Welcome to The Assbuster, a new monthly column from the mind of Emerson Dameron, a stand-up comedian from Chicago. Join Emerson as he navigates the world of a stand-up comedy, hitting up open mics, and comedy clubs. Generally busting his ass to pursue his passion.
Five o’clock PM rolls around. I’ve just finished spending the better part of my waking hours going through bullshit motions I barely understand in order to generate profit for a delusional bully I hate. I’m tired and I’m pissed. But that’s okay. Because this is my time.
I pick an open mic from Bad Slava, the least unreliable nationwide directory for unknown comedians. (Sorry, Chuklemonkey, but you’re way behind.) I show up, I sign up, and I do my set. I don’t bomb. I don’t kill. I meet a few fellow travelers, I get a tape to over analyze, and I catch a bus home. I roll around in my bed. Usually, it’s too cold to fall asleep right away.
Eventually, I sleep. Perchance, I dream. I dream of 85-degree afternoons, and strong margaritas, and cliff faces covered with cacti.
Then, in the middle of something really good, the screeching alarm wakes me up. I get up. And I write for half an hour, freestyle, whatever I remember from my dreams and whatever else is on my mind. I scrawl it out on paper, longhand. If there’s time left, I screw around on the ‘net and find the rich headlines,(the ones that confirm my hardcore misanthropy, or encourage my recent experimentation with Zen, or something interesting) and make lists of jokes about them, or loosely inspired by them, most of which I will throw out. I shower, I suit up, and I report to work, somewhat prepared for the day.
Although I’ve always loved performing, I’ve never been good at small talk. I can’t do the office politics that come with launching a proper comedy career, or any kind of career. All I can do is get up every night, write every morning, and repeat.
In 2008, when I started doing this shit in earnest, I lived in Los Angeles. Although my social skills were lacking, I rocked enough open mics that I made some friends, got offered some bookings, and learned some shit. Then, for personal reasons, I had to move back to Chicago and start over from scratch.
Right now, nobody gives a fuck about me. But I’m handling my own business. I’m not always successful, but I don’t mind reporting it honesty, because I’ve discovered that my woes aren’t unique. If you’re getting good at comedy and still struggling at being a well-adjusted person, I dig it, hard.
This column is for the hustlers. The funny people who work hard but don’t suck up. The comedians who would rather do open mics than bringers. That person right there who doesn’t kiss anyone else’s ass and doesn’t mind busting his or her own. Because it’s impossible to not do this.
To wit, the assbusters.
“You’re too angry to be funny,” said a dear friend. She was right. I stopped stewing in my anger. I started busting my ass. I started finding the funny. And I hope I’m never finished.
In future installments, we’ll look into expanding your comedic brand, using the web, “networking” without humiliating yourself, getting booked, making friends, comedy classes and whether or not they’re a complete waste of your time, and what to do when you’ve tried everything and you’re still eating shit every night.
Just keep busting your ass. You’re right on schedule.
|Emerson Dameron is a writer, comedian and gentleman of the old school. He enjoys cats, oranges and the warm glow of a neon beerlight. Shadow him on his website or Twitter @EmersonDameron. He’s game for whatever.|