Monday, July 18, 2011

Jokes > Scholarships

I wish I could say that I’ve been away from the blog for so long because I actually had better things to do, but that would be a lie. The truth is that I have stared at blank word documents periodically over the last month and wondered what I have to say that is even worth reading. Which sounds too cathartic for a comedian’s blog, no doubt, but I’ll choose to not care.
It’s a frustrating feeling, knowing that writing is really the only thing you’re any good at, and it doesn’t come to you naturally for such a long period of time.
This feeling is not one that is entirely new to me.
You see, there was a time in my life when my head wasn’t used to create these usually clever, at times racist little lines. It was more often used for attempting to give and receive concussions.
That’s right, I was once a college football player. Only a mediocre one at best, but I suckered the school into paying for half of my tuition (which I probably could have covered with an on campus job, but didn’t have time because the coaching staff didn’t appreciate their players having “lives”).
In high school, the sport was different. It was a game. It was something you did because you loved it and in my case because all of my best friends played right alongside me. It was worth it to work hard at because you knew that at the end of the week, your hard work would be rewarded with your performance in the game.
When college came around, I understood that I wasn’t going to be the star right away. I was too short, and not all that fast. So I knew I’d have to work my way to the top.
What I didn’t realize, was that on the way to the top there would be shoulder injuries, coaches that decided they didn’t like me the second they saw my face, and meatheads that seemed to think any weekend not spent trying to cheat on their orange-faced girlfriend was a weekend wasted.
Now, this isn’t to say that everyone I knew on that team fits these descriptions. There are a plethora of decent, intelligent, and interesting people that I only know because of my short-lived athletic career.  Unfortunately, these people were the exception and not the rule.
Every practice players would speak in front of the team about how we are all “family” and how much they love each other like “brothers.” Well, as a person that has three real brothers, it would take more than one of my brothers quitting a sports team for me to stop all communication with them overnight. I would also never utter the phrase “no faggots on the team” to one of my brothers.
I still frequently speak with some of my coaches from high school and I enjoy going back to the alma mater and seeing how the team is doing. What I took away from my experience with coaches in the college ranks, was that they generally treat their players like products, and not people.
Any time the coaching staff did show any hint of interest in my state of mind, it wasn’t because they were actually concerned for my well-being, it was because they wanted to make sure they were getting their money’s worth.
What I love most about doing comedy is the sense of accomplishment I get when I walk off stage, whether the show went well or not. When you’re on stage, it’s all on you to perform well. It’s your material, it’s your show, and it’s your responsibility.
 If the show goes well, it’s because you worked hard at it and were rewarded. If it doesn’t go well, then it’s your fault, and ask any comic what it feels like to walk off stage knowing the crowd didn’t like you. It’s a sickening feeling.
But if the crowd doesn’t like me, I don’t get benched. I don’t have to sit in someone’s office and watch tape of me dying on stage and hear them tell me how disappointed they are. I get to move on to the next gig and try to do better.
Quitting football wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but saying goodbye to concussions and Keystone Light was the best decision I ever made.
I’ve only recently discovered the things I love doing most, and the people I know I want to be around. My advice to you is that if you have something in your life that you know in your heart is not right for you, find a way to let it go.

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