I’m Back, Baby…?

Hey everyone, Flobo here.

 

I’m a polymath. A multi-hyphenate. I do a lot because I like a lot of things. To me however, all roads go back to comedy. Comedy is the dream and the goal. About three years ago, I started standup comedy for the first time. It changed my life.

I’ve had lots of ups, but the beginning of this year, I had an extended down period. Nothing happened specifically, but the bookings dried up. I was less motivated to write new materials. When I did get stage time, I kind of threw up the old material and hacked and slashed my way through my sets. People were laughing but I wasn’t feelin’ it you know?

After an episode where I had a creative nadir in Dallas, Texas I thought I was basically done. Not done in the “being done with comedy” sense as much as the “Flobito is going to be nothing more than a hobby comic” kind of done. You know, the guy who talks about “trying comedy at one point in life” and doesn’t do it because “life gets in the way.”

It started a bad cycle. I had no time to write or think about comedy and I couldn’t get bookings. Because I didn’t get bookings , I had no fire to write and think about comedy. By March 2017 I was wholly out of the game.

But something happened.

There’s a monthly show I run in Burbank, and we had a show  coming up in June. I booked myself an extended set. Calling it (and taking cues from Elvis’ ’68 special,) my “comeback”, I grouped up my friends. The buzz got me two other bookings around town. I did my set, and due to a technical glitch when prevented me from getting a copy of my performance, I got the opportunity to perform my set in front a whole new group of people. Slowly but surely, I was back. Less pyrotechnics and confetti, more flickery neon sign in a sketchy part of town kind of back.

You know, nadirs are an important part of the process and I was surprised when one happened to me. Though now, I’m glad it kind of rolled up when it did. Comedy truly is the truth. Sort of like a three alarm fire to a fireman or the ocean to a sea captain, you can get a “handle” on nature in some instances but you can never underestimate it. I needed a nudge that told me that my jokes weren’t there (or at least, not as good as my implied “talent” level). I didn’t get booed out of a club, but when I couldn’t get an open mic in downtown Dallas, the message came in loud in clear.

Listen to the signs all around you. If you’re a creative, the signs can be incredibly subtle.

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Don’t Call It A Comeback

What’s going on, everybody?

If you’ve been following my exploits for the past decade, you’ll notice that comedy has been my most recent (and most intense obsession). When I had that near death experience in late 2013, I realized that everyone on this planet is on borrowed time and that is the motivation you need to go out there and accomplish your dreams.

So what the heck happened to me?

You see, after a year that led to brand new comedy heights for me, I kind of…tapered off.

 

The shows slowed up, the joke writing slowed down… and I just got slow. For a second there, I thought i was falling out of love with the “sport” of comedy. I wasn’t motivated to go to 6 open mics a week, or all of the things we comedians do to “pay our dues.”

Towards the end of the year, I saw some info on a relatively new comedy festival, the Glendale Laughs Comedy Festival. Presented by Comic Cure, it looked like a festival that helped out local charities. Long story short, it looked cool, I threw in $10 to apply and lo and behold I was accepted!

 

The night leading up the show, I was worried that I had gotten too rusty. That maybe, I didn’t “deserve” to be in the festival. Self doubt, he is NOT my friend. Though, the night of the festival, something really awesome happened…

No, I didn’t kill. In fact, my performance of three minutes was pretty quick. What did happen was the feeling of familiarity. I was shaking off the rust, but 1) isn’t wasn’t as bad as I thought and 2) I quickly got into a groove. It felt like I had come home, sort of heading home after a semester away of college.

 

  • Meeting one of my comedy heroes, Tone Bell

 

Not to wax poetic, but maybe my love of comedy is a bit deeper than I had originally thought. I got the warm fuzzies y’all, and I found myself more inspired than ever before. It’s funny how that works.

 

It truly is.

 

-F

As I write this, more or less a week has gone by since the one night only comedy show, “Cookies & Beer” went down in Culver City.

 

It was an experience to say the least. It was the proverbial “roller coaster of emotions.” There was doubt, there was excitement, there was sadness, frustration,happiness, sleepiness…and that was all before the show even started. It’s interesting to see how months of planning and thinking about something can basically be over in a blink of an eye.

 

Long story short, it was my first “one man show” since deciding to go into comedy. I put one man show in quotations because even though I was the headliner, and even though I pulled in my longest set ever at about 28 minutes, I had help from some of my favorite people in and out of comedy.

 

It was a funny thing. The whole idea of “Cookies & Beer” came from a challenge from my girlfriend. It was just a topic on the wall with a premiere date. The thing dominated my creative life for months, as I had to juggle that with my dayjob, my weekend job, and other projects that I was working on. At times it was a pain, and at others it was pure pleasure.

When the lights went down, everything was set. The other comics in the room brought their A-game, some of my best buds came out, the saxophonist was rarin’ to go, and we had beer and cookies.

It was magic.

I learned a lot about myself that night, to be honest. Trufthfully, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me in comedy. Until then though, I’m going to keep on with my Cookies & Beer, baby!

Straight Outta Shape

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Hello world!

So those of you that have been following my exploits, you’ll know two things about me: 1) I’m a comedian and 2) I don’t consider myself an artist or scientist of the craft, but rather an athlete of comedy.

For a period when I started comedy up until a month ago, I performed pretty regularly. Sometimes it was once a week, and other times it seemed like every night I was hitting the stage. I was rolling. The experience helped me to become a better comic and performances fueled getting booked for other performances.

But then something stopped.

I’m not talking about a hard stop, mind you. It wasn’t like I had an abrupt injury or something that took me out of going on stage. If that were the case, at least I could rationalize that into an eagerness to get back in the game. No, I realized that over the period of a couple of weeks, “real life” got in the way. By real life I mean:

  1. I got a new job.
  2. Started ramping up my comic book efforts with “Legacy” coming soon.
  3. My mobile DJ job started coming firing up as well.

When I had realized what was going on, it had been three weeks since I had performed comedy on stage. Okay, so I know what you’re thinking: Three weeks? That’s it? Cry me a river, guy. But you see that’s the point:

If comedy is something I wanted to pursue, if I truly believed it to be my passion, then it should happen no matter what’s going on in “real life.” Comedy should always be part of my “real life.” I realize that this all sounds dramatic as I type this out, but I still believed it. The fact three weeks went by and I didn’t even notice the time, really disturbed me. I mean I remembered to eat, do laundry, gas up the car, call home, and take out the trash but I “forgot” about my craft? When I decided to frantically do a couple of open mics back to back to get myself in a new groove I did not perform as well as I had liked: I had become out of shape.

 

This is the part where I try to tie a post up into a need action item for you to consider with your own projects, but truthfully I have nothing here. Here’s what I can do: I can get back into the routine of doing more open mics and try to put writing back in my routine. It is going to be “mechanical” for a while. That is, I may not feel like writing or performing but I am going to keep doing. Hopefully, it’ll become more natural.

 

I’ll establish a new routine. I will get into shape.

 

Hey! Hey! Hey!

Headlining Champ

-Dig It!

-Dig It!

Stand up comedy is a special thing. It’s easy to play the game, yet it’s hard to master. There are a bunch of know-it-alls and there are a bunch of novices. Guys can get famous overnight and they perform side by side by the guy who’s grinded twenty years of his life on the open mic circuit. It is never as simple as the “funniest wins,” because we’ve all seen the comic on TV that we just don’t find funny.

But unlike most art forms in the world, there is an equalizer. In stand up, the equalizer is being the “headliner.” Headlining usually means that the comic in question is the main attraction, or at the very least they are the last comic of the night so they should command your attention. Before and after the show (most level-headed) comics consider everyone an equal. However, when the show starts there is a clear hierarchy. The MC gets and keeps the show going, the early acts warm up the crowd and the headliner is in essence the main draw of the night.

 

We just accept this. It’s part of the game.

 

It’s almost like a cultural thing. Growing up in Brooklyn, most people commuted on public transit. We would all hang out in front of a bus stop, and when the bus came we all made a rush to the front of the bus. “Get in where you fit in” is what we called it. Head one borough over to Queens and things were way different. Folks there would stand side-by-side with each other in a single line, parallel to the curb. When the bus arrived, the first person would be the first in line. Single file.

We just accepted this. It’s part of the game.

There is something about being the headliner that is pure. The oft-repeated fantasy of seeing your name in lights doesn’t really happen if you’re third on the bill. In my experience working in the professional wrestling industry, the main event is what got people to buy tickets. Then there’s this whole issue of the undercard not outshining the main event, but that’s an entirely different post for another time.

I’ve been doing comedy for about a year and a half and I’ve only headlined once. In fact, I hadn’t really thought about how many gigs I’ve headlined until I decided to write this article. Maybe because I’ve seen headliners perform on a completely different level (in a good way) on past shows, and I’ve seen headliners completely end the show on a whimper (in a bad way) in others. In fact, a comedian’s skill or talent truly has no bearing on their place in the lineup. It straight up, doesn’t matter

Click the Image to Purchase

Click the Image to Purchase

But it does.

Headlining goes beyond making people laugh for an extended period of time. Like a pro wrestling champion, you are given the ‘title’ of entertaining the crowd. The promoter (comedy or otherwise) has put their faith in you that you are going to entertain to your fullest potential. In short, it’s an honor and it’s the one people fight for.

 

-F

What I Learned from #McDonalds and #Wrassleroos

Hey everybody!

You know, I feel people have been trying to describe my generation its motivations forever. While I consider myself Generation Y (The last analog generation while carrying the torch for the first digital one), I’ve been repeatedly told that I am a “millennial.” While I’m still not sure what that means, I have been reading up on the subject and usually boils down to these three things: Rejection of extravagance, reluctance to commit to “grown up” things, and a revisionist approach to the American Dream due to a commitment to an entrepreneurial endeavors. Say what you want about the first two (and yes, I am aware of the #RichKidsOfInstagram and #TheGreenTeam, I can say that I’m all about the third.

I am an entrepreneur.

Sure, I’m at the point that expenses are outweighing revenues, (It happens to companies many times my size) but I’m committed to making that work for me. A couple of months ago, I went into detail into the many jobs that I have, demonstrating that I’m fully entrenched in the “gig economy.”

But quite frankly, all of those jobs were killing me.

Forget the whole loss of productivity, I had my hand in so many projects operating so many “different parts of the brain” that the whole thing became exhausting. Spinning wheel metaphor aside, I always felt like I was behind the ball. Enter McDonalds:

High-tech burger Ops

High-tech burger Ops

Ah yes. As a poor kid and an even poorer college student, it was safe to say that McDonalds saved my life on a number of instances. It was a beacon of light that destroyed the shadow of hunger. There’s something comforting in realizing that no matter how hard things were financially, if you had $3 in your pocket you wouldn’t go  hungry. Mickey D’s was an American Institution, so much so you could at one point get two apple pies for a buck!

But Millennials had to go and ruin it.

Let me (facetiously) explain. People of my age had a growing consciousness about their food. They needed to know where things came from, if the food was sustainable and how it was going to impact our collective health. Soon, it was “uncool” to go to McDonalds.The symbol of the Golden Arches itself became a symbol of poor health. Being seen with a bag with a yellow M on it was the mark of shame that only people who “didn’t care” would be caught dead with and…

…where was I? Oh yeah…

McDonald’s tried to counteract this by appealing to everybody. Hey, people like chicken wings? Mighty Wings it is! People like Starbucks? Bring on the McCafe! The menu was bloated and with it came longer wait times. Customer appreciation plummeted and sales were in the toilet. After a protracted debate with franchise operators, McDonald’s pared down the menu and brought a new emphasis on improving the quality of their food. The new outlook wasn’t perfect, but the company had to focus on what was important to them, or what “brought them to the dance.” Nobody wanted complex espresso drinks and chicken wings from a burger joint. They wanted classic Grimace.

"You know that's right!" -G

“You know that’s right!” -G

Here’s a different but similar example, take Wrassleroos:

thkk

Wrassleroos is a company that makes professional-wrestling themed underwear. Seriously. Check out their website. I’ll wait.

Unlike a great American hamburger, the concept behind Wrassleroos was niche to begin. While I want to believe everyone is a wrestling fan, I fear that’s not quite accurate. The line started simple enough, featuring underwear with references to some of the biggest stars of the sport. There was soon a desire to create multiple designs for more and more individual wrestlers and soon, the offerings had increased so much it was putting a strain on the manufacturing process. This situation is more closely tied to the woes of scalability, but the end result was the same: Too many offerings. Not enough focus.

Wrassleroos, like McDonald’s, took a hard look at their menu decided to focus on the products that was most beneficial to them. I guess my point through off of this is to say if I consider myself a walking business, that I had to do the same.

Some pruning never hurt anybody.

There’s advantages to every job and responsibility I do. Though you want to give everything 100 percent, that’s just not possible. I had to lay out all of my jobs and decide which was the one that 1) kept the lights on 2) kept me fulfilled and 3) able to expand upon (there’s that scalability thing again). Simply put, after doing that it was easy to see some jobs not making the cut.

I’ll probably have to brown bag lunch a couple more times a week, but the idea is that with the room to focus on the two or three things/businesses I feel will have the most value, the quality of work will sure to improve.

 

And when it does, I’ll be eating a Quarter Pounder with nothing on but my Simply Ravishing Wrassleroos on.