Monthly Archives: May 2024

Comedy/ Tragedy/ and our Highest Thoughts.

I was watching a documentary on several ridiculously successful comedians, the five of them were sitting around a table talking about their careers. They weren’t talking about their mansions, fleets of cars, or their super popular TV’S shows or movies. Nope, they dove into the hell gigs they all went through, and the horror stories of their careers. And they were howling. It’s where we began, and what we overcame that’s near and dear to our hearts. And no matter what we do , stand up, teacher, bus driver; we all have these stories in us, and they’re our University.

Besides, no one wants to hear how great we are, how amazing our life is, and how much better it’s going to get. Nope, they want to hear how we locked our keys in the car, were drenched by a passing truck, or how an ATM ate our card.

First of all; I believe each of us, is more than we can possibly know. Unfortunately, in Stand Up Comedy, for me anyway, I learnt this lesson the hard way. I’ve always shared this quote: “You work for money, or you get money for your work.” Well, as a stand up, first starting out, there might be work. open mics, guest spots, and community fundraisers; yes they’re are all learning experiences. But the first thing you learn is: you’re doing all these for free. Mic drop.

When I first started, I had an agent that booked bands and lounge-acts. I convinced them because I did an Elvis impression, that I was their man. They immediately get me a booking at 3 in the morning, for an ELEMENTARY WAKE-A-THON. I sit down and write out 50 jokes I thought eleven year old’s would like: “How come we never see monkey bars on Planet of the Apes? You’re lucky. You’re at the age where people are still impressed you’re good at murder ball. Ever notice the smart kids sit up front? So, if you don’t get my jokes you sitting too far in the back.”

I get up on stage, in a half filled gym, 3AM, I go to introduce myself, “Hi. I’m Pau”…. That’s as much as I got out, before some kid in glasses shouts, “you suck!” I instantly look for the teachers, and they’re hunched over on the back wall, laughing. I think, OK, how much more time do I have? I look at my watch. All of it. That’s how much. I’m supposed to do 20 minutes. The whole time I’m being screamed at how unfunny I am by a gym half full of children.

My sister was a teacher’s aide at my nephew’s junior high school. She asks me if I’d be interested in doing a lunch hour show, in the teacher’s lounge, for a couple dozen teachers? I say, “well of course I will.” I show up for the lunch hour show. I’ve put together my favorite just starting comedy jokes, into a pretty solid twenty minute set that should impress the hell out of this group. I get to the gig; I see my sister, and for some reason she can’t talk. She points down the hall to an open door, and races away. She’s a teacher’s aide I surmise, and calmly shuffle to the open door. There’s no mic, stage, nothing’s prepared. The teachers are all sitting around two large tables, eating lunch and talking. I decide to just jump in with both feet.

“Hi everyone. I’m Paul. you might not know me, but in Slave Lake; I’m a God. KFC says a bucket holds one whole chicken. So. the other day I decided to reconstruct a bucket. You know what it was? A human head. Me and my girlfriend broke up. I still see her. She’s in my freezer. My mother’s illiterate; when I was a kid, if I swore; she’d wash my mouth out with soup.”

The teachers don’t look at me, don’t stop eating, don’t stop talking. Finally, near the end of my set, one of them asks why I’m talking during their lunch break? Apparently my sister forgot to tell anyone who I was, and why I was sharing my stand up during their lunch break.

I have more than my fair share of nightmare, worst case stand up scenarios. But when I began as a comedian, my plan was to learn the craft. Watch other comics, and read, listen, perform, tape my sets and listen to the tapes, tag the jokes that were working, rewrite the rest of my set that wasn’t working. Because of stand up, I learnt timing, and how to trust my intuition, the genres of comedy writing and styles. I became an Adult Educator, and taught Stand Up, and Comedy Writing for 3 decades, and received a National Teaching Award. Because of Stand Up, I became an award winning playwright, and a published novelist. Stand Up taught me how to carve out my voice.

It was my ego that I worked through in the beginning of my Stand Up career. But through working on the work, I managed to let go, and trust my intuition; really listen to it. My intuition opened my eyes to honesty, and humor for healing, to sharing my bare bones stories; dysfunction, addiction, divorce, loss, regret, shame, my truth. In following these stones across the rivers of my journey, I began to bump into my highest thoughts, heart, soul, compassion, life after death, healing and heaven.

It’s laughter, intuition, heart, soul and spirit, that have lead me to this moment, and this blog. I don’t know very much, but I do know, that trusting our lowest thoughts, self-criticism, doubting, our happiness and worthiness, are all lies. We are all a part of infinity. When we look up at the stars at night and see the limitlessness in the Universe; why would we ever decide to be small?