Getting Weird and Finding My Crowd

Holy smokes do I love Austin. It’s only been a few weeks, but I feel completely at home here. I came here not knowing a single person, but I’ve already made so many friends and met so many interesting people. I was invited to the most incredible gathering this past weekend by a new friend.

I showed up to this house in a funky old neighborhood at about 10:30 in the morning on Saturday not knowing what to even expect. Immediately I was greeted by smiles and introductions. The first guy asked me how I knew the hosts and I said I was invited by Lauryn, and he said he had no idea who that was, but he only knew a couple of people here anyway. I introduced myself to the hosts, who had this whole organic coffee set up going that looked like a piece of artwork. I’m not a coffee drinker, so one of the hosts made me some kind of tea that was the most delicious tea of all time.

I talked to a man who was drawing on the couch. He recently had an epiphany about his purpose in the world and was trying to move it from his brain to the page, an understandably difficult task. He talked very quickly and I didn’t catch all of it, but it was something about creating an amphitheater of sorts for people to gather. He said most of his happiest moments were in places with really good sound. I felt that. Sharing a beautiful song with someone is one of life’s most precious moments.

I talked with several other people, all of whom were sitting on the floor. One guy was staring at what looked like a checkerboard of red lights. I guess it was some kind of infra-red therapy light. I don’t know. It was weird, and I loved it. I talked to a woman for a while about micro-dosing mushrooms and then got into some talks about comedy and performance.

I talked for a good while with a super cool dude named James who was a CrossFit trainer and now coaches other trainers. He had the idea to open up gyms for women in I forget what country. It wasn’t Yemen but it was a country like Yemen. Maybe it was Yemen. I don’t know. Anyways, it was super interesting to hear about how he was able to tap into a market for women that he saw opportunity for after being stationed in the military. We talked about our favorite comedians and what constitutes good comedy. People have been asking me who my favorite comedian is and I always say Bill Burr, and the amount of people who say “me too!” has brought me a tremendous amount of joy. I feel like people get me here.

Speaking of which, I’ll pop back to earlier in the week for a minute here, when I went to a music open mic. I was struggling to find my voice on stage as a comedian last week, so I thought it might be a good idea to go to a music open mic and read poetry from my book. And wow was that a great call. It was all musicians going up before me, and I wandered up to the stage with my book of poetry and told the crowd I’d be reading some sonnets. I was shocked when several people in the front row were audibly excited.

I started off with “one-ply” a satirical piece about the unnerving thinness of one-ply toilet paper. It seemed like everyone in the audience was laughing at the end of it. A sense of calm rushed over me. I continued to read my ridiculous poems, ending on the most ridiculous of them all. It was fun to kind of be able to work the audience up to the most provocative poem of all. I’m sure a couple people were shocked by it, but overall it went over tremendously well. I sat down after my reading and a musician named Grant came over and told me that my performance was brilliant. (Check out his first single, “Anime Dream Queen” on YouTube.) I didn’t know what to say to the praise, but it felt so good for someone to feel that strongly about my reading. He bought a book from me on the spot, and said he’d love to chat about writing some time.

We got together the next morning and had an awesome conversation. It was so meaningful for someone to recognize the effort I put into that book. He told me that you just don’t see that kind of commitment to the craft at an open mic and was like, “I gotta go talk to that guy.” I think a lot of people appreciate the humor in my poetry, but for someone to recognize that I grinded on every single word and syllable of that book was really special to me. Like I said, I feel like people get me here. I didn’t feel understood before, but I do now.

It’s crazy how if you envision something and plan it out, it usually comes to fruition. I saw myself moving to Austin and meeting musicians and comics and working together. Within a couple of weeks, I had met a musician, tons of comics, and a bunch of interesting creative people. I envisioned myself writing lyrics for musicians, and Grant and I thought it would be a great idea to try and write a song. I listened to his single on YouTube and am interested to see what I can come up with that might fit his sound.

I also pictured a gathering much like the one that occurred on Saturday. I told people, “this is what I pictured when I thought of Austin.”

After coffee, a woman hosted a “primal” class in the backyard. And holy shit snacks was this a great time. We started off with some breathwork and a few yoga poses and then began dancing to music. Soon, we were encouraged to let out our inner weird, and we began making animal noises and doing ridiculous things like pretending we were kangaroos and holding someone who was the pouch. I was holding this girl, and then we were asked to switch. Turns out, she was super strong. The instructor looked at her and said “dammmnnnn!” After dropping me down, the girl said I was a big boy, which nobody has ever told me in my life. I was always small and skinny growing up. The whole scene was so weird, and so awesome. I can’t even describe the joy I felt letting out that kind of weirdness with a bunch of strangers. Especially after being so socially deprived from the pandemic. To dance and talk with and touch people was such a fun time.

Yesterday afternoon, I went to an open mic at the Creek and the Cave Comedy Club, which was held outside. I had an amazing set. There were a ton of comics, so we were only given three minutes, but it was my best yet. There were actually audience members who had filtered in that weren’t performing, so that was beautiful. I got a better gauge on my jokes, and developed so much more confidence. I really found something with my stage presence after doing the poetry reading. I re-discovered bits that weren’t working the previous week, and even threw out a brand new bit that got a nice response. I can’t wait to get back on stage tonight and expand on it.

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