It’s Been a Year!
I arrived in Los Angeles exactly one year ago today! On April Fools’ Day. (The jokes here are just too obvious.) I showed up with a very clear vision of what I wanted to do and a very vague notion of how to get there — just a lot of unfounded confidence that it would all work out…
THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED THIS YEAR
If this were a corporate Year-End Review, these would be my “deliverables.”
- — I launched my website. (Congrats, you’re here!)
- — I did my first 30-minute stand up set for a corporate gig. I was damn funny. And corporate gigs changed my life. Never again will I eat hamachi if it ain’t cherry-wood smoked.
- — I got a job as a Writers’ Assistant working for Comedian/Showrunner Greg Fitzsimmons and with funny ladies Angela V. Shelton and Frances Callier on a ratchet VH1 pop culture show. I learned so much about strip clubs and trap music. My quest for knowledge is never-ending.
- — I was invited to participate as a writer for the 2014 Diversity Sketch Comedy Showcase. I moved to LA not knowing anyone really. And then I fell in with this talented group of hyphenates, e.g., actor-writer-comic-singer-dancer-producer-director-bartenders. Thanks to Showcase, I knew that if I went missing for more than 2 weeks, someone would call me, if for no other reason than to ask if they could borrow a turtleneck to use in a sketch (because apparently, I look like I own turtlenecks). I do own turtlenecks.
Somewhere during this experience, LA started to feel like home.
Sketch by Mo Welch: Larry Bird Auditions for “So You Think You Can Dance”
- — I also got a manager! (I’m really excited about this.)
- — And I started taking improv classes at The Groundlings.
Not bad, right?
THIS ALSO HAPPENED
Fun Fact: I’ve made less money in all of the time that I have been a freelance comedy writer person than I did in one week as a lawyer.
I’m including in this calculation the time that I got my dry cleaning for free because I offered to write a thoughtful response to a negative YELP review that my dry cleaner suspects was written by a competitor. (It’s official. I’m a paid comedy writer!)
My CPA insists that I stop referring to myself as “unemployed.” For tax purposes, he insists that I’m “self-employed unsuccessfully.”
(Oh, I should add to my list of deliverables that I found an amazing CPA who pulls rabbits out of hats.)
By the way, do you know how hard it is to try to rent a new apartment while being both black and “self-employed unsuccessfully?” You have to talk fast and smile a lot.
One day, this will all be a fun testimony for my memoir. In the meantime…
OTHER STUFF THAT HAPPENED
I finished writing my first original pilot. Yay!
And I got lots of thoughtful and thorough notes on it from respected industry professionals.
The consensus statement: “Great job! It needs a total rewrite. Congrats!”
And then I crawled under my sheets and hid out for 2 days.
Actually, I went to Bloomingdale’s and treated myself to a luxury linen bedding set. Then, I crawled underneath them for 2 days. (My spending habits have not yet caught up with my new earning reality. This, I have learned, does not happen over night.)
However, the most harrowing realization is that when I walked away from my career as a corporate lawyer, I didn’t just walk away from financial security and certainty with respect to my future (a/k/a partnership track). I also walked away from being really good at something. I’m starting over from the bottom. I’m a rookie. And that’s been a real mind fuck.
I’m now on the fourth draft of my first original pilot.
GOALS FOR THE NEXT YEAR
To live my life more transparently: The challenge is to reduce the distance between who I am and who I let you see. To be even more authentic (if you can imagine that) without concern for other people’s expectations. I’ll either become a success story or a cautionary tale. Either way, the lesson will be valuable to someone.
To chill out: I’m a self-employed comedy person living in Los Angeles, California. I write for at least 4 hours every day, no matter what. Most of the time it’s something no one is paying me to write. Because no one asked me to write it. I take classes. I get on stage. I do the work to get better at what I do. I network and take meetings. I pitch myself. This is no longer a new thing that I’m doing. This is the gig. This is my life.
To relax: And it’s a marathon. Not a sprint. So I should remember to relax. Make friends. Have fun. (It took me 8 months to finally make it to the beach. It will probably take me another 8 years before I can wrap my mind around the fact that I live in a city where it’s perfectly acceptable to bring your dog into a restaurant. BARF. But those are other blogs. Stay tuned.)
To be grateful: I’ve been told many times that people would die (or sometimes that they would kill) for some of the opportunities that I’ve had this year. I don’t know which stakes are higher (die vs. kill). Either way, I’ve been abundantly blessed, and I’m grateful for God’s favor.
But, of course, being content is not my strong suit. I never check in with myself and acknowledge that I’m doing ok. I always feel like I need to be doing more. So I jolted out of bed at 4 a.m. every single day in the month of February in a deep panic: “What’s next????”
So the goal is to learn how to appreciate where I am while simultaneously striving for more.
To make money: Like hand over fist, ya’ll.
It’s been a whole year since I packed up and moved to Hollywood to “pursue a career in comedy.”
At a party I went to in Beverly Hills a month ago, Comedian Tommy Davidson announced, “KIM AND KANYE ARE FIGHTING IN THE PARKING LOT!”
Apparently, this is my dream. (And Dr. King’s dream too.)