Monday, November 24, 2008

That's Life...


I have been following this dream of stand-up comedy for a long time now. I actually started in 1991, quit for a few years. Went back again for a brief moment in 1993, quit for a lot of years. Back again in 1998. On and off between doing local theater. In 2004, I decided to dedicate all my efforts to my part time career as a stand-up comedian. It's very easy to get discouraged in this business and quit for a while. The problem with quitting is you lose all your contacts, so when you decide you miss it and want to try again, you start all over again.
Stand-up is not like riding a bike, you have to keep going to get better. When you stop, and go back, you suck. As much as you want to stop, you can't.

I remember back in 2005 or so, I was going full force in NYC, trying to break into the scene there. I would always get dicouraged when I went to the city clubs because they are so competitive. For every club in Manhattan, there are 1.000 comics wanting to get on stage for five minutes. A comic starting out has to bring people to get to perform on stage. Bringer shows, as they are called, are very difficult to keep up because you burn out your friends. You may get 10 people the first time, then it's down to 7, then 5, then none. Soon, you are ignored at family parties. Treated like an Amway salesman. "Oh no, here comes Steve, he is going to ask us to come to one of his shows again, whatever date he says, we are busy".

One time, I was on my way to an "industry showcase", which is code for "nobody from the industry will be there". It was at a club way uptown. I was getting ready for disappointment on the train ride in. I was thinking, this is it, if this doesn't turn out to be anything, I am done with this crap. I am never going anywhere with this.

As I sat on the Babylon train to Penn Station, I noticed a large African American man carrying a boom box.

Yeah, one of these suckers.

He puts it on, but instead of hearing some obnoxious rap music, it plays "That's Life", sung by the great Frank Sinatra. It's playing rather loudly, and then I noticed the guy was not all there. Let's just say he was mentally challenged. He is singing along. At the end of the song, he says, I love that song and proceeds to play it again and again and again, all the way to Penn Station. The song played about ten times. people were getting a little annoyed, but nobody said anything. I found it kind of funny. Anyway, the train stops and we all get out. I have to get a subway way up to 102nd street - way uptown. I notice this guy is in front of me all the way towards the subway station. The whole time, That's Life is playing throughout on his boom box. I finally get to my train, he turned the other way and is gone. I get to my destination and as usual, it's the regular bull crap show with no industry and more comics than audience. Once again, I have wasted my time.

I do my 7 minutes of material to no response from the comics. Comics very rarely laugh at other comics. I think a few of them were taking notes during my set, or stealing my jokes, who knows. I am tired, angry, disturbed and ready to quit. I go out to the bar area of the club and there is a jukebox in the corner. It's blasting some Guns & Roses song and I decide to stay for a minute and have a beer. I needed to take a break. As I am taking a taste of that first swig from the cold bottle of Heineken, I hear it.
Out of the jukebox it plays: That SONG - THAT'S LIFE ...How could this be? It's not like it's a song you hear everyday. I even looked around to see if that guy was in there. Did he follow me? Nope.

It's on the jukebox. What am I in The Twilight Zone? Am I being Punked? Where is Ashton Kutcher? Why would anyone punk me? I'm nobody. Wait a minute...

Then I listened to the lyrics:

That's life, that's what all the people say.
You're riding high in April,Shot down in May
But I know I'm gonna change that tune,
When I'm back on top, back on top in June.
I said that's life, and as funny as it may seem
Some people get their kicks,Stompin' on a dream
But I don't let it, let it get me down,
'Cause this fine ol' world it keeps spinning around
I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate,A poet, a pawn and a king.
I've been up and down and over and out
And I know one thing:
Each time I find myself, flat on my face,
I pick myself up and get back in the race.
That's lifeI tell ya, I can't deny it,
I thought of quitting baby,
But my heart just ain't gonna buy it.
And if I didn't think it was worth one single try,
I'd jump right on a big bird and then I'd fly
I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate,A poet, a pawn and a king.
I've been up and down and over and out
And I know one thing:
Each time I find myself laying flat on my face,
I just pick myself up and get back in the race
That's lifeThat's life and I can't deny it
Many times I thought of cutting out
But my heart won't buy it
But if there's nothing shakin' come this here july
I'm gonna roll myself up in a big ball and die
My, My

This had to be some kind of message from beyond telling me not to give up.
That night, Stevie GB decided to stay in the race


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