Out Of My Mind

I’m excited to finally announce my 2018 summer tour dates!

This summer I’m taking my show to Ontario, San Diego, Kansas City, Alberta, and New York City for the “Out Of My Mind” tour.

I’ll be performing shows at the following festivals:
London Fringe
San Diego International Fringe Festival
Kansas City Fringe
Edmonton Fringe Festival
United Solo

You can buy tickets to my shows at each of the above links. For the specific dates and times at each festival, check out the tour page!

Clearly, this summer is shaping up to be busier than ever. One of the best parts about doing fringe festivals is taking risks and pushing yourself to improve your work. So over the past four months I wrote a new show and set some new goals for myself. And now, it’s time to set the plan into action and hit the road.

Don’t worry, though! I’ll still be making trips back to Chicago for MIND READER every Wednesday at 8pm at The Greenhouse Theater Center in Lincoln Park. (Shameless, I know.)

But if you aren’t in Chicago I’d love to see you on tour! To stay up to date on my travels follow me on Instagram or subscribe on YouTube for a behind-the-scenes look at where I’m performing and the process of taking a new show from the page to the stage.

The new show is all about positivity, connections, and hope. I can't wait to get it out of my mind and into yours.

That’s it for this week’s Thursday Thoughts. See you on tour!

Don't Panic

There were ten minutes left before the curtain would go up, ten minutes before my opening lines, ten minutes before the show would begin and I couldn’t look back. And that’s when I heard it.

Sitting in the dressing room, with ten minutes to go, I heard glass shatter out on stage. I raced around the corner, down the hall, and past the curtain to discover that a stagehand had tripped over my table and a prop (made mostly of glass) had shattered into a hundred pieces on the floor.

It doesn’t matter what the prop was, what matters is that you understand that it was essential to my performance. I had been working on a new part of the show for weeks and that prop played a pivotal role in that part of my act.

I was instantly disappointed. All of my work was for naught, my new idea wouldn’t get onstage after all, and I didn’t have a backup plan for that part of the show. I was furious.

My first impulse was to panic. I wanted to scream or throw something or place blame somewhere. Anywhere. I needed somewhere to direct my frustrations. I needed an external place to direct my rising temper. The pressure of the looming performance was getting to me and, now that my new idea was destroyed, it was all I could do to not tear my props down, pack it all up, and head home.

I almost panicked. Almost.

But then, I forced myself to take a deep breath and surveyed the scene. The audience would be here in ten minutes, the show was going to start whether I was ready or not. Freaking out wasn’t going to solve anything. If nothing else, it would just make it worse.

I sat down for a moment and tried to work out a solution. I couldn’t repair it, I didn’t have time to run to my studio for a replacement, and I didn’t really have anything to replace it with.

What to do?

And then, as I sat motionless in the dark, I had a moment of inspiration. It started small, as all ideas do, then grew bigger and bigger, until it had replaced any other idea I’d had up until that point. In that moment of near-panic I found the solution. 

I had created something even better than my original plan.

I raced back to the dressing room, grabbing whatever miscellaneous props I could find. Everything was right in front of me, just waiting for me to put the pieces together. I swept the stage, placed the new props in place, and went back to the dressing room to get focused.

There were five minutes left before the curtain would go up, five minutes before my opening lines, five minutes before the show would begin and I couldn’t look back. And that’s when I knew that this would be one of my best shows yet.

All because I didn’t panic.

Setbacks

I was out for a run last week, counting my steps like always.

One. Two. Three. Four.

It was cold, about to rain, but nice enough to get in a few miles.

Get to that tree. No the next. Catch that guy. You’ve got this.

I rounded the curve next to the golf course in Lincoln Park, just hitting my stride, when I came down on the side of my foot and sharply rolled my ankle.

I winced in pain and collapsed on the side of the path. I’ve rolled my ankle before but this was worse. The run was over and I hobbled a mile back home, my foot throbbing with every step.

Another setback.

See, the past couple of years have been all about getting back on my feet. Custom orthotics, physical therapy, special shoes, and so on.

I’ve been a runner most of my life but a few injuries here and there have left me discouraged and stagnant.

This year was supposed to be different.

But then I rolled my ankle and over the weekend I’d wondered if I might have ruined my chances at getting back to marathon pace this year.

Another freakin’ setback.

I’ve had a lot of setbacks over the course of my career. Both big and little things that made me put stuff on hold or go a different direction.

I’ve had so many setbacks.

I moved to Los Angeles after I graduated and slept on couches for a while. I only had $500 to my name and worked tirelessly to find gigs and get my name out there. I’d take the bus two hours to a show then back again several days a week, just to afford my tiny room and a few groceries to get by. After a year, I had made progress with gigs and gotten better - but I was still broke.

Our first year living in Chicago was miserable. My wife and I spent all of our savings just to afford our first apartment. We maxed out a credit card just so I could travel to gigs. I even got in a car wreck and totaled our car. It was rough.

I self-represented myself for a few years, convinced I would meet an agent who would want to work with me. And I did! An agency offered me a spot and promised me big things. Two years later, I had no gigs to show for it and the agency went bankrupt. I was back where I started.

I’ve had so many attempts at weekly shows in Chicago. (Including my current show MIND READER running right now in Lincoln Park.) This will be my seventh year doing a long-running show in the city. I’ve had venues close in the middle of a run, producers not hold up their end of the bargain, and shows have to close due to unforeseen circumstances. It often felt like the shows would come to a screeching halt, without any warning.

So many setbacks.

But you know what’s great?

Looking back I don’t view any of those moments as “setbacks” because every one of them ended up leading to something better.

Failing in L.A. didn’t mean giving up. It gave me the focus I needed to know how I could make this a success. I realized I didn’t want to sleep on couches forever but that I had what it takes to get gigs and be successful. I just knew it would take time. So I took a step back to reassess, get better, and make a plan.

The first year in Chicago might have been a disaster but it led to a year-long job doing my show at Disney World. When I totaled the car, we made a stupid decision to put the insurance money towards a new camera. My wife taught herself to take photos so we could promote the show. It worked. And now she’s opening her own photography studio in Chicago.

Having a failed experience with an agent made me realize to never rely on someone else. I had a fantasy in my mind that an agent meant I had “made it” and would suddenly be successful. But that’s simply not true. If anything, getting an agent just means you have to work even harder, only on different things. I found out that no one can work as hard on my behalf as I can. I’ll get back to you if that ever changes.

And my experiments with weekly shows has culminated in a current run right now. Every run has gotten better. Every performance was been an education. This year will be my longest run yet and hopefully we’ll keep it going for a while this time.

And as for my ankle…it’s luckily not a fracture. Just a sprain. My doctor tells me I’ll be running again by the end of the month. It wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. You’d better believe I’m going to conquer the Chicago Marathon again this year.

Every single moment of disappointment has led to something better. Sometimes the better moment happened within a week. Sometimes I didn’t realize it for years. But after I got through the initial phase of being “incredibly bummed out” I got over it and made the most of it. And that has always meant that I was better off than when I started.

Another setback…so that means something great is on the way.