This is me, roughly two years into standup. I want to say the year is 2000 or 2001. I was about 24 years old.
Sometimes people ask my advice about comedy. I don’t have much to give. You just do comedy. That’s it. If you love it, you just keep doing it. You keep going to whatever shitty open mic you can because you can’t help yourself, because sitting at home means you’re not getting better at what you love. You keep writing lousy new material because lousy old material starts to bore the shit out of you. Because repeating your same three decent jokes at an open mic more than a few times feels like jerking off, like wasting the people’s time.
You fail in front of strangers, your friends, your family. You hear empty encouragement like “Hey, it takes a lot of guts to get up there” from people who don’t have the heart to be honest. “Who was that black/Mexican/Indian/magician/juggler/midget/fat guy/girl? Now that was funny.” Watch comics leave the room when your name is called—it’s the same feeling you had on the playground when someone yelled “Easy out!” as you took the plate. Get called a fag at your first paying gig before you even make it to the microphone. Drink too much before a TV showcase, and watch the booker walk out during your set.
I guess what I’m saying is standup, as a lifestyle, sucks. It’s designed to make you miserable. You can’t solve it, or graduate from it, or become branch manager. There’s no job placement program, no promotions. You just keep going and going because you’re sick about it. It’s not healthy. It’s not conducive to a relationship. It’s not profitable. It’s not reliable. But what else were you going to do?