E3, Comedy, and Me
E3 used to be one of the highlights of my year. In high school, I skipped lunch to watch choppy barely above 56K internet stream Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft’s press conferences. After school, I’d spend hours on video game forums debating who won E3, figuring out which rumors were true, and just generally nerding out. E3 was basiscaly when I could start making my Christmas list.
This year, I didn’t even know when it was.
Well, that isn’t totally accurate. I knew it was somewhere around May or June. I think one time recently they even pushed it as late as July. If not for “Wii U Gamepad” trending on Twitter, E3 might have come and gone without me even noticing.
This change really shows how much a change in identity can make former highlights seem silly. Up until college, I identified as “video game nerd”, but since college, I’ve firmly transitioned into “comedian”. Both are pretty silly, since I was almost always more of a fan of the fanboy forum console list warz, than the games themselves. Even though I’ve been writing and performing comedy for almost five years, I feel like I should be able to make some sort of money from it before I can seriously even consider calling myself a comedian.
My main hobby from 2002 - 2009.
Even with all of the time I spent arguing with friends and on forums about video games, like which version of Soul Calibur 2 had the best exclusive character (Answer: Gamecube, easily!), I never felt as separate from my immediate surroundings as I have since fully pursuing a comedy career. It’s a time consuming slog through dive bars and five-person audiences. It is tough explain to any non-comic why it is absolutely necessary to stay at bars for hours on end just to perform for 4-6 minutes. I can almost guarantee that you’ll be met with a “you must be crazy” look, mostly because I’ve seen it before.
Technological democratization has allowed for so many more creative comedic outlets, but on the downside, everyone else can have their own blog, podcast, tumblr, and sketch group too, so aspiring comics have to work even harder to stand out.
Some have praised the democratization of technology for destroying the calcified traditional comedy club -> Late night appearance -> comedy central -> fame and/or depression business model, but at least it was a plan. As someone who is uncomfortable with the current state of comedy’s chaos, I kind of long for a simpler plan (perfect).
That might be the biggest difference between my old gamer identity and my current comic identity. Games have a process and an end. They are finite by nature. Whenever I got stuck in an game, I could go to GameFAQs to figure out exactly where I was, how far from the end, and what I had to do to get there. None* of that exists in comedy, and it’s absolutely terrifying.
Comedy’s sole saving grace for me is that I really enjoy doing it. A lot. I enjoying stand up, writing, improve, sketch, blogging, and Twitter. When everything comes together, I feel the gears in my head perfectly clicking, giving myself that spark to keep going. Maybe I should have mentioned that earlier: I’m an android, but that is not entirely relevant here.
*”The Comedy Bible” exists, but it was written by someone who never really made it in comedy, so it doesn’t really count.