Monday, October 17, 2011

Normally I headline

If you are a comedian it means you have the kind of job that when people find out you are one they have questions and expectations. If you meet a plumber you don't say "Oh you're a plumber? Well are you one of the top plumbers in the world?" If you meet a surgeon you don't think to yourself "If they were a good surgeon I would have seen them on TV." But being a comedian is like that. Unless you are in the top elite group that's had a sitcom or become a movie star you are somehow perceived as a failure. I don't just mean at my level either. Brian Regan who everyone who does comedy knows and admires, and who sells out theaters all over the country is still not even close to what you would consider a household name. Almost every interview I see him do he gets asked why he never had a sitcom. Being an amazing stand up comic still doesn't impress people as much as being in a shitty sitcom. So congratulations "Whitney." Most of that stuff isn't my world. I'm a road comic, I'm not really in show business. I live in Olympia. I'm not going on auditions, I'm going to Walmart.  I'm not taking the big risks that a comedian who wants to be really successful needs to take. I'm not moving my family of 12 to LA or New York and starting over. It's not realistic or fair to the people I love that already put up with a lot shittiness from my job. I have a couple of small TV credits and hopefully down the road I'll get a couple more, I''ll keep working clubs and just hope to be a little less broke than the year before. Usually I know where I stand and I'm ok with it. I know I'm not a famous plumber, but I know I can fix a sink. and that's enough. But fuck man.. .sometimes. Sometimes when I turn the TV on and I see people who've opened for me doing big things, yeah it hurts a little. People who started comedy at the same time as me, or after me, with managers and agents and opportunities, yeah sometimes I do think about that as I drink Busch Light alone in my hotel room. It's not bitterness though, at least I hope not. I'm not angry. I don't feel like the comedy industry or life owes me anything. And I also know for some comedians I was the one who passed them by. I don't need a pep talk from anyone to let me know how good my life is, or how there are more important things then money or fame. I know. I get it. I also realize no one held a gun to my penis and made me have 3 kids either. It's a good thing, I'm not sure I could perform under that pressure. Also if someone really wanted me to have kids a gun to the penis wouldn't have been necessary, just a vagina in the same room as my penis was enough motivation to get the job done. I guess it's ok to occasionally wish for a little unexpected, out of the blue, possibly undeserved good fortune to fall my way. It's just not a place in my head I want to be for too long. Acknowledge it, let it go, and then go write a new joke.
 I'm the middle act this week at the The Laugh Shop in Calgary, I think that's what put me in this state of mind. I'll middle occasionally in Seattle, but I haven't been on the road and not been the headliner in awhile. It's a joke among comics that we're always working with an opening act that says "Just so you know, normally I headline." So, I've made sure those words haven't escaped my lips this week, but dammit, normally I do headline. I've never worked this club before and the manager said I could come in and middle as sort of a try out for headlining next time. I'm embarrassed to admit how much it's hurt my more fragile than I thought ego this week. I just feel in the way. I guess I kind of feel in the way when I headline too, just more so this week. The headliner I'm working with is Hannibal Buress and he is very funny and you should see him or buy his CD. He's been on Letterman and every other late night show and he's written for "30 Rock" and "Saturday Night Live" and he's only 28. Which only recently started sounding really young to me. This week he and Jonah Hill sold a show to Fox that he will write and I guess star in. Not to be outdone, this week I booked a show at "Gepetto's Pizza" in Montesano Washington, so we've both obviously got a lot of shit going on. At least I'm headlining at the pizza place.


jc7tray said...

I bet your post reflects what most people feel about their jobs or careers or lives at one time or another. You're just on a bigger stage.

Stage, get it? OK I might have been able to come up with something other than a show business metaphor but I couldn't in 10 seconds so I went with it.

In any case, I've had similar experiences and emotions about being a reporter. I love it and I don't really want to do anything else, but I haven't had a Woodward and Bernstein moment. Don't know if I will, and it's cool if I don't.

But I suppose that big break could come along anytime!

I hope it does for you.

You're hilarious and you deserve it. Seriously all my friends who have seen you with me or heard your CD says so.

gabriel rutledge said...

Thanks Juan. I'm really making an effort to try and enjoy the ride whatever it is. When I look back at being in a band, I barely enjoyed myself because I was always thinking we should be more succesful or doing something we weren't doing. So with comedy I'm trying not to do that, it just takes more effort than I thought. At least being a comic, being a reporter we have a job we are passionate about. That's got to be worth something.

Mike Wally Walter said...

Gabe, I feel your pain, I too know of ad watch people that have opened for me go on to bigger success. Wait you're one of them. To middle to get into a gig is no problem, Hell I'm middling in ortland to gt back to a gig I used to Headline. It's taken me 7 years to get back there to "Feature" bug my ego? yes a little but it's a "A" club andI get to work with a great headliner..who used to open for me. It all comes around Gabe..enjoy the ride and have fun.