A friend of mine, Philly comedian Michael Brooks, posed a very interesting question yesterday on FaceBook. He was trolling, but the post evoked a lot of emotion and unintentionally forced other aspiring comics to reflect on their careers up until this point. The question was, " When did you realize that you weren't going to make it?" Damn! That's pretty harsh, especially when you consider that we're all still chasing this dream. I knew he was joking, so I responded with a joke of my own and we laughed. But others were not pleased. One comedian even said the post was "cowardly." Comedians from all different levels of the game commented; some with words of encouragement, and others with words of disdain. Only a handful actually countered with jokes(comedians can be very sensitive). I didn't take it personally, but it did make me evaluate my particular situation for a bit. I have a management team. I've won awards. I've been paid to tell jokes. I have a comedy album coming out next week. I've traveled the country to make people laugh. And I've still had moments where I wanted to give up and just go back to retail management. So what do comics think when they're a couple of years in and they're in the same spot they were in when they started? What's the mindset of a person who hasn't had a paid gig in months? How do people cope with still being an open mic comic after 3 years?
The road to becoming an established comic is a rough one, with potholes and unexpected detours galore. It's daunting, and you have to endure a ton of BS, and there's still a great chance that you won't make it. But that's what makes this so great to me. I was absolutely horrible at dealing with setbacks in the beginning. I lashed out. I cursed people out. I've burned bridges. But I grew wiser and stronger from all of that. I've also developed valuable networking skills that have benefited me. I would've never learned how to do those things if it weren't for the trials and tribulations. I was very naive. I just thought all you had to do was be funny and the rest would take care of itself. That's hardly the case. There's relationships you have to build, trust that you have to earn. I'm getting better as a comic and as a person. That's why I don't see myself ever quitting. I've seen first hand the joy I bring to people when I perform. I love seeing that. it's become an obsession. Don't get me wrong, I still want the money really bad. But I want to perfect my craft and become the absolute best comedian that I can be. That's my focus. If I achieve that, the finances will be taken care of. I truly believe that. I'm striving to be the best. I want that spot. I want other comics to say that Isley is that dude. That's what I want. That's what I need. That's what I'm going to get. I'm never quitting, Mike!! You better not quit, either.