I did it, People!
More on what I did in a second. But first, if you're getting this email, it means you're able to win an advance copy of WAITING FOR THE PUNCH: Words to Live by from the WTF Podcast. It doesn't come out until October, but 50 of you will get a copy now. Just go to this link to enter the sweepstakes. Winners will be selected at the end of the week.
After months of rambling and noodling and honing and whining and treading the boards I taped two shows in Minneapolis for a Netflix special. It went very well. No regrets, yet. There’s still the edit. I have no idea what I look like or what my pants or shoes or shirt or hair or beard look like in the footage but one thing I do know is the stage and lighting and audience look fucking amazing. I did my job and I enjoyed it.
I respect the job more now than I ever did. I feel the work. I feel the craft. I have control over it. I mean, I have been doing standup for more than 25 years and for many of those years I leaned on a lack of discipline and persistence and just balls-out compulsion to speak to propel me. I still do that when it comes to creating the bits. I have honed five to fifteen minute sets for TV but it never really felt like it represented me because I was sort of stiff, just doing bits. Now when it comes time to tighten them up and do a special, I do the job and I stay in it. I guess I’m sort of amazed by it. Up until a week ago I was still freewheeling through almost two hours of stuff without a through line or much form. Over the last week, I found the theme and the call backs and what to cut. Up until the night of the show I was making tweaks. When it came time to step on the stage I knew exactly where I was going, what I was doing and how to punch each bit. I knew there wasn’t any room to really improvise but I felt present and open and funny except for the almost crying part. Because of the almost crying part I knew I was in it, not just the bits.
I didn’t cry and it didn’t last long. I had been downplaying the special for the whole time in my head leading up to it. No fear. No anxiety. I had made it not special in my head. It was just part of what I do sometimes, I told myself. That’s how I managed the process. It was good. It worked. When I stepped on stage for the first show and he crowd was applauding I was overwhelmed with emotion. I’m such and idiot that I really didn’t even know which one. I knew it wasn’t bad and it was probably a good feeling but I also knew, not unlike when I did Carnegie, that I couldn’t cry as my opening bit. This was a special being recorded for fucksake. So, there it is. The first 20 seconds of my first show taping I’m really just fighting back tears. Gratitude, I think that’s what it was. Maybe a little joy but I don’t know. Okay, joy too. The set went great. The second show, no tears to fight back. Just full on, balls to the wall, wide open, comedy. It was a blast.
It was an amazing event all around. Great crew, great director, AD, lighting designer, set designer, line producer, sound guy, everyone else, all of them. They couldn’t load in until the morning of the show and they filled that blank canvas of the Pantages Theatre up beautifully. It was stunning. Putting on a show. The work.
While I did my special, across the country, the president was doing one of his terrorize, polarize, a lying and a stealing, hate your neighbor revival road shows. That hung with me in the back of my mind. Scary times. Be funny. Be real.
I’m so glad I chose Minneapolis for the special. I’m happy the dates leading up to it were in the Midwest as well. There are great audiences in the Midwest. Grown up, polite folks who listen and understand. I’m very proud and happy I’ve cultivated the audience I have. I like them. Minneapolis was the perfect place to do the show. It has a history of performing arts and creativity and the folks show up. Thanks for that.
Today you can listen to a profoundly interesting talk I had with Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh. He’s the real deal. A possessed artist. On Thursday I talk to the very funny and sweetly odd Wendi McClendon-Covey, and my buddy Al Madrigal stops by of a little bit.