Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Growing Pains: The Story of a Young Female Comedian
The comedy community means two things to me, comedy and boys. Over the years, I have entangled myself in both pursuits, with varying amounts of success on each account. I have suffered great pains and great joys as a comedian, or as the rest of the world calls me, a female comedian, but I am still alive tell the tale, and I regard my mistakes as battle scars and my victories as flukes.
A cool skater girl in college always told me how funny and talented I was, so, naturally, we became best friends. I liked hanging out with her because when we'd go out together she would pull me out of my shell, talk to anyone, and through proximity to her, people, or as I call them, idiots, thought I was fun too. I was interested in comedy, and she wanted to have a good time, so I asked her if she wanted to start a sketch troupe with me. She said yes, and my first sketch comedy troupe was born; conceived in the womb of my insecurity and born into the world I was desperate to please.
I looked up sketch comedy troupes in the city and I stumbled upon a popular sketch comedy show that happened every weekend. I went by myself, watched their show, and it was packed and awesome and I was impressed. I sat quietly by myself in the corner, watching the show in awe and hoping the guy comedians would talk to me, but they didn't, and I didn't talk to them either. I don't think of myself this way anymore, but at the time, I was shy.
This is where my college best friend flirts her way into the story. Determined to befriend the guys in the sketch troupe, the next weekend, I took her to the sketch show with me, and my entire experience changed. She and I drank lots of beer, and after the show, without hesitation, she ran up to all the performers and introduced herself to them. She talked to all the cool people, like she was allowed to, and I followed her lead. We closed down the bar with the cool guy comedians, and it was the most exciting time I'd ever had in Toronto.
After that night, we were hooked. I dragged her to every show, and she enjoyed it, because it involved lots of beer, boys and often times, late night karaoke. We went to almost every show for 6 months, but slowly, our relationship with the guys in the sketch troupe began to change. At first, we were the cute, new girls, but soon, too soon, we became the drunk, annoying girls. Some of the guys, to be clear, were nice to us, but most of them were aloof and ignored us. I totally noticed the dynamic change, but we kept going to their shows, telling ourselves that, eventually, they will like us.
One night, or a couple, I slept with one of the guys in the sketch troupe. That marked the end of any hope I had of the guys in the sketch troupe respecting me as a person, let alone a comedian. It didn't matter that I was passionate about comedy, I slept with one of the guys, so I was a slut. I was officially, and this is hard for me to admit, a comedy groupie.
But we kept going to their shows even though I knew they didn't like us anymore, and I suspected that they made fun of us behind our backs. Who knows, maybe they never thought about us, but we thought about them, all the time. We wanted them to like us. I wanted them to think I was funny. But the harder I tried to win their friendship, the meaner they got. Every week, they got a little crueler to us, but we kept going, kept getting wasted, kept trying and failing to impress them.
Finally, I accepted that they didn't like us and I stopped going to their shows. I tried to comfort myself with the notion that maybe the cool guy comedians hated all young, female comics- that they just didn't like woman in comedy, that sexism was the root of the problem, not me personally. But my theory was blown wide open when, just after I stopped hanging out with them, two new, young, female comedians stormed the Toronto comedy scene, and became beloved by them and everyone else in the city.
I licked my wounds and watched the new female comedians steal my thunder, the thunder that I never had which is what made it hurt even more. The girls were just like my friend and I, best friend, female comedians, only they were way more popular and funny. It turns out the sketch guys didn't hate young, funny girls, they just hated us. I didn't understand why these girls were welcomed into the scene, and not me. Of course, it had nothing to do with the fact that I was drunk for half a year, but in my defense, I was really good at Irish accents, so they were missing out.
I saw the new girls take everything I wanted, all the stage time and all the respect. They got on all the best shows, were considered professionals, meanwhile everyone just kept telling me that I had a lot of potential. I'd see pictures blow up on Facebook of the new girls at parties with the cool sketch guys, all of them getting along, seemingly patting each other on the back for how funny and cool they all were. I wasn't invited to the parties and no one was asking me to be on shows.
I smoked cigarettes on my back porch re-playing all the cold shoulders that had been thrown my way that year. I felt misunderstood and alone, but I wasn't. My best friend was there with me, going through the same rejection. We had no shows, no friends, but we had each other. It was the lowest point, socially, I've ever felt as a comedian, and eventually, I got over it, but I never forgot it. Since all this went down, ten years ago, whenever I've run into some of the sketch guys, they are still unfriendly. I guess they'll always see me as an annoying groupie, which is fine, because I'll always see them as assholes.