Claiming Your Space

16 01 2017

o-stand-up-comedy-facebook

I have been running for over 20 years but won’t call myself a runner.

I’ve been playing piano since I was 7 but wouldn’t call myself a pianist.

I’ve been writing for 30 years but still hesitate to call myself a writer.

And yet with all of these things, I probably have reason to be more confident in those pursuits than I do with comedy, which I have been performing for much less time. Still, I am proud to call myself a comedian, if only reluctantly. It makes me happy.

The truth is, I am a working comedian. I am not working to where it can be my full time job and I’m not sure it ever will be but I get hired to do shows as if others comedians would and it goes well. As I mentioned to another comedian friend, I am at a place where even if it doesn’t go as well as I would have hoped, I feel like I have earned a right to take the stage and I can hold my own. This isn’t an ego thing. It’s just a hard work thing.

I don’t think that unless you have been part of this mind-game that is stand-up comedy you could really understand what that means. It’s like my daughter learning a new dance step. The whole step may take seconds but it can take weeks or months to even get to the point where it’s “in the ballpark.” It’s the same with comedy.

This may be the first positive comedy revelation I have had about myself and though I have no idea if things will progress or not, it really is ok. I am enjoying myself and meeting some really wonderful people and learning to be more confident based on what I know and not what others might think they know about me.

It reminds me a little of losing weight or “getting in shape.” The advice is to not focus on the scale so much (what the scale “thinks” it may know about your health) and focus more on how you feel and even may look (what you, yourself, know). I don’t know – I’m rambling. I just watched “Primal Fear” with my kids (saw it 20 years ago – what a great movie) and my mind is still sort of blown so this is what you get.

I guess the purpose of this blog is to say that we all have a right to claim to be who we are and not just what we do but why we do it. I am an artist, a songwriter, a writer and yes, even a runner, and all of these things funnel up to the dad, brother, son and friend I am. It sort of works that way. Don’t limit yourself. Claim your space. It’s yours. You own it.

Until next time,

Marc

 

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The Downside of Funny

5 11 2015

Way more than one dimension.

Way more than one dimension.

By now, I’m pretty sure you have read at least one article regarding the recent and tragic suicide of Robin Williams. (They are all tragic, by the way.)

It is probably not a new thought that depression and suicide seem to be higher among creative types – musicians, artists, comedians, etc. To be honest, I am not sure if this is actually true or not. I have read articles online that allude to it, give theories as to it, but have not seen a definitive study that is double-blinded, randomized and statistically significant, though one may exist.

To me, it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that people understand that human beings are not one dimensional. I can’t imagine a physician, plumber or toll booth operator as not having a sense of humor simply due to their occupation and yet, it seems that when someone is funny, it becomes hard, and at times, unacceptable, for others to accept the mulit-dimensionality of that person. As the saying goes, “everyone loves a clown.” (Though, I hate clowns, and parades, if anyone is curious).

I personally believe that it is called a “sense” of humor because the humility and perspective that humor provides is very much a means by which one can perceive, just like touch, smell, taste, hearing or sight. Humor has helped me defray many a sticky situation. In fact, given how direct and confrontational I can be at times, I cannot imagine how much more so this would be if it were not for humor. I suspect I may never be able to hold down a job or relationship, let alone get through traffic or the deli counter at the local market where the dude behind the counter seems to be perpetually in a bad mood.

My parents are the type of folk that are either your best friends or can be your worst enemies. It’s a bit dramatic but it is to say that they are fiercely loyal but spare no delusions when someone is being less than authentic or worse, dishonest. I come by it honestly. My goal has always to be as fair as possible and try not to be mean. It’s difficult especially when dealing with certain people. I like that people can feel at ease around me and I can make them laugh when things get tough. However, at times, it seems, to those who really don’t know me, as I am considered the Mascot at the game – always the go-to-guy to feel better when in truth, sometimes I’m not up for the task.

When this occurs, there is a distinct difference between those who can see the multi-dimensionality of the person in front of them and those who are disappointed and even a bit angry that I am not in a good mood or a good place. The same gift that might allow certain people to “think outside of the box” is the same heavy cloak that causes us to retreat at times. I don’t know if this makes sense to people who may be more level in their moods. We are all born with a different “level set” and for those who traverse the good and the bad, it can be difficult to explain this to those who are not of the same ilk.

The downside of funny is not really a downside, per se, as much as the other side of funny. Not all comedians are tragic just as all theologians are not righteous. People are more than a sum of their careers, passions and perceptions. The multi-dimensionality exists in all of us but it takes more than a passing encounter to understand, respect and accept it.

Until next time,

Marc





Portrait of the Artist as a (not so) Young Man

26 08 2015
This is not a portrait nor a young man...discuss.

This is not a portrait nor a young man…discuss.\

Yes- leave it to me to pick a nerdy title for a blog post. I’m special that way. Now onto the blogosphere….

Last weekend I got to sit out in the evening at a local pub – the mahogany bar in front of me and on the other side of a wooden divider, the sounds of a lone singer belting out classic tunes by Neal Young, Pearl Jam and other amazing artists. It was as close to my version of “The Voice” as I had come to before….hearing the vocals but only being able to imagine from whom they arose.

The singer had a fantastic range and a syrupy but deep tonality that surprised me for the range of various different songs he was playing on the guitar while strumming away. I had an image in my head of who this guy was. When I took my beer and headed over to the patio where he was performing, I was surprised to see a guy not much taller than myself with a pair of jeans, spectacles and an unassuming blue and gray plaid short-sleeve shirt. My first impression was, “man, this guy looks like Moby but I don’t think Moby sings like that.” My second was: “did we go to school together?”

I was thoroughly enjoying this guy singing and even wanted to catch up with him after as I have been looking to hire a vocalist to record (or re-record in some cases) some original music I have written. After he played his last tune, he thanked the audience and also said that he had an original 10 song CD for sale for $5.

An older gentleman sitting with his 3rd or 4th wife – I couldn’t tell the exact number; it’s so hard to tell these days – started laughing and quipped to me: “$5 for 10 songs? How good can it be? He’s a little old to be hocking CDs.” In one minute he was able to convey every horrible judgement that some inappropriate distant relative from the past had said to me at one point or another about something or somebody.

Thankfully, I had not let my “beer voice” talk on my behalf and instead, just said something to the effect of “well, he’s really good and clearly enjoying himself.”

I was so frustrated by this guy. Was I internalizing his comment a bit? Probably – sure. What gets me though is the ease with which he felt comfortable making fun of this artist. Had he been 20, I am sure he would have still said something like “let’s see where you are in 20 years” but have accepted the fact that he was giving it a try. The message here was that his age had something to do with the acceptability to express a passion of his – guitar playing and singing. (OK, OK  – editors note here – I AM internalizing that part because, honestly, for all I know he hates singing and guitar playing and was just doing it to pay the bills. But based on the looks of his tip jar that night, I highly doubt it.)

Why is our society so comfortable with allowing youth to explore but once you reach a certain age limit, it becomes more acceptable to judge? I am the first to find annoyance with all of those adults still “finding themselves” but that doesn’t mean that people necessarily should stop finding a part of themselves.

Sometimes people are found – they don’t need to look anymore. They are born into families that are supportive (financially, emotionally or otherwise) or have a natural gift for those faculties that are easier to get caught and be found – athletics, academics, the last name Kardashian. However, many of us have a lot of exploring to do and this should not be seen as the antithesis of responsibility. It’s quite the opposite. Show me the person who has nothing left to figure out and I’ll show you someone who continues setting unrealistic expectations on someone – a child, an employee, an entire Republican party (hello Mr. Trump – I’m talking to you).

But in all seriousness, Joyce wrote about his protagonist breaking away from conventional norms and figuring out his identity. He was a young man but his age wasn’t what made it exceptional. It was his journey. This doesn’t have to stop just because you happen to be an older man of means sitting with your 3rd or 4th wife watching an amazing guitarist and singer for free on a beautiful weekend evening. That’s not “making it” at all – that’s barely even “finding it” if you ask me.

Until next time,

Marc








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