I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I have thought about quitting stand up and Blaria before. I’d also be lying if I didn’t admit that the thought brings me the same exact amount of joy as when I get an early morning phone call from one of my girl friends telling me about the great sex she had with a guy she just started dating:
But let me clear: I don’t really want to quit. Not in a serious way. But in a Diane Lane movie for middle-aged women sort of way where I’ll say to myself, “You know, I’ll just quit my life and run a food truck with fellow comedian Bethany Van Delft and we’ll call our business ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’ and sell scones.” It’s a fantasy, a reset button, if you will, that I use whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or blah about my career. For a hot second, I can fool myself into believing that I don’t have to do this. And in that moment, I feel less burdened by this thing I’m compelled to do. Then the moment fades and I’m like, “What am I going to do? Quit my life and run a food truck with fellow comedian Bethany Van Delft and we’ll call our business ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’ and sell scones? What the hell kind of life is that for me?”
Let’s stop for a second. What kind of life would I have if I did quit? I mean, I don’t bake nor have a driver’s license, so unless people want to pay me $3.50 to come to my apartment from the hours of 11:30am-until onset of premenstrual cramps to buy bag of Funyuns from my kitchen, then my food truck dreams are doomed. But maybe there other things I could do:
1) Read more. Like actual books. Or the birthday cards people give me. I love birthday cards, but all I’m thinking when I get one is “I just wanna open my present. I just wanna open my present.”
2) Make a documentary about pieces of weave that have fallen out of women’s hair and onto the ground.
And that’s it. I could only come up with two things. You guys, that’s pathetic and I tried really hard. So I guess that means I can’t quit comedy even if I really wanted to. Great, I mean great! So here I am. Here we are. Just you and me, blank computer screen. I don’t even know why I allow myself to be intimidated by the blank screen. After all, I’ve been doing stand up for four years and even though this blog is only four months old, I have been writing since I was 17. And despite all the nerve-wrecking things I have done to date: writing for the New York Times, doing live radio, and preparing for my first national television appearances as a talking head on a TV Guide Network show (even though doing a show on the TV Guide Network is the equivalent of Gchating eight people because no one has that station anymore. Just kidding, TV Guide Network! Please book me again!), the most anxiety-inducing to me as a creative person is the blank screen. It’s just me, the blank screen, and the cursor, in which its steady blinking is akin to jump ropes in double dutch scraping the ground. All eyes on you to jump in, kid.
“Um, okay, I’ll jump in. How about–no that’s stupid, BUT! what if it’s like stupid genius? No, no, definitely stupid. Okay, a little less stupid. Rhythm, ryhthm, no, rhythm, rhythm. That’s how you spell the word, right? Let me check dictionary.com. Yep, I was right. Who agreed that this is the way to spell that word? Hmm, maybe I’m hungry?. But I don’t have any real food in the fridge. Focus, Pheebs. Okay. I think I’ll eat a slice of cheese then. And then watch Bill Cosby’s Himself.” Cut to an hour later. “Okay, so I should probably quit comedy. Sigh. Let me look at what I wrote again:
That’s right. Delete, delete, delete everything on this damn screen. Fuck you blinking cursor.”
Okay, okay, so maybe this isn’t what’s always going on in my brain when writing Blaria and/or stand up material. More often than not, the thought that pops up in my head is, “Why do I do this?” Sure, I love being funny or trying to come up with a good turn of phrase, but it can all be so damn hard sometimes. But maybe that’s what it is. That’s why I do this. I love the challenge. I crave the elation. I’m chasing it. And I love a good chase. Actually, I don’t. I don’t know why I wrote that. Chasing sucks. I get shin splits, dehydrated fairly quickly, and unfortunately, my running form isn’t tight and perfect like Tom Cruise’s. I look more like this when I run:
It’s embarrassing for e’erybody involved. But the point is I don’t quit. Because I’d be more miserable. Because as crappy as the crappy creative days can be, they are all erased by one great new joke. One funny sentence. One great show. To get rid of the joy I feel when I get it right would make me more miserable. More miserable than when I blow an audition. More miserable than when my manager dropped me. More miserable than staring at a blank screen and seeing the little cursor go blink, blink, blink, just waiting for me to type something. Anything. More miserable than this dude’s larynx for squeezing out this cry the way a woman tries to squeeze a stolen honey baked ham into her Spanx before walking out of BJ’s Warehouse:
But more than all of that, I won’t quit because if I created a Kickstarter for my weave on the ground documentary, it would never be fully funded. However, if any of y’all are interested, you know where to find me. Holla at your girl!
**You know the deal: I’m headlining Carolines on Sunday, August 19th at 10pm. To make reservations, go to http://www.carolines.com/comedian/phoebe-robinson/ and use the code “COB10″ to get $10 tix. Love you. Mean it.**