“I Got Tired of Chasing My Dreams. So I Asked Them Where They’re Headed, and I’ll Catch Up With Them Later” – Mitch Headberg
Lindsay thinks that people want to hear stories about my stand-up comedy career. I highly doubt that anyone is anticipating my “Almost Nowhere Near Famous” type of road stories, but that does not prevent my ego from happily retelling (probably lying and embellishing quite a bit) every single story that has not been erased from the years of alcohol and pot abuse. I’m proud to say that I remember most things nowadays, since I only partake in alcohol and drugs on the major holidays, like a good American….
I should start at the beginning. That’s normally a good place to start. It was sometime in 2002 – 2003 that Clemson University asked me to not come back to school – this had something to do with a 0.0 GPA. So, I headed to Africa. I pulled a Dave Chappelle and went to Rwanda to visit my sister who was working there at the time. Needless to say, Africa changed me. I finally became aware of exactly how lucky I am to be who I am and to have the luxuries that I have. I am a white, middle-class, American male and as soon as I touched African soil, the guilt of being fortunate started to squeeze life into me. I stayed a little over a month and had a blast. I only got diarrhea once, which I consider to be a huge success. When I came back stateside, I finished my mandatory vacation from Clemson, hit the books, got a 3.5 GPA, and dropped out of college to go pursue my dream of stand-up comedy. In an odd way, I felt like I owed it to some Rwandan kid to chase my dream. You know, in case he couldn’t.
I started researching cities for good stand-up scenes. Washington, DC was the first city I looked into. My sister had lived there and I knew the town a little. I searched the DC Improv’s website for talent nights/open mic night, and to my shock I recognized one of the performers on the show. It was none other than Mr. Rory Scovel, who I’d gone to high school with. I started trying to get in touch with him immediately. There was no Facebook around at this time, so I called his parent, aunts, uncles, and siblings. I ended up speaking with his aunt who thought I was some sort of child molester after her nephew. It took something like 5 – 8 phone calls for me to finally get Rory’s number out of her.
“Why do I want Rory’s number? I told you we were friends in high school. We did the Fine Arts Center together. I want to be a comedian. No, I would never kill and/or rape Rory! I’m not saying he’s not attractive!”
I finally got through to Rory and I lied like hell about the number of times I had been on stage. I told him I’d been getting up and opening for my friend’s band. I had never done that. I had never been onstage. Rory invited me to open up a show he was doing in Spartanburg, SC at Venus Pie Pizza Shop. He asked me to do 20 mins. I didn’t even pause, “Hell yeah, I’ll do it!” Y’all, I got so drunk and stoned before that show. I had 4 jokes and I just stretched and stretched. Well, I think it helped that I was messed up, because I had to have been speaking VERY slowly. I don’t remember anything about the performance other than I got laughs. I had a bunch of friends and family there to support my efforts. I’m glad they came because I don’t know if I would have made it without being book-ended by love. Rory paid me $85 dollars, and I almost crapped my Huggies. I was hooked. I got paid $85, drank free beer all night, got attention from a room full of strangers, and got to be funny. The reason I am no longer a comic is because you’ll notice that I ranked money and alcohol at the top of that list. That’s never a good thing to work towards.
After that I was on my way to Washington, DC to live in Rory’s basement for a couple of months until I found myself living with 3 hot women in Arlington, VA. It was one of the most exciting times of my life. I was hot on the trail of a dream, living with 3 beautiful roommates and having my eyes opened to a whole new way of life. The only bad part about THAT was that I had to work at The Pottery Barn as a stock boy. Seriously, that place is Satan’s butthole. Ok, that’s a good stopping place. I’ll pick up later with the Pottery Barn. I cost that place so much money. I would break things just for the fun of it. I don’t mask my contempt well, but breaking over priced knick-knacks helps A LOT.
More to follow…