I was beyond exhausted, but I had jokes I wanted to tell. I had traveled thirty-six hours from Lawrence, Kansas to Los Angeles, California. Aboard the Southwest Chief, we made stops in New Mexico, Arizona, and California. The ride was beautiful, but the duration was difficult. The train does not stop anywhere long enough to venture out, clean up, or have a lay down. The voyage was not grueling, but it was challenging. At last I arrived at the Los Angeles Union Station. I had arranged for my cousins to pick me up at the terminal. I would be staying on their couch for a few days as well. When we got to their house it was dark. I was exhausted. I visited with the family for a while and then everybody went to bed. The travel funk was still fresh on me. I was wired, I was free, I was loose on the city of angels, and I was a twenty dollar Uber ride away from Hollywood.
Located on the legendary Sunset Strip, The Comedy Store in Hollywood is an iconic staple of the performing world. Many famous performers have graced those stages; Sam Kinnison, Richard Pryor, Rodney Dangerfield, Joe Ro- gan, Theo Von, and Dave Chappelle to name very few. I have always thought about trying my talents at this location. Through my travels, I often listen to stand-up and stories from this spot. It holds a mythical place in my mind.
I seized the day. In a haze and an Uber, I took to the streets of Hol- lywood. I was hypnotized and enthused by the large digital bill- boards. Posters for upcoming films were stuck to the sides of buildings. Leonardo Di Caprio stared at me like a frozen giant. His expression, so large, invited me to partake in my fantasies. I had my joke book and I was ready to see the territory. At around 12:20 AM we arrived at The Comedy store. I walked in. I paid no admission. I found the nearest stage and took a seat. Annie Lederman was performing. She is a young and beautiful comic. Next on stage was Punkie Johnson. I was not impressed with their jokes. I sat, I watched, and I learned. I saw stage technique that was honed. Their crowd work was next level. I could see why they were on stage, but in my heart I knew I could do better than them. I enjoyed the shows and the atmosphere. In the darkness bursts of laughter exploded like land mines. I felt comfortable and in my element. I was glad I had not stayed in.
I did not perform that night, but I gained vital information. Their open mic was on Mondays. It was set up like a raffle. Anyone could sign up, but only fifteen comics got picked randomly to go on stage that night. This was my opportunity. I told some of my family I was go- ing, but that I expected around fifty comics to sign up. The odds would be against me getting on stage. The odds were worse than that. I ar- rived to The Comedy Store early and was told to expect a zoo of talent. What was told to me was true. At the time of open mic sign up, I estimated around three hun- dred comics waiting for their chance to grace the stage of the “Store”. I took advantage of my time. I talked to people and networked. In the midst of the fray I saw three of my cousins and my dear Aunty. They had come to support me. I did not think they would. Nobody had ever cared about what I did before, but there they were. I was moved by their presence. I greeted and hugged them. They wished me luck. They stood by me as the random names for that night’s lineup were read. I was not chosen. I was proud of myself for taking the initiative. Even though I would not perform on The Comedy Store stage that night, I knew the procedure and I had made contacts. As a comedian, I still had a tight 3 minute set that was ready to go. I had to get it out of me. I found another open mic at a bar called The Cinema. I went, I performed, and I killed.
I have had a glimpse into what it takes to be a successful comedian in Hollywood. I think I have what it takes. I am currently working on new material and refining existing acts. I remember what I saw that first night at The Comedy store. I will implement what I observed. I will be ready for the next time my character, Joe Mega, is on the Sunset Strip. Please strive and try to achieve your dreams. I encourage you to put yourself out there, create your own opportunities, and seize the day.