wasn’t alone. She drove an hour so I wouldn’t be by myself. And I will love her forever for that.
Eventually 8:15 came and went. No comedy show… 8:30… no show… I was afraid I got the date wrong. Or maybe it was cancelled and I didn’t know. First rule of open mic club: The start time is a soft suggestion. MC showed up and shortly after the comedians started. Once I saw that they were all “normal” people, my dream became real. It was attainable. We all have to start somewhere.
I did the same thing 4 weeks in a row. I showed up and watched. And then, on April 25th, 2017 I did it.
Have you ever had a moment in life that seemed so surreal it felt like you floated through it? It was beyond words. I didn’t bomb. I wasn’t great but I held my own. Honestly, if I had bombed it wouldn’t have swayed me. I knew the moment I held the mic that I was where I was supposed to be.
Laughter has always been my escape. Life can be pretty shitty. It just can. But then something funny happens and for a moment, it’s all forgotten. If I can give that gift to just one person, I’ve done what I came to do.
2018 can be your year. It can be epic. It can start a journey that lasts the rest of your life. All you have to do is take a step toward something wonderfully terrifying and unreachable. What will your step be?