Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Keep Talking

I once was approached by a good friend and fellow comedian who asked me about how I write my comedy. He was surprised to find out that I don't write down my material. My comedy develops from an idea that I talk about onstage and then I just keep talking, believing that I'll say something funny. It usually works out because as most of my friends can attest to, If I talk long enough I'll eventually say something funny. It's just a gift and I'm just a vessel.

I share that because as you can probably see by scrolling down to my previous blog post, I haven't blogged in a while. I've had things occupying my time, but that's really no excuse. All I really needed to do was log on and just keep talking. So I write this just to get that off my chest in hopes that I won't take so long to post again. And to anyone who's reading this who may need inspiration, just keep talking(it's up to you to figure out what "Talking" is in your life). Whatever it is that you do, whatever is your gift, just keep doing it and let it work itself out(how's that for instant philosophy?).

Since it's been so long since I posted, instead of telling what I've been up to, I'll post a few videos that give an idea of what I've been up to, and of course you can always go to:

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Encourage Yourself

Since the last time I posted to my blog, I've been on NBC's, "Today Show" as a part of the recurring segment "Guys Tell All" and my T-Mobile commercial has started running. I've also auditioned for a TV Pilot as well as more commercial auditions and TV auditions.

As usual I've been observing the world and people as I navigate the terrain of showbiz and artistry. We live in a culture where everyone feels like they have a pretty good understanding of what it takes to be an artist and the inner workings of show business. It's similar to being a Doctor, Lawyer, or Cop because there are so many shows about "The business", that everyone feels like an insider. But just like shows about Doctors, Lawyers and Cops, the shows about "The business" only scratch the surface and only share the most exciting parts and not the day-to-day of the showbiz grind.

I find that most people know just enough about what it takes to pursue a career in the arts to be very insensitive towards people in the arts without even knowing it. The other bad thing about this "just enough" knowledge is that many people pursuing the arts are victims of this insensitivity and actually look to insensitive people for the encouragement they need to keep on pursuing their goals and living their dreams. I've found that in order to keep moving forward as an artist it takes an irrational belief that no one else knows what they're talking about. It's tricky because whether you're good at what you do or not, you have to have that belief to be succesful. That should also help you to understand why you see people who are awful at something but never quit. And why should they if they're happy? Who says that everyone has to be the best at what they do in order to do it? If that were the case there would only be one person doing any given thing in life.

Having said all of that, it's important for people who have a goal, dream or vision for their life to realize that it's no one else's responsibility to keep you moving forward but yourself. You have to encourage yourself. Whatever it takes to encourage yourself, figure it out and do it. Sometimes you have to tell yourself, "those people are crazy, they don't know good singing when they hear it, even Luther Vandross got booed at the Apollo. I should've warmed up before I went for those high notes". Or you have to say,"these people don't know what funny is, I determine what's funny not them"! Sometimes you have to fake it until you make it. See yourself as what you aspire to be. Speak it and act it. Make it happen!!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

You Can't Please Everybody

So the Life and Times of this Renaissance Man has consisted mostly of taking care of the Youngest Younger. This week I'll be telling jokes at the NY Comedy Club on the 8PM Show(The Clayton Fletcher Show) and I'll be returning to NBC's, "Today Show" on Thursday, November 12th as a part of the recurring segment, "Guys Tell All".

One of the challenges of writing this blog is making myself sit down and get to work. Sometimes I'm hoping that the sky will open up and I will be hand delivered a wonderful topic complete with all of the perfect words to say. Then I also tend to put pressure on myself if the previous post was an inspiration to someone. Then I feel like I have to continue to be an inspiration.

Life never fails to give me things to write about it seems. I'm constantly learning lessons and I try to keep myself open to learning something everyday. One point that was driven home to me recently is that you're never gonna be loved by everyone. Even when it seems like you're on a roll, you're always gonna have your detractors. That's just the way it is. Even Jesus had "haters". I bet there were people who witnessed his first miracle who had something bad to say, "look at Jesus showing off turning water into wine, he thinks he's all that! I tasted the wine it wasn't even that good, you'd think if he was gonna go through all the effort to change water into wine he at least would have made it good wine".

I've seen it so often with me and my fellow stand-up comics. We have some type of instinct that makes us focus on the one person in the crowd that's not laughing. That's something I've worked hard at trying not to do, but so many time human nature takes over and I'm focusing on the stone faced dude who just won't laugh. We all do it, even if we're not stand-up comedians. I guess I'm just saying all of that to say, you can't please everybody. Something I say a lot is, "there's only one person you have to go to bed with every night and that's yourself. Try to make that person happy. Anyone else you make happy along the way is just a bonus".

Monday, October 26, 2009

Realizing Your Greatness

Since my last post I've been spending quite a bit of time with my son Rory, The Youngest Younger. He just celebrated his first birthday and I'm so glad that I've been able to spend a great deal of time with him during that first year. Not having a day job has it's privileges and contrary to the popular image of being a comedian, he doesn't allow me to sit on the couch and spend the day watching daytime television in search of new comedy material. He has however become my hero. There's so much to admire about him that inspires my art. As an actor I'm inspired to be in the moment because he's totally capable of doing just that and displays it when he starts to cry abruptly when he drops his favorite toy but becomes the happiest baby on the face of the earth when I pick it up and put it back in his hand. I also like his spirit. The spirit that allows him to fall down, hurt himself, cry with all the passion he can muster but get back up and go try to do the same thing that made him fall in the first place.

Tonight I came so close to not writing this post. I think one of the main reasons that I almost walked away from completing this entry tonight is that I usually open each post with an update on what I've done in my career since the last post and I really didn't think I had much to report, but I realized that was not a good excuse. It made me think about all of the things I say to myself when I'm in between gigs or I'm waiting for the next great thing to happen in my life. One thing I've realized in this journey of artistic pursuits is, there is always preparation involved with creating. Some of that preparation is us getting ready and some of it is in the hands of outside forces. One thing I like to say is, "before you book that gig, there are some people in a room talking about you when you don't even realize". While you think no one is thinking about you, there are people speaking highly of you who are about to give you your next job.

Another form of preparation for the next great thing is the inner preparation that we must do. I've found that great things tend to not happen for us until we realize our greatness. That's a hard thing for most of us to swallow because we spend all of our life trying to not let people feel that we think we're "all that". We're told that we have to be humble, but eventually to achieve a great thing we have to tap into our greatness. We all have greatness within us. We're great creations even if we never achieve anything great. Just living is a manifestation of greatness.

Most "great" people can tell a story of knowing very vividly that they were meant to do something great. It's just a knowledge they have. Most can remember the first inkling of it in their childhood. One thing for certain is that they were able to achieve greatness because they realized their greatness. I say all that to say, stop holding yourself back. Most of the time when we play humble it's only for the benefit of someone else, so they don't feel so bad or so that we don't look like we think we're better than anyone else. That's the thing, you have to realize that you are great. You are good and you're worthy to be the person who achieves the "great thing".

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Keep At It

Since my last blog post, I shot a commercial for T-Mobile, attended the Urban Mediamakers Film Festival for the screening of my film "Whistle and Snap" and made another appearance on the "Today Show" on the recurring segment, "Guys Tell All".

I've been sitting in front of the computer for quite some time trying to do this post that you're reading. Yes, you are reading this, even if you're the only one. I made the mistake of opening other windows as I attempted to start blogging. I've chatted and checked e-mails, stopped to eat, poured myself a glass of wine all to finally decide to get started. I guess that's also makes up the Life and Times of a Renaissance Man, the starting and stopping and the journey one has to take to create. It can be a circuitous route that one takes to the final product but it's a great journey with every inch of it necessary to get to the final destination.

I recently attended a writing workshop where the instructor discussed how most creative people spend a large percentage of their time tearing down their own efforts. I have to admit that I've definitely witnessed it amongst my artistic colleagues. We allow our inner critic to shoot down whatever we attempt before we dare unveil it before the world. Another thing that she shared with us is that anyone who still has artistic aspirations after the age of 12 is truly extraordinary because we're presented with so many obstacles that make us feel that we'll never be successful. I guess I'm sharing that info to pass on some encouraging words. Don't let your inner critic or any outer critics stop you from doing what you want to do. The visions and aspirations in your mind are messages from God telling you what you can achieve if you don't give up. Following your dreams can be a lonely road. There are times when you have to go alone, but that's a part of the journey. It's your dream and with that said, you have to do it for yourself. Just keep at it, just like I did tonight to finally complete this blog post!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

What's Next?

I've been away for a couple of weeks, but I haven't been idle. I went to 2 film festivals with the film, "Souled Out Comedy" , found out that "Whistle & Snap" has been selected to the Urban Mediamakers Film Festival, shot an episode of the F/X series "Damages", and booked a T-Mobile commercial. In addition to all of that, "Souled Out Comedy" won the Audience Choice Award at the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival.

I have to say it's been an exciting time. It feels nice to see your efforts rewarded and to feel like you're making progress as you live your dreams. I also have to admit that it makes me think. I spend a lot of time thinking and observing in general anyway. I'm always observing to find deeper meaning in life's everyday occurrences. One of the things about being a comedian is that I'm always observing life and human behavior. I've come up with a conclusion(not based on any real facts, just strictly my observation and conclusion), that most human beings are looking for an opportunity to stop working. We work hard hoping for some type of recognition so that we can continue to do what we love at a higher level with greater compensation and with less effort. We want to get a promotion so we can get more money and do the job that's a little higher up the totem pole and allows us to tell someone else what to do. Even as an entertainer, we're hoping to book the gig that pays more money, gives us a personal assistant and allows us to just show up, hit our mark and go home.

It's the "Human Nature Trap"(I totally created that name for it)! Feel free to sing Michael Jackson's, "Human Nature" in your head as you continue to read. It's a trap I struggle everyday to fight. I realize as I achieve more things in life and in my career, that it's a result of hard work. Hard work that I have to continue to put in if I want to continue to rise. I can't help but believe that many people who don't realize their full potential are probably guilty of not continuing to work because they reached a comfortable place.

Maybe it's easy to just relax after you reach a certain point. It's a lot of pressure to keep producing. What if what you do next isn't as good or well received as what you've already done. There's also a lot of pressure once people start realizing that you exist. Before you get recognized for being good at something you have the luxury of being good quietly without judgment and expectation, not to mention all of the critics that come out of the woodwork once you have a more public platform. Then of course there's the ultimate "no pressure" question, "What's Next"? That's the question that really works on your mind. "What's Next?, does that mean that what I've already done isn't enough? What if I'm totally satisfied with what I've already done and want to quit right here and now?"!

I just said all of that to say, I'm not gonna put pressure on myself. I'm just gonna trust that the gifts that God has given me will continue to produce more good stuff. So I don't know what's next. I'm just excited to keep working and let what's gonna happen, happen. Trust me, I'll probably be just as surprised as you are, at what comes next. But here's a little hint, THINK BIG!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

What Do He Don't Do?

In keeping with the theme of letting you know of the Life and Times of a Renaissance Man I guess I should let you know what's been going on since last I posted to my blog. This past weekend(Sept. 11-12) was a whirlwind of performance. I went to Kansas City, MO with Comedy Cures. I love working with them because it's an opportunity to use my comedy for good, not evil(pronounced eeee-vil). Working for Comedy Cures also challenges me as a comedian because we do shows in places that you wouldn't expect to see stand-up comedy and for diverse groups that are usually a mix of ages and ethnicities that makes one have to really think hard about what will work on such a diverse crowd. I did 3 shows in Kansas City. The first 2 were on Friday morning at 2 different elementary schools. That was a challenge. Although I don't curse in my act, it doesn't necessarily mean that my content is something that an elementary school student will understand. I had to sift through my material to find what I thought might work. I figured it out, and just in case you find yourself in a situation where you have to entertain elementary school kids, here's what you should include in your act; music, funny faces and falling down. I channeled my inner zaniness and was able to pull it off. Later that evening, I told jokes to a group of alumni from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. A very different group than the morning group. I chose to cut out a large percentage of the funny faces and falling down(didn't cut out all of it, because who doesn't love funny faces and watching people fall down). I pulled that one off too, although they were a more cerebral crowd and chose to applaud some of the humor in lieu of full belly laughter.

When I got back to NY on Saturday I had very little time to relax before I had to go to the Bronx and perform at a show hosted by Rev. Run's daughters, Vanessa and Angela Simmons. This audience was not only ethnically and culturally diverse, it also had an age range from little kids to grandparents. I actually had moments on stage this weekend where I was very conscious of the fact that I'm pretty good to be able to make such a broad range of people laugh. Someone told me this week that I have a God-given gift. I know that's right!!! I'm glad to use it to touch people and make people happy.

After I finished with that show, I jumped in my car and drove to Connecticut to sing at a wedding reception. I know what you're saying, "What do he don't do"? I know!!! A Renaissance Man indeed.

In addition to all of that excitement, I was also notified that "Souled Out Comedy", Younger Child Productions' documentary feature has been chosen to screen at the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival. The screening date is Friday, September 25th at 8:30PM at The Paley Center for Media. If you find yourself in NYC on that day, I hope to see you there.