poster artwork by the wonderful Jenny Fine
I am embarking on my longest stretch ever away from home of straight touring and figured the tour/stretch of shows should have a name, so I can remember it when I am older than now. The tour is called “We Live Forever Tonight” which is one of my favorite things to say when I get really excited. I like to tell people, “We’re going to live forever tonight!” when I feel like we are going to have incredible evening.
I’m not sure if it is a good idea to take my car that has 275k miles on it on the road across the country for 3 months, but I’m going to do it anyway. Why not? I am excited to see what happens out there this time around. It is romantic to talk about the road in this way when truthfully it can be a brutal, lonely, and an unforgiving money drain with no guarantees of audiences or success. That is why I like it. I’m not afraid to win over people one night, one joke at a time, and then think about the next one.
The first show will be in Chicago on July 9th, which also happens to be my 38th birthday. Breathing on forty. I think I’d be lying if I said I thought I would be where I am at this age, this point in my life. I suppose I thought I would “have more” or “be more” so to speak. I find myself thinking this way sometimes and then realize that I am exactly what I am supposed to be and have everything I should have already. When we as artists and as people let others dictate how we should be viewing ourselves, our success, our place in this life, that is when trouble and sadness commands the space of thoughts. They are not welcome here, not in my head.
Cue: Cranberries song Zombie “In your head in your head they are fighting with their tanks and their bombs, and their bombs and their guns, in your head in your head.”
I had recently half-joked that I would like to book every week until my 40th birthday so I could be on the road straight through to that day. The more that seed of a joke plants itself firmly in my mind, the more I hope it to be true. By the end of that time, what new jokes will I have that haven’t even occurred to me as passing thoughts? What new friends and freaks will I have met in my travels? It is very exciting to think of the possibilities. I could get rid of my apartment if I wanted to and just travel, go all in on the road and float. Having roots is good, floating can make me crazier than I need to be. But, the float is where I think I may be headed. Maybe out there on the float is where I am supposed to be. Maybe not all of us have the build to lock it in somewhere. What better time for the float then when I still can manage physically, have no romantic ties, no children to feed? The float calls me always. I think it always has.
I must be vigilant to remain on the good side of the fight. I have friends that battle the same insurgent thoughts that this life seems to arm with new weaponry all the time. I lean heavily on many things from the book The War of Art written by Stephen Pressfield. I choose to not allow the industry or the groupthink dictate my success or my worth. Money does not bring happiness and if I have learned anything from my short time in this world and limited success, neither does credits or “heat” as they call it. I focus, the best I can, wavering from time to time, on true value, true worth. The work. That is the only place it lies, it is the only place it ever has been. The discovery of a new idea or the purposeful writing session that leads to an idea that never would have been uncovered otherwise is where the magic lies. Think to yourself of that moment, that recent time when you were born again because of the excitement of an idea and what it could become. That is the drug, that is the dragon I chase.
I am in search of total parallel thought. This phrase is sometimes frowned upon in stand up comedy because we all strive for the unique. I am hoping to achieve total parallel thought with everyone in the audience. What? I believe it is my calling to remove the separateness of me and them and reveal that it has been us all along. As a comedian I am trying to hold the mirror of our collective consciousness just perfectly so, so we can all see our reflection simultaneously. And to do this is a way that brings us true joy – laughter. I am trying to do this with words, the written and spoken set of symbols a large group of us have agreed upon using to attempt to communicate our thoughts, wants, fears, emotions, and urges. This is no small task to do it in such a way that a person becomes one with the other who is doing it. How rudimentary are our tools for the complexities of our minds and hearts! Think about that for a moment…
We are all cut from this same fabric and it is my dying mission to show that to us all. There is no divide, nothing to prevent us from understanding this connectedness except for our fear of losing ourselves, our uniqueness. The uniqueness is a lie. Our concept and love of our uniqueness is like the trailer before your favorite movie – it may seem exciting and grand, but the real substance, the character development, the journey, all of that is where our real excitement lies. This is what I yearn, what I strive for, and what I am dedicating the rest of my life as a performer to achieving. When an audience laughs at one of my jokes it is only because they have had the exact same thought, even if it was in different words or emotions in their own mind. This is the parallel thought that I believe is the pinnacle of the art form – that which truly creates the connection. Even if the thought is only being had for the first time in that moment, it still remains parallel thought and thus, connection and one-ness achieved.
I will be seeking this one-ness on the road for the next 3 months and I hope you are a part of the journey. We make our own rules, dictate our own careers, and we decide what we should and will do next. Focus your mind on your loves, your dreams, your wishes and just let the rest be whatever it is going to be. I fear not the lack of commercial success or industry adulation – I fear most that I will leave this all-too-short life behind filled with the regret that I did not do every thing I could to achieve the highest pinnacle of artist I could be. If that pinnacle is reached and there is no dollar signs or tv credits at the end of the journey, so be it and so be it just as beautiful and fulfilling as if it had.
When you love something it has been said you must let it go. I am letting go and it feels real good…the road changes a man.
See you out there…see us out there because I do believe that we will live forever. We already have.