I’m confined to the chair as he paces back and forth, devising his next maneuver. The lamp above my head serves two purposes; it torches my cheekbones with heat and pierces my eyes with light. My mouth is gagged. Just beyond reach lays a tray of unforgiving steel instruments affixed with jagged hooks, carvers and scrapers; the perfect tools for him to extract what he desires. Okay, so a trip to the dentist isn’t that bad, but it’s Dr. Weintraub’s innocent small talk that causes my abdomen to quiver. Particularly, his leading question:
“So, Evan…we all enjoyed that video you made…what are you going to do now?”
As far back as I could remember, I was in love with laughter. Through my youth, my parent’s declarations of “bedtime” were broken thanks to a Chris Rock paperback under my blanket and a flashlight hidden behind the bed. By age 9, I could recite Jerry Seinfeld’s I’m Telling You For The Last Time cold. It was ten years later when I first stepped on stage in a vain attempt to emulate those I admired. I wanted to be like them. I craved to command a room, to throw everyone into fits of raucous guffawing with biting social commentary, insightful anecdotes, or a mere turn of phrase. The half-empty bar was vaguely amused with my initial performance, but certainly not enthralled. My awkward five minute set of stuttered and stammered masturbation jokes didn’t stop anyone from wolfing their buffalo wings, but it was invigorating; like nailing a buzzer beater or convincing a woman to ignore her better judgment and have sex with you.
Compassionate people sense my anxiety concerning my future and attempt to soothe with anecdotes of those who have “made it” through unexpected means:
“Tucker Max was a lawyer before he wrote his book”
“Demetri Martin dropped out of law school and became a standup”
“Jamie Lee Curtis was born with a penis before she hit it big”
Okay, so the third one doesn’t necessarily apply. Regardless, I do find some solace in stories of those who have become exceptions and sought their destinies. How I long to join them, to serve as physical evidence that all hope may not be lost in the war against resignation.
Everyday I listen to Howard Stern while I commute to nowhere. Sometimes he will feature a celebrity or comedian interspersed between the interviews with midgets and porn stars. I always turn up the volume when the subject discusses his humble beginnings and successful infiltration of show business. Sometimes I imagine myself sitting on that interview couch, laughing with Howard over the absurdity of my early years, be it the no-pay gigs at shitty comedy clubs or the now-absurd concept that I, the famous Evan Krumholz, entertained the idea of the straight and narrow, that I almost went to, this is too funny, --law school. The blaring car horns of those behind me when the stoplight switches back to green snap me out of my fantasy.
An icon of a 'thumbs up’ indicates the handful of people who actively approved my latest quip on Facebook. An adulation posted in the comments section of my blog. A Fucking Retweet. These are the things that bring me joy now; they are digital whispers on my neck, seducing me to keep at it. A stranger at a Bar-Mitzvah informing me that their nephew "made a funny video on the Youtube, too!”. An empty mailbox despite the promises of a response from what’s-his-name’s cousin/family friend/ older frat brother, who is a big shot over at So-and-So, where they could totally could hook me up with an audition/agent/word of advice. Hours deciding whether "douch nozzle" or "cock goblin" will resonate better in a script. These are the setbacks that leave me bitter, depressed and begrudgingly thankful that my back foot is still planted in the realm of conformity and security. It’s amazing how such trivial things can elicit such emotion. Maybe I'm just not built for this shit?
The future is uncertain, but certainly not bleak. No matter where I end up, I’ll be okay. People do a lot more with a lot less. If I can waste my time bitching on the computer, I can certainly figure out how to tell some funny jokes or break out my camera to shoot a viral. Maybe having something to fall back on isn't analogous to a second Holocaust. I can't give up though. I won't. I need to accept my station right now and embrace it, rather than rue it. Wait…”rue”? Who the fuck says that? I talk like such a gay sometimes. I'm a lucky guy. Does anyone read this shit?