Comedy and Relationships, Sacrifice and Struggle

I’ve been in Austin for almost six months now. Somehow it feels like I’ve been here for a moment and an eternity at the same time. I’m always moving. I spent 40 days on the road on the way and am living in my third different apartment since being here. Time seems to move along swiftly when you’re always moving.

At the same time, I often find myself stuck. The days get long when you’re always failing. You wait for the night to roll over the sun in the hopes that tomorrow will bring new light. It does, but I find myself in the same place when the day ends; alone with my thoughts. Sometimes it’s on a bed, sometimes on my yoga mat, lately it’s been an air mattress… I could sleep on a pile of Legos, it doesn’t really matter to me.

I don’t like telling people I came here for comedy, because it doesn’t tell the whole story and people immediately craft an image in their mind. They see a famous comedian like Seinfeld or Chapelle up on that stage and they think that’s what I’m after. “Oh, so you’re going to be famous some day?” they’ll say. Sure. Maybe. Probably. But that’s not what I’m after, and it’s certainly not where I’m at.

I didn’t come here to do comedy because I want to be a comedian up on the stage. I came here to do comedy because it’s who I am. I can’t not be a comedian. I’ve never been able to take things very seriously. I always have to make a joke. The only time I truly feel comfortable is when I’m laughing and everyone around me is laughing, too.

If I can’t be a comedian, I just want to crawl in the corner and not say anything at all. When I don’t feel like I can be myself, that’s exactly what happens. I’m the guy at the social gathering who sits on the couch and doesn’t talk to anyone. I can’t be fake, I can’t put on a face. I don’t do “formal.” Instead, I’ll just disappear.

When I do feel like I can be myself, I’ll light up a room. I’ll dance and I’ll joke, I’ll laugh and I’ll drink. Me at Thanksgiving is a completely different person than me going out to the bars with my comedian friends. I’d like to be that same person at Thanksgiving as I am with my friends, which is ultimately why I came here. I’m here because I want to figure out how to be myself. And if I can be myself on stage, I think I can be myself anywhere.

Finding myself in front of an audience is a brutal path. I go up there and I fail. I fail a lot. I fail because that’s how I learn. I trust in the process, and I know it’s going to bring me great success in the future, but I’d be lying if I said it never beats me down.

I haven’t got booked on any shows since I’ve been here. I started doing comedy in Northern California before the pandemic, and I was getting booked almost immediately. In a smaller market, you stand out if you’re funny. Here, it takes a lot more than just being funny. Sometimes you have to be on the right show at the right time and have the right person see you. You have to network. You have to start your own show. You might have to look a certain way. (Bookers are desperate for female comedians. Being a female comedian comes with many challenges in a male dominated environment, but getting on shows happens at a much faster rate.) If these things aren’t happening for you, you have to be undeniably funny.

Undeniably funny is the goal. Networking helps, though. I’m working on that aspect, and I’d like to start my own show soon. It’s not my favorite part of comedy, but it’s a sacrifice. The last two years have been a sacrifice. We all know that.

Personally, the last two years have been aggressively sacrificial. I’m failing over and over in my career so that I can succeed later. On top of it, I’m in a romantic relationship that has been the ultimate sacrifice of the present for the future. I fell in love with someone two years ago that I still haven’t been able to see. If you want to know the full back story, please read this post.

If you want to build an unbreakable bond with someone, this is probably the way to do it. You have to be insanely in love with someone to try and make something this insane work. Someone has to bring something so preposterously profound to your life if you’re willing to suffer like this for it. And that’s exactly what has happened to me.

If you’ve read the post, you’ll see that Anastasia and I tried to move on. In the moment, I thought I could do it. I’ve always been able to move on pretty easily from my past relationships, so of course I could move on from this one, right? Right? I think she felt the same way, but after a couple of months without talking, we both realized this isn’t just another relationship. It isn’t just love. It’s a bond. You can try to break it, but it won’t let you. And trust me, everything has tried to break this bond. There’s no logical reason we should be trying to make this work, but we’re destined to make it work.

The same way I can’t help being a comedian, I can’t help being fully immersed in my love for Anastasia. As difficult as it is to maintain a long-distance relationship for this long, it’s never a challenge to make it work with her. What I mean by that is that we’re never pushing against each other to try and make the relationship work. We all know what that’s like. You’re with the wrong person but you keep trying to make it work because you’re afraid of being alone or whatever. You’re not on the same page.

With Anastasia, we’re always on the same page. I don’t know how, but we are. The only reason we can bear the difficulty is because at the same time, it’s so easy. I had a terrible nightmare last night and when I woke up this morning, I couldn’t get out of bed. I reached for my phone to text Anastasia “good morning,” but as I grabbed it, she texted me “good morning” at the same time, and then gave me a call. It’s a seven hour difference, so this is in the middle of the night for her, around three thirty in the morning. She said she woke up in the middle of the night and a voice in her head said to call me. It was exactly what I needed. I just needed a little bit of love to get me out of bed.

How did she know? It makes no sense. But this happens all of the time. We have what seems like a supernatural ability to sense each other. I don’t know how. It boggles my brain to even think about it, but it’s real. When she needs me, somehow I know. When I need her, somehow she knows. When we’re thinking of each other, somehow we both know. It’s like we share a soul.

We’re working on getting documents ready so that we’ll be able to see each other soon. It’s a deep sacrifice, and even though some days I’m really tired of sacrifice, I know it will pay off. Someday I’ll have the career of my dreams, lying next to the woman of my dreams, and I’ll look back at these days and simply laugh. The days are still long, but the time will come when I wish they would last forever.

Jason Brendel
Jason Brendel

Jason Brendel is an author, poet, and comedian from Northern California. Navigate the buttons below to follow him on social media or purchase his collection of laugh-out-loud poetry on Amazon.

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