“I hate the industry you work in.”
My wife hit me with that statement, because I’d just given her my second “exciting” update of the week.
On Monday, I looked up my schedule of upcoming performances; I had shows scheduled Wednesday-Saturday. It was a good, profitable week.
Wanting to get my drive in order, I looked up my Wednesday show. Once I knew what time it started, I’d know when I had to leave my house that morning. Unfortunately, when I pulled up the casino website, comedy wasn’t listed.
Suspicious and fearing the worst, I texted the booking agent: “Looking forward to Wednesday. What time do you want me there?”
The reply came several hours later: “They decided to cancel all comedy.”
I stared at my phone a moment, trying to decide on a response and finally settling on, “Thanks for the heads up.”
It was short, to the point, and he could read it in any tone he wished. If he thought I was genuinely thankful, great. If he got the undercurrent of “When did you know this and when were you going to fucking tell me?” great.
So, the week was still good, but less profitable. Wonderful.
A couple days later I gave my wife the second bit of news: I needed to find a home for the latest (my sixth, if you can believe that) CD I’d recorded.
Though I’d self-released my previous five albums, between numbers five and six I made a discovery: someone I’d had very light contact with in the industry had founded a comedy record label. With nothing to lose, I decided to reach out.
After a warm email response and great phone conversation, I was glad I’d done so. The founder of the label came to a show of mine, and I was happy with both my performance and the audience response that night. We had another great conversation, shook hands, and said, “Let’s do this.”
And then, nothing.
Like Keyser Söze, the record exec was gone.
I was supposed to receive contracts. When they didn’t arrive, I sent a warm email checking in.
I followed up.
I convinced myself the holiday season had everyone busy, and decided to reach out again after everything settled down. We had discussed putting out the album in January, 2020, so when the new year arrived (a full two months after we’d met and reached the verbal agreement) I fired off a “Still excited to get this rolling!” email.
Unfortunately, my mind tends to think negative thoughts. Sure, something could be happening that was preventing a response–family tragedy; medical emergency–but it felt like I’d been ghosted.
I decided to check out the record label’s website. On the landing page was a comedy CD being promoted; their January release. A couple more clicks of my mouse shows that while I’d been ignored, record label posts had run rampant across social media.
So, no family tragedy or illness. Got it. Funny how silence can send such a loud message.
Which is why my wife hates my industry. Treating people with indifference is a mainstay of the field I’m in; you get ignored and lied to more often than anything else.
The above two stories isn’t what this is about, however. Everyone has hurdles to overcome in their life and job. It is what it is, and you deal with the negativity and move forward. Which means this piece isn’t about complaining, it’s about support.
I have a friend with a career similar to mine; every day he deals with trying to get work doing what he loves and is very good at. He once called me and lamented having had a bad run of events. I listened and we talked through things.
As our conversation was ending, he thanked me for my time and explained, “I can’t talk to my wife about this stuff, because she gets angry and says, ‘Why don’t you get a real job?'”
I hung up and sat in thought a moment. I sat in thought counting my blessings, for I am an extremely lucky man.
When things aren’t going as well as I’d like them to be, my wife tells me: “I believe in you.”
Think about the difference in those two responses: “Why don’t you get a real job?” vs. “I believe in you.”
My Mrs. says she knows how much work I put in. She attends shows and hears the laughter of the audience. She brings friends out and makes sure they had a good time. She worries when a joke bombs, and discusses it with me afterwards.
And at the end of it all, she says, “I believe in you.”
I cannot imagine where I’d be if I were battling day-to-day alone. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be my friend, unable to turn to my partner as a tether to confidence when my personal supply is running dry. I am beyond thankful that I don’t have to.
You get on stage because you have an odd mix of hubris and ego; “I deserve to be paid attention to.” That attitude has been beaten out of me, and thankfully so. All that’s left is appreciation.
Appreciation, and the desire to succeed not for personal satisfaction, but to live up to the faith someone else has in me. More than anything, I hope someday to live up to my wife’s belief in me.
Here’s to crossed fingers.
Interested in reading what it’s like to self-release a comedy CD? Clicky-clicky.
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash