So, on the heels of my stand-up tirade a few days ago, I decided to seek out some advice about making it in comedy as a non-standup. I mean, let’s face it, stand-ups in Los Angeles seem to be the ones who get notice, cast and get writing jobs. For good reason too. If you had to write and perfect your act over years, you would be an expert and writing jokes as well. I’ve been afraid that would be my downfall . . . this lack of enthusiasm for stand-up.
In an attempt to chill these worries, I knocked on the door of resident Conan sketch writer Brian Stack. Brian has been working with Conan for awhile and could be the nicest man on Earth . . . next to Mr. Rodgers who isn’t on this Earth anymore. Sad. Still, talking to Brian kind of felt like listening to this guy:
Brian introduced himself to me my first week as an intern and to my chagrin (Yes, I had a chagrin – I’m getting it looked at, okay?) I found that we had a lot in common. He was a Chicago improvisor who studied at Second City. We has a lot of the same teachers and both of us had no real interest in stand-up. To me, being an improvisor and ending up a writer one one of the leading late night talk shows seems like anomaly . . . he assured me it wasn’t.
Brian said that many stand-ups talk about their craft, their chosen trade, their comedy weapon of choice as being part of their DNA. “The way they felt about stand-up, I realized, was the same way I felt about improv.” For Brian, the first time he did improv, he knew that was his love. Even when it was hard or he had bad shows in the beginning, he loved it even more. Stand-ups say the same thing. You just know when you have found that one thing that always makes you excited. It IS part of your DNA.
Brian also said that if I don’t want to do stand-up because I’m afraid, then that’s the best reason to do it . . . or at least give it a shot. However, if I just don’t want to do it, then don’t. He knows what he wants to do; to follow his desire — his heart. That’s good advice. I’m a little afraid and a little disinterested. Maybe I’ll give it a shot . . . but not because it’s a career move. I don’t need it for a career move. I have plenty in my improv bag for that.
Still, when Brian talked about his love for improv, it really dawned on me: That first improv class I took way back on October 27, 2004 — that was when I knew what was in my DNA. No matter what direction my career has taken me, I always return to improv. I always will. And with that connection, I realized that the comedy path is filled with different roads that could lead to the same place. Brian really made that clear. His path could be similar to mine . . or it may not. I’m just going to keep on trucking, admiring those who have chosen a different path to the same place while maintaining my own speed. I’ll get there eventually.
Or maybe I will try stand-up . . .