Saturday, August 4, 2018

Defining My Own Reality

    I have been a stand-up comedian for 12 years. Night after night my skills and material have been forged by going out and performing for live audiences. It has been a journey of self-sacrifice, questionable living situations, remarkable relationships and blind dumb Irish luck. I am fortunate in this business to be able to do this for a living and pay my bills with goofs and giggles. In my most humble appreciation, I have managed to build a career that allows me to travel across North America and perform confidently in front of a plethora of diverse audiences on a weekly basis. I have met the best of friends and been even more fortunate to find the love of my life through stand-up comedy. She has supported me in the most complete of ways, taking the burdens of this industry upon her shoulders like Atlas holding the sky. With all of this she has admittedly managed to unwittingly write some of my best material. We have traveled the world together and last year we even moved to her native land of Canada. At the time I am writing this my beautiful wife and I are in midst of buying our first house to be able to comfortably raise our first child. Along with the anxiety of wanting to support a loving and safe household for my future baby girl I am also more than a little terrified as to how she will grow to view her daddy. I not only want her to know I love her, but I would be lying if I said I didn't want her to be proud of me and what I have accomplished. So, like the fuse on a cartoon bomb of uncertainty and immense amounts of responsibility, my wife's belly grows with every passing week nurturing our new baby girl. I hope that's what it is - otherwise, my wife has secretly become a raging alcoholic, drinking barrels of beer in the shadows of our relationship. It is at this transitional chapter of my life that I decided to take on the immeasurable task of producing/directing/distributing the first album of my now decade-spanning career.
   There are three main points to my personality. First off, while I try to live comfortably in the present - I'm meditative, fun-loving, and downright Buddhist in my appreciation for the here and now - I overthink the future. This motivates me to get into projects that seem manageable at the time, but in practice are unexpectedly complex. In a simple cliché, I never "look before I leap". In fact, I typically sprint off the side of the cliff never looking down, like Wile E. Coyote chasing his own starved hunger. Second, I have an overly competitive nature to me, birthed from being the youngest of five kids. That need to prove myself has sprouted into the idea that I need to completely finance and produce this endeavor in order to prove to the world that the willpower that pumps through these veins can supply a quality contribution to the comedic art form I adore. Lastly, the third and final aspect of my personality: Cynicism. Right when I decided to take on this project the cynic in me sprinted into the room screaming, "Sam, you are a 31-year-old, white, American, male comedian, married to a woman who is about to have your kid. How are you going to push the art of comedy forward with such a well trampled perspective, you tunnel-vision dolt?!" And with that thought, the seed I planted had sprouted legs, ran off the cliff and immediately realized "Oh no! I'm not a bird, I'm just a white trash plant from Kansas".

   It was during this storm of competitive, cynical anxiety that I happened upon the idea to not only seek a way to push the art form forward but to pull it into a new reality. A virtual one. I landed on the idea of filming the first ever full-length 4K, 360-degree, Virtual Reality comedy special. A completely immersive hour-long experience of the best entertainment and "night out" I could supply the world from the comfort of their own home. Stand-up comedy is a rare animal in the entertainment business. Where most other forms of entertainment (music/movies/plays) are enhanced by a live audience, stand-up requires pure unadulterated intimacy to simply exist. Scripts can be written in an office. Music can be composed in a studio. Stand-up comedy, however, is bred between the union of comedian and a crowd. For too long comedy has been limited by the technology of our time to a second-hand experience compared to its true potential. Too many times have I watched or listened to my favorite stand up comedians over an old medium and only managed a grin or slight chuckle at their greatest bits. I've often thought to myself "Why am I not keeling over with laughter like I did when I saw this live?" It's because laughter is contagious, and now with VR, you can put on a headset and be in the showroom surround by a 1,000 individual laughs. The way the comedy gods intended.

   The belief that my most beloved art form and virtual reality technology are posed to marry in my own hands is an exhilarating prospect. If I can be poetic and slightly hyperbolic it's as wonderful to me as the union between my wife and myself. That gut feeling and belief in my heart is the reason I am willing to risk so much time, energy, and money to showcase it to the world. I love stand-up comedy, and if I can start a trend that truly shares that live, unadulterated experience with countless people around the world in the comfort of their own homes, that would be an accomplishment. I think that would be a reason my baby girl could be proud of me.