Well, today’s the day. Cannabis can be officially smoked without fear of being sent to jail. I live in Vancouver, so this news seems rather redundant to me. It would be like the Government officially declaring chewing gum legal. But now all across the nation people can light up without fear of being harassed by the cops. Except they really can’t though, can they?
You might be wondering "is this just going to be a daily rant on house prices and how millennials are fucked financially? How long can he possibly go on about this?" Well, that's a good question. And to be honest, I don't know how long I can go on complaining about house prices. I mean, right now I feel like I have an endless supply of bitching I could do about it. That's one of the requirements of living in Vancouver, you have to have strong opinions on housing, while knowing there is nothing you can do about it and you must have a fierce refusal to leave the city, despite constantly saying you should leave the city.
You know that scene in La La Land where Emma Stone tells Ryan Gosling she doesn't like Jazz and everyone in the audience is relieved because it's the first sign that at least one of the protagonists isn't into Jazz and we're not about to be forced into watching a movie where in 2016 not one but TWO people are really into Jazz. But then she loves Ryan Gosling so much that she kinda gets into Jazz, which is totally believable. Ryan Gosling is so sexy and charming if he was into murdering puppies I myself would be like "alright Ryan baby, line em up and knock em down, let the puppy games begin" (puppy games being a game where we murder puppies.) But then the movie goes along and it's revealed that Emma Stone wasn't really into Jazz at all, she was into the Gos-monster and he was into Jazz so she supported him. And then at the very end of the film Ryan Gosling has this 5 minute musical flashback where he sees how great his life could've been if only he wasn't obsessed with a musical form that was last relevant 40 years ago? Well that entire storyline was actually intended as an allegory for western media in which Ryan Gosling is a baby boomer, Emma Stone is a millennial, and Jazz is mainstream media.
Last night I read an article about how Quantitative Easing is beneficial for people who own property and other assets and horrible for everyone else i.e. poor people and young people. Now listen, I'm not an economist and I can barely do math. I watched the documentary Inside Job narrated by Matt Damon twice, and both times I was rewinding it constantly trying to understand what was happening and why and how the economy was fucked. "What was that Matt?" I kept saying. "So Neo-liberalism is like, screw the poor, let the rich get richer? and neo-conservatism is a bunch of racists or something? Is neo-conservatism even discussed in this documentary? Just tell me who fucked us Matt! TELL ME WHO FUCKED US!" I still don't really understand. But basically this is my understanding of the situation. After the recession of 2008, the government and central banks of the world started printing a shit ton of money, not literally printing, because now it's all done electronically, but literally a shit ton, one metric shit ton of money PER DAY! Honestly, that's that actual figure I obtained from Canadian Revenue Agency website. Every 23.8 hours to be exact, the world governments are printing a shit ton of money. And they're doing this to de-value their own currency because if their currency is worth less, then so is their debt. But a currency that is losing value means that keeping money in the bank for savings is a stupid decision and means you are literally losing money if you are just saving it, so this encourages spending. So instead of saving your money, it makes more sense to buy assets, and one of the safest assets to buy is property. But an increase in people wanting to buy assets doesn't lead to an increase in assets themselves, so you do the ol' supply and demanderino and assets become way more valuable. This is why I spend about 65% of my monthly income on rent.
Listen, I don't understand much. But I do know that almost no one in my generation can afford to buy a house in any urban center unless they get a lot of help from their parents. And that for young people to actually spend the recommended 30% of your income on rent means you either live in a shit hole, or with 6 other people. And if you live with 6 other people at least one of those people is going to be a fucking intolerable douchebag. Exactly which way they are going to be intolerable is hard to say. Maybe they're really really into recycling. Like, way too into recycling. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that every house of 4 or more people has that recycling guy, who if he sees even one thing not recycled properly starts getting a little twitchy. Like "umm, actually that's umm, see that's cardboard, what you just put in there, that's cardboard, and you put it in the mixed paper bag, and i know that cardboard is technically a mixed paper, but actually it goes in a separate bag just for cardboard." And you're like "oh, cool, sorry." And you put your empty kraft dinner box in the 'cardboard' bag, but in your mind you're thinking "shut the fuck up Steven. no one cares, they just take all this stuff and burn it on some island. Recycling is just a make-work project created by the government to give the citizens some small feeling of control in their lives because both people on the left and the right are convinced that our democracy has been subverted by a small handful of government and financial elites who view themselves as separate from the rest of society." Or maybe your intolerable roommate goes to clown school and wants to practice their clowning on you, and so you have to just sit there knowing that you live with someone who has a sincere interest in the art of clowning. Like paid money to go to clown school, and you thought your English degree was a waste of money. This person PAID REAL MONEY to go to CLOWN school. And you live with them. And how far can someone be from making horrible murderous decisions, when they are so clearly prone to making horrible financial decisions. Like, if I lived in a reality where I could see myself in this economy paying a "school" my money for which in exchange they will teach me the art of clowning, I think the chances of me also murdering someone would be close to 80%.
So this is what Occupy Wall Street was really about. People's shitty clown roommates, or some variation on the theme. Politicians and marketing agencies understand something that most people don't and that is people make decisions based on their feelings, not their rational minds. And right now, people are pissed off. No one really knows why anyone else is pissed off, but we're all pissed off. How about you reader? Are you pissed off? Of course you are. Maybe you're mad at Donald Trump. Maybe it's the opposite and you're mad at the mainstream media for their biased coverage of Donald Trump. Or maybe you're mad at global warming, or that the government is too easy on oil companies, or that the government is too hard on oil companies, or that the government is covering up alien contact and the UFO phenomenon, or that Meryl Streep said the UFC wasn't a sport, or that Taylor Swift is appropriating black culture, or that University students are all molly-coddled babies who can't handle any adversity or dissenting opinions.
Being alive today is like living in 1914 Sarajevo. Everything feels like a powder keg that's about to set off a war, except no one can decide which direction we're revolting in. It feels like every day there is a news story that is supposed to be the final straw in what the people are willing to take, but no one knows who we're supposed to be fighting. But one of these days someone is going to assassinate Franz Ferdinand, and shit is going to get buck.
Either that or we'll all just remain placid consumers awash in a sea of excess materialism working jobs we hate to maintain a global financial system that has imprisoned us all to bankers who've gambled with our future and lost, got bailed out with tax payer money, and collected huge bonuses for bankrupting the entire fucking planet. At least I think I have that right. PLEASE, MATT, FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST, JUST TELL ME WHO FUCKED US!
I’ve decided to write a daily blog about stand-up comedy and writing. I did not come to this decision because I think I am a grand authority on the subject and that my knowledge of the craft is so valuable that it must be shared. This decision was made as the result of googling ‘how to make money from home.’ Google told me to start a blog, and seeing as I already have far more faith in the supreme intelligence of a search engine which may or may not have already attained consciousness than my own limited faculties of reason and long-term financial planning I decided to take it’s advice. It’s entirely possible that Google is a vengeful god rather than a benevolent one and is intentionally leading me down a path that will lead to poverty and ruin, but if that’s the case there’s no point fighting it. I am ready to bow down to my robot overlords and renounce all other deities as false gods before them. So here we go!
This will in no means be a how-to guide for stand-up or writing. It will be a daily reflection on stand-up and writing and my attempts to articulate my own half-formed thoughts on whatever has been coming up for me as a comic/writer. So if you disagree with anything I say, that’s fine. Just don’t tell me about it. I’m doing this strictly for my own benefit as well as the lavish financial rewards of getting enough website traffic to sell ad space to clickbait articles about which child celebrities from the 90s are total babes now.
Today’s topic is a fun one; drugs and alcohol. It seems like a lot of people in my social circle have decided to reduce their alcohol intake or quit altogether. As a sober person myself, or at least someone who’s trying to be, this always makes me happy. Not because I think booze is evil, I just enjoy seeing other people suffer through the monotony of a mental state uninterrupted by altered consciousness. Getting sober if you have a history of over-indulging is what I imagine getting on meds for bipolar disorder is like. You lose the highs and lows and at times you can be plagued by a vague unending dreariness as you're confronted with the inescapable tedium of life with no chemical relief valve. But overall you’re happier and more productive. Unless you’re not, then start drinking again. Idgaf.
I do tend to notice an improvement in a lot of comic’s performance when they quit drinking. I think it’s a natural result of going to shows becoming more about working on your material than a social occasion to drink with friends. Plus you’re more aware of what’s happening on stage and in the audience during your performance. Again, I am not trying to advocate sobriety to literally anyone. And if you’ve been doing stand-up longer than me, I’d prefer you just stop reading this altogether, I ain’t trying to tell you how to live your life. But if you’re a newer comic, and you always knock back a couple of pints to settle your nerves before getting on stage, and you’re curious what it’d be like to go up sans liquid courage, then give it a shot. You don’t have anything to lose. Also, nerves won’t kill you. Don’t be a bitch.
The following is from an article I wrote for a newspaper in Kelowna to promote an upcoming show.
Working The Road
If you want to be a professional comedian, working the road is an essential part of developing your skills and earning your living. Driving long distances across the Canadian landscape to sling your jokes in different cities and towns is a rite of passage and one of the fastest ways to cut your teeth as a newer comic. Road work will put you in situations where you’re forced to either adapt or get your ass kicked, both literally and figuratively. Maybe you start talking to a woman in the audience and flirtatiously tease her because you know it will be an easy laugh. It works, but now her ex-boyfriend across the room is giving you the evil eye. He’s on his fifth pint of PBR and just lost his job because the local plant closed down so he’s got nothing to lose and you’re in a town where fighting is a recreational pastime. In that moment you will be forced to rise to the challenge and make that angry ex laugh like your life depended on it because it very well may. If not your life then at least your pretty face. However the road will make you realize that the biggest enemy you face isn’t drunken strangers looking to pound a soft city kid. The real enemy you will have to confront is yourself when you go from having one of the best sets of your life and basking in the adoration and applause of your newfound fans then back to your hotel room where it’s just you, alone, with your own thoughts. You will do many things to combat this emotional whiplash; all of them sordid and few of them legal. But in the end that’s why you got into this business in the first place. To live a life on the edges of polite society. Being both an impartial observer and active participant in a world that is as nonsensical as it is hilarious. And as you drive off to the next town with cold hard cash in your hand that you earned for telling jokes, something you did for free for years at open mics and empty bars in your hometown, you’ll realize you’re living the dream.
I was working on a stream of consciousness writing exercise for the script I'm writing this morning and I ended up writing something I kind of like in the voice of one of my characters. It's a meditation on how to retain a positive outlook and sense of happiness during times when it feels like we're going down the wrong path. Again, I was writing in someone else's voice, so if it sounds pretentious don't blame me. I'm just a vessel, dude.
“It’s this constant low level of anxiety that gets to you. People are actually very capable of dealing with dangerous and life-threatening situations. We’re actually happier in war time because there’s a sense of community and everyday tasks take on a new meaning that is missing in peacetime. It’s not war, or famine, or any struggle that is really getting to us, it’s the constant threat of it. Like something bad is right around the corner, and we should be trying to defend ourselves against it, but it’s impossible because we don’t know what it is. It’s just this nebulous unnamed terror, we don’t know why we are supposed to be afraid, or even in what way we are supposed to be afraid, we simply know that we are supposed to be afraid. A lot of people say that it’s the media that is trying to keep us afraid because it sells papers, or whatever the equivalent of a paper is these days, but that would imply the media is intentionally trying to keep us in a state of fear and anxiety, whereas that’s putting the horse before the cart, humanity is much more self-organizing than we like to believe. There are no puppet masters in the grand sense. Of course there’s policymakers and people making decisions behind closed doors that have a huge impact on the world, but really the whole ship is on autopilot for the most part. We’re not being kept in a state of anxiety and fear because it makes us easier to control, like a lot of people suggest. We keep ourselves in anxiety and fear because it’s how we’ve survived for this long as a species. All the carefree apes got eaten by sabretooth tigers on the Savannah a long time ago. We are the result of the ones who constantly had their eye on the horizon carefully surveying their surroundings for predators. But it was a binary system. No predators, relax, predators, run. But now there are no predators in the traditional sense. Sure, there is the chance you might get attacked by a criminal, which in some places of the world is a much larger threat than other places, but for the most part our new predators are invisible; debt, the threat of disease, the possibility of nuclear war. But these problems aren’t concrete nor real in the sense of the physical world so they can never be vanquished. They just hover on your periphery, like a minor toothache so faint that it might just be all in your head. Even if you go to extremes to prepare yourself for the absolute worst case scenario; build a bomb-shelter, get the most comprehensive health insurance you can, dedicate your life to the pursuit of wealth and always having enough money, there’s still the possibility that at any moment it could all go sideways. And this is what we live with. People around the world are scared, and they are looking to find the source of their fear. They are unhappy with the way things are and so they are blaming their rulers for their unhappiness. You only have to look at basically any revolution to see how it turns out when the masses decide to overthrow their rulers. There’s a brief sense of victory and the sating of bloodlust, either real or metaphoric, but that is always temporary, and usually things end up much worse than when they started as the victors come to realize that the vanquished, while far from being perfect, did have reasons and a methodology for doing things as they had always been done. The status quo gets a bad rap. Change as almost a physical law of the universe has a 50/50 chance every time of being either bad or good, or rather leading to creation or destruction to put it in less moralistic terms. It can be tempting to look out the window and throw your hands up and declare all is lost. But our salvation can be found in the knowledge that history is really the story of the fall of empires just as much as it is their construction. Every generation likes to think they’re the last, and it is usually easy to mount a convincing case for why this really is the case this time, but time simply marches on. The real mark of a warrior’s spirit is not to rush headfirst into whatever battle, real or imaginary, that the world around them is saying needs to be fought. It is to retain a sense of humour and lightheartedness when the world around them seems to be descending into chaos and destruction for they know this state of the world has always been so in some aspect or another. A calm head in calm times is no feat, a calm head and open, loving heart in the midst of a world that appears to be falling apart, that is what is remarkable.”