Welcome to my musings! I’m going to try to have a new update posted every Monday.
It’s been a busy year for me but the last few weeks have been particularly hectic.
I finally got off my hairy ass and recorded my stand up comedy album. I had dragged my feet doing this because I had this mental idea of the perfect scenario under which I wanted to record my album. I envisioned I would be on the road for a few months really tightening my act and getting it to where I knew my jokes inside and out then return home to a sold out crowd of my closest friends and fans to give them the show of a lifetime. Sadly, I only do a few road dates a year nowadays and it felt that this was going to be as good a time as any so, much like life, the perfect moment would never really come. I was worried about putting out a pile of shit but what I was putting out was worse, it was constipation.
I’ve been sitting on 3 hours of material for the last 13 years and if something happened to me, it would die with me. I needed to get something recorded. This stuff doesn’t age like wine, after all. The problem with performing in Los Angeles is that we do a lot of 8 minute sets. I only get to do my hour once or twice a year. Choosing the material to use on my album was going to be tough. What is the best stuff I have? I can’t do a lot of it in LA since many of my best bits are stories and those don’t work in an 8 minute set. Or they are just jokes that don’t work without you knowing the stuff I say before them when I do my hour. So, picking what I was going to do was truly tough, and editing myself is not my strong suit.
However, my focus was being distracted from my material by my dismal pre-sale of tickets. I was so worried about not having an audience at my taping that I couldn’t focus on anything else. My brain was becoming a whirling torrent of worry that was taking its toll on me. I tried to make peace with the situation and say that an intimate show wouldn’t be the end of the world, but in my heart I felt so sad that I always had a good turn out in my shows yet as soon as I announce my album recording nobody wanted to come. Did i make tickets too expensive? Was I in Utah too recently? Should I have booked a weekend instead of a Thursday?
What was I doing wrong?
Facebook wasn’t allowing me to invite more than 500 people to the venue which makes it difficult to sell out a 300 person room. A little bit of panic was setting in and I knew that regardless of how many people came I needed to put together a set list that I was happy with to record for my first album. 3 hours of material…how do I pick my favorite hour? Maybe i could do a little longer and edit it down to an hour. That way I could see what the audience liked best of my final picks. So I started planning for an hour and a half that I could edit down to an hour or so.
After announcing my trip to Salt Lake, I got hit up by a friend who was putting together a storytelling show for Veteran’s Day and asked me to be a part of it since I would be in town. I was happy to oblige. I suddenly realized my short trip was going to be very busy. Fly into SLC airport in the early afternoon on Wednesday. I rent a car and drive home just to say hi to mom and dad while rushing a delicious dinner my mom made me before running downtown to Veterans Show. I follow the instructions given to me in the email my friend sent me about where to park and suddenly realize I don’t know where the venue is; I only know where the parking garage is!
I’m now calling her and my other buddy Charlie that is supposed to be there and neither is answering. I start wandering around downtown SLC while scrolling through my phone trying to find the event invite that’s buried under a thousand posts promoting my comedy show. I finally find the address and, as soon as I do, I look up from my phone to see my friends standing on the sidewalk in front of me smoking cigarettes.
Tara, the girl that set everything up, greets me with the biggest hug and apologizes for her phone being broken and that the email didn’t have the address. All is forgiven. Funny how phones never work when you need them, right? My battery always dies right when I need to use my GPS or call an uber. It’s probably proof that the phones are becoming sentient and enjoy fucking with us.
Either way, the event was beautiful and powerful to witness. Local actors, artists, musicians and veterans came and shared their stories in a very tearful and cathartic night that really moved me. We watched a screening of my friend’s documentary, Project 22 (www.Project22.com), that was a big hit with the crowd and then I was asked to share a story. I love telling stories but after listening to all these serious stories, i didn’t know what I could say that wouldn’t make me sound like a fraud; like some tourist that just showed up and took over the stage.
I told my story about how I stumbled into the Jim Henson Studios and spent 3 months working with some amazing comedians and puppeteers. I’ll go into more detail about that next week but for the sake of this blog, I told the story as a story of inspiration and not to give up when life seems like it’s plateauing; that you never know what’s just around the corner but you have to leave yourself open to opportunity. It gets easy to sit at home on the couch and not actually get up and put yourself out there. The story is an amusing one and got some great laughs which I felt the room maybe needed after all we’ve been through that night. Overall really positive night and i’m honored and grateful to have been invited. It also helped with my show as well since a bunch of the people from the event bought tickets to my show the next day.
I drove home and went straight to bed, a little stressed that regardless of how many people showed up, I needed to put on the best show I’ve ever done. I kept going over my list of bits trying to figure out which ones to cut and which order to do them in so that they would form a show with a beginning, middle and end. How could I tie one bit into the next and which bits have to come before others? I tossed and turned until I finally fell asleep.
I wake up to my phone alarm telling me it’s time to do morning radio.
I question quietly to myself if sleep would be more beneficial to me than promoting the show and trying to get more people to come. By this point I’d kinda made peace with the fact that it might be an intimate show. I drag my ass into the shower and try to wake up since it’s too late to back out now. I tend to always feel like whatever I’m waking up for is a bad idea right when i wake up. Sometimes I need a little water on my face to remind me why I do anything at all. I get dressed and run downtown to the radio station.
The guys at X96 have always been so cool to me and the whole thing is very surreal since I remember 13 years ago I would listen to these guys in the morning on my way to school and now I’m a pretty regular guest on their show. The whole thing made me feel really cool; like maybe I’ve accomplished something even if it feels like I haven’t accomplished much. I get to the station for my 9:45 AM spot and we talk for about 5 minutes before the show is over.
I couldn’t believe it.
They apologized and said they should’ve given me a longer spot and suddenly I was filled with regret. They asked me when i wanted to come in and I said as late as possible since I’m lazy and wanted to sleep in. So, they gave me the spot right before the show was over. I was thinking maybe it might’ve been better to just stay in bed but I literally just got done telling a bunch of veterans not to be that way so i should heed my own advice. The DJ’s tell me they want me to come back the next day to talk at length about all the stuff I’ve been up to and I agree but warning them that I’ll probably be hungover. It won’t help me sell tickets to do a radio show after the album recording but it still makes me happy that they want me back and it’s still the show I grew up listening to. I can’t describe how awesome that feels.
I leave the studio and start driving home thinking I can grab a quick lunch and then nap before having to meet the crew for sound check. As I’m driving home I realize that I should pay respects to someone that can’t be here but is always with me in my heart. My childhood best friend Nolan that passed away when i was 21. He kind of catalyzed all of this. If it wasn’t for knowing him and living through his death I don’t know if I ever would have pursued this dream of being a comedian. I miss him dearly and owe him so much for how he touched my life. I drive to the cemetery and a horrible feeling comes over me. I haven’t been here in so long that I’ve forgotten where the cemetery is.
I text my good friend Celeste and she reminds me that it’s a little farther north than I thought it was. Once i see the cemetery a million memories and feelings envelope me and I drive right to Nolan’s grave as if my car was being guided on a track. I’m listening to an old album that Nolan had burned me with the Counting Crows and bunch of our favorite bands. I am the only one in the cemetery so I blast the music so I can hear it at the gravesite and start walking.
As soon as I see the stone I am humbled in a way I haven’t felt in years.
It’s been 13 years. 13 years ago my life changed forever. It felt so long ago and like it was yesterday all at the same time. Tears welled in my eyes as I told Nolan how much he meant to me and that today was the big day. I wished he could be there and told him that he was always there in my heart. Everywhere I went, I thought of him and carried him with me.
That’s the great thing about loving someone. When you spend a lot of time with someone and care for them, you begin to adopt and meld personalities a little bit. So it’s not just some cliche when I say he’s with me. He’s changed me as a person and that part of him that I adopted is a part of myself that I love to carry with me because it forever reminds me of him. Whenever I say something that he would’ve said or do something he would’ve done, that’s him coming through me. As the album comes to an end so do my tears. I feel a sense of relief; like I needed this and didn’t know.
I used to visit his grave everyday for years but that turned to once a week and then to once a month and then I moved to LA and haven’t been back since. I take a moment to soak in my surroundings and just look around. At the trees. The gorgeous Rocky Mountains. The leaves on the ground. The clouds in the sky. Burning it all into my memory as I realize that 13 years have passed since I used to come here for solace and to ask questions I needed help with.
As always with life, it all looked so much smaller than I remembered it. I asked for Nolan’s blessing with the show and said goodbye kissing his gravestone. I Instagram a photo and start walking away. A weight lifted from my soul, I get into my rental car and drive out of there thinking maybe I should go visit all of my dead friends and the sad reality hit me, I don’t have that much time. I have buried too many friends and that’s one of the hardest statements I have ever had to say.
My mom has made me my favorite food everyday since I’ve arrived.
She’s just an angel like that. She knows my favorite stuff and makes it whenever I visit. I cannot possibly love that woman more than I do. I take a nap and then start gathering my things to drive to the venue. As I’m driving a million thoughts and memories come back to me. This is the first stage I ever performed stand up on. I used to drive to this club trembling and worrying about my 3 minute set and if I would ever earn the respect of the club owner and the other comics. Now I’m driving there to record an hour long set with a team of professionals recording the whole thing. Time goes by so fast sometimes.
I arrive at the club at 5:30 and meet the sound guys.
My buddy Tyler hooked me up with a great sound guy and the two of them are recording the show from the sound booth in the back. My other buddy Jim got the hook up with the cameras and he showed up shortly after we got there. Everyone is working hard and I’m scrambling to make the final adjustments to my set list. I finally just decide that I’ll do a 90 minute show and then we can edit it down because I just can’t decide what bits I want to leave out. I figure I should just do the ones I think are great and based on audience reaction we can edit out the ones that don’t hit the hardest.
I was thinking about doing the show without an opening act since I knew I would go long and I didn’t want the audience to get tired but my good friend Dave was hoping to get a good quality tape of himself and asked if he could piggy back on my crew since they were already coming out for me. I couldn’t say no. He’s done so much for me when I was new in LA. My BFF Trent shows up to the club and we all decide to grab a pre-show dinner.
We walk down the block to get food at a pub and I’m so in my head I barely realize what is happening around me. Everyone is having conversations and getting to know each other. Meanwhile, I’m trying to think about if I made the right choices on my set list. If we will have a packed house or not. What if this is all a huge mistake? I guess it’s too late now. I pay for everyone’s dinner and head over to the club.
As we’re all walking I’m talking with Trent, the man who I owe my whole comedy career to in many ways, he’s my mentor and friend and absolutely the funniest guy I know. I tell him to have fun and do whatever he wants during his time on stage but when it comes time to introduce me that I’d like for him to tell the audience to not heckle and to turn off their phones, then when he introduces me to just say “Ladies and gentlemen, Sina Amedson.” I asked him that specifically because I think it’s tacky to have a long intro in a room where everyone knows me and especially on my comedy album. He agrees and we walk into the club. People are already starting to line up outside which calms my nerves.
I see someone as I’m walking in and my heart skips a beat.
My oldest friend, Court, whom I grew up living next door to, is standing outside with his wife and dad and step mom. I haven’t seen Court in ages since he moved to Southern Utah and started his family. He visited me once in LA when taking his kids to Disneyland and that’s it since I was best man at his wedding 10 years ago. He didn’t tell me he was coming and drove 6 hours to be there. I felt like I was going to cry. It meant so much to me that he was there. I hug him and the family and tell them I’ll see them inside.
I go in and the manager of the club tells me we’ve sold over 100 tickets. I’m starting to feel maybe this will be good now. I just wish I’d spent more time on my material instead of stressing over ticket sales. I go into the green room and start focusing on my material. I walk out for a second and see someone else that makes my heart skip a beat. Nolan’s family showed up. I haven’t seen or spoken to them in years and they’ve never been to a comedy show of mine before. They saw my Instagram post from Nolan’s grave earlier that day and decided to come. I couldn’t believe it.
They were sitting in the front row and were the sight I’d never thought I’d see looking out from the stage. It was making me feel so many crazy emotions. The girl at the front desk brought me a bouquet of roses and told me that someone had them delivered. I look at the note and they were from my ex girlfriend saying that she was there in spirit and she was my number one fan. I’m pretty sure my heart has now exploded. I didn’t even want to do the show now. I just wanted to sit down and talk to everyone. Buy them drinks and just catch up. It was so surreal.
The show starts and Trent goes on stage to warm up the crowd.
He introduces Dave and Dave crushes it on stage like he always does. While Dave is on stage I’m hanging out in the green room, pacing and reading my set list when I look up and there’s this gorgeous girl standing in the doorway. She looks at me with the hottest most seductive eyes and says “sorry, I was just looking for the bathroom.” I immediately forgot where and who I was and just start flirting with this girl and part of me thinks “this could really take your mind off your stress right now… if I don’t give Dave the light he’ll stay on stage for another 20 minutes…”
Suddenly I felt the universe was testing me. What did I want more in life, to be with a beautiful woman or to go do the show of a lifetime? I showed the girl to the bathroom and went back into the green room convinced I made the wrong decision. But then I realized that if this career takes off, she won’t be the last girl to “wander” into my green room. It’s probably just wishful thinking but a boy can dream. And those dreams will cause me to have to change my sheets in the morning.
I try to regain focus and walk over and give Dave the “time’s up” light. He walks off stage to huge applause and Trent gets on stage and begins to introduce me. He doesn’t say anything about not heckling and turning off phones but that’s okay, I can handle hecklers if I need to.
He cracks a few jokes and then does something that made my head spin.
Granted, he didn’t do it on purpose but it still sent a chill down my spine. He tipped one of my bits during my intro. That’s comedian talk for spoiler alert. One of my favorite jokes is that I have small hands but I put them in dick pics to make it look bigger. He introduced me by saying I have small hands but they make my dick look bigger. Now I don’t know if I can do that joke and it’s one of my favorites. Fuck. Maybe I can still do it but I will have to wait until later in my set and hope the audience forgot he said it. Shit. Dammit. Oh well. Nothing I can do now. I know he didn’t mean to do it but fuck I wish he hadn’t. Okay, he’s saying my name. The crowd erupts and I briskly walk to the stage, shake his hand and give him a hug. In that moment realizing this is the guy that got me here. He mentored me and supported me and I love him more than anyone else I’ve met in this business. I didn’t care about the joke. There’s nobody else in the world I want introducing me on stage right now. Trent walks off stage and disappears into the dark abyss and, as I live and die, I’m alone on stage. Looking into the faces of so many friends and fans, I grab the mic, move the mic stand and nothing else matters. I reminisce back to my first time walking onto that stage 13 years ago when I grabbed the mic stand and it came into two pieces and I struggled to put it back together with shaky nervous hands.
Now here I stand and I feel like it’s my first time all over again. I feel the cameras. I know the mic is going into a soundboard and recording every breath and smack from my dry mouth as I begin to talk…and then I blink my eyes and realize that this is what I’ve been doing for the last 13 years. This is where I am at home. I am comfortable. I can make people laugh.
I go into my opening joke and it’s like I was born for this.
The crowd is into it and I’m having a blast. I check my set list more than I normally would but only because I don’t want to skip a joke on this important night. My biggest fear right now is not being in the moment and missing opportunities to call back to jokes and/or leave out important punchlines to the jokes. I’m up there having fun. The crowd is raucous. They’re loud but there’s a lot of heckling. I ignore most of it since it’s coming from friends. I found out later that a group of girls were so loud and crazy that they got kicked out and kept breaking back in. I do roll with a rowdy bunch.
I’m a little more than halfway through my set when i see the waitresses putting down checks and I remember when I was a waiter at that club. Then I pause in my mind for a second and realize that the checks go down at about 45 minutes in. Holy shit. This show is going to go really long. How did I not fucking plan this out better?? I had a month to figure it out and now I’m standing on stage faced with the decision of cutting my material on the spot or doing a two hour show. I decided I would go until it felt like I was losing the audience. If I felt they were tired I would go into my closer and just cut my losses. But they stayed with me. There was a small lull around the 90 minute mark but the energy picked back up very quickly. I sold my jokes harder and put more energy into them trying to breathe life back into the room. We were back on fire and the show closed strong.
After I say goodnight, Trent comes up on stage and I ask my mom and dad and aunt and uncle to come up too. The audience gives them a standing ovation and I say thank you and invite everyone out to the bar for an after party. A lot of people came up to me afterward telling me it was the best they’d ever seen me do and the best show they’d ever seen. It meant a lot to hear that since now that it’s over I suddenly realized that my fear came true…I’d left out a lot of punchlines. Shit. Oh well, nothing I can do now. People seem exhausted as they hug me and congratulate me. I look down at my phone recorder and see that I recorded 1 hour and 59 minutes of comedy tonight. No wonder everyone is exhausted. Most people say they won’t be making it out to the bar since it’s a Thursday and the show went long but they were happy to be a part of it.
I’m filled with a lot of regret for doing such a long show. I don’t think I can sell a 2 hour album so i need to cut a lot of material out. I feel bad for my editors. I also don’t know how I feel releasing an album where some of the jokes are missing some punchlines and some were just left unfinished. Like I just moved on to the next joke without finishing it. It’s a strange feeling, to know I did well but to know that I could have done much better. The perfectionist in me is freaking out but the rational part of me is telling me that the problems I have are good problems to have. And overall it was a great learning experience. I’m glad I learned from this now instead of when Comedy Central came calling me asking me to do an hour in a theatre.
Now I know myself a little better and I’m a little wiser.
I’m mostly grateful because I now know that if something happens to me, I have 2 hours of intellectual property that won’t die with me. I now can leave something behind. A legacy. My years of hard work now have a tangible result. I have created something I can see, hold and touch. Maybe what I’m feeling right now is post partem depression. I gave birth to something that has been incubating in my brain for my entire adult life and I want it to be perfect. I finally understand why my parents were constantly disappointed. Except that night on November 12, 2015 they were proud. I finally made them grandparents.
(Well, my sisters already did that since they made actual babies but I wear condoms and write jokes so they’ll have to be happy with whatever they get.)
A few of us actually did make it to the bar. We did some shots and celebrated and then got my favorite Mexican food ever before calling it a night. I woke up bright and early the next day and went to do my second radio interview at X96. It was a lot of fun and I talked comedy and Muppets with them. I wrapped up and drove to the airport half asleep.
I flew home to Los Angeles and got hustled by a guy driving an airport shuttle which really made me feel at home. He knew I was just using him for a ride to a nearby hotel so I could call an Uber so he made me give him a tip. Welcome to LA. I Uber back to my apartment take a short nap and then head out to Oxnard where I do another hour long show entertaining Veterans.
I should’ve recorded that one. I didn’t screw up nearly as much. Haha…C’est la vie.