Five years ago I was at a career bottom. My son had just been born and to say I was no longer considered to be part of the stand up community would be an understatement. I had become frustrated after years of rejection and had dug many of my own holes. I was just a commercial actor which, while fun, didn’t satisfy my creative desires. It’s hard to look at yourself at this age and say, “Oh, I fucked up.”
I noticed a few comedians had started podcasts and people were listening. I couldn’t bear listening to a comedian because it would make me look at my own career, but I did stumble across a podcast called “Uhh Yeah Dude.” It was two old friends, running through different topics and just talking. And it was engaging. I loved it. I knew right then this could be my creative outlet. I tried one on my own, in my closet. It was weird just talking to myself and I stopped doing my podcast. One episode. Closed down.
But I wasn’t done. I thought of my friend Greg, who had a daytime talk show canceled, and wasn’t in the best place career wise either. We had years ago done an internet radio show during the dot com boom. So, i asked him if he’d like to give it a go again. And he said yes.
Suddenly, we found our selves talking into a microphone in his office. We put it up and did a few more. We moved into his closet for better sound. And it just took off. Two guys just talking about their lives, what they thought they would be, and what they had become. We made friends through podcasting, like Wil Anderson and Charlie Clausen, two guys in another country doing the same thing, just talking into a microphone (their sound was always worse).
For a while it was enough. But something was amiss. My wife asked me what I really wanted, and I said, “to be a successful stand up.” I wanted my son to know, when he got older, that I had tried and pushed and overcome obstacles. And that I had a body of work he could look at or listen to that I would be proud of.
So, after a year or so of doing the podcast, and realizing I now had an audience who would want to listen to my stand up, I decided to make an album. I worked on it for a year and then released it. I didn’t expect much. Certainly not that it would end up #1 on iTunes in Australia or #7 on iTunes here in the States. Or that I would chart on Billboard. For the first time in years, I felt I had righted my stand up career - and I did it on my own - without the help of big show business.
But there still was something else. I had another itch and it took me a while to figure out. I realized I was attracted to the English and Australian model of one man shows. It feels like the right way to do stand up, not pushing as many jokes into the least amount of time, but, rather, taking your time and having something to say, while making it as funny as possible. How about instead of trying to craft an act that will work in five minutes of television, I just work on making subjects I want to talk about funny? So, I decided to do the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
That year didn’t go so well. I had some health problems, including a bad back from a head on car accident. It led to depression. I had to put off the show for another year. And this year I was ready. I’d started working on stand up about serious issues, things I had never been able to get to work before - and they were working now. So, I planned on going to Melbourne in 2015 and doing a show. To do this, I would need to try a Kickstarter. I was apprehensive about asking people for money but I knew it was the only way to get down there.
I expected the Kickstarter to go the full 29 days and that I’d be pushing people on Twitter and Facebook down to the wire. I actually started at midnight, thinking I’d be saying “You’ve got ten minutes until midnight!” all over the internet, as the clock ticked down. But that’s not what happened at all. The Kickstarter was done in about 30 hours. I’m completely stunned. I have never in my career received this type of support from anywhere. It’s a great feeling. And I appreciate it very much, considering where I was five years ago, I would have never believed someone if they told me this is what would happen.
So, now I have my goal. I’m going to finish my one man show and take it to Melbourne. But there is something else. Along this journey I met a man named Gareth. I like to call him Gary. And we started a podcast. People in Australia seem to like it. And we’d like to do a live one or two when I go to Melbourne. To do that, we are going to need what people are calling “stretch goals” on Kickstarter.
I’ll be adding some new rewards - including an incredible offer from James Fosdike - as well as some things to do with Gareth. And hopefully we can get Gareth down to Australia, as well.
Thanks to everyone who helped.