If You Fear Change, Try Embracing It . . . Around It’s Throat

Things, they are a-changin’!

Not really the way I expected, but they are.  I skipped a week making a post . . . or was it two?  I don’t know, I’m too lazy to look at the date on the last post to figure it out.  Lazy?  Tired?  I just don’t care?

Yeah, all of those.

Let me try to sum this up as quickly as I can.  (I just heard all of you call me a long-winded fuck, just relax.)

With all the changes over the past year or more, with Liz taking a job and moving to Georgia . . . and then taking another job . . .and staying in Georgia.  Anyway, that’s a long story and not mine to tell, but what it came down to is that Liz has been thinking about selling this house in Florida.  A completely understandable and fully expected decision that I knew would happen.  It only makes sense.  I’d been toying around with looking for a place of my own finally anyway and it just plain needed to happen.

Here is the twist to that . . . the next door neighbor put his house up for sale, and as it turns out, got a pretty good price for it, so Liz gave a Real Estate agent a call just to see what he thought she could get for it.  Long story short, it went down like this . . .

  • Real Estate agent said he knew somebody that wanted to move down here and could he show him the house
  • House was cleaned and prepped in a single weekend for the showing on that Monday
  • Dude liked the house and made an offer
  • Liz made a counter offer, and it was accepted
  • They want to close on Aug. 17

In summary, the house was prepped, shown, and sold within a few days . . . and NEVER went on the market.  At a profit.

Can’t really blame her for that now, can ya?

At any rate, I think we’re all in kind of a panic.  I’ve got to find a place that I can afford in less than a month, which isn’t easy, because I can’t afford much.  I’m just a dude that values his being alone all the fucking time, so I just need a studio or 1 bedroom place for like $500.  $600 tops.  They are around and they exist, unfortunately my credit score makes this a bigger hurdle than I would like.  I’ll need a cosigner OR I can get a trailer in a meth riddled trailer park with no credit check.  In hurricane country.

Now Liz is also trying to figure out how to live in Georgia and be down here to pack up 10+ years of her life and either distribute or sell much of the furniture she has here and have this place emptied in less than a month.  On top of that, she’s been helping me to find a place during the day because my job doesn’t allow me the time to look very much myself.  She almost hit the jackpot today but then the “landlord” (an AirBnB host) said it was just for a month because of family obligations.  (The damn place would have been PERFECT) There are complications with her job and a new relationship she’s been enjoying up in Georgia and all this went down so fast, it has been a whirlwind for all of us.

We all know we’ll get it figured out and work through it and all will be well and good in the end, but at this point we all wish we could just fast-forward to somewhere around October where we’ve come out the other side and we’re facing all new and improved stresses over completely unrelated shit.

Personally, it’s something I had been planning on anyway . . . getting my ass out on my own, taking care of my own shit.  As life sometimes does, it sorta got tired of me taking my time and said “Let’s DO this shit already!”

For Liz, it was something she was planning on doing as well and the same shit went down for her.

So, here we are.  For the next month, I’ll help Liz out helping her get stuff sold and moving things to storage or wherever (the new boss is much more pleasant about letting me use the truck for personal shit) and she’ll help me looking for a new place and stuff.  A month from now, the dust will settle and we’ll all be . . . .

some-fuckin-where.

For those of you asking what this means for my quest for stand-up comedy, it doesn’t mean anything except a slight delay in the chase.  It’s been 30 years since it first occurred to me that I wanted to do it, so I suppose another month isn’t going to ruin it any more than it already has been.  I’m still searching the open-mic nights and still writing stuff in my little notebook (although I didn’t have it with me today and I thought of some shit that had me laughing my ass off in the truck today and I completely forgot what it was now . . . it’ll come back to me) and I’m listening to a lot of comics and their podcasts along the way.  I’ve been searching open-mics here in town and as far away as Orlando, Ft Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami.  (One thing I have learned from listening to how comics got where they are is, be prepared to drive . . . a LOT)  One podcast I’ve found in particular is called “The Comedian’s Comedian with Stuart Goldsmith” and he spends every episode interviewing comedians to find out their writing methods, techniques and how they get their ideas and it is an AMAZING resource.  The biggest problem with it at the moment is that I listen to it in the truck all day long and with the current situation I’m in, my mind is elsewhere and I have come to the end of full hour podcasts and realized that I didn’t hear a single friggin’ word of it because I’m all “dammit, where am I gonna find a place . . . there?  Maybe there?  Shit, I can’t afford that.”

All it means is that I just have to slow down a bit and focus.  Nobody became a comedian in a month, but people have found a place to live in that amount of time, so that’s what I gotta focus on now.

On that note, I’ve been thinking about starting a podcast myself, I’m just not sure where to go with it.  If any of you have an idea of what you might like to hear from me (and eventually see because they have all gone the way of YouTube as well), throw me some suggestions.  I’m sure you don’t want to hear me talk to myself for an hour (maybe you do, I don’t know.  My head gets fuckin’ weird sometimes), but I can think of a few people out there I would love to have a live chat with on a podcast because we have come up with some funny shit together (Hey LEO, you readin’ this?!)  I just need to come up with some kind of format.  All suggestions are welcome.

That’s my update, kids.  I look forward to hearing from you all.

Oh, and follow me on Twitter.  I’m trying to be more active there.  @eric_waechter  I’ll try to be funny.

I said “try”.

For those of you that know me and have followed me for the last few years . . . no, I don’t want to drink, and I am encouraged by that.

Why ruin chaos with insanity?

(That’s brilliant.  Consider that copyrighted immediately.)

The Plunge into Stand-up Comedy, Part 3

I don’t know what to do here.  I want to get on the stage and make people laugh.  I want to get things rolling.  I HAVE to do this because I will not leave this as a regret.

I’m fucking exhausted.

I’m working . . .and working . . .and working . . . and it’s not something I should be complaining about.  God knows, I’ve spent enough time unemployed and fighting for jobs that never come and living off of the kindness of others.  I’m working and I should be glad.

But . . . it’s in the way of what I want to do and I don’t know how to weave it in to what is my “regular” everyday life.

I leave the house at 7:00 in the morning and most nights I get home between 6 and 7.  By the time I shower and eat and finally sit down, it’s 8:30 and all I want to do is crash.

The question here is, who in the fuck decided that Wednesday is the only night of the week anyone will do Open Mic nights?

I expanded my search to comedy clubs throughout the state of Florida.  It’s the same everywhere.  The Improv in Orlando . . . every Wednesday night, at 8:00.  Given that is an hour drive from my house, I couldn’t make it even on a good day.

When the weekend comes, I have the time and I can muster up the energy, but there is nowhere to go to take the stab.

Let me take that back.  There are places to go that have open mic nights.  They take open mics for musicians, poets and comics, with the majority of them ending up being musicians, and in front of crowds that tend to be drunken kids just looking for a cheap place to get wasted.  (I Ubered people to a great many of these places and I wouldn’t stand in front of them trying to be funny if my life depended on it)

Having just started this job, I kinda have to go until I get some kind of shitty legs under me again, but it’s looking more and more like I’m going to have to take a day off here and there just to get some stage time in a real comedy setting.  If it’s what I have to do, it’s what I have to do and I’m going to do it.

Damn if I don’t need your encouragement though.  I’m tired and there are days I feel that shitty attitude come back.  The shitty attitude that comes from spinning my wheels, working my ass off and living paycheck to paycheck and wondering what the fuck it’s all for.  I keep going so I can eat chicken in the 50 various ways I know how to cook it and have a steak once every three months.

The life of a new comic always starts out slow, poor, broke.  Ask any comic that has ever made it to the big stage selling out venues.  The trick here is that I’ve been slow, poor and broke for YEARS and it kinda scares the shit out of me to be slower, poorer and broker than I am now.  That, and most of those guys started in their late teens, early 20’s and the idea of sleeping in my car in my late 40’s makes my back hurt just thinking about it.

I am fully aware that my position in life is the result of really shitty life decisions with some mental defects thrown in for good measure.

I did not live up to my “potential” as they used to like to say.  There is a whole book being written about that and I’m the author, but that’s for later.

So here’s the deal.  I’m looking to my readers for some help.  I have NOT lost the desire to make the Stand-Up happen.  I have not lost the drive and I have not let go of the dream.  Where I am stuck is where I always get stuck.  I have a decent job, I’m not living on the street and I’m living clean and sober and I’m happy being that way.

I. Just. Have. No. Time.

Any decrease in my income is devastating.  I have a home ONLY because I’ve been given one and thank God for Liz otherwise I don’t know where I’d be . . .

How the fuck do I make this happen?

All suggestions, I’m taking all of them.  Help me out.

I’m looking into a life supplement that I’ve seen some good results from and it looks like it might be a great plan for me . . . problem is, it’s more expensive than I can handle right now, but I want to try it.  It may be worth it in the end, but we’ll see.  I’m going to take a stab at a month of it.  (This is what I’m looking into.)

What am I looking at for the stage?  I know some of you suggested that I make this my testing grounds, so I’ll throw a couple at you . . .

*So what made me decide to get into comedy in my late 40’s?  Well, I been disappointing my father for years, so I’m perfectly capable of disappointing a whole room in 3 minutes.

*I’ve been searching for the perfect woman my whole life and I”m starting to think that a short, skinny, redheaded, jewish, vietnamese girls just doesn’t exist.

*I busted my ass in the rain in the parking lot of the convenience store the other day and laid there soaking wet laughing out loud at the irony of being paralyzed by slipping on the slick, wet paint of the handicapped parking spot.

*I’ve been married twice, and both times I said “until death do us part”.  I stand before you single.  You do the math.

.Thanks, my faithful people!

The Plunge into Stand-up Comedy, Part 2

 

I’m kinda diggin’ this weekly update thing I’ve pressured myself into.  It keeps me on my toes, keeps me motivated and *deep breath* continue to face down my fear of failing miserably.

You folks that have commented, both here and on my Facebook page . . . Goddamn, I love the support, encouragement and downright faith that I don’t even have in myself.  You’re all awesome and if you could gather a couple hundred of your friends and plan a trip to Tampa to be my first audience, that’d be great.

I understand that my lack of faith and fear are issues I have to deal with within myself and they stem from a whole bucket load of garbage I have picked up over a whole lot of years.  I understand it, I get it, and I know where it comes from . . . doesn’t make it any easier to get past at this point.  This is what I want and this is what I believe in.  I have years of being told that what I want and believe in is not important, unnecessary and “stupid”.

I’ll leave you to your intelligence to figure out where that came from.

Some of you may have noticed the title image to this post has two notebooks in it.  Yes, they are my notebooks and I carry them with me wherever I go.  You also probably noticed that one is titled “The Stage” and the other “The Book”.  I have plans for both, and yes, I’ve said many times that I wanted to write a book but could never settle on an idea.

Well, I’ve finally settled on an idea and I’m excited about it.  I’m not going to release the details as of yet, but it is not going to be comedic although it will have its funny moments here and there, and it is not going to be fiction.  That is where I will leave that.

“The Stage” on the other hand is where I slap down ideas, thoughts, events or whatever that could work as good stand-up stage material.

Ok, so it’s not all good, but I write it all down anyway in case I can make it good later.  It’s mostly just short phrases that remind me of where I was going with it.  I do ok when I’m putting together the story in my head.  I know where I want to go and how I want to create it to be funny . . . the problem lies in my shitty, late 40’s memory that allows me to remember all the words to “Don’t You Forget About Me” but also has me wandering WalMart for 45 minutes wondering what in the fuck I came in there for.  I’ll let you take a peek . . .

You can click it and make it bigger.  It’s mostly just a few ideas on the right and a little “goal oriented” encouragement on the left.  My way of reminding myself that I can do this and I can do it well despite my own insecurities and fears.

The funny thing is, I’m starting to find myself getting less annoyed lately and searching for the humor in the things that annoy me  The best example is when I recently came home from a long day at work and it was one of those Florida days that started hot, sunny, humid, bright and just . . .ugh, HOT.  About 2 hours before I got home, it started to rain – one of those HOLY FUCKING CHRIST Florida rains where the water is coming in through the bottom of the car door as you drive down your own street.  I stopped at the convenience store near my house and went in to grab a pack of smokes and get some gas.  As I walked quickly toward the door through the rain, I walked across the brightly painted blue handicapped parking spot and slipped, even in my heavily soled work boots, nearly busting my ass and catching myself with my hand on the ground.  It really hurt my wrist and given that it was the end of the day and I was tired, sweaty and now wet from the rain, for a brief moment I was really pissed.  The anger turned to amusement and eventually right out laughter as I stood and shivered in the freezing cold air conditioner of the convenience store.

I could have fallen and broken my neck and become paralyzed . . . because of the paint in the handicapped parking spot!

Honestly, that’s some shit that Wawa (the convenience store) should look into as that’s pretty fucking dangerous and leaves them open to some seriously litigious stuff . . . but HOLY SHIT was that irony at its finest!

Probably wasn’t great and may very well never make it to the stage, but shit, it was funny at the time so it made the notebook to be assessed and maybe tested later, but that’s the process.

My immediate plans, immediate as in – the next week or so – is to go to open mic night at The Improv – Ybor next Wednesday.  I’m not going to perform, but to observe.  I’ll probably do this several times.  I want to see what kind of crowd comes in.  Get a feel for the room, the atmosphere and the general attitude of the crowd.  I want to find out if they are typically young, middle aged, college poor or .com rich.  I’m going to need to see it a few times to see if there is any consistency.

Being Ybor City, it could be anything.  As my own son can attest after I dragged him through Ybor on a Friday night, Ybor City is a freakshow of epic proportions on the weekends.  It’s a collection of college kids, gay and lesbian pride night virtually every weekend, the Jesus-freak-loudspeaker-toting-you’re-all-going-to-hell preachers on the corners as the drunks go by and throw obscenities at them.  As an Uber driver, I once drove 4 “chicks with dicks” porn performers back to their hotel after their night on the Ybor strip.  This place is INSANE on the weekend . . . but during the week, it’s a historical landmark with the old Cigar factories and Coffee factories and the Cuban restaurants (Columbia Restaurant is expensive, fancy and worth every fucking dime) and it attracts tourists from all over the world of all ages.

Given that information, Ybor City on a Wednesday night could be a tad unpredictable.  I could end up being the old fuck trying to entertain a room full of millennials, in which case, I’m probably going to piss them all off.  I could be the child of the 80’s entertaining the new money, middle aged dot commers which may put me very much into my element.  I could be the middle aged comic trying to relate to the retirees visiting Florida to decide if they want to come here and drive slow and clog up I-275, in which case, I can probably make them laugh but I really don’t want them to stay and get comfortable.

What I’m saying is . . . anything can happen in Ybor City.

For you guys that wanna visit, check under the dress for the transmission.  You might think you have an automatic, but there’s a very good chance you found a stick shift.

The day is coming, kids.  I swear it is.  I’m going in prepared, studied and ready for anything . . .but this is going to happen.  Don’t be impatient.  I’ve been thinking about this for a long time and I’m going in prepared.

. . . and THANK YOU ALL for your love and encouragement!!

The Plunge into Stand-up Comedy, Part 1

Don’t be fooled by the title too much.  It’s not so much a “plunge” as it is a “dipping of toes into the cold pool like a bitch” into Stand-up comedy.  I’ve been thinking about this for a very long time and now I’ve put it out there to my public . . . and by “public” I mean the 6 of you that I beg to read this.  If anyone else comes by, then I am humbled and deeply grateful that my reach has gone any further.

When I first started this blog (Holy Shit!) 6 years ago, I briefly enjoyed a regular readership of several thousand people a month.  Over time and multiple ridiculous circumstances and my own laziness, repeated forays into depression and several unsuccessful location changes in an attempt to improve my situation, Opticynicism fell apart and now it’s just the struggling ramblings you see before you now.

I’ve learned so many things over the last few years and most of them have been about myself.  I like to think of this blog as my therapy.  It’s my place to vent, scream and just release all the bullshit in my head so I don’t have to carry it around, and it really, really has worked, but as I laid out in the previous post, it’s time to move onward and upward.

It’s no secret that I love to make people laugh.  Nothing, not one single thing, brings me more satisfaction than making someone else laugh.  It’s an art I’ve worked on my entire life and a skill that has helped me survive things that no one should have to endure.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t saved me from everything, but there is a pill I take twice a day that does the rest.

I lovingly refer to that pill as the “one I take so that my father stays alive”.  (Potential stage line . . . for those of you paying attention)

Some of my favorite and funniest moments come from my interactions with my brother and with my friends that I regularly play games with on one of the game systems.  The laughs come spontaneously and we seem to surround ourselves with friends that have a quick wit and some amazing one-liners have come from it.  Anybody who enjoyed the show Mystery Science Theater 3000 would absolutely piss themselves sitting down to an episode of Swamp People with my brother and I, or an episode of anything for that matter.  A well timed, yet inappropriate “Choot ’em!” is invaluable.

The interactions with my friends online have resulted in many, many nights of crying with laughter at the stupidest shit ever, but damn, does it make you feel like nothing is wrong in the world.  Even text conversations have become the thing of legend.  My buddy  Tom in Vermont is the king of one-liners, and they don’t happen very often, but when they do, they are of epic proportion.

Me:  How did the estimate go with the plumber this morning?  How far up your ass did he go?

Tom:  He’s my dentist now.

Four words.  That’s all it took.  It was probably 5 years ago and just a passing conversation and the boy spit out four words and I’m still laughing my balls off 5 years later.

Here is where things get a little tense for me. . .

I like to tell a story.  A lot of the time, they are actual life experiences and many of those experiences are unpleasant, if not downright shitty.  In the telling of those stories, I make them funny in order to make them easier for ME to deal with.  Some of the most unpleasant experiences in my life involve my father.  The funny thing about that is that the MOST popular posts I have ever written on this blog, and were in fact responsible for my readership going into the thousands at the time, were the stories I told about my father.  The trick was, they weren’t “stories”.  They were shit that actually happened, but in telling it, I made it more comfortable for me and the result was . . . well, funny.

It’s now something I do every day.  It’s a habit and I don’t even consciously do it anymore.  It puts people off quite frequently and I’ve become accustomed to the weird looks I often get.  I am 100% certain it has cost me more than one job.

On the upside, it works in my favor more than it doesn’t.

At the VA hospital while setting up a supply closet early in the process, I once had 6 nurses trap me in the closet and they were all telling me all the shit they wanted me to stock the closet with, some of them talking at the same time and it got crazy in there for a minute and I just stood there, silent and something on my face made them all just stop talking and look at me.  I said, “I had this dream . . . but it wasn’t this aggressive and some of you had hats.”

There was silence . . . then hysterical laughter and I had the best relationship with every one of them after that.

It’s the spontaneous shit that works for me.  I once made Diet Coke come out of Liz’s nose because of my interpretation of what the dog would sound like if she had looked up at us from the couch and said “Go fuck yourself”.

And then Liz says to me after my last post, “Just go up there and ad-lib”.

So there is three to five minutes of me on stage with a microphone demonstrating uncomfortable silence.

As much as I appreciate her confidence in my ability, the reality just won’t allow that to happen.  I have, as I said, three to five minutes to make an impression and while I believe in my ability to be funny, to stand on stage, nervous, self-conscious and just a tad out of my element, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to just stand there and shit funny.

So before I start to get the “so where is the video” questions, I wanted to start this multi-part post to let you know what I’m doing to work toward this goal and that I’m not just talking out of my ass.

I’ve been listening to comedians of all sorts while I’ve been driving for the last year or more.  I’ve listened to the podcasts that some of them do, good or bad.  (Highly recommend Marc Maron’s podcast WTF if you haven’t heard it)  I have scoured the internet for tips, tricks, advice and experiences with starting out and open mic nights, etc from comedians old and young.  There are styles I like and styles I don’t, and at the same time, I want to have my own style and my own rhythm.   I love Bill Burr’s stage work, but his podcast is a rambling mess of “I’m doing this ’cause all the other guys are”.  Jim Gaffigan is hilarious to a point, but the “voice” gets real old, real fast.  Tom Segura . . . love the guy and can’t find a thing I don’t like about his act and the same goes for Kyle Kinane.  I think if I had someone to aspire to, it would be those two.

At the end of the day, I don’t want to be the “new insert-fading-comedian-here”.  I want to be me.  An individual that should an interview ever ensue, I could make a list of influences . . . with my father being number 1.

I don’t want to stroke his ego, so I’ll wait til he’s dead to proclaim that one.  He wouldn’t get the joke.

So here is the plunge.  There is a plan, of sorts.  I have a thousand ideas.  I have a thousand stories.  I have a thousand funny things to say.

I have no idea how to narrow that down to three to five minutes.  THAT is what I’m working on.

So far, my plan for an opening line is . . . “Let me start by saying that I am not (pause) young.”

My only planned response for a heckler is:

To:  “You suck!”

Me:  “I’d like to thank my dad for coming out tonight!”

I welcome your opinions, and for Christs’ sake, send ’em.

I’m gonna do this . . . *breathe* . . . it’s gonna happen.

I used to stand on stage in front of hundreds and not give a single shit.  In high school, I stood on stage and SANG in front of hundreds . . .several nights in a row, and I had no problem.

Now I’ve grown up and learned what a shitty, judgmental, easily offended, sensitive society we live in and for some stupid fucking reason, that bothers me.

But at the same time, I give zero fucks and I’m gonna do it.

Anyone with a couple Xanax to spare, I’ll be happy to give you my address.

In the meantime, I’ll sit here and see if Marc Maron and Bill Burr respond to my emails.

Venues I am currently exploring . . . .

Side-Splitters Tampa

The Improv – Ybor