I’ve written before about a cycle I’ve seen many comics go through, including myself, that when we begin we’re full of wonder and respect, but about six months later we get jealous and judgmental. Then it feels like we get set on a dark path or a light path. Those on the dark path will always be bitter and focused on opportunities they don’t get, those on the light path appreciate what they have and run their own race. I’ve always believed myself to be on the light path.

I shouldn’t be surprised by things not being so simple. I feel like my ego has undergone a metamorphosis over the past few years and change isn’t always painless. I still believe I’m on the light path, of course, but that doesn’t make me a saint, completely unaffected by opportunities that don’t come my way. It’s just that the question, “Why not me?!” developed new meaning.

That question first comes to mind six months in, when we see someone get a gig or a podcast invite or whatever, something that wasn’t offered to us despite us being much funnier and talented. As I said, either we get over that or we don’t. I did.

Then, just before the pandemic, I burned out and went into self-imposed exile. Then the pandemic just made it exile. Yet I barely heard from anyone. I was so proud of Power Comedy Club, to which so many comics could trace their debuts, friendships, podcasts, even other clubs, why didn’t anyone drop me a line to see how I was doing? Why not me?!

A conversation helped me get past that. I was reminded that, in addition to putting standup on pause, about the same time I lost a full-time job, yet none of my co-workers had contacted me since, because of course they hadn’t. Certainly I’ve made friends in standup but, for the most part, we’re not much more than office drones in the clubs. Either we’re there and we exist or we’re not and we don’t.

Over time, I got back into standup, and going to the clubs made me less and less anxious. My days of grinding are long behind me, but of course it would be nice to get more opportunities, especially now that clubs have reopened and several others have sprung up. Not that I was asking for spots. Why should I? I’m a veteran, people know me, they should be offering me gigs unsolicited. They aren’t. Why not me?!

There are a few reasons why not. First and foremost, if I was much more talented, it wouldn’t matter that I’m not cool, that I’m socially retarded, that I never go to the clubs when I’m not on the lineup. People would be kicking down my door anyway. I am who I am, though, so I’ve got plenty of sandbags on this lead zeppelin.

The biggest reason, though, is that while my ego screams that I should be on the top of everyone’s mind, of course I’m not. People have their own lives, their own priorities, their own struggles. I’m barely in public, barely active on social media. Out of sight, out of mind.

I’ve felt the result of this several times in the past few months, when asking club owners for spots. Their reaction was a consistent, bemused, “Oh yeah…. you exist.” It’s led to gigs in a few cases, in a few others I’m still waiting, maybe because they already forgot about me again. In order to ask at all, I had to circumvent my ego and pride, since I still have that dark feeling of expecting everything to just be handed to me.

I’m curious to see what happens in 2024. At the moment I’m still barely active, but certainly more active than I was a year ago. Active enough to be annoyed by others on social media. It definitely motivated me to post some clips that included actual jokes.