Bookings, Travel and the Inevitable Anxiety

Something about leaving to new cities to do comedy with comics you haven't met before and bookers who you sent a video to is the most exciting thing in the world and also the most nerve wracking. On one hand, I get to go on a week long trip and see new places and eat new food and make new friends. On the other, I have a sincere worry (always) that I'll show up to a show and forget everything I've learned about stand up. I'm not talking just forgetting my jokes, I mean something like I show up and find out that I was never funny and the last 6 years have been a dream and now suddenly I'm in reality and everyone fucking hates me.

I feel that way before most shows but it intensifies when they are shows I've worked on getting. Emailing, sending video, coordinating dates and having people put trust in me to show up and do a good job. Those are the shows that I am most afraid I am actually a fraud. Everything always works out fine and it gets less intense each time I put myself in this position that is very uncomfortable and unnatural to me so I figure after another 15 years it might go away. Then again, it may not go away and I'll just hate every time I have to leave to do comedy. Even with a stomachache it's still better than most jobs. 

Going on the road and putting myself into situations that really make me uncomfortable have made me an infinitely better comic than I was before focusing on travel. I spent the first few years having an ego for no reason other than you have to when ya start or you'd quit but after that starts to fade, you're left with reality, which for me, was not getting paid bookings in my city and feeling kind of confused and scared about it honestly. So I started getting depressed and aimless and then I decided to go to Memphis for a few days on a whim and do some shows there. I had a great time, I didn't "KILL" but I did well and had fun. Then I came back to St Louis and had that same hopeless feeling creeping in again so I decided to go to Nashville for a few days and do some shows. I did a showcase spot at Zanies that was packed and did very well. Felt amazing. Then came back to St Louis and started making an effort to fight off that negative feeling and it actually worked. 

My focus has shifted a lot in the last year. I book lots of things now and stay busy working in St Louis because there are shows coming up on the road and I can't bomb without looking like a dumb ass. It has made my city a gym instead of the means to an end. When I have a new idea, I work it out at open mics because I am going to be leaving again soon and would like the bit to work wherever I go next. It's a small shift but just being in my city and writing and performing every night only to end up throwing the jokes out later was really killing my motivation. Now that I think of all material, shows and lessons as pointed toward the goal of being a "touring comic", I have a new found excitement and love for stand up again. Working hard is easier to do when you have a goal in mind. 

I guess the point I'm getting at is if you're feeling stale as an artist, put yourself out there. Do something new. If you're nervous, you should be but you'll rise to the occasion. Or you won't. Either way you'll learn something useful. Either what to work on or that maybe you're not as bad as you think. 

Good luck and seeya on the road, babes.