Comedy, Festivals

The 5 Best and 5 Worst: Brendon Walsh

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Brendon Walsh is an American stand-up comedian who returns to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with his new show Bearded, Juvenile, which is about “the responsibility of growing up and becoming an adult, mainly because it’s kind of a rip-off; dumb job, paying bills, and boring small talk about the dumb job and paying bills”. Walsh has been a professional comedian for a dozen years, criss-crosses the country (and the Pacific) from his home base in Los Angeles, and knows the highs and lows of wedding himself to a career in comedy. For a comedian he is surprisingly honest and serious about the vagaries of his job.

The 5 Best

I don’t have to punch a clock. I don’t have a boss and I have a lot of time to do what I want. I always liked having an unorthodox schedule which allows me to do things while other people are at work or asleep. I love going to see a movie matinee during the week or to a bar on a Tuesday night instead of the crowded weekend, and I can usually stay up as late as I want to. I feel like a kid cutting school sometimes. It’s great!
Very little manual labor. I was a carpenter for about 10 years before I became a comedian. I mostly worked for theatre companies building sets for plays, operas, and a few TV shows. It was fun while I did it, but there were always little injuries like splinters in my hands, sore back, sprained thumb, shooting a staple through my finger once, etc. In comedy, the only thing that gets hurt is my feelings when I have a bad show 🙁
Lots of traveling. A big part of being a comedian is traveling to different places so people can hear me say my joke words into a microphone. I’ve been to places I wouldn’t have visited otherwise, sometimes they’re great and other times they’re depressing and I’m glad I get to leave.
I have some fans. It’s nice when people recognise me and tell me they like me. I’ve gotten emails from people and met people who told me that they were going through a rough time and they came to a show or listened to a podcast or saw me on TV and I cheered them up. When I meet people in person, my bodyguards usually keep them at bay, but it still makes me feel good!
I’m friends with some of the funniest people in the world. The comedy community is actually pretty small and you get to meet and work with some great, hilarious people. It’s so cool to work with someone I was a fan of before I started doing comedy and finding out they like what I do too. Since I was a kid, my main criteria for people I hung out with was they had to be funny and now I hang out with a lot of professionally funny people. I don’t want to discount my non-comedian friends either. Some of them are funnier than any comedian I know, but they don’t have the personality defects that make you choose comedy as a career.

The 5 Worst

Everything could go away. There are no guarantees in life, but when you choose a career in show business, there is no instruction book or college classes to guide you through this profession. It’s pretty much a popularity contest. One day you’re on top of the world and it seems like everyone loves you, but the next day they could decide they don’t like you anymore. There are so many cautionary tales in this business. Not only can success be very fleeting, but there are also the occupational hazards of becoming an alcoholic or drug addict or self-destructing in a number of ways. Lots of comedians are great at self-sabotage!
It can be difficult to maintain relationships. It’s hard to date a comedian. We’re on the road a lot and the job requires many late nights doing shows and schmoozing even when you’re home. Tons of late night schmoozing in Los Angeles! It’s an unusual lifestyle that can make it challenging for a normal person to be a part of. Also, when you date a comedian you have to hear them talk about themselves and their jokes non-stop. Hard to have a dog too when you’re gone all the time. You can probably have a cat though because they’re jerks who are only loyal to whomever is feeding them at the moment.
Loneliness. Along with the challenges of maintaing relationships, being a comedian is a pretty solitary job. There are so many hours spent alone in hotels or wandering the streets by yourself in strange towns even if you have someone waiting for you at home. I’m writing this in a hotel room right now. Excuse me while I go into the bathroom and have a good cry.
Being your own boss. Although it is nice to not have someone bossing you around at a lousy job, you have to be in charge of yourself all the time. Most comedians would make horrible bosses, and most of us are. Self- discipline and maintaing a healthy routine is hard, especially when you like to goof off all the time. You always feel like you could be doing more, and it’s easy to get down on yourself about it. Oooh, maybe I’ll get some ice cream and play video games to take my mind off my laziness.
Trying to think of a fifth thing. Why can’t you just ask me what the best things about my job are? Thinking about how I’m not as productive or successful as I want to be, how I don’t have a dog, and the possibility of dying alone and penniless is really bumming me out. What kind of a sick person are you? I’m having an existential crisis now. What does it all mean? Maybe I should join the Peace Corps or something and really make a difference in the world! Build bridges and provide clean drinking water to impoverished countries, feed the hungry and care for the sick. Now I’m depressed and I have to do two shows tonight. I hope you’re happy. Thanks a lot, you sadist.
[box] Brendon Walsh’s Bearded, Juvenile is at the Victoria Hotel Banquet Room from April 8-20. Tickets are available at comedyfestival.com.au or at the door[/box] 

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