Around 2015, Evgeniya and I were taking in some kind of street festival on Ditmars Blvd. in Astoria, when I caught the faintest glimpse of someone I thought I recognized. I took a another quick glance and, well, her hair was way different, but I think it’s her!
It was her. She was a semi-famous headlining comedian from the East Coast of Florida whom I opened for a couple of times before I moved to NYC. She–let’s call her “Amy”–has a pretty outlandish reputation, and an act to match. She is very attractive but bonkers crazy. In fact, the rumor around the comedy scene was that Amy was bipolar. Most importantly, though, she is outright hilarious.
So, I was more than a little flattered when she recognized me and walked right up to us.
“Hey you!” She said. “Do you live here in Queens?”
“Hey Amy! Great to see you.” I acknowledged that I did live nearby, and introduced her to Evi. Amy and I then started talking about what comics always talk about: where the best stages were, who books them, and how to survive.
“There’s this restaurant here that’s hiring,” Amy said. “The owner is the absolute coolest. It doesn’t matter if you’re a server, bartender, cook, or dishwasher, if you’re an entertainer and you need to go to an audition, he’ll let you off work. He’s really supportive.”
“Yeah, I can probably get you a job there if you like.”
I had no real intention of getting a restaurant job–at the time, I was applying at TD Bank to be a mortgage consultant–but I feigned excitement as to not dampen Amy’s spirits. We then moved on to the subject of other comics we knew that had moved to NYC.
After we said our goodbyes, I turned to see that Evi had a very sour look on her face. “I don’t know what kind of people you hang out with,” she said. “But I hope you’re not planning on washing dishes for a living.”
Again, I didn’t, but, feeling defensive and argumentative, I replied, “I’m thinking about it. That’s really cool of that owner. And besides, ALL the employees are entertainers! Think about the networking opportunities.”
We then, of course, got into an argument. Yes, I can be an asshole sometimes.
While I certainly understood her point of view–one that’s probably shared by everyone who isn’t an entertainer or artist–what she didn’t understand was how you made your living is secondary in an artist’s life. It’s not a point of pride, nor a career path. As an artist, nothing is more important than your art. Everything else was simply surviving; a way of getting by while you produce more art.
And, I reminded her, when she met me, I was working at a shitty cell phone store and renting a fucking couch to chase my dream.
Marriage and kids caused me to reassess my goals, and I have no regrets. I love life with my family. But still, I’m an artist. If I go too long without creating something, I go batshit crazy. I start to miss the times I was writing with other comics, performing anywhere from shitty dive bars to big theaters all the while nearly broke and having to scrimp up gas money.
Thankfully, I’m not broke anymore.
But I am getting a little too batshit, which is usually when I start to blog again.
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