Comedy scenes: MKE v. NYC

Over spring break, I decided to face two of my fears: flying and growing up.

I roundhouse kicked my way out of my comfort bubble and boarded a plane to New York City. I wanted to see what this place was really all about in terms of the comedy scene, because God knows I’m not going to accomplish what I want as a comedian in Milwaukee.

I planned to buy a little stage time myself, solely to experience what it feels like to fail miserably onstage in New York. Unfortunately, due to St. Patrick’s Day, the comedy clubs had reserved their open stages for professionals.


Despite things not going as planned, I still learned how hard it is for comics to get their start in New York. I’ve narrowed my discoveries down to three main points:

(1) Nobody cares.

Sounds sad? Well, it’s true. As New York natives very well know, everyone minds their own business. Even the street vendors don’t really mess with you. “No” means “no” in New York. I love it. But that means you have to work hard for people to notice you. Which brings me to my next point…

(2) Comedians work for stage time.

I ran into a street promoter for Comic Strip Live, a very popular comedy club in the city, while walking through Times Square. He was selling $50 tickets along with some bar coupons in a package deal for only $20. Sweet! I talked to him for about ten minutes and ended up buying the package. Later, I found out that this guy was probably a comedian himself working for stage time — aka his income. Not only do comedians have to work the streets for listeners, but they also work the streets in return for minutes rather than dollars.

(3) If its not love at first sight, then forget about it.

Thinking about making it big in New York City is extremely overwhelming and difficult to imagine even happening. But when I saw the Statue of Liberty from the plane flying in, I knew I was in love with the city. It felt like I was homesick for New York even though I’ve never been there before.

Whatever feelings I have about how huge the city is, and how small I am, don’t matter because of this confidence I now feel.  I think that’s when you know you could survive the insane traffic, the thousands of runners and the swarms of businessmen and tourists who don’t care about you. If all the city does is stress you out, then go to L.A.

Long story short, this trip really made me realize that I’m a small fish in a huge pond. The only thing that’s going to help me grow to a bigger fishbowl is hard work, dedication and independence — no matter where I may end up.