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Readers Blog: Dobie Maxwell's 'Dented Can' Diary

No Free Rides

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Monday December 3rd, 2012 – Chicago, IL

   I’m starting to get a few comedy shows and classes lined up for the next couple of months, and that’s encouraging. I’ve never enjoyed that whole process, but at least I’m making a better effort to get it done even if it is out of necessity. I have to find a way to pay off my taxes and move on.

   I’ve got shows lined up at least every weekend for the next six weeks, and that gives me a little breathing room to work even harder at filling the rest of 2013. I’m at my absolute peak right now as far as levels of performance and teaching go, but there’s no guarantee how long that will last.

   Unfortunately, it’s impossible to stay hungry forever. Eventually, one either starves to death or is full and no longer needs to hunt. I find myself in an odd position that’s right in between. I have experienced the fringes of success, but haven’t had enough to fill me up for a lifetime quite yet.

   My goals when I started in comedy were to become a headliner in major comedy clubs all over North America and appear on national television as well. I’ve done that, but it hasn’t been nearly what I had imagined. I assumed that when it happened my life would just work out all by itself.

   Nothing could be further from the truth, and now that I’m here I realize that every stage of life comes with its own individual set of difficult challenges and there are no free rides whatsoever at any time. I used to look at the headliners when I started in comedy and thought they lived golden lives completely free of turmoil. I would hear them complain, and could not comprehend why.

   Now I’m in their position, and I totally see why they felt like they did. There are hidden things nobody sees until they venture down that path, but by then it’s too late. It’s like a kid wanting to be an adult more than anything, and not being able to understand why adults aren’t totally happy.

   A kid sees the benefits they crave at the time but can’t have like being able to stay up as late as they want or the freedom to eat as much McDonald’s or candy as they can hold, but other things like the high pressure responsibility of making a living or dealing with in laws goes unnoticed.

   Kids can’t fathom in the least why adults seem to be so boring most of the time and constantly complaining, but eventually they find out soon enough and then it’s too late. There’s no return to childhood, and the next generation of kids are coming up the ladder and the cycle begins again.

   I noticed that at Zanies in Chicago tonight as I hosted the Rising Star Showcase as I’ve done on and off for several years now. I hadn’t done it in a while, so it was a nice change of pace. I enjoy seeing the new comics coming up the ladder, and I see that same hunger in their eyes that I had.

   Those kids look at me exactly the way I used to look at the headliners as I was clawing my way up the ranks, but they fail to see the advantages of youth just like I did when I had it. I try to give sincere words of encouragement to as many of them as I can, as I know how much that meant to me when I was in their position. I still remember kind words I heard 20 years ago, and those who said them rank high in my book even now. But where did that time go? It seems like last week.

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