Why I Quit Comedy and Moved to Atlanta
Updated: Jun 11, 2019
If you thought I quit comedy after moving to Atlanta, you'd be right. I haven't been on stage since I left LA. I quit comedy because I realized I was using it as a distraction. I'd fill my week with comedy. I hosted mics and shows, I'd have a couple of spots on other shows, and I even ran a couple of shows at one point. For a long stretch I had a show every night of the week. It felt good to be so busy. It had the appearance of career progress and productivity, but it was really just me filling a void with a busy schedule.
Well I'm not auditioning, but at least I'm doing shows every night!
What I was actually doing was distracting myself from my acting career whether on purpose or not. After years of being unsuccessful in the acting world, at least I'm good at stand up! And screw it, maybe I'm supposed to be doing this anyways. -- But why doesn't it make me happy then? Why am I so angry and bitter? Why do I so desperately want to book a network TV show still?
That's not the way to do comedy. Stand up comics live and breathe comedy. They work 10 years to get an hour special. They give up having normal lives to be out until 2am to get a spot on a show that died 3 hours ago. They go to five mics a night. They drive 5 hours to do a spot for $20. They live off of red bull, eating gas station food for dinner, and free drinks as payment.
I tried to play the part. But I wasn't in love with it like other comics were. I looked like a duck, and quacked like a duck. But I'm not a duck. I'm an actor. I don't want to be out until 2am. I don't want the last spot on a late show when there's only 2 audience members left. I don't want to host, I hated hosting. I hosted so many shows, and I hated it. Why was I putting myself through that? Why am I working so hard for something I don't even want? I don't want an hour special. I don't want to go on tour. I don't want to do a set on The Tonight Show. I want to be interviewed by Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show promoting whatever movie or TV show I'm doing.
I moved to Atlanta to get away from the distraction of LA. I couldn't quit stand up in LA, I'd get booked for a month and say it was my last month, and it became a never-ending pattern. I couldn't quit my day-time job to be free for auditions because I was afraid of making less money. I couldn't quit drinking because I was afraid I'd lose all of my friends.
So I gave it all up and moved to a different city. Not to run away from everything, and not even to start over. I gave up my life in LA, because if I want to be a working actor, I have to have the mindset of one.
I want to be a working actor.
They say it takes 10 years to make it in Hollywood. I'm in year 9. Will I be heartbroken if I don't book anything this year? Yes. Will I feel like moving to Atlanta was the wrong move and that I'm a failure? No. I've already auditioned more in the month of September alone than all of last year in LA. I'm growing as an artist. I'm happy with where I am in life.
I'll most likely be back in LA at some point, and maybe even back on stage. But when I come back to either, I'm coming back with clarity. I needed to regroup and refocus.
As an actor you go through many moments of "Should I even be doing this?" For me, it's my only option. It's so dramatically important to me that I feel like I will die if I don't get to act. It's a need, not a want.
If anything else can make you happy, do that instead. Because being in the entertainment industry can be heartbreaking. Being an artist of any sort can be. It's a difficult path to take that comes with years of sacrifice. You aren't going to have a normal life. Your friends will all get married, have kids, and buy a house. You'll be in your 30's still waiting tables. But, if it's all you can see yourself doing in life, and nothing else would make you happy? Stay in.
As Henry Winkler said in his Emmy speech quoting Skip Brittenham:
"If you sit at the table long enough, the chips will come your way."
Don't give up.
Your time is coming, as is mine.