Chapter 17: I’M GOING TO HOLLYWOOD

I didn’t have a lot of intel on the Hollywood scene, but there was an Irish pub in Huntington Beach that had a comedy night. Seemed like a good spot to start.  And lucky for me, the guy who ran the room knew EVERYTHING. I hit the jackpot. He shared his knowledge, opinions and grudges of the whole town. (I don’t think he watched his own show.) His name was Doug* and if you know him, you know him. Still a bit of a legend among comics who got this gig.

I got the scoop on the Laugh Factory. Open mic night was Tuesday. The show starts at 7, sign up is at 5, but “YOU BETTER GET THERE EARLY CUZ THEY ONLY TAKE THE FIRST 15 PEOPLE IN LINE!” And yes, he yelled this through the show he was producing, as the comics were on stage. (Cut to me begging for a spot here years later.) When I get to the Laugh Factory, I’ll make sure to name drop Doug. That should help.

I had only navigated Southern California from the back seat of my dad’s mini-van, so this was gonna be different. Since a total stranger I met in a bar was giving me a ride to Long Beach, I had to be ready to go at 6:30am. (Do you think this worried me after I moved across the continent for a guy in Vegas?)

My “boyfriend” seemed un-phased by my early departure. Most people move to Hollywood to get back at someone who treated them like shit in high school. I moved to California and then found that special someone to prove wrong. We didn’t have revenge porn back. It was success or nothing.

The ride to Long Beach was a little further than I thought. Every mile that went by was a mile I’d have to get back, but I’d worry about that later. He dropped me off at a Metro line stop that was above ground which I thought would make me feel safer, but it took about thirty seconds to witness a man selling crack. Or maybe he was ordering it? All I know is he was shouting,

“CRACK!!!!!” 

I got on the train and started working on my set list. Sure I look a little lost, but I’ll just act like I’m going to work or whatever. As the train stopped in Compton, my naive 23 year-old Canadian tourist worries were some how calmed by the sight of a Home Depot.

After changing trains in DTLA and heading north up the red line, I finally see an exit that says Hollywood Blvd and spontaneously hop off. I’ve at least heard of that street. I can walk the rest of the way. Again, let me remind you it’s 2002 and I’m doing this without a cell phone or map. I just kept asking people which way I should go.

(I do that with my career in general, but we’ll learn more on that later.)

It takes me about an hour to walk to the Laugh Factory. I get there a little after 9:30am and there’s ALREADY PEOPLE IN LINE for the open mic! Holy shit. I thought I was early, but these guys had me beat. Or they were homeless people slumped up against the wall? Comedians often profile as bums. 

“Are you guys in line for the open mic?”

They look up at me proud.

“Yup!”

I don’t really want to sit down on the dirty Sunset Blvd pavement so I just smile and say, 

“Cool!”

While continuing to stand. But I can’t stand for seven hours straight. Not even at 23. 

I crouch down on the pavement. I only had my joke notebook on me. As the day progressed, more people joined the line. Everyone was so outgoing and funny. I found myself uncharacteristically shy and quiet. It was one thing for me to be the life of the party in front of all my friends in Canada, but around a bunch of L.A. comics? No way. I can’t compete. 

And that June Gloom had definitely faded. Or was just a beach thing? It was so cloudy when I left Orange County I didn’t even think about sunscreen. Now I could feel my skin morphing into the colour of Clifford the Dog. There’s no way Crunch gym could protect me from the UVB rays. 

One of the guys in line starts chatting me up. Let’s call him “Pistachio.” (I change names to protect the delusional.) Pistachio was an actor, comedian and model. The model part was unexpected, mostly because of his brown, socially distanced teeth. Maybe he does some “Before Picture” work. He asked if I could hold his spot in line while ran across the street to McDonald’s for a 49 cent cheeseburger. (HUGE special that year. Sorry if you missed it.) I thought maybe he would bring me back one, but when he returned he just offered to hold my spot while I went. 

After seven hours in this line, I was convinced I must be the least funny person. I was ready for a nap. (And some aloe vera.) There were two girls in line, Christian and Barb. Obviously we bonded. Three out of fifteen was above average for 2002.

At 5pm, the big wooden front door of the Laugh Factory opened. Someone wrote down all our names, while saying that would NOT be the order. The line up would be posted at 6:45 and we each would have 3 minutes.

(Not to brag, but I had fifteen minutes of material. Wow. Finally an opportunity where I needed less time. I’m gonna LOVE L.A!)

After the sign up, I went for a walk along the legendary Sunset Strip. I walked by Dublin’s, Miyagi’s and a bunch of other bars that have changed names a million times since then. I turn back to the Laugh Factory fast though. I’m nervous, might bomb, or spontaneously start peeling on stage, but at the very least I’ll be punctual.

There’s an older man named Harvey hosting the open mic from the side of the stage. I’m going on 12th which is mild torture cuz now I have to watch all the funny people kill while I do whatever the fuck I can. And when they say you only have three minutes they mean it. Harvey said, “THANK YOU! NEXT” enough times I don’t even think of Ariana Grande when I hear those three words.

The show didn’t exactly go the way I thought it would…

All those confident people in line that I was so intimidated by…

Had no material.

I was so spooked by them talking about all their “credits” all day. I had no idea starting comedy in Canada was mine. It’s like an secret industry undergrad.

Barb and Christian were great though. I could quote a Barb joke right now, which is a good sign if I can remember one of your bits from 19 years ago.

My set went by so fast. I used only the BEST jokes of my illustrious three year career in comedy. Jamie Masada was gonna sit with us at a creepy set of chairs upstairs and let us all know if we have any future in this town, so I needed to go with tried and true. 

I watched most of the comics storm away from Jamie after their chat. When it was my turn to sit down, I plastered a giant, optimistic smile across my face. He leaned back in his chair and took his time.

“Where are you from?”

“Canada. I just moved here- well, Huntington Beach- for a guy I met in a nightclub who convinced me I was his soulmate but it’s not working out. I wanna move up here STAT.”

“Canada? You work for Yuk Yuk’s?”

“YES! You know Yuk Yuk’s!”

It’s the only comedy club in Canada. Of course he knows it.

“You’re funny… very likable… You come back… do a few more open mics… and maybe you’ll get a showcase.”

Holy fuck. SHOWCASE! The magical word as a comedian or contestant on the Price is Right. I want to hug him. I actually might have. A Canadian with hope (pre- Me Too movement) can be very physical when showing enthusiasm. 

I fear this blog is already too long for one week’s adventure, so let me wrap this up right here at Jamie Masada’s upstair’s chair:

“Also, how the fuck do I get back to Huntington Beach?”

P.S. This was the year I got a new camera with a panoramic setting. It seemed neat at the time, but I accidentally left it on that mode so all my pictures got developed in the shape of a CVS receipt and out of frame. 

P.P.S To all the Dougs out there: It’s hard for me to drop the name “Doug” without me remembering my friend Laura in Toronto coming across a guy on Tinder who’s profile read, “The name’s Doug. The “o” is silent.” She didn’t swipe right, but I would have. That’s gold.

Chapter 12: A Relationship, Marijuana and 23-Year Old Female Comedian Walk Into a Bar…

I caved. I got a cell phone. It’s 2002- who knows? These things might actually become the norm. My plan includes 200 minutes Mon-Fri, and unlimited calls after 6pm and on weekends. Since I want to keep the bill down, I’m not giving my number to my boss and family. They can still believe I only have a land line. 

I’m also starting to have solid turn over in my love life- a sign you’re a true comedian! I have no patterns with dating, I just like who I like. My latest boyfriend is pretty much the opposite of the last one. He’s a bartender (so he has money) and also grows pot. His roommate didn’t want me to know, but I figured it out. I had questions, like,

“Who lives in your third bedroom and why are his lights always on?”

I was smoking a lot of pot myself, leading to many late nights of Bronson Pizza combos. Ottawa has a serious deep fried zucchini scene. To this day I don’t think I’ve ever been to a city with this as a staple on every menu in town. 

I started writing bits about my new vice. 

“I moved to Ottawa cuz I heard Parliament Hill was having a joint session.”

“I have a friend who doesn’t smoke pot, so I asked why and he said, “Cuz one time, I was smoking THE marijuana, and I was high for five days….” I’m thinking “Fuck… my dealer sucks. I have the stuff where you pass out with chicken tenders in your lap watching Ally McBeal .”

I was trying to figure out if I should call them chicken strips, tenders or fingers. Even without reading Judy Carter’s book, I was gravitating towards funny words.

The Ottawa comedy scene was really becoming a tight knit group. Rick Kaulbars wrote a movie called Hell Gig that we were all gonna be in. The whole gang- me, Ben Miner, Jon Steinberg, Jon Dore, Jen Grant, Oliver Gross, Mike Beatty, Don Kelly, Wendi Reed, Jason Laurans. Rick would direct it, and somehow the whole thing would be made in days, AND in Ottawa. I didn’t even know you could make movies in Ottawa. I tried in my last year at Carleton, but my tech skills were so bad I ended up with a cassette for my audio, and VHS for the actual movie. I had to hit play on both machines at the same time to present my project to my class.

(Me, Jen Grant and Rick Kaulbars. And I’m guessing Alexander Keith’s cuz that’s all anybody drank back then.)

Things were going pretty well. My boyfriend had finally come to one of my shows. It took a while. He had zero interest in stand up. If he wasn’t staying home to play online poker (which he told his parents was not real money,) he was busy with this foosball league. Our relationship was actually quite good, even if I did fake being Catholic in front of his family. (I took communion in their church lololol.*)

I was smoking a lot of pot. Sometimes I did my dishes so high, I’d hide all the knives afterward just in case someone broke into my apartment and didn’t bring their own. (CANADA, baby! Even high, I never worried about guns.) Meanwhile I’d pass out with my lava lamp still on and who knows what days of the week I was actually taking my Tri-Cyclen. 

I was also over thinking my relationship- BIG TIME. 

I was dating someone who had NO interest in comedy.

Was it my comedy, or comedy in general?

(Cut to me in 2021 not wanting any guy I’m interested in watching my comedy cuz I’m scared he won’t want to fuck me anymore.)

I had big dreams. But what were his dreams? Was foosball a good prospect for the future? Or growing weed? (In hindsight, it actually probably was.) It sounds cheesy to write now, but these diaries from 20 years ago pour it out. After returning from the Canada Loves New York rally at the end of 2001, I wrote this:

Here’s my little trick that will help determine whether or not you’ve found your ultimate goal in life and how I know what mine is: When you think about your passion for something and cannot fathom how anyone else in the world wouldn’t want to do the exact same thing, you have your dream.

(Remember I’m high, it’s post 9/11 and I’m 23. Don’t judge me.)

I didn’t feel like I was dating a guy with a dream. 

And it bothered me.

As much as I loved him, I decided we needed to break up. I was barely out of my old technique where I just avoided a guy until they broke up with me. This one would have to be done properly. I was really growing up.

I played Paul Simon’s “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” on repeat every night for weeks. It didn’t really help me figure out how to do it, but I did learn all the words.

I managed to get it done, but it didn’t take.

I make it sound like I was this straight forward about my reasons for breaking up to him, but in reality I probably said:

“So ya ummmm I think we should break up, but I’ll see you at work! Let’s see if we can get different shifts!”

A week later, we met at Irene’s, a classic dive pub on Bank Street in the Glebe. (Is it still there? Tell me it is!) It was such a weird location for an emotional conversation. The only goal I ever had at this bar was getting the cranky old waitress to like me. But now my barely ex was asking for clarification on our break up.

“Why…? We get along great.”

He was right. We really did. Sagittarius/Aquarius combo. Things that really meant something back then. I took a big gulp of my Keith’s and decided to spit out the corny truth.

“I have dreams… BIG ones… I don’t want to live in Ottawa forever. Don’t you have dreams…?”

And he responded with something so powerful I don’t even need my diary to remember:

“Maybe my dream is just to be in love with a great girl.”

Fuck. 

That’s a good one. 

I’m a dick. 

Instantly that line won me back.

And he added in another fun invite.

“Why don’t you come with me to my foosball tournament in Vegas? It’ll be fun.”

Oh that does sound like fun! We haven’t been anywhere other than Pembroke together. I’m IN!

Besides, what could possibly happen with a rocky relationship in Vegas…

To Be Continued…

(Because blogs don’t get red lights.)

*I finally came clean about not being Catholic. I tried to make it better by explaining my that family did go to church, we just went to a United one. (I left out the “once a year” part.) His uncle responded, “Ohhh, UNITED… just in case there’s a God…” I’ve never forgotten that. 

(Also, I fear this blog drifted between past and present tense. As a writer, I need you to know this bothers me. How did they do it in The Wonder Years?)

I’m bummed I don’t have more old shots of the Ottawa Yuk Yuk’s scene, but we didn’t live life on phones back then. Here’s one though: Jon Steinberg, Howard Wagman, Wafik Nasralla, me, Allison Dore, Tracey MacDonald, Jen Grant, Don Kelly and Pete Zedlacher even though he was from Toronto.

Also, here’s a clip from Hell Gig. I’m not even in this one, but it made me laugh my ass off.

https://www.facebook.com/kaulbars/videos/10150091150045525

*

Chapter 11: Too Soon

I’m 22 years old and three years into comedy. Cell phones are becoming more popular, and not just something only dads and cab drivers have. I am vehemently against getting one.

Hell no. The thought of people being able to get ahold of me 24/7 scares the shit out of me.

Straight from my diary, May 15th, 2001. (That’s right! I have all my diaries from this date forward here in my apartment, so I’ll be able to plagiarize my old self, and you can mock my EXACT dated thoughts!)

My supplementary job and boyfriend had changed. I quit my job at CD Warehouse shortly after the Spice Girls broke up. What was the point? Sure I bought Geri’s solo album, but “Look At Me” was the only good song. I got a job serving at Canada’s finest restaurant, Boston Pizza. (An Edmonton based chain, obvi.) After winning employee of the year at the end of 2000, I was feeling on top of the world. I took the DVD player I won and exclusively fed it Sex & the City season one DVDs.

I broke up with Marcus, but only after we did acid together. He tried to video tape the trip, but the second I started to feel it, I made him turn the camera off. To be honest, I REALLY wish I let it roll. I’d love to watch that now. That wasn’t the tipping point by any means. My break up was a solid reason:

“I just really need to focus on the sorority right now.”

My focus on comedy was building too, which was awkward having a restaurant job. Both these industries have the same busy nights of the week. But I thrived off slow days like Monday and Tuesday, cuz I could rock my friendly Canadian personality and sometimes get the full 15% tip I deserved out of the cheaper side of Ottawa. (WINNING!)

My material was coming along too. I replaced my first closer:

“Guys, if you go out later tonight, just remember, NO means NO… NO also means I’m not drunk enough, you’re not rich enough and your dick is way too small.”

(OOOOOF I am cringing writing that. I would NEVER make fun of penis size today. Those guys are great at oral. And I always date broke guys. And… well, I have a solid tolerance. I’m never drunk enough. That holds up.)

But my new and improved closer is way better:

“My best friend has a tongue ring…”

(HI, MEGHAN!)

“I think we know what they’re good for… I’m too scared to get one. I think it might hurt and make me talk funny, so I’ve just decided if a guy wants that texture in my blow job, I’ll just pop a marble in my mouth… It’ll be the best game of Hungry Hungry Hippos he’s ever played.”

The joke was a quality closer. Something I could count on even if the middle of my set wasn’t going well. And I was finally trying to write more than just stand up. I wanted to write a SCREENPLAY! Something like Reality Bites, obvi. I was incredibly optimistic about the future. I was really starting to think anything was possible.

And then…

I woke up one Tuesday morning in September. (As a diary writer, I can confirm I’m never sure of the date when I pick up the pen.) I had to work at 10:00am. I hopped in the shower around 8:45. My mom was selling AVON at the time, so she had gifted me a shower radio. I’d blast Magic 100fm, cuz even at 22, I enjoyed some Phil Collins. All of a sudden, the sultry voice of the female DJ came back on after “Against All Odds.”

“We just learned news of a devastating plane crash at the World Trade Center in New York. Our hearts go out to every one effected.” 

What happened? 

I run out of the shower, and turn on the TV. That’s when I see it.

And then I see it again…

But this time it’s the other tower.

I don’t need to explain to you what happened. 

It was the most traumatic thing I had seen on TV since The Challenger. But this was something different. You could convince yourself after the first tower got hit, it must have been an accident, but the second… 

All of a sudden every dream, goal and worry you had yesterday seems to be superfluous. 

By the time I got to work, it seemed like the whole world had fallen apart. Normally we’d have sports on our big screens, but today it’s news, and everyone is glued to it. Nobody knew what to say, how to act or even work. My boss was sticking his keys in his ears like they were Q-Tips, which he only did when something was bothering him.

We kept the TVs on CNN all day with sound. Something we had never done before. All the government buildings in the city were being locked down. Planes were being diverted up to Canada. I didn’t really think we’d get attacked too, but it was a possibility. I worked with a lot of people from Lebanon and Afghanistan who were able to explain way more about terrorist groups than I ever knew. It’s embarrassing how it takes something catastrophic to happen before you choose to learn more.

I was always a big smiler, but I couldn’t do it today. If I saw any tables laughing I’d literally get pissed off. I was on a split shift, but after watching replays of the planes crashing into the twin towers all day long, I eventually broke down. Incontrollable sobbing. I couldn’t pretend I or anything was okay. My boss sent me home. 

Yuk Yuk’s cancelled the show on Wednesday. Thank God. I couldn’t imagine trying to make people laugh at a time like this. I didn’t feel like being funny nor could I pretend I had the power to cheer people up.

But when the club did open back up, I had to go. I wasn’t on the show, but I wanted to see how professionals would deal with it. The headliner was from Toronto. Ottawa comics had an interesting take on Toronto. Some of them had tried out the city, hated it, and came back. Some found the Toronto comics arrogant.

“Let me see you Twirl” man was from Toronto, so I could understand. But surely on a week like this, they wouldn’t try to make jokes about a terrorist attack that was surely leading us to war, right?

Wrong. 

As I sat on the bar stool close to Tommy (the bartender) in case I needed another pint of Keiths for the pain, I PRAYED nobody would try to make jokes about Tuesday. It was DEFINITELY too soon. I don’t even think the phrase “Too Soon” was in my vocabulary until this particular week. The first few local comics seemed to get through their sets respectfully. The crowds were polite, but low energy, which was to be expected.

But then the Toronto guy went on stage.

And you KNOW he had to try to make a joke about it.

I was horrified. The whole crowd was uncomfortable. 

It took a certain calibre of comic to talk about 9/11. Three years in, I knew it wasn’t me. Jon Stewart did it right.

But not many people in between.

I actually really like this comic today, but that was an awkward first impression.

I had only been to New York two times at this point in my life. Most comedians dream of performing there. But after that day, I feared it might never happen.

But guess what?

Dreams do come true.

I finally moved here…

March 1st, 2020.

P.S. Pretty sure learning of 9/11 in the shower has scarred me out of proper hygiene to this day.

P.P.S. If you watched Sex & the City back then, that first season the towers weren’t in the beginning anymore was a sad reminder.

P.P.P.S. I know this is a LOT of P.S.’s, but that first pic is of me and my sorority sister/friend Natasha when we drove to NYC for a “Canada Loves New York” Rally. Didn’t want to say that in the beginning, cuz I didn’t want spoilers. Was it obvious I was writing about 9/11? You can tell me…

Chapter 10- Let Me See You Twirl

It was hard to believe my Ford Festiva was surviving Ontario winters, but it was. As a broke 21 year old girl, I believed oil changes were a luxury, possibly even a myth. I was more focused on the price of gas. My dad used to tell me to go to Chevron, but considering he was on the other side of the country and I didn’t have his gas card anymore (Reality Bites style*) he’d never know. He also approved of Petro-Canada but I still filled up at Mr. Gas.

As a young comic, having a car made you very workable. You’d be surprised how many comedians in Ontario don’t have cars. Sure mine probably classified as a golf cart, but the lightening bolt on the door and the saggy muffler made it quite recognizable if you were waiting for me to pick you up. 

And speaking of my dad, I had a new opener that was going quite well.

“My dad just confessed to going to the strip club… he was very honest about it, “Christina, just so you know, I didn’t like it, I’d rather use my imagination and I’m not going back. I just went there to sell a car.” I was like, “Wow…. Thank god I wasn’t working that night. Mom must have been in the champagne room.”

I soon came to hate that joke, cuz obvi the punchline wasn’t true. The premise was though. I wanted my material to be honest.  But it kept working, so I kept doing it.

Especially since I needed the time for all the road work I was getting. Me and my comedian bff Jen Grant were booked to play Barrie, Ontario. Our careers were finally starting to take off. 

We had a strong young road comic game plan. We’d drive four and a half hours to Toronto, stay on Jen’s friend’s pull out couch in High Park, then drive an hour to Barrie every night. (We had no friends north of Bloor Street at the time.) Since the Barrie club was just Thursday-Saturday, we got spots on the Wednesday night show at Yuk Yuk’s at Yonge and Eglinton. There was an all women’s show sponsored by a fruity lube, something that actually would have been more practical for an all-male show in hindsight.

The Toronto comedy scene was stacked with strong female comics. They had four… maybe five. Very progressive. Kristeen Von Hagen, Laurie Elliot, Martha Chaves, and headlining was Jessica Holmes. Being in Toronto felt kind of big time. My stomach starts to get in knots as Blitzkrieg Bop plays.

There was one table in the corner you couldn’t sit at, cuz that was reserved for the owner. But there was one beside it, where comics would sit. Since it was an all female line up, I guess the male comics who showed up were just browsing. A guy who I’d seen on CBC’s “Comics” sat next to me. He smelled quite “earthy” but was very cool and friendly. I told him my favourite joke of his to confirm it was him.

“You have that joke that goes, “I’m a depressed narcissist… Basically what that means is I wake up every morning and think  “What’s the point?” Then I look in the mirror and go “Oh yahhhh….”

Hahaha! Still makes me laugh as I write it. That comic is obviously the amazing Alan Park. Being in Toronto was exciting. It’s one of those cities that everyone else in the country hates. And thus, I’m attracted to it. 

The show was amazing. I met the owner who I got invited into the office with. He told me I should move to Toronto. I said “Totally!” This seemed like the place to be. Then I asked him where exactly Barrie was.

The next night, we drove up the 400 to our glamorous franchise Yuk Yuks. Downtown Barrie is actually quite cute. Looks fun, has energy. But that’s not where the comedy club is. It’s in a more industrial part of town beside a 24 hour gym. Because if there’s two things that belong side by side, it’s a comedy club and a gym.

For what Canada might lack with a low glass ceiling, the Barrie Yuk Yuk’s made up for it’s very high actual ceilings. It felt like performing in a dimly lit school gymnasium.

But what happens on stage almost doesn’t really count sometimes. Comics, when given proper green rooms, will barely even check out the show until they’re about to go on stage. So that creepy room with jizzy couches in the back of the club is where most of my weekend is actually happening.

I feel bad saying I forget the host. That seems like something that still holds up. I remember the headliner though. Big guy who wore a wrestling belt. Very elegant, as you can imagine. He might have been seasoned on staged, dealing with audiences, but he definitely seemed new to working with female comedians. 

When you walk into a green room, there can often be this aura of arrogance to one comic sitting on the couch. I truly don’t think there are that many headliners of this nature in Canada, because we each typically have two very barely scene tv credits, so the ego never gets that big. But once in a while…

You encounter a man who’s confidence is something you wish you had in high school. Only less creepy. 

He sat on the couch in a green room like he was Santa Claus. It looked like he expected us to sit on his leg every time we walked in the room. I’m acting like I saw through this at the time, but the truth is…

I didn’t.

It was always responsible to get to the club early, (this club was known to doc your pay if you didn’t) you end up having quite the pre-show hang. Me and Jen sit on one couch as the headliner sprawls on the other (in modern day we’d say “manspread.”)

Then he says, 

“Why don’t you two girls get up and twirl for me. Show me what you got…”

I awkwardly get up, do a 360, and sit back down.

But Jen has a different reaction.

“If you think I am going to twirl for you, you better think again. As if I would do that!?!? Who do you think you are?”

Oh ya, that’s what I meant to say.

FUUUUUUUCK!

Why did I do that?

Is it too late to change my mind? I didn’t know we were allowed to be assertive. Part of me calmed myself down thinking “I’m wearing my Silver jeans. They’re baggy. He didn’t really see much.” 

This moment haunts me to this day. Why was I so complacent? How can one woman say,

“Go fuck yourself!”

And I go,

“Okey dokey! No problem!” 

It didn’t help that this man seemed to kill on stage. For what comics lack in their off stage etiquette, they sure do make up for on stage. It kind of makes you let it go. Maybe if he bombed I would never have gotten up and twirled.

The idea of boundaries is huge today, but back then when I heard the word I just thought of Boundary Road in Vancouver. 

But here’s the great part of road comedy. You can always pray you never work with that comic again.

OR… 

You can grow some balls.

Guess which one came first?

(Here’s a pic of me and Jen on a couch during happier times. Really quite bummed I don’t have a lot of photos of my early years in comedy. Obvi new comics will have 8758439784758389 of them.)

*I really did the Lelaina Pierce gas card move as a teenager, but I ONLY filled my Aunty Marion’s car. We’d put all the gas on my dad’s card, then she’d pay me cash half of the actual cost. She got half price gas, I got free money. A win-win scam for both of us. This is why I don’t add my family on social media. These stories can’t come out. My dad might sue his sister. 

Chapter 9: What Are You Wearing?

I was starting to get more comfortable hanging out at Yuk Yuk’s. The wait staff finally knew my name (they probably warmed up to me after I stopped standing in their way,) and I was enjoying singing my newly written Britney parody song in the greenroom.

(To the tune of “I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet a Woman.”)

I’m not an amateur…

Not yet a headliner…

All I neeeeeeed is time,

Twenty minutes that is mine,

While I’m in between…

I was also figuring out some idiosyncrasies of the people in the crowd. Like why was I doing so well on some nights, but falling flat on others? I was starting to really look at the crowd, as opposed to staring into the abyss of the glaring lights.

I’d see a lot of people on dates. As mentioned last week, I started comedy before the “women support women” movement, and some nights you could also feel that from the audience.

Comedy clubs are a great date night spot. The more I got on stage, the more I made eye contact with my fellow gender from the wooden pedestal people who tell dick jokes get to stand on. Jawbreaker was currently in theatre, and while seeing a bunch of women in a movie was palatable, comedy clubs were a different game. There’s an accessibility with stand up comics that’s more intimate than other forms of entertainment. We’re actual human beings. We’re so close. We might even talk to you.

I noticed women gripping the legs of their boyfriends under the table, seemingly not happy their man was staring up at another woman. It was a weird energy since most of my jokes were for women, by a woman. Even though I heard crap like,

“All female comics do is talk about their periods.”

I was unscathed. I was quite sure my period jokes were funny. Classic hits like:

“My sister actually refers to her period as “blow job season…” NOBODY lends her chapstick.”

(Honestly that was about me, I just said it was my sister.)  

But still, it seemed like some chicks in the crowd just hated me. While having drinks after a show at D’Arcy McGee’s (a local haunt for comics around the corner from the club,) I vented about how I felt. Tracey MacDonald straight up gave me a clue.

“That’s cuz you wear see-thru tops on stage.”

What? No I don’t. I was so confused. I wasn’t tonight… but then I re-thought some of my wardrobe…

Yes, I would often dress for the bar. Sometimes I’d have to go straight from Yuk Yuk’s to On Tap. (I was out-growing Olivers.) Maybe this is why I have a collection of big purses. I’m always packing a wardrobe that will appease everyone I see in a day. 

But then I figured out what she mean by “see-thru” tops. There was a particular style of shirt that was popular back then. It was a full collared blouse, buttons down the front, (that I kept done up!) but it was mesh from the ribs down. Does anyone remember this? I swear I scoured the internet looking for a pic, but couldn’t find one. I hopped into a few vintage shops in my hood this week- they knew what I was talking about, but they are not left to be found on the racks. It seems as though my late 90’s/early 2000’s styles are NOT making a comeback.

But she was on to something. These women in the crowd were not appreciating my Le Chateau stylings. Even worse, the shirts from Stitches and Dynamite. I swear from the waist down I was all Silver jeans and chunky Steve Madden heels. I needed the Silver jeans specifically for my denim dick bit.

“Ladies, do you ever sit down in a pair of jeans and get one of these… the Denim Dick?”

(Me sitting on the stool, while my jeans gave me a boner. I had the opposite of camel toe.)

“Pops up every time like a foreplay airbag… So you start trying to push it back in, but that just makes you look weirder. And what’s worse, I’m looking around the room right now thinking, “OH NO… Mine’s bigger than his…”

(Nikki Payne still calls me Denim Dick to this day. I love it.)

Between Tracey calling out my partially mesh tops, and suffering intense insomnia over the way women in the crowd were perceiving me, I knew the wardrobe needed a re-vamp. It was about this time my style as a comedian drastically changed. I started dressing down- wearing sneakers, hoodies and always put my hair in a ponytail. To this day, I still feel more comfortable performing this way.

I don’t want people to just look at me…

I want them to listen to me. 

I wish I had that epiphany before this one particular weekend.

I was finally getting road work. It always felt weird saying “the road” as a Canadian comic, because all I ever really did was drive a few hours to do a weekend of shows then drove back. I maybe went three days without seeing my apartment. It was swift, and sometimes we didn’t even get hotels, we just drove back and forth every night. (Maybe we were actually more “road comics” than Americans and their fancy Southwest flights.)

I was doing an all women’s weekend in Kingston, Ontario. Kingston is a cute, super fun university town. I even had a friend living there who I had a huge crush on. Luckily he came to the smokin’ good Thursday show, cuz something weird happened on the Friday night. 

What I didn’t know at the time, is the late show Friday can suck.

(Like the blouse, I just scoured the internet looking for a quote I’m pretty sure is from Steve Martin’s “Born Standing Up.” It came out much later in my comedy career, but in the book he says something like, “I’ll do comedy anytime, any place, any city- but I hate the late show Friday.” Please fix this quote if you know it.)

Being new to road gigs, I was enjoying the little things. I loved staying in hotels. I’d take the pen from each room as a souvenir. This particular hotel was attached to a Lone Star Cafe. I was so excited, cuz they had the best fajitas. Something about their flour tortillas that were better than everywhere else. Since I didn’t have the chance to eat there Thursday, Friday I was definitely feasting. 

Probably not the best idea. I’m sure the whole front row thought I smelt like mesquite. 

There was four of us on the show. The host did an unusually long amount of time off the top. (My recollection is 45 minutes, but honestly, I don’t have diaries pre- 2001 here in NYC, so I could be wrong.) Then me, my fellow split middle Wendi, and the headliner. 

Compared to the Thursday show that was fire, this one was a bit of a dud. I figured Saturday would bounce back. 

But…

The next day we got a call from the club owner. I was sharing a room with Wendi, and we were informed together that they got SO many people phoning and complaining over last night’s show that tonight they were bringing in Jim McNally. We would all still perform, just with less time, then Jim would headline.

They were bringing in a man to headline the last night of an all women’s weekend.

And guess what else?

He would be staying in OUR hotel room, so me and Wendi would have to share a bed.

(I’m laughing my ass off as I write this cuz my iTunes is on shuffle and a Natalie Norman track just popped up. The newer generation of female comics would not stand for this.)

Me and Wendi weren’t exactly the fighting type. I think we gave the situation a full blown…

“Oh well…”

The Saturday night show was a blast from start to finish. Since the “male comic” went last, I know the show as it was supposed to be, would have been a success if given the chance.

For the record, Jim was a gentleman. He felt just as uncomfortable being in our room as we did. I think part of me felt guilty he even got the call. As we all tried to fall asleep, Jim made jokes from his bed, and me and Wendi laughed from ours. A classic comedian slumber party, incited by a weak comedy club owner. 

There was no social media to start a riot when something didn’t go your way. Not that I would have posted about it back then anyway. It was embarrassing. It was better no one had to know. You could just go back to the city you live in, and pretend like everything went great.

Complaining probably wouldn’t have got you anywhere anyway.

All you could do was keep going.

Chapter 8: Comedy Before The “Women Support Women” Movement

I recently saw a friend promoting a fellow woman’s new comedy album. I slid into her DM’s right away.

“I’m excited to check it out! How is it?”

Then she confessed she hadn’t actually listened to it. This is a pretty amazing development. Women just support each other now? You don’t ask 82 people to make sure it’s okay to ally yourself with this person? Do you mean to tell me you’ve never had a drink thrown on your back by another woman before? Things have changed.

So let’s go back in time. I started comedy in the late 90’s. The Spice Girls roared girl power! Then broke up. There were a ton of prominent women fighting with each other: Linda Tripp & Monica Lewinsky, Nancy Kerrigan & Tonya Harding, meanwhile I’m walking around town reading Amy Fisher’s “My Story.” (It was in paperback by this point, so it was cheaper. Don’t forget books are more expensive in Canada.) It seemed as though all the Blossom and Six friendships had disappeared. 

For the most part, I was lucky. A year into doing comedy, Jen Grant entered the Ottawa comedy scene. She not only looked like my sister, but to this day is still like one. Wendi Reed, Andrea Jenson- both so kind and funny as well. There were so few female comedians, we just naturally came together. Andrea had a great joke about how cigarette wrappers could also be used as Barbie police tape. The joke always worked, cuz back then only losers didn’t smoke. Wendi had a joke about how great Jaws is, cuz he eats hot skinny chicks. I always loved watching them.

But then there were other women…

Ones that seemed to have no patience for other female comics. 

Howard was always progressive, putting on all women comedy line ups. I didn’t really understand how special they were at the time, but I do now.  The shows would get promoted in local papers with a headline like:

“Chicks Ahoy!”

(True story. I have the paper somewhere.)

And most of these shows were a positive thing but there were a few…

That made me feel like a piece of shit.

I was officially “split middling” as we called it in the motherland. Me and another comic splitting the time of the middle, or “feature” as Americans call it. The headliner was amazing, having worked on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, and the host was a woman from Toronto. She was confident, did well with the audiences, but made the green room an uncomfortable nightmare. My fellow split middler was new at the time, just like me, but I assure you she’s a monster in Canadian comedy today. Our host was determined to make us uncomfortable before we got on stage.

“Do you have a GUY who loves you?”

Split middle girl:

“Uhhh, my dad.”

It was a good answer, considering the host’s day job was stripping.

She introduced Margaret Smith as “Maggy Smith,” who is actually a different actress altogether, so that didn’t go over well.

I was still pretty new to getting weekend spots, but I was doing well and was feeling good about myself. But this particular weekend threw my confidence in reverse. I got intros like:

(The host on stage, with a worried face.)

“Your next comic coming to the stage…. (sucking in spit) she’s REALLY new to doing stand up, but she tries hard, and she keeps getting better and better every time she gets up here, so I think we should really make her feel like she belongs on the stage. Let’s make some noise for… Christina… Walk….in….shaw?!”

Taking the stage felt like walking through Planned Parenthood. Everybody in the room clearly thought the worst of me. I had friends in the crowd, and after the show they were pissed.

“I did NOT like the way that host brought you on to the stage. It made you sound like a Make A Wish kid.”

It did have that kind of vibe. And that’s not even the worst intro I got back then. Another female comic intro’d me with: 

“This next comic coming to the stage could teach me how to lose a pound or two… and I could teach her how to tell a joke. Please welcome to the stage, Christina Walkinshaw.”

You know, “Women Supporting Women” stuff.

At the time you just tell yourself,

“This must just be how comedians treat each other…” 

But a dirty part of you thinks,

“The male comics are so much nicer…”

(We’ll find out why later!)

I asked a few friends my age if they had any experiences like this and all two of them did.  

“I showcased for a female comic’s talk show and SHE heckled me.”

“I opened for a female comic and had an amazing set. When I came off stage she said, “This crowd must be really dumb.” A few days later I saw her again, and she said, “I broke up with that guy I was dating at the show. He kept saying how funny you were.”

In retrospect, I wonder if the surge of more women in comedy effected some female comics. Maybe it was fun to be the only chick in a boys club. But with more women on the scene, that attention you were used to being solely yours started getting divided. Maybe that annoyed you, or jilted your ego, as it might a male comic. I can admit I loved being the only girl watching Monday night RAW with a bunch of Ottawa stoners. (And just like comedy, more women got into wrestling.)

I’ve never been good at standing up to bullies, or anyone who makes me feel uncomfortable. But once in a while, somebody else stands up to that shitty person, and a smile beams across your face like an old school episode of Desperate Housewives. Like this anecdote:

I wasn’t at this particular show, but I heard about it. That host who rubbed the entire lineup the wrong way was performing back in the Toronto area. She had a bit where she threw a line to the crowd as she played guitar:

“Quick! I need a word that rhymes with fellatio!”

From the back of the room, another comic yells,

“Get off the stage-eeoo!”

That comic was Ian Sirota. Apparently she was a dick to him too. At least she didn’t discriminate. She was mean to all genders. And while I’m sure bullying a bully is not today’s #1 form of problem solving, I can tell you this story still puts a smile on my face. Sorry, but that’s just how we did things in the 90’s.

I’ve always done my best to be supportive of new comics. I never want to make them feel as uncomfortable as some people made me feel. Plus there’s a good chance most of them are gonna pass me success wise anyway. Can’t wait to ask them all for jobs.

I hope all this “women supporting women” culture is real. It could just be a trend some people post in support of, but don’t truly feel. On a dark day, I can’t help but wonder which female comics mock or even hate me… I know that’s blatant insecurity, but guess what?

I keep putting myself out there anyway. 

(I shouldn’t write a whole blog about women who were dicks to me then tag it with, “And now here’s a pic of me and Jen Grant!” She’s the best and we’ve been family since the beginning.)

Chapter 4: I’ll Be The Best Three Minutes of Your Life

My only goal was to get on that stage. To get up against that brick wall in a basement on Albert Street, mere blocks from Capital Hill. I was in the right neighborhood to do political material, but I decided to stick to what I know- having small boobs and a recent loss of virginity. (Must have been one creepy set list to find in the greenroom.)

At the time, Yuk Yuk’s was the only place to do stand up in the city. There was no where else to run a set before my first time at the major club. I couldn’t binge watch the pros because the only thing I had access to were social psychology ITV tapes at school, and I was already 33 hours behind on those. (To be fair, they WERE loaded with “the difference between men and women” material, just in a much dryer form.)

There was no where to practice but the mirror. And in the car on the way to the gig, with my high school BFF Lesley. She moved to Ottawa from Vancouver after visiting and falling for one of my best guy friends. (My wingman skills are unparalleled.) I drove out to the west end to pick her up from her job at Rogers Video so she wouldn’t miss the show. In hindsight, I realize I could have asked her to comp me a rental of Raw or Delirious. Ooops. Typical me, having a good idea 23 years too late. Instead, I would just use my experience playing Pepper in my junior high school’s production of Annie as guidance for stage presence. 

Lesley was more nervous than I was. From the second she got in my car she was freaking out.

“OH MY GOD! Tell me all your jokes now! You gotta practice!”

I was hoping we’d rock out to “Peaches” by The Presidents of the United States, like high school. But if she wanted the jokes, I’d tell her. Couldn’t hurt. 

“People said university would open so many doors for me… They just didn’t tell me they’d be bedroom doors.”

Lesley bursts out laughing.  

“I think soap opera characters are doing way too much acid… Nobody has that many flashbacks on their own.”

(A little something I wrote in honour of The Young & The Restless, re: last blog.) 

She laughs even harder, choking on her cigarette. (Don’t worry, she rolled down the window, like a classy 90’s smoker.) I was killing in the car, but this is my friend laughing. Of course she’s supportive. Who knows what will happen on stage. 

This was pre-social media, but the news I was doing stand up traveled rather virally anyway. I don’t think as many people showed up to my Zoom show last night, and they didn’t even have to leave the house. I had a ton of friends and frosh from Carleton that wrangled a cab in a foot of snow to be there. When I walked in the show room, I felt more like I was hosting a party than a performer. I recognized half the room. This was Ottawa in 1997. Getting into stand up comedy wasn’t exactly your average life choice.

Everyone was excited. 

I was shitting my pants.

(Don’t worry, I didn’t actually. This was before I liked blue cheese.)

I noticed the club was a little different than last time.

Oh yeah, that’s cuz the last Wednesday of every month is “smoke-free.”

I remembered.

I hope these losers who don’t smoke are at least good laughers.

I didn’t know where to sit. Of course my friends were like, 

“Sit with me!”

It seemed a little weird to go from a table in the audience to the stage though. The girl at the door, Stacey, had pointed out the table where all the comics hung out, but I also didn’t feel like I belonged there. I’m not a comedian yet

I ended up standing in a spot against the bar that was the worst possible place for anybody trying to sling drinks that night. This was before I had any experience working in a bar, and I would officially like to say sorry for camping there. 

I was doing five minutes and on seventh. I had no idea back then if going early or late was good, but I did like that I was following Don Kelly. He was one of the comics I saw the night I came to just watch the show, and he was hilarious. I figured I could ride his wave if nothing else. (Cut to me in LA, years later, where people oddly feel secure following somebody who bombs.)

The host was killing, but also leaking beer from his pint glass. As I nervously waited to go on, he intros me with a classic: 

“Ohhh it’s her FIRST TIME!!! She’s POPPING HER CHERRY! WOWOWOWOOW!” 

He fucks up my name, but that’s happened so many times in my life they’ve all blurred together. I think Air Canada takes the cake for printing Christina Wankinshaw on a boarding pass. 

I know it’s a hack line now, but at the time I was very proud of what I did when I grabbed the mic. Looking over at the host as he stumbled off the stage, I said:

“I remember my first beer too…

(That was my inner Pepper for sure.)

The cheers of so many friends relaxed me. What that meant for the future was unclear. I couldn’t stack the crowd every night. Would actual strangers like me too? (I could see Lesley laughing VERY loudly, just in case.) 

I have no pictures of my first time on stage. It’s strange cuz I distinctively remember the blare of flashes while I was up there. Cameras weren’t exactly inconspicuous back then. Plus a lot of my friends had those Fun Savers where you could literally hear them wind the film after every shot. 

The jokes went well. Since I knew there were so many Carleton students in the crowd, I knew it would be easy to take some shots at my own school.

“I go to Carleton…. (applause.) It’s the 42nd best school in Canada. Let’s give it up for the U of K.” 

Even though I was instructed to look for the red light when my time was up, I couldn’t seem to find it. When I got off stage, the manager greeted me in the greenroom.

“Oh I’m so sorry, I didn’t see the red light.”

“That’s cuz it never went on.”

I break out into one of my big cheesy smiles that you might recognize if you know me. I couldn’t help it. What a compliment! They didn’t want me to get off stage!

“You only did three minutes.”

Oops. To be fair, my style in the beginning was more “set up, punch line, tag.* Was I in trouble? I start to panic. The manager interjects.

“It’s fine. It’s better to leave them wanting more. In general, you want to start strong, and end strong. If you can evenly distribute good jokes in the middle, hopefully you can connect the dots until the whole set is a straight line of solid material. You did good. You should definitely call in for more spots next month.”

Shit. Now I have to write another three minutes of material.

I mean FIVE. 

You can’t tell the same jokes a second time, can you?

I had sooooooo much to learn as a comedian.

And at this point, I had barely even interacted with any…

Get ready.

(I’m from the generation of comedians whose first head shots are black and white)

*My earlier material didn’t actually have tags.

Chapter 3: I’m Telling You For the First Time

Some time between my last day of university and my first time smoking pot, Jerry Seinfeld came out with a special called “I’m Telling You For the Last Time.” It was his way of putting to bed a bunch of material he didn’t want to do anymore. (Garry Shandling stealing jokes out of the coffin in the opening sequence is still my fave.) I owned it on VHS, and it was my go to after raves when I was coming down off ecstasy. It was the only thing I could think of to stabilize my serotonin before discovering the 5-HTP trick. 

I wouldn’t say I’ve “retired” any jokes, but I have dropped the flushing babies down the toilet bit. (For now.) Don’t want to get cancelled before I get accepted. 

But the one thing I am tired of reciting is the answer to the ever asked question,

“So, what made you want to get into stand up?”

It’s a fair question, I’ve just answered it a LOT. So here we go: 

I’m telling you for the last time, about my first time.

I didn’t always want to be a comedian. My original dream was to write for The Young & the Restless. I’m not sure how old I was when I started watching soap operas, but I do know I was young enough to still be forced to drink milk. My passion for the genre grew. I started passing on YM and Tiger Beat and buying Soap Opera Digest instead. Eventually I saw a trend- there were no story lines with characters my age, and that’s what these shows needed. At the wise age of 13, I didn’t think it was realistic to get my dream job right out of the gate, so I figured it would be easier to get hired at All My Children first. I hand wrote a letter and pitched myself to the legendary soap producer Agnes Nixon. I figured I could get the experience on her show to then get hired on Y&R. I never heard back.

But I wasn’t letting my new Judy Jetson diary with a lock on it go to waste. Just because I wasn’t ready to write about people coming back from the dead, didn’t mean my career was over. In fact, my first joke I ever wrote was at age 11:

When cows laugh, does the milk come out their nose?

It seemed to be something a lot of kids could relate to. As I got old enough to stay up past midnight, I started to randomly catch the occasional stand up set on TV. It was so rare to see it back then. There was no Netflix, YouTube or Internet rabbit holes to seek out this form of comedy. It wasn’t until one fateful night babysitting, when a single dad didn’t make it home until 3:00am that I finally saw the woman who made me think,

“I wanna do that.”

That comedian was Wendy Liebman. If you don’t know her, look her up. She’s incredibly funny, and you can clearly see her style has inspired a ton of comics. 

CUT TO: 1997

Believe it or not, I was a good student in high school. Excellent at math and English. I never skipped class, was on student council, counter attack driving and driving squad, had parts in all the plays and musicals (but only roles I could scream songs, not actually sing.) I don’t know when my academics slid away from me, but I’m pretty sure it coincided with my first sip of peach schnapps and the loss of my virginity. 

(Did I quote both Sheryl Crow and Heathers in my yearbook? Yup.)

I was 17 when I moved across the country to attend Carleton University in Ottawa. It was frosh week of my second year when got the calling to do stand up. I was a facilitator for new students. This was a week best known for the day we all go to Quebec for drunk waterslide day. (Can you believe they don’t do that anymore?)

I was in Olivers on a Wednesday night. That was the night, on campus. I think every college has one. I remember exactly where I was standing when the seed for my current career was planted. I was talking to fellow facilitator, Spicoli. We all had nick names. Mine was 90210 (Thank you Peter Bobak. I think you manifested my future.) 

There was enough distance from the dance floor that Mark Morrison’s “Return of the Mack” didn’t drown out the most powerful advice of my life. I guess I was killing it in the conversation, cuz Spicoli said, 

“You’re funny. You should go down to Yuk Yuk’s and do stand up. They have new talent night on Wednesdays.”  

My grades were starting to plummet. I thought it might be time to start looking into a back up plan. Stand up comedy sounded perfect. 

I called the club the next day. They had a clever phone number where the last four digits spelled “LAFF.” A nice girl named Stacey answered.

“Oh hi. Ummm… I was just curious… how do you get on your Wednesday new talent night?”

That’s right, they didn’t call it “AMATEUR NIGHT.” It was “New Talent” night. So Canadian, eh? 

“Well, we invite you down to watch a Wednesday night show, and after you see it, if you feel like you want to try it, you’ll call here on the first Tuesday of the month with avails. Then each comic usually gets two Wednesdays.”

Back then, not only were there very few comedians in Ottawa, but Yuk Yuk’s was basically the only place to do comedy. There weren’t all the bar and open mic nights you see today.

She put me on the guest list for the upcoming show. I decided to make it a date night with the guy I was seeing. My friends called him “The Polkaroo” cuz they never met him. 

I picked up the Polkaroo in my 1988 Nissan Micra I named “The Giant Tiger.” I was still 18, and though I had fake ID, I didn’t want to use it at the comedy club. I wanted to stay consistent and have the same name that night as I would on stage. I decided going in, I would assess my decision to try stand up like this:

I don’t expect to be the BEST starting out… I also don’t want to be the WORST… But if I think I could be the SECOND TO WORSE, I’ll do it. 

One above dead last. Shoot for the stars, kids. 

The show was amazing. So many great comics that are still doing it today, like my comedic hero Don Kelly, plus some I can’t believe aren’t doing it anymore, like Rob Cowley. His giant cheque bit was my fave. 

So the first Tuesday of November, 1997, I called the LAFF number. I put my name down for the last Wednesday of the month. 

And a week before my 19th birthday, I tried stand up for the first time.

That’s how I got into stand up.

Next week, I’ll let you know how it went. 

(Classic cliffhanger. Something I learned from watching soaps.)

Sadly, I don’t remember Spicoli’s real name. But if you know who I’m talking about, tell him I found some tasty waves, a cool buzz and I’m fine. 

(And thank you.)

(Me, Lesley Brown and Peter Bergman who played Jack Abbott on The Young & the Restless when he came to sign autographs at Landsdowne mall in Richmond. Maybe 1993?)

Chapter 1: Diary “A-ha” Moment

Chapter One: Diary Aha Moment

I’ve been doing stand up comedy for 24 years and still feel like a total loser. Not sure if it’s admirable or embarrassing I’m still chasing my dreams, but the 90’s seem to be trending again, so I might as well attempt to throw my amateur comedy career in the nostalgia mix. It hurts a little knowing you could fit six Midge Maisel careers in the span of mine. Does this blog already feel depressing? Stay with me. I’m actually a positive person. Watch me turn this around.

When I still had a day job, I felt guilty calling myself a comedian- I’d say comedian/bartender. (You don’t have to do that, btw.) Now I’m back to feeling uncomfortable declaring I’m a comic, cuz like most of us, I’m barely even doing it right now. The future is a wild card, the present feels numb, but the past is sitting all pretty, waiting to be graded.

I’m sure the last year has been both introspective and retrospective for us all. Having created an act bragging about being single, you know I spent a LOT of time alone in 2020. (I moved to New York on March 1st, so you know I have impeccable timing.) But I wasn’t totally alone. I had myself, in different versions. An entire book shelf of me. I’ve written in diaries since I was eleven. I’ve dragged them all back and forth across the continent multiple times as I try figure out what fucking city I’m meant to live in. I tell myself I’m lugging them through life because obviously I’m going to write a book one day, but it could be that I just don’t want anyone to find/read them. I don’t even trust USPS with them. I FedEx’d them here. And if you’ve ever shipped a box of books, you know it ain’t cheap. (It’s also a workout carrying them up your five story walk up.) But sentimentality can’t be replaced. Plus there’s no way I would remember half my life without these diaries. I’m simply prepping for Alzheimer’s. I can’t wait to re-read the story of my life when I’m in the old folks home spreading STD’s, as I hear they do. (It’s socially acceptable after 85.)

I have a tradition I do by myself every New Year’s Day: I pull a diary off the shelf and read the entire thing. I think it’s smart to start your year reflecting- figure out how not to fuck things up this year. Having no job currently, I had time to real them all. (Sadly there was no option for me to put this on my Goodreads page.) That’s when I had my inciting incident for this blog:

Sure I can’t DO comedy right now… 

But I can tell the STORY of my comedy…

It’s something. And it’s Covid compliant. Plus, the Internet lets you put anything on here. Have you seen it’s work?

This blog is gonna be quite the ride. If stand up comedy is a game I’d say I’ve played all the levels:

Open mic-er

Feature/Middle

Hide all signs of being a comedian from family 

Host 

Move to Hollywood too early

The road 

The shows you called “The road” but really you just drove five hours for fifty bucks

Comedy competitions

“Sent” back to Canada

Headliner

Comedy festivals

TV Tapings

Blog

Optioned my own TV show

Dated comics (could be a full other book)

Gone viral

Podcast

Another podcast

Two more podcasts

Move to Hollywood too late

Vegas

Performed for the troops overseas

Cruise ship act (THE FINAL LEVEL!)

I’ve done everything except save the princess. (You know, become famous.)

Having my own personal George Bailey moment re-reading all these diaries really put things in perspective. They almost made me mad at myself. (Again, positive person, I will pull it together in the end.) 

I feel like I said “no” to all the things I should have “yes” to…

I feel like I said “yes” to all the things I should have said “no” to…

So here I am, re-reading my life from the point I was literate. How did I become a comedian? Why am I still doing it? Am I trapped in the dream of my 18-year-old self?

These blogs I’m going to release are chapters I’ve been compiling for years now. If you know me, you’ve heard me say I’m “writing a book” for at least the past five years. (Sometimes I bail on comedy shows saying I have a “deadline.” LOLOLOLOLOL.)

Somehow my work ethic for the long term has been interrupted by the instant gratification of social media. A cute pic. A funny Tik Tok. A clever tweet. You convince yourself these sort of posts are a pretty good work day, then go back to doing nothing. But then you wake up the next morning and waste hours looking at other people’s posts until you feel like that avocado you bought when it wasn’t ripe yet, waited too long to actually use, finally cut it open and now it’s rotten. I hope this blog doesn’t make anyone feel like that. If it makes you feel any better, I’m 42. It’s taken me this long to figure shit out and I’m only half way through the pile.

There was part of me that was thinking,

“Don’t do another blog…. You’ve exposed your personal life online enough…” 

But then I thought:

“I also don’t want to forget anything when I finally publish a book. Might be good for all the people from my past to add their memories and/or fix mine. I’d like to save myself from a few law suits if possible, so feel free to tell me what you think I’ll get sued for.”

So in the spirit of my Tinder Tuesdays, I’m going to post blogs every Tuesday. Even though these stories are more about comedy than sex, I promise…

There’s a LOT of over lap. 

Move over Bridget Jones. I know more Hugh Grants than you do.