Two-Buck Yuks: A day job in the lifeWritten by Keith Bergman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Recently, I observed several Detroit-based comics engage in an old-fashioned Facebook spat. One guy, known for mocking comedians who still have day jobs, got called out when he posted a photo of himself on a loading dock, driving a tow motor, wearing a hard hat. His dirty little secret was out — his calling in life didn’t pay his bills, either.
We’ve gotten so used to the idea of rock stars — performers and creative types as larger-than-life celebs doing what we wish we could — that it’s jarring to see even a local artist at their 9-to-5. I was shocked to see one of Toledo’s most talented musicians and songwriters working at a copy shop. A comic friend of mine who’s well-known in his town as the regular host of the local club’s shows recently took a job with a moving company, and gets recognized almost daily. “That guy’s supposed to be on stage — why is he carrying my couch?”
No one wants to be at the bottom of the food chain. It’s maddening to think you’re at square one, and that the process is methodical and slower than molasses. People like Chris Rock and Louis C.K. have been at it for close to 30 years, after all. It’s hard to apply that template on your own life and realize that, if you get anywhere with this at all, you stand a good chance of having paid off a mortgage before you become an “overnight sensation.”
Thus, you see comics in their first six months creating fan pages on Facebook (and then gamely cutting-and-pasting their jokes from their personal account to the fan page, as if everyone on their fan page isn’t also their personal friend). You see people getting business cards, headshots and starting podcasts, long before they’ve figured out if they have anything to say.
In rare cases, they may be laying the foundation for a strong career. But more likely, if they do stick it out, by the time they get to the point where any of that’s useful, they — and their entire persona — will have changed. They’ll need to redo all that stuff, and they’ll have generated tons of content online they’re no longer proud of, which will never go away.
In this age of downloading, the era of the rock star is basically over. But we’re still stuck in a 1980s mentality that we’re one hit away from fame and success. It might be healthier in the long run to approach comedy, or any other art form, as something you do to make the world better and get some joy in your life, first and foremost. Let the other stuff happen or not happen around that. It may not make clocking in on Monday any easier, but it’ll at least give you the freedom to appreciate the process and to enjoy your life as it is, where it is.
Keith Bergman hosts the “Two Buck Yuks” comedy show at The Blarney Event Center, 601 Monroe St., every Wednesday at 8 p.m.