In this corner, Anxiety. In this corner, Fear.

29 08 2015

Man, this fight sucks.

Man, this fight sucks.

I have written about fear enough times in this blog in the past but when something occurs that reminds me of how powerful this really is, I feel compelled to write about it again.

Just to reiterate what I may have alluded to in the past, I am not speaking of fear associated with flight or fight – the fear of walking down a dark alley in the city at 2 am or being diagnosed with something horrible. I am talking about the fears that we wear as a coat ourselves – either real or imagined – that become part of us without even knowing it and ultimately mold us into who we think we need to be rather than who we are.

I have to admit, that even after seeing that scientific pinnacle of the psychological community “Inside Out” with my kids, I wasn’t sure if fear was truly an emotion. According to Wikipedia (which is not scientific but I trust more than, say, Donald Trump), fear “occurs as the result of threats that are perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable” and is related to but “should be distinguished from” the emotion of anxiety.

I also realized that I took for granted that I thought I understood exactly what an emotion was. It is defined as:”an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced.”

This is starting to gel now. If my effective state of consciousness is an anxious one, then the resulting experience is fear. If, on the opposite side of the spectrum, my effective state of consciousness is one of contentment, joy is the resulting experience. Makes sense. (Interesting to me how, out of all the experiences referenced in the definition, 75% of them are not so great – necessary but not necessarily great to feel. Had to be written by a Jew – just saying. It’s how we’re wired.)

For many reasons, I had socialized myself to live in a state of anxiety about comedy or anything creative for that matter. I had always done music and that seemed more acceptable but admitting to stand-up always gave me an uncomfortable sqeamish feeling that was hard to ignore. 

Today, my kids and I met long time friends (past neighbors of ours) for brunch and it was just terrific. They have known my family before my kids were even born and I had lost touch with them as I did with many others during this weird 2 year hiatus when I was just trying to get through without anyone knowing what the hell was going on.

In any event, toward the end of our breakfast, they asked me if I was still doing comedy and after replying that I am basically squeezing it whenever I can as long as it doesn’t disrupt the kids etc. – they said something to the affect of “but you’re not giving it up” – almost like holding me to not quitting. It was subtle. Perhaps I read into it. But it was sort of what I needed.

Here’s why. I lived with real and perceived threats around this comedy thing for so long that it became a self-fulfilling prophecy and I became more anxious leading to more fear. It was a cycle of craziness. I had real threats – it was a threat to my marriage in some ways because I just never was able to articulate why it was important and not some sort of low class “hanging out” proposition. It was a perceived threat because I was too worried about what people would think – friends, family, work colleagues. Hell, even to this day, most of my work colleagues don’t have any idea though I am not deliberately hiding it but I’m not going out of my way to advertise it either.

Fear. It can really be crippling.

The one great thing about divorce is that eventually, you can’t hide from it no matter how much you try. Someone has moved out. Someone doesn’t show up to a family function. Some one leaves a ton of crap on your front lawn. It gets noticeable and quick. It’s a good thing. Once that happens, there’s no more anxiety. No more wondering “what if”. There is only the present, and hopefully, the future.

It’s been a great lesson for me for comedy. Some people say comedy ruins people’s lives. I have to say it has only helped mine. I know other comics probably feel the same way. Anxiety may lead to fear but action can lead to contentment. And the circle is complete. Hakuna matata.

Until next time,


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The Miseducation of Marc Kaye (or is it those who don’t “get” what we’re doing with this comedy thing?)

24 05 2013


I have noticed something interesting about the “world of comedy” as it is sometimes referred to – there are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about both it and those that choose to participate.

It is interesting that there seems to be a yet-to-be fully developed comprehension or respect by those who are not part of it. I think a lot of it has to do with those who profess to be “serious about comedy” yet exacerbate already long-held preconceived notions about what it really is all about. These comics often perpetuate stereotypes that work against so many of us who are struggling to find something more.

I am here to help – mainly those of you who, like me, are trying to build something, though it may not be clear what it is or if it will ever come to fruition. That is not the point. The point is that for those of us who are taking this seriously – as serious as any business – it’s time to set the record straight for our friends, families and colleagues who might not get it (yet).

  1. This is work and a lot of times, it’s not much fun. I don’t necessarily want to go to open mics but these are one of the only opportunities to practice routines, wording, crowd reaction, technique, network and otherwise learn what to do or what not to do. I am not hanging out, getting drunk, getting stoned or otherwise necessarily having fun. Yes, there are those who are doing that. The serious ones, however, are trying to take small steps forward so that we won’t have to rely on practicing in a room in front of 20 other comics only.
  2. This is not some sort of arrested development, mid-life crisis, procrastination technique, or avoidance strategy. If I were at least 6 inches taller, could dunk a basketball and could find a pick-up game a couple times a week, things would be much easier – maybe for not just me. I realize that. I apologize. I have a restless nature and this seems to be a fairly positive way of exhibiting it.
  3. I am not delusional. (Well, about this anyway.) I realize Comedy Central is not in my future, nor writing for the Daily Show. That being said, my writing is better than it was last year – so is my delivery. I am feeling embarrassed and question myself only 90% of the time, not 95% of the time. That’s progress. I do think maybe one day this may lead to something – maybe not something big, maybe just a side thing or maybe nothing more than a way of scratching a creative itch. Either way, my eyes are wide open. I’m not going to be famous. I’m not going to be on the cover of a magazine. Hell, I may not even headline in a local dive bar. And that’s ok. But, I am not doing this as just a hobby. There are far less painful things I could think of – like cataloging every episode of the Lawrence Welk Show.
  4. I need this. Yes, I know that sounds dramatic. It’s the same way I feel about exercise. You know when I’m really tired and cranky and that’s exactly when a quick run or 30 minutes at the gym takes the edge off? Well, it’s the same thing here. I need to exercise my brain the same way I have to exercise my heart. Believe me, as much as you might not understand this completely or get it, it will be better for us all.
  5. I am not obsessed. I am passionate. This is a good thing. It feels good to have things in your life that you feel are authentic to whom you are and go with it – as long as it is not harming anyone.
  6. Comedy is not just about “being funny”. It is also not brain surgery. What it is, however, is a broad platform of utilizing humor and wit to make people laugh, get messages across, cope during difficult times, address important issues and otherwise engage people, a lot of times strangers, for a few minutes to help them forget about what a drag life can be sometimes or show how things really are manageable by just providing a little bit of perspective. When you do this, it is incredibly empowering. This makes up only 3% of my experience so far but I am working to increase that.
  7. I don’t know what I am doing – please see 1 through 6.


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