I had an idea yesterday, probably born from several sources, including my success at The Moth, a sudden burst of amusing anecdotes and my bi-weekly intake of Marc Maron’s popular podcast dealing with the world of comedy. The idea: I want to try stand-up comedy.
I told my wife about the idea, and she looked at me as though I were crazy.
I knew this had nothing to do with her estimation of my potential as a stand-up comic. She has always found me amusing (and occasionally infuriating), and while I may not have the chops for stand-up comedy, I think she would give me a reasonable chance at success.
Her concern had nothing to do with the probability of me bombing onstage.
Instead, she was looking at a man who had just spent the day setting up his classroom (in record time, I may add) and is preparing for another challenging year of teaching fifth grade.
A man who is also in the midst of writing four different books.
A man who would be meeting with a client later that night to discuss their wedding, where he would serve as both DJ and minister.
A man who just picked up his first paying gig as a life coach job.
A man who asked one of her friends yesterday if she would be willing to sit down with him to talk about the requirements of becoming a sociologist.
A man who brought his podcasting equipment out of storage earlier that day in hopes of launching his first podcast soon.
So yes, on the face of it, declaring that I want to try stand-up comedy might have seemed a little crazy.
But I’m not talking about a career in comedy. I just want to try it out. See what it’s like and find out if I could be successful with it before it’s too late.
I look at the next twenty years as potentially the most productive years of my life.
I spent the first twenty years of my life as a kid. I had fun and learned a lot but had nothing to show for it.
I spent the second twenty years of my life struggling to keep a roof over my head, stay out of jail, find a career, and start a family.
With all those things in place, I want these next twenty years to be a time of great accomplishment. I want to write many books, teach many children, try many new things and dedicate vast amounts of time to my wife and daughter.
And become a much better golfer.
And so this is the time to try stand-up comedy. Not to earn a living or become famous, but because it’s there, and I think there is a small chance that I could be good at it.
And so I told my wife that I will write the requisite ten minute set, practice it, and then go to an open mic night, hoping to eventually get onstage.
“Ten minutes,” I told her. “Not a career.”
“Okay,” she said. “But if it becomes a career, you have to quit being a DJ.”
I was willing to live with this compromise.