How Chris D’Elia Almost Got Me To Quit Comedy

I love stand-up comedy. I’ve been doing it professionally now for 9 years and the natural progression of my career has taken me to Los Angeles. There was a time in my life when I wasn’t funny on stage but through a lot of hard work and just plain not stopping I luckily figured some things out. I’m now at a time when my first album is done and I’m looking for inspiration for the next one. I’m really proud of what I did with, “Professional Child” but now I want to grow. I want my act to represented my intelligence and I’d like to find more pathos in my stand-up writing. So that means, because I live in LA now, that I need to find stages in LA that I can develop this material on. That has been tricky. Although I’ve had a lot of good stage time in LA, the consistent open mic stage time is hard to find. Doing material that I already know works isn’t helping me any more and so I’ve given myself to writing a new hour. This has been a big challenge because I feel like I’m starting over. I’m walking on stage with bits that I have no idea if they work and I’m failing a lot. Some good is coming out of it but for the most part I feel like I am spinning my wheels. Oddly, this is exactly how I felt when I first started doing stand-up, unsure, a little scared that I’m wasting my time and raw.

Recently I did a show in front of 90% comedians, one of many shows in LA. I made the choice to do mostly new stuff and fell flat on my face. Fortunately, I had some old jokes to rely on so I didn’t look like a complete asshole but the set definitely took the wind out of my sails. After the set I went over to the Hollywood Improv and popped into Comedy Juice . It’s always a great show and I was excited to see who was on stage. As I walked down the hallway past the kitchen I could tell whoever was on stage was killing it. The laughter was hemorrhaging out of the showroom doors. Who would I find? Maybe Marc Maron or Daniel Tosh, or maybe even Louis C.K. But when I walked in I didn’t see any of those guys, I saw Chris D’Elia, star of the hit NBC show, Whitney. Now let me be clear from the get go, this is not a shit on Chris D’Elia rant. I have respect for his success and I’m confident that he has worked incredibly hard to get where he is. That being said, his comedy is not for me and it is the antithesis of what I’m striving for. He’s an amazing performer but hasn’t made the choice to make his act about anything, accept for drunk girls and blatant racism. But despite my criticism, crowds fucking love this guy. At one point a man in the crowd yelled out a request and Chris happily obliged him. That was the moment I almost quit doing comedy. I had to leave the room. Jealous? Sure. But it was more than that, for a brief moment I was pissed off at the entire craft of stand-up comedy. How could something I love so dearly be so wrong? And why was I letting it get to me? I had just come off that tough set and the thought that kept going through my head was, “If this is what you need to do to be successful then stand-up comedy may be not be for me.” It was a dark moment.

Ultimately, I moved past it. Even as I write this blog post I see that I was getting caught up in something that had nothing to do with me. It’s not my job to focus on the things I don’t like. It’s my job, even when it’s hard and I’m scared, to show up and keep writing. I have no desire to quit comedy and my resolve to write my next hour is stronger than ever, I’m just not sure how it’s all going to come together and that’s okay. Somehow I got through before and I choose to have faith that I will continue to keep moving forward.

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