Cheaper Than Therapy

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

I spend every Monday night on this stage.

And sometimes it's hard to leave the house on a Monday at 10 p.m. to go host an open mic. Sometimes it's really hard.

For starters, the ratio of men to women is usually 9:1. So there's never a shortage of dick or fart jokes in the room. Some men even just blatantly talk about how they hate women or think we're stupid (not a lot do this, but there are some.) Occasionally people say really shitty things to female hosts that they wouldn't dare say to a male host. But don't worry, I take great pleasure in grabbing the mic after these kind of garbage people and immediately shut them down.

But the good times outweigh the bad and I really enjoy what I get to do. The hardest part is getting there, but once I do, I'm always happy I made it.

The majority of comics that come to the mic that I host are good people. Most of them are new to standup and feel safe trying it out at a theater that is more commonly known for its improv.

My favorite moments of hosting are when I see a comic take the mic for the very first time and quietly announce to the crowd, "so this is my first time doing this..." Their face is full of so much fear and anxiety and hope. And once they settle into their routine and are able to remember the jokes they've written, the look on their face is pure joy.

I love the new college comics who drop by who are just experiencing life how they want for the first time. A lot of them are people who you can tell probably didn't have it very easy in high school, not that anyone did, but these are the ones who you know had it extra rough. You know because they tell you. They talk about the years of torment and always feeling like an outsider, never finding their place to fit in. There's a lot of talk about depression and even thoughts of suicide and the things people do in order to fight their way out.

And as they talk about so many memories that once brought them pain, that they're now able to laugh at, it's as if you can feel the years of sadness being lifted off them. You can see it even.

Those are the moments I enjoy hosting standup.

For the past few weeks we've had several comics come in with disabilities. Some physical, some mental. Last week a guy in a wheelchair told the dirtiest jokes I've probably ever heard, all at his own expense.

A comedian with Asperger's took the stage last night and talked about how he doesn't have social skills and struggles empathizing with people. He wants to relate to people, but it's hard for him. Last night on stage he told us stories about his childhood and how he views things. He allowed us a glimpse into his world for four minutes and by the end even if he couldn't relate to us so well, we all felt like we could relate to him a little better than before.

I like doing comedy because it reminds me of the things that are real in life. It's easy to lose myself in a place of weird posed photos on Instagram, frivolous blog posts, and constantly living behind my screen. I sometimes feel like we're all competing in this bizarre social media race of staging the perfect life because everyone else is so we just follow along, but in comedy there's no such thing as perfection.

I think that's why I like it.

It's refreshing to sit in a dark room and just listen to people talk openly and honestly about the lives they live and what makes them who they are. No one tries to make their lives seems more glamorous than they are, but instead it's just the opposite.

I guess at the end of the day I just like to hear people's stories.

And the moral of this post written at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday morning is that I think everyone should try standup at least once in their lives. Why not, it's cheaper than therapy.


  1. This post was so beautifully written! I have never tried stand up or anything like it but I enjoy watching it immensely. It brings you into a different world almost, where everything and nothing is made up- if that makes sense. It definitely is refreshing!

  2. That sounds wonderful. You're lucky to experience this and see it this way, even if it is hard to pry yourself up off the couch at such a late hour.

  3. Great post! I agree - everyone should try standup. The rush of making people laugh is amazing. Also, there is something so brave about being vulnerable to a group of strangers. I run a weekly workshop and open mic and I love when new people come out to try their jokes. They have so much hope and so much fear.

  4. I think it's one of the most kick ass things that you can do. to go out there and put yourself out there. I'd love to see you put down the assholes and their sexist jokes. you're still one of the coolest people I know.

  5. Just a awesome post quiet touching and beautiful

  6. That's awesome. I guess I never really thought of it as a form of therapy but I guess that you are right & I think that it's therapy for the comedian & the audience. I love going to shows but I could never get up on stage...I would probably piss myself. Ha!

  7. I like how standup can be more of a monologue rather than necessarily an attempt to get laughs. Was that the case of the comic with Asperger's? (Wonder if I may have met him or her in the GRASP Chicago group.)

  8. I love this. It's so true that comedy & the arts in general seem to be this safe space to be authentic and vulnerable. And it's contagious, isn't it? Also, I think that's another reason why people love you so much! Because of your authenticity and vulnerability on your blog and social media. And the constant wrestling you seem to have in living an honest life on screen & yet still living in the tension of making the most of trends on social media. Ah, this weird, yet still beautiful, fake but also very real, beast that is social media. It can and will make you better if you let it. You let it and that's contagious, just like those comedians on Monday nights.

  9. I've never tried stand up, but I've done a lot of karaoke and a lot of theatre. There's just something about getting up on a stage in front of a bunch of strangers that's just so freeing. I wish where I lived had more open mic nights, it seems like a good time.