COLUMN: Trying stand-up comedy changed my life for the better
As graduation approaches, I often find myself reflecting on what I have done during my college career.
Looking back on my time at Central Michigan University, there are a lot of things I can say I’m glad I did.
One of those things is performing stand-up comedy.
It’s an activity I like to keep quiet. People who know me know I’m a quiet and timid guy to begin with.
So when people learn that I do stand-up comedy, their initial reaction is “Really? But you’re so quiet.”
Let me tell you why I decided to get into comedy.
I was 18-years-old and approaching my high school graduation. Sports made up a lot of my time then, so when my playing days were over, I needed a new outlet.
I decided to try out stand-up. I watched stand-up specials on Comedy Central and sketches on “Saturday Night Live” during high school. Comedy was entertaining and fun, which is something I needed in my life.
I gave it a shot. It was awful. I was hooked.
On March 25, 2014, I performed at a comedy club in Livonia. I took my best friend with me and I put what I thought was a good five minutes of material onto a notecard. I drove an hour-and-a-half from Saginaw to the club where I talked for five minutes into a microphone.
I bombed. But one joke I told landed. When I heard the sound of laughter for the first time, I was hooked. Getting laughs on stage is like a drug — it’s something you want more of.
So, I kept doing comedy. The day before my last day of high school, I roasted my high school. For 10 minutes, my classmates loved it. I felt like the popular kid in school, even if it was just for a day.
Comedy has been a lot of fun. I have performed in clubs, bars, colleges and festivals. I have gotten on shows with some hilarious comedians. I have met great people in the four years since I took the stage for the first time.
Will Ferrell described stand-up comedy as “hard, lonely and vicious.” He’s not wrong. I can’t tell you how many times I drove two-and-a-half hours to Grand Rapids to bomb, eat McDonald’s in the parking lot and then drive back. I’ve had bad sets. Those aren’t fun, and you always find yourself questioning why you keep doing this.
Even after you have 10 bad sets in a row — one good show makes all those hesitations disappear.
Comedy brings people together. For me, it’s how I relax in a time in my life that is often stressful. It’s how I share my voice.
I don’t know where my career will end up or how long I will keep doing this. I could be either 25 or 60 and there could be a good chance that I’ll still be driving hours alone with McDonald’s bags on the floor of the passenger seat of my vehicle.
But I’ll never regret taking that microphone out of the stand awkwardly for the first time and saying something I wrote in front of a crowd of people. It’s part of what makes me, me.
Find what makes you happy. You won’t regret it.
Don’t let anyone hold you back from doing something you want to do.