2015. The future. The official 80's sci-fi future. Future me is mediocre and has let adolescent me down in so many ways. At 18 I had delusions of grandeur about living in a fairly modest apartment in NYC funded by my regular gig at SNL (adolescent me loved the acronyms) I would be having sexcapades with models and actresses doing just enough drugs to keep me off of any "in memorium" lists. No kids. No worries. Just limo rides to NBA (see) games, but I would remain true to Chicago sports.
At any given time you could catch me in my room practicing my talk show appearances
Host: which do you enjoy more the writing or the acting?
Me: My God man, these are the tough questions that's a real Sofie's choice Arsenio, I guess with a gun to my head I would choose pizza.
Host: Pizza wasn't an option.
Me: See that's where you're wrong my man, pizza is always an option (crowd dies of laughter because I literally murdered them)
Here is my dilemma, if I had a Delorian (sp?) I would rather hang out with that youthful, spry, wide-eyed, crazy bastard than the stout, bald, weather worn, cynical, animatronic statistic I am now. Who wouldn't, right? We obsess and romanize youth. 30's the new 20 my ass. At 20 I didn't need antacids or an overall will to live (I'm joking mom relax). But this thought occurred to me it is not original by any means at all, and truth be told I probably picked it up from some internet meme (something young me would know nothing about) that thought is this: we only get one go at this whole crazy ride, there is no "dress rehearsal" and sure I can blame so many things for not being the "me I wanted to be" but at the end of the day it is my responsibility to pursue and at least put myself in the direct way of becoming that person. So my New Years resolution is this, stop settling. Remain crazy and optimistic and wide-eyed even when life no longer seems to lend itself for me to be. Simple enough, right?
Well I am looking forward to this present-day future but am also borrowing some insanity from my past. We'll see how it shakes down.
I'm still alive. Toiling for the man in the hustle and bustle of river north. Things have began to be manageable in my "the reason I pay rent and have insurance" job. So that's good! My childhood heroes have killed themselves or are rapists, so that's not good!
I won't attempt to wax poetic about morality, these topics have been exhausted. As have the platitudes and sentiments. So what is left you ask? Humor. Humor or humanity be damned. I am working on lots of things to scratch your itching ears and eyeballs and I will keep you posted on them as they come nearer (unto thee).
In the meantime, enjoy your families this holiday season and stay hydrated!
"Do one thing every day that scares you" -Eleanor Roosevelt
Chicagoans don't scare easily. We face a level of danger every day just living amongst the social experiment of all kinds of people living in close proximity to one another.
Sometimes, you need a reminder that life is too short to let all of the risks prevent you from achieving your dreams. Whether that dream is professional success, music, poetry, comedy, having children, or even walking between two skyscrapers on chilly night in the Windy City, we needed someone to step out on the wire first.
We knew he could fall, but he walked across those buildings with a city, rather humanity on his shoulders. The world needs heroes. People who offend our minds and remind us that it is ok to take risks. Tonight, Nik reminded the city of Chicago and the entire world that we should all step outside of our comfort zones, and none of us is working with a net.
I approached a few people with an idea, the background is, I wanted to gig out again with some new material that I am developing for an album later this summer. You're all invited by the way. (I want to record it in my hometown of Freeport, Illinois before I, or it dies). Instead of hitting the old stand by bars and clubs I wanted to do something different. I wanted to do "focus group research" if you will. I decided that I would perform stand up comedy in any room that would have me. Well so far the response has been overwhelming.
We have plans in motion to film in a hospice group, college class, jail, preschool class, veterans halls, basements living rooms, etc. I'm honestly scared to death, but excited at the same time. As John Lennon says "it feels like starting over" and that is part of the reason I'm doing it.
I am in the process of developing a pilot about an aspiring comedian who is a little later in age, and after years of road work and shitty clubs he's found himself in a "shit or get off of the pot scenario" I wanted to highlight some of the rewarding and some of the painful truths about this wild journey of both instant gratification and rejection. All of these things are keeping me busy, which is good because this winter wasn't keeping anyone from rinsing their mouths out with a Hemingway cocktail.
Now for the hard part, are you ready? I'm going to need to raise some money for this project. these are not big rooms, and the people hosting these engagments cannot cover production costs. Grant it I have some close friends working for bare minimum, but they have to eat otherwise the camera shakes and well it's not pretty. So be on the lookout for a crowd funding campaign in the coming weeks. I honestly don't want to pitch this idea to a network because then you have to deal with gatekeepers and it's a whole different baby, so let's keep this independent! For us, by us!! I appreciate all of the help and hard work in advance and I am truly excited to take on this crazy endeavor!
I love all of you,
PS If you would like me to come and do a small set at a room of your choosing email me at J.email@example.com. Thanks again!
I just turned 36 years old, and I guess all of that kicking and screaming against "adulthood" has finally been quenched. I am officially the "them". How and the hell did this happen? When did the music get dumb and the outfits outrageous? When did all of the causes become a bunch of noise? When did my glasses transfer from convenient to necessary? When did my hair begin its nomadic trek from my head to my ass (stopping to colonize my back along the way)? I didn't ever sign up to be old.
In the light of freinds and family who are suffering through some pretty overwhelming scenarios health wise, I can't help but think I could stand to be far more healthy than I am currently. Someone wise once said you don't value your health until you lose it. This is true for me, I suppose. If I added up all of the garbage I've eaten on the road, morning hangovers, coffee and a cigarette, couple Advil and sunglasses, in short... I haven't always treated my body "like a temple" as they say.
There's something romantic about smoking and writing jokes and telling jokes or performing sketches and then drinking a king's share of booze and carving out some euphoria in the nightime. Riding a meglomaniacal wave, a sense that you MADE them laugh, you didn't ask them to, you didn't try to convince them that they should, you fu*king MADE them! They had no choice! Whether it's thousands, hundreds, tens, doesn't matter.
You see this is the disillusionment of the dream. Comedia del Immortal! Punk ass young adults grabbing life by the short and curlies, and pushing the envelope. Raging against the machine!!! Waking up on stained futons in exposed brick rooms next to strangers. Lighting a cigarette and walking in a haze to the coffee shop smirking to yourself as you begin to piece together the night before. This illusion has a vast gravitational pull and so many get sucked in too far for too long and simply get stuck to this spinning orb of destruction and chaos. Sometimes you have to jump off of the train for a second and gain your bearings. Make sure the ride is going the direction you want to go.
I know this isn't making much sense, but I still feel young, that is until I eat a cheeseburger and wash it down with a twelve pack. My stomach has retired, I don't blame him, honestly, he was the John Belushi of stomachs. Now I sip my soda water, study my notes, try to be a grown up about the whole situation. I can't lie though sometimes I miss the younger days. I see the youngsters today and I think "soak it all in, man, this is the shit that's gonna get you through the next phase, the memories" Of course we always romanticize the past, don't we?
The years go by so fast.
With all of that said, for me 36 is when I take deep breaths and just soak it all in. When I take the headphones off and look up from my damn phone and try to be in these fleeting moments.
Outside another yellow moon
Punched a hole in the nighttime, yes
I climb through the window and down the street
Shining like a new dime
The downtown trains are full
With all those Brooklyn girls
They try so hard to break out of their little worlds
You wave your hand and they scatter like crows
They have nothing that will ever capture your heart
You thought the suits wouldn't have me? You thought the old dog was going into the woods to lick his paws and wait to die? Well then, you don't know me at all.
So I took a leave of absence, a sabbatical if you will, and to be honest I couldn't have picked a better winter to hole up in my apartment and sort out the maddening thoughts in my broken brain. I felt for the first time in a long time that gripping "what does it all mean," Feeling. So I did some collective soul searching. I listened to music, read some books, did a yoga pose (it helped, tremedously) I poured over the Bible, reached out to friends in various churches all over the country, had long talks with the nepalese gentlemen I work with. I challenged myself to throw my arms up in the air and say "whomever is out there in the universe, if anyone or anything, direct my steps." The results were pretty amazing.
Let me tell you what this is not a tale of, This is not a tale of the prodigal son returning home to the fattened calf and a shiny new ring, far from, actually. I had in mind that I was going to approach these different churches and team up with them ot creatively spread the message of hope and love and well, most of the Beatles songs, but unfortunately it is hard to get a lot of those people on the phone. There are a few that I am working with and I love every second of it, but for the most part I feel like American Evangelical churches are a bit like a fraternity. Extremely hard to get in to, imagine if you will a Mafia, without anyone to vouch for you, you are forced to look in from the outside.
So, I took this all as a sign. Maybe I don't belong there, and maybe you don't either. Maybe we are a collective stuck somewhere outside of the circle of "the believers" maybe we are some fellowship of the unelected. Maybe we are post-doctrine, not saying to throw the "baby out with the bathwater" but starting all over with clean water and fresh "baby." This has led to a series of talks about starting a collective gathering of thinkers, dreamers, bleeding hearts, lonley, who believe in our core that there has to something more, but more importantly something... else. So I have decided to embark upon a journey of scrapping all of the preconcieved notions of religion and dogma and starting over from scratch. I mean if truth is truth than wouldn't we find truths if we were earnestly seeking them. I have zero desire to debate or argue or hold signs up against anyone else's signs, but if you want to come and be reasonable together, go on one hell of a crazy ride together, well then I encourage you to join me.
I am still putting together the details, and I by no means feel as a "leader" although I look good in aviators and make a mean batch of kool-aid (too soon?), but this is something that I have thought about long and hard. The simple truth is, there is no room at the table for people like myself, like you. People who have honest and sincere questions, people who wrestle with the deeper meaning of it all. People who crave a healthy and safe community and don't want to "pretend" or "keep quiet" or "not ask the tough questions" people that want to be free.
The most important thing I have taken from my journey of sobriety and reassment is that I believe that humor is a gift. I believe that it is a tool that can facilitate joy, and laughter, and insight, and bring to light a lot of different points in a safe manner. I just temporarily lost sight of that purpose and I was trying to be a "shock jock" I was becoming everything I hated about comedy, and was not being true to myself or my instrument. This led to a crisis of conscious, which, thank God means that I'm not too far gone. So to anyone who saw my shows and thought "he isn't playing to the height of his intelligence" I sincerely apologize. That is not to say that silly is wrong, but I'm not talking about silly. When comedy comes from a dark place it doesn't edify people. It doesn't lift them up, rather it drags them into your own miserable darkness, because as the song says "misery [indeed] loves company."
So it is ok to laugh, and spread joy, and intend to do plenty of that, because it's just how i am hard wired, but at the same time, vulnerability and honesty is what makes us connect on a human level.