You can’t win em’ all…
Is what my dad used to always tell me, and it usually came on the heels suffering defeat of some sort. Be it in poker, monopoly, or even hide n’ seek. I always hated hearing it, but deep down knew it to be true. Nobody can win them all, and I sure as shit wouldn’t want to meet somebody who never knew defeat. Can you imagine the ego on that asshole? Holy shit, it would be as if Colton DeMonte found out he descended from Jesus of Nazareth. My father always told me the loss doesn’t mean shit, no matter how bad, but rather our reaction to it. There is a big difference between accepting mediocre effort and mediocre results, and accepting a loss and using that ultimately to our advantage.
I have a feeling I know what some of you guys are thinking, “What’s with all the halftime Lombardi talk Sean? You planning on making a run as an MMA fighter?” The short answer to that is no, however I was recently in a stand up competition. You might of heard of the “Port City Top Comic” competition. It was held at Level Five City stage over two nights, and I went on the second night. Order was picked at random, and my lucky ass drew the 1st slot.
Most comics don’t like to go 1st during a regular show, add to that everybody in the audience is literally judging you, and you get a very tough situation. We each got 5 minutes for our sets (unless your name is Lew Morgante, then you get 6.5 minutes), so basically I went out there with my best stuff, the absolute crem de le crem and started firing with both barrels. I want to take a moment to recognize the fact that unlike last year, I actually had a list of jokes that were categorized as “my best stuff”. Last year I actually went on stage with new material. If ever there was a sign that you’re not at the big boy table yet, that would be it. Ahh, but this year was going to be different. I had jokes that I know worked 99% of the time, so all I had to do was go out and do my thing.
Now when you go first, it’s imperative that you make an impression, this crowd will be watching 13 comics after me, so I had to stick with them, well stick with the ones that were there. So I go out there and I start in with my set, the best 5 minutes of my life. The room wasn’t very warm when I hit the stage, but I was getting laughs, at every turn. All my punchlines were getting the laughs, but they weren’t the big knee slapping, applause break havin’, guffaws. The room was about half full when I left the stage, and I knew right in that moment I didn’t get it done. It was a good set, but not great, and in order to make a run in votes from the 1 position, you need a great set. So I was in the shitty position of hoping my fellow comics go out there and bomb spectacularly. There was also one other major factor that spelled doom for me.
Like I said before, when I was on stage the room was about half full. At the end of the show, the host called all the comics back out on stage so people could write names on ballots n’ such. When I walked out on stage for the second time I looked up and then I knew I REALLY was screwed. The theater was packed, apparently people had been flowing in all night, with the biggest group coming out to support Lew Morgante. So not only did I fail to really captivate the audience I performed for, but I failed to perform my set for over half the crowd that would be voting. At this point I KNEW I wasn’t going to make it through. Despair, self loathing and doubt immediately began to invade my brain like a hoard of blood thirsty Orc’s, and let me tell you….the Orc’s in my brain are RELENTLESS!
So I took my ass backstage and began to wait for the inevitable letdown. I think there was a small optimistic part of my brain that flailed in protest waiving a torch of hope saying “You never know Sean!!” but it was a small torch, and a large group of Orc’s came by and threw it in the river of my consciousness. So after the votes were tallied, the inevitable came, and I was eliminated from the 1st round of competition.
I’m usually a pretty resilient guy, however I won’t lie, this was a blow. It was compounded by the interaction I had (well actually a falling out) with my parents that morning. My mother agreed to watch my boys so Christy could come out to the show and support me. I asked her a week in advance, and then the night before she tells Christy that my stepfather was coming back into town from a business trip, and they were going to go out to dinner instead and couldn’t be bothered by her grandchildren. When I pointed out how fucked up this was, both of them became indignant. How dare I expect my mother to keep a commitment she made. Notice that I didn’t even ask them to come to the show themselves to begin with, because I knew they wouldn’t come. They wouldn’t come because they don’t care, and take no interest in anything important to me. Which is why I always get the quizzical dog head tilt whenever I hear somebody talking about their parents in a loving manner, it’s a completely foreign concept to me. But I digress. So on the heels of that emotional letdown, I failed to get past the 1st round. The Orc’s in my brain were on an absolute rampage at this point,
My friends and fellow comics were great that night, they pointed out all the conditions out of my control, and picked me up. Now, I don’t want to paint the wrong picture here, I wasn’t sulking in a heap in the corner sobbing heavily into a stained handkerchief, but my dejection was noticeable. My parents mocked my dream to be a professional stand up comic, and in the moments following the show, it appeared (at least to me) that their mockery was justified. It ate at my soul. And then, just as it has so many times in my adult life, the words of my father stretched yet again from beyond the grave…
You can’t win em’ all...
That night I wasn’t destined to win, but with that, came a dawning realization that losing in the first round might of done a lot of things to me, eradicating my sense of humor was not one of them. It also did not take away my ability to write and tell jokes. The sun will rise tomorrow, and before I know it, another show will be upon us. So I had two choices, sulk in self pity and utter despair or pick myself up and start my work in earnest. Michael Jordan was cut from his JV basketball team, and no I’m not saying i’m going to be the MJ of comedy, but that’s just one example of how we humans have a knack for brushing our shoulders off and going right back at it.
10 years from now I’ll scarcely be able to recall this night, and I’ll have to go back into the archives of this website to find out the exact details (assuming that our computer overlords don’t imprison us). This shall be fuel for me, only adding to my ambition, drive and desire (yes I realize those three words are redundant, but I really didn’t feel like going to thesaurus.com for some neato words). A very dear and close friend of mine Zack Burk has a saying “Ya gotta keep standing!”, and for him this statement has a very deep meaning. I’ve seen this kid swallow some absolutely brutal sets, and yet he remains undeterred, he keeps….standing up. So that’s what I shall do…starting this week!
Tonight I hosted the opening show for the 3rd Annual 2012 Cape Fear Comedy Festival. It was a great show and I’ve already met some really cool comics from out of town. I’m hosting another show tomorrow night, and then two shows on Friday, and then on Saturday I’m going to be participating in Laughing for Life, a benefit show for cancer research, and then immediately following that, I’ll be back at Nutt St to host the late night 10pm show. So to answer your question, yes I’ll be standing up…..and up….and up.
If you wanna come out and catch me one of these nights, check out the schedules here