I took delayed standby flights all day from DC to Las Vegas, not even sure where else I stopped. I listened to audiobooks and stared at strangers in a mask while walking through different cities puzzled at my tickets that read Stand By. I don’t care for flying, I’m more of a train gal myself, but there’s something about the concept that pulls me into something I don’t understand. I love thinking about the edge of the universe, trying to break my mind to see something it can’t conceptualize. The concept is I just take steps, that’s it, maybe carry a backpack that is oversized cause I hate checking a bag. I sit on a flying machine that I have never even bothered to google how it works, and then I walk into a whole other life. Maybe I hit the weed pen too hard before the security check.
I got to Las Vegas late at night, my new roommate came to get me and I was desperate to practice stand-up before the shoot the next day. I was jet-lagged, everyone who was excited to see me bought me a drink, and I had been hitting a weed pen all day throughout flying and wrote some weird stuff about the universe (see above lol). When I got to my new home I was greeted with so much pot it just took me down, but even with all these setbacks, I had a great set. It was enough to give me the confidence to help me sleep before being filmed. Is this hangover on my good side?
I woke up still jet-lagged, probably still high, and a little hungover. It was not the look I was going for but I snapped out of it in my first ever dressing room, doing the best makeup on the first try, I like the pressure. My set went well for being at 4 pm on a Monday, I got to do warm-ups for the other acts and I got to meet great comics. It was a strange feeling watching people who were twenty years plus into doing stand-up about to tape their best ten. I have heard that you have to really love it because there’s no telling where you’ll end up, but that day I really felt it; because I saw it in everyone there.
One comic said I was great for opening, complimented my crowd work, and told me I should come with him on tour because I already have hardcore travel in my credits. I felt validated in how hard I have been working until he started texting me more about hanging out. There’s always a moment between feeling like someone likes your work and realizing that someone wants your body that is painful. But once you get to the other side it’s not so bad, the transition period is the only hard part. Mike told me that it’s probably both and I should be tougher about it. I think hearing someone tell me they stood up for me when someone said the night before that I only get spots because I am cute as if it were a compliment made me less ready for this news. I don’t know why anyone would say that, I don’t see myself as that cute, have y’all even been to LA?
The next day, after a professional eight-camera 4k shoot I was back to putting on my crown as the queen of the open mic as I headlined an open mic at a hotel in the arts district. I still haven’t gotten paid for it now that I think about it, but the booker is getting slammed on comic message boards so I guess I am not alone. The night was especially sad, the audience was okay but they wanted to put me up last even though I explained everyone would be gone. I kept making jokes that I don’t care when I go as long as I get paid, not even realizing they weren’t the ones with the money. When they said I was going after spoken word I decided to take my drink tickets to the bar to compensate as payment. I finally went up for the six people that stayed. I decided that because they stayed to see me I would make fun of them individually, we had a great time. I did fifteen minutes of pure off-the-cuff fun while only using three minutes of my actual material. Being the queen of the open mics is a sad, weird job but someone’s gotta do it.
I don’t know if it was the excitement of my fun performance or that my friends (that get stuck watching almost all of my shows) got to see me do something that they have never seen, but we went out. Not like a fun night with your friends at a local bar in the mid-west, a drug-fueled shot-inspired night in Vegas. I know that I don’t get too much work and I should have taken it more seriously, but you don’t remember the nights where you passed out early and did the right thing, do you?
I woke up not wanting to get out of bed, but I did. It was another day of filming and I was hoping to get on the second round of tapings. I got up, put myself and my bag together, and handed out flyers downtown at 110 degrees for about 20 minutes until I realized it was the wrong flyer. Went to the studio, dropped my stuff off, went to get more flyers, and then probably spent about ten minutes putting them out until Mike told me he needed me upstairs to open. I called myself a fluffer, even on stage; I told the crowd if they would please line up and I would fluff them individually outback. It was a great day, I did four opening sets and one film. My film wasn’t great, there were only eight people in the crowd and I didn’t do any of my heavy hitters, I wanted to keep them for longer and said what I was willing to give away. I was tired from a 12-hour workday and I wore clothes that I got off a stereotypical street vendor downtown. It was also a white shirt which I was told later was bad for filming. So it’s fitting how homeless I look, but for those that don’t know me the aesthetic might come off as sad. But look world, I am sad, I just try to do dope shit to get more dopamine, mind ya business… or keep reading.
Mike and I took an impromptu trip to LA so I could meet his agent, I never did, which I joke is the authentic LA experience. Right now I am writing this paragraph from a producer’s house in LA. I am listening to them cut up stand-up specials and talk about the ins and outs of how to sell it and how every company tries to screw you. They are exchanging names of comics they know and what they did with their content. Then they go back and forth on who sucks before they talk about who is good but got screwed. I felt the same as I did before when I was just sitting in a room with people who have been doing it for twenty years about to tape their best sets, I have to accept that it becomes anything; so love it or leave. I am truly in love and no one can take me out of my wide-eyed optimism, even now.
Mike Faverman and I have a real understanding, we are very close for only knowing each other for about three months now. The other night when I had that thought he turned to me unsolicited and said he felt closer to me than most people he has known forever. First I felt relieved I wasn’t crazy for also feeling so close to someone I barely know and then I felt grateful, Mike never hits on me and actually believes in what I am doing, I am grateful that he sees me as a friend.
In LA I am staying with a comic buddy from DC who is truly wonderful by the name of Mike Whitfield. The first few years we knew each other I pronounced his name wrong and never bothered to change, I loved the way he would yell at me about it because it was hilarious and I didn’t want to lose that. I am in awe of everything about him and his girlfriend, it is a harmonious feeling to meet genuine people. He told me that I showed him a different side to stand-up, that before seeing me he was doing shows to advance or some strategic thing he was working on within his set, but then he saw my set and realized you can just do it to just do it; to love it or fight with it, but just do it no matter what. When you work so hard on something you rarely get recognition for, let alone paid, it’s the little things that someone says that can give you seeds to grow when nothing else does. In stand up it is easy to get a false sense of yourself, to do really well in one city doesn’t mean you’ll crush in the next. But you can take your delusions with you like a stowaway, it’s up to you to unpack it.
Mike Faverman took Mike Whitfield and me to the comedy store, he told Mike he could get him an in for an audition to work the door at the comedy store. When we finally met the manager he B lined for me and asked if I wanted an audition. Of course, I do, even if it means I took Mike’s spot, which I wasn’t because they were clearly looking for girls, even if that means I get the affirmative action hire; everyone involved understood this was a must. I don’t feel good that this happened to Mike, but he knows it wasn’t intentional. Before we met the manager I kept saying “I am so excited for you.”
Mike introduced us to Bobby Lee, a relatively famous stand-up comic who was trying to become a bigger actor and break away from smaller parts. He asked me what I wanted from my career and even though I should’ve said I don’t know, which is true, I said I wanted to be a comic. He looked at me the way I look at women who are so happy with the meaning of their life being to start a family; envious of having such attainable goals. He said he wished that was all he wanted so he wasn’t an older Asian actor trying to land bigger roles.
When I got back from LA I depression napped in a bad neighborhood in Las Vegas where a friend rented me a room for cheap. Every night when I walk in he has some comical act prepared. From pretending there was a party and everyone hid to spinning around in a chair with a sinister look. It was hilarious when I walked in after five days in LA and all he said was “hey.” We laughed for a while then went back to binge-watching TV. He’s a lot of fun to be around.
After a couple of days I pulled myself up to go to an open mic, then a competition where I won. I was coming out of the fog in my mind and got an internet job that will hold me over financially for at least two months if I stop eating out. Even though things were looking up I started looking down, wondering why I was here anymore. The gigs started to dry up and my eyes started to tear up as I asked myself what I am still doing here.
My life hangs between an email with an audition time to the comedy store and whoever will book me. Finding the motivation to produce my own show beckons me to answer the dying question, “if not here, where?” Where the f*ck do you want to go? I am in a coffee shop asking myself that while dreading doing my act in front of a pool in the Vegas heat for a booker I made pay me in advance so I didn’t have to track him down and ask for fifty dollars. Writing this out makes me giggle, and realize it really is time to go.
Today, after performing in front of a pool in what should’ve been one of the most depressing moments in my fog, I feel great. The show went great but I don’t think that’s why, maybe my brain chemistry is switching from depression to manic, and I love this part.
I am starting out mania mode with more good news, more auditions, more tours, more merch to buy, more money. I am feeling more myself as I get excited to pack a bag. I have two more weeks in Las Vegas and I am pleased to say I have a calendar that says I am making the most of it. The strangest part about leaving is once you get a date to depart you start to really value and appreciate where you are. I am a poor wanna-be stand-up comic in the entertainment capital of the world, spoil me Sin City.