When transitioning from renting an apartment to owning your first home, you are entering a transformative new world, not unlike puberty or going to jail. Here are a few mistakes and old wives tales for new homeowners to be aware of.
How To Quit Stand Up Comedy
By: Matt Wayman
Brad Galli is a Denver based comedian who pairs dry wit with artful observation. I had the pleasure of getting to know Brad when I moved to Denver in the fall of 2015. I saw him at stand up shows a lot the first year I lived there, but as the years went on I began to see him less and less. I later learned that he had stopped doing stand up. I have been thinking a lot about not doing comedy lately. Since I have started going to law school, I have not been able to perform as much and, although, I am still writing, not performing isn’t something I’m used to yet. So I decided to send some questions off to Brad to get some insight into why comics stop, and sometimes why they start again.
When did you start comedy for the first time and why?
I started in Feb of 2010 when I was 20. I saw Judd Apatow’s Funny People in July of 2009 and seeing the scenes where Jonah Hill and Seth Rogan were doing stand up made something finally go off in my head, like “I should do that.” I always loved comedy but never thought that you could just start, until I saw that movie.
Did you start with a goal in mind or did you develop one later?
When I first started all I knew is that I wanted to do comedy. I just wanted to be called a comic. Now, I want to be a headliner, develop an hour of original material, and produce at least one good comedy album.
What is the hardest part of comedy?
The hardest part of comedy is being able to connect and relate to so many different types of people.
What would you wish you could tell yourself when you starting doing comedy?
I wish I could tell my 20 year old self: Never forget why you wanted to start doing this. A lot of people I think lose sight of why comedy is great, I know I did.
Why did you quit?
I quit because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it anymore, I also was almost completely broke and needed to work two restaurant jobs which was 50-60 hour work weeks, and I wanted to finish school which I finally did last Spring. I think I also wanted to see what it would be like to be an adult that didn’t do comedy. I did comedy from age 20 to almost age 26 and it was all I knew. I needed to see something different.
Why did you start again?
I started again because I knew in my heart that I should be telling jokes. I also missed the creative outlet and performing.
What is comedy to you?
Comedy to me is trying to entertain people that you don’t know by showing them stuff that is either real in your life or made up that you think is funny. It’s all about having a unique point of view and building a context with an audience.
What was the scene in Denver like when you started and how has it changed?
The scene in Denver was really just starting to become known nationally. I moved to Denver in January of 2011 on the same day the Fine Gentleman’s Club hosted their first Too Much Fun and at the end of that month the Grawlix put on their first self-titled show. The scene was strong, and predominantly male at the time. It was all about going to the mics back then and still is to some degree, but now Denver has way more comics than it ever did back then and a lot of comics that are good.
Also, the scene has seen an increase in a lot of really funny female comedians.
The Pussy Bros (comprised of Christie Buchele. Janae Burris, and Rachel Weeks and the late, great Jordan Wieleba) are the leading comedy group in a city that has always had comedy groups like The Grawlix and The FGC. Christie Buchele, who I started with just headlined her first club and it has been great watching her become one of the best comics in town. Stephen Agyei (who has since moved to LA) is another friend of mine who I started with, but he headlined Comedy Works twice this weekend and it has been awesome seeing him become an established comic.
How long did it take you to get comfortable on stage?
I’ll let you know when I’m comfortable. Still working on it.
How often do you write?
I write everyday if I can. I never have a set schedule but I always try to put ideas down. I write from stage at open mics a lot, and then try to hammer out the details after. When I wasn’t performing, I still always wrote.
Five years from now best case scenario, what does your life look like?
In five years I hope to still be performing, possibly headlining some shows, and starting to develop a tiny fan base. I also always wanted to write a book.
Finish this phrase a comedian is someone who…
A comedian is someone who wants A lot of attention, and to be left completely alone!
Thanks again to Brad Galli for making this possible! If your ever in Denver, look him up.
All the Time
By: Tom Cook
I’m having a nervous breakdown in the back of Huck’s cooler when the manager walks in. Part of me feels like spilling my guts to her and I don’t know where to start. My corgi, Ginny, has cancer, I haven’t been laid in six months, and I just lost my pricing label binder. I am not having a good year.
She’s looking at me like I’m an estranged friend asking her for money. She’s holding a box of frozen sausage croissants. I’ve scattered an entire crate of Mountain Dew bottles on the floor and I’m fumbling them as I try to slip them back tightly in their crates.
“You alright, Tim?” Her thick southern drawl seems to drip out of her mouth like warm molasses.
“I can’t find my binder,” I choke. She nods, sets down the box of morning inflammatory diarrhea, and walks out.
My HR manager Justin tells me while he’s eating a double Whopper that I may need to see someone. He’s slamming a zero calorie energy drink that he spills on the lip of his keyboard. He slurps and chews and slurps and chews, and my head feels like it’s full of white static.
“Do you need Zoloft or something?” He’s checking his emails almost refusing to make eye contact with me and murmuring something about payroll.
“I feel like I need to talk someone,” I say, and the words make me feel like a pussy. Justin whips his head around, as if he were talking to a prissy tween girl who just had her first period.
“Jesus that bad? Listen I know your job is tough with quota and all. Not many reps have gone as long as you.” He smiles, opens his desk drawer and places the half eaten burger inside. He jokes and says, “I’ll save that for later.” He pulls out a form and slides it in front of me. “You know the last sales rep who had your position killed himself too.”
Justin smiles and says a sunny attitude outshines most rainy days, or some other bullshit he pulled off a shared Facebook post that morning.
The company sets me up with a therapist in town. Anthony Jessup, I look him up on Google but lose interest and try to masturbate, until I hear Ginny pawing at the bathroom door. She wants food. She falls asleep in my lap later. Now that she’s dying she gets in less trouble. She used to wake me up at the slightest thing, now she just lies across my legs. Each day her breathing gets a little bit lighter. I go over what I’m going to tell Dr. Jessup in the morning and it feels like the closing credits to a shitty life. I haven’t had a girlfriend in two years. I don’t have any friends. I have a noose that’s been hanging in my bedroom closet for two months now. Every morning I force myself to stare at it while I tie my tie.
“What’s harshing your mellow, man.” Dr. Jessup looks like one of those counterculture, Ken Kesey kind of hippies. He points a lot and his office is decorated with political and band posters. There’s a copy of Slaughterhouse-Five on his desk next to a blossoming ashtray and a coffee mug on top of an empty glistening tin flask.
“I’m depressed. Isn’t that enough?”
“You were bawling your eyes out,” he reviews manila notes on his clipboard, “Because you misplaced your pricing binder.”
“I didn’t misplace it, I lost it.”
“Says you found it later on.”
“Yeah, that’s not the poi—”
“Under a half empty bag of Teriyaki jerky?”
“Yes, the goddamn binder was on the goddamn floorboard in my goddamn car.” I’m sweating and red. I think he’s fucking with me.
“And that triggered a nervous breakdown? I mean, I lost my keys this morning but I didn’t.” He puts his hands on top of his head and throws them in the air making an explosion noise. We stare at each other for a few seconds. Dr. Jessup is grinning.
“Eh, fuck it, man.” He kicks his feet back on his coffee table and pulls out a joint from his shirt pocket.
“Are you getting high?” I’m more impressed than insulted.
“Yeah, why aren’t you?”
I haven’t smoke pot since college, but I take Jessup up on his offer. Ginny shares her beady glance with my pink glazed one. I imagine taking her to a dispensary with a prescription taped to her paw and getting her high-grade medicinal weed. I laugh and forget to let her out and clean the mess up in the morning. I sleep almost five hours.
Dr. Jessup tells me to take it easy the rest of the week and not let work dictate my emotions in my personal life. It works until Wednesday when my college account calls and tells me their soda fountain is down. They then proceed to call everyone in corporate and later that afternoon I sit in on a conference call with the vice president.
Vague threats are made about who’s ass is going to get handed to them next and at one point the VP threatens to fly down there and fire everyone in the depot. The banter goes back and forth until my division manager, the boss of my bosses but with a higher blood pressure, mentions that I’ve been getting help for my behavior at work. The veep laughs and makes a joke along the lines of me hopefully not suck-starting a shotgun on the job like my predecessor.
We all share awkward glances until I figure out that no one had bothered to tell I would be sitting in on the call.
“Have you told your parents?” Dr. Jessup is making an origami swan. He encouraged me to stretch out and lay down on the couch in his office—“Like in the movies,” he says.
“No. I’m not close with them. They haven’t seen me since I graduated college.”
“We keep in touch. Sometimes. I get the birthday and Christmas phone call. They’re too busy taking personal days to Florida. They believe they need to spend more time living before they die.
“Man, that’s pretty deep,” Dr. Jessup says. I turn around, he has stopped folding the origami swan and looks spaced out. “Sorry, acid flashback. I think they’re right. What about you?”
“What about me?”
“Are you a parrot?” Dr. Jessup than squawks at me and flaps his arms. “Quit pretending you’re deep and complex. Answer the question.”
“I don’t know.”
“You do know. Lay it on me.”
“I’m twenty-six with a shit job that I hate and my dog’s dying. I feel trapped. Sometimes I think I’m improving. I used to make puzzles. I haven’t done one in so long. I just…sit in the same spot on my recliner and pet my dog and jerk off and go to bed. I’m stuck in a vicious loop and I’m getting weirder and no one wants to fuck me. Sound about right?”
“What’s wrong with your job?”
“A lot of things. Long hours and stress. The pot helped. But work got shitty real fucking fast today. It’s like being the only man on the Titanic who knows it’s going to sink all the time.” I turn to his desk at the Slaughterhouse copy. “My name is Yon Yonson.”
“I am from Wisconsin,” Dr. Jessup says as if programmed and continues. “You make good money. Territorial sales rep? Two adjectives to describe the title. That has to be middle class with,” he waves his hand, “meh benefits. Pretty good for a kid out of college.”
I agree in silence. He continues.
“And your love life?” he says. He scratches his goatee and takes a deep breath. “Try a breathing exercise. It helped me in my divorce. Whenever you feel like you’re about to pop just sit and breathe. Sit. And breathe. Try it now.”
I take deep breaths and think about my failed relationships. The last date I went on I drove to St. Louis to see a girl I’d gone to college with. The night was great and we got a hotel, a bottle of wine, and found that the hotel had a hot tub. We got naked and sat in the hot tub and stared at each other drinking. And then she remembered that she had to work in the morning and rushed out and dried off and went to bed. After I took her home she ghosted me and I haven’t heard from her since.
Dr. Jessup encourages me to mingle with someone over the weekend. When Friday arrives I finish early and walk Ginny. The vet told me it would be easier if I have her put down. I go out to a bar and try to socialize. I talk about my dog and my job. I remain boring and get drunk and take a taxi home. I throw up in the neighbor’s yard.
In the morning I tie my tie over and over again. I go out, get my car, and head to Barnes and Noble. I’m staring at a 3D puzzle of Neuschwanstein on an endcap in the German literature section. There’s a redheaded woman pacing around the dictionaries. She’s chewing her nails to the chatter of a typewriter. Her hair is frizzy and she’s not wearing a ring and she’s a mess and she’s beautiful.
I try and talk to her. She’s going to Germany soon for a graduate program.
“I almost went one year,” I say. She’s looking at my tie. I could be teaching Sunday school in this outfit.
“I got sick. That’s a lie. My girlfriend broke up with me. Nothing serious, I don’t know why I wanted to hide that. My therapist suggested I should embrace the parts of my life that make me upset.”
“I’m going to Germany to get away from an ex,” she says. Her name is Beth. She works the graveyard shift at the hospital. We talk more and she asks, “Who is your therapist?”
I tell her.
“He’s good. He sells you weed too?” I tell her he did and she laughs and says she still buys off of him. I ask her for her number and she gives it to me.
“Don’t ask me to go to a bar. Don’t even ask me on a date.”
“Should I tear this up?” I say.
“No. I hate making plans, and I hate the prolonged dread that comes with waiting on the date.” She catches my sunken glare and says, “Call it anything but a date. That’s all I’m asking.”
“Got it. No bars, no date, you’re really tying my hands,” I say. I feel a burning coal in the bottom of my chest.
“Anything but that. Something simple, I hate it when a guy works too hard.”
We go bowling on Friday and talk too much and forget to bowl. It’s a league night and we’re ushered away by old men with liver spots and cloudy eyes. I take her to a park and we talk more. She doesn’t want to sit too close. She’s self-diagnosed bi-polar disorder. She shakes when she pulls out a cigarette from her purse.
“No, but thanks.” She’s bobbling the cigarette between her fingers and struggling to get the lighter lit. I cup my hands around hers. She shoots me a steely glare, steadies up, and lights her cigarette.
“I get panic attacks,” she says, “I work the third shift so people don’t have to see how much of a fucking mess I am. I don’t know where it came from.” She tells me she lost her dad to stomach cancer and her mom to suicide.
“One time in college I joined a theater group and got a small role in a Plan 9 remake, and I froze up on stage. Everyone thought it was stage fright or that I forgot the line.”
Beth stands up, flips her hair back and gets into character. She speaks in a high pitch squeal that resembles the dumb bimbos from those cheesy 1950 sci-fi movies. Her acting is shitty from the beer we drank. I don’t tell her. She recites the line, “Toddle off and fly your flying machine, Darling. And if you see any more of them flying saucers, tell them to pick another house to buzz.” She flicks her wrist at me. She nails the line. I think she looks sexy as the glowing light from an overhead streetlight gobbles her up.
“I read that script, I knew my lines, but I swore that night when I gazed into the crowd I could see my dad. Sitting there and nodding.” She looks over my head toward a bike path. I wheel around to follow her gaze, expecting to see her old man in a duster standing at the rim of the creek. Beth sits back down and continues to smoke.
“I smoke because I thought it helped but I never wig out unless I fire one of these bitches up.” She has her own noose that she goes to bed thinking about. We go home separately.
“My wife divorced me after ten years, it was all my fault,” Dr. Jessup says from the couch with Ginny lying atop his chest. He’s wearing a shirt with large breasted women brandishing broadswords. He looks like an issue of Heavy Metal. He’s really high. He makes me take notes—he says, “We’re going to help you become a better listener today.” It’s been three weeks since Beth and I went bowling and I’m drawing doodles of her soft freckled face on his notepad.
“Use your college words.” I pull out my phone and he points at me. “No Google. C’mon now.”
“Very good,” he says. Ginny loves him. She licks his hand and bearded face. She’s losing more weight. “What does this beauty have?”
“Lymphoma. She can’t bark.”
“Damn shame.” He kisses her forehead. “My wife and I had a dog. Beagle. Mangy stray, named him Oscar. Dumb as a box of rocks. I loved him, the wife didn’t after a while. He pissed in her shoe one time.” Dr. Jessup starts laughing. “We’d drink beer on the back deck during the summer and toss bottles of Newcastle in the yard. He’d fetch them and stack them neatly. I’d say, ‘Good boy,’ and my wife would say, ‘It’s only fetch! Any dumb dog can do that’ God I hated that.” He stares at Ginny for maybe ten seconds. I take the time to work on perfecting Beth’s left breast. “Me and the missus were starting to drift apart around then. We couldn’t help it. It’s nature for some people, like a tree sprouting branches.” He slaps his forearm and spreads his arms like he’s swimming in slow motion. “He got hit by some kids riding four-wheelers. I was at the office and she was at home. She took him to the vet and had him put down before I could get there. For years I thought she did it out of malice—shit, sometimes I think she still did. I thought if I were there, they could have saved him. But no matter what I would have still held contempt like that until we signed our divorce papers and went our separate ways.”
When I was young my parents almost took me to a psychiatrist. I was in third grade, and I just saw Saving Private Ryan when my uncle fell asleep on the couch. I was drawing war pictures in a sketchbook. Guys getting blown apart, stick men wearing nothing but their skin and bowl shaped helmets getting cut down with machine gunfire. A teacher found it. The school had a meeting with my mom and dad. The principal recommended counseling. My parents reluctantly agreed.
We sat in the parking lot in front of a two-story brickbuilding in some doctor’s park. I had my wrestling action figures. I watched adults and kids go in and out. I felt like a zoo animal on display.
“Do you really think this will help?” my mom said.
“I don’t know. He seems fine.” My dad turned and looked at me for a second, as if he was checking to make sure it wasn’t a gremlin in the backseat.
“Do you think he’s like those boys in Colorado?” It was five months after Columbine.
“When I was a boy my father took me to Yellowstone for a week. This was before the big one in ’88. I remember after we made a fire we didn’t put it out. My father told me that these kinds of things usually take care of themselves. It was policy then.” He looks back at me again. “Policy was to let insignificant fires burn themselves out.”
I’m trying. I’ve told myself that for the past week. Beth agrees to one date before she goes to Germany. She says she won’t tell me what she thinks of it until she comes back a month later. I think she’s evil, and I like her for that. I haven’t worn my tie yet this week, and I listen to music on my phone.
I work long hours. Ginny keeps pissing on the carpet at random. She has lost almost ten pounds. She sleeps all day and goes days without eating. Beth loves her and babysits her while I’m at work. Sometimes she sends me pictures of her rubbing Ginny’s belly. Sometimes I sit in my car between stops and cry.
It’s a new month. It’s warmer and the sales are good and I think if this date goes well I’ll buy Beth chocolates and a casof dark porters when she gets back. I set up new posters and signs and price them. The whole day is a rush.
I’m wearing headphones. I feel in love for the first time and it’s not with anyone in particular. I’ve been feeling like this is the crest before the wave.
I stride into Huck’s gas station. I rotate the twenty-ounce sodas and twelve packs. I’m setting up a four for five two-liter Iron Man display. It’s compact and nicely done. It takes me an hour and at the end my khakis are dirty. The Iron Man cut out is six feet tall and lights up. There’s a motion sensor that causes it to wave and light up. There’s a tall cardboard building beside him that says Stark Industries across it.
My phone buzzes. I stop the music. Beth is calling. I answer but say nothing. It takes a second for me to greet her.
“I’m at the vet with Ginny.”
“Yes.” Her voice is trembling but I can tell she’s not crying. She is stronger than me. “She started throwing up blood. A lot of blood. She couldn’t stand.”
“Okay,” I say but I’m burning like a shirtwaist factory fire. She says she called Dr. Jessup and that he was coming too.
“I got to be real with you,” she says, “It’s okay to…you know.”
“I know.” I close my eyes and clutch my face in my hand. I tell her I’ll be there soon and hang up the phone.
“Where’s the price?” the manager says.
I notice there’s no pricing on it. I didn’t bring my binder in with me. I go out to my car and can’t find it and come back in and feel my skin crawling. I stare at Iron Man. I feel sick and the static noise begins to tickle my ears. I lie to myself and say it’s no big deal. “It’s Friday I’m in Love” begins to play.
I do the breathing routine. I text Dr. Jessup that I lost my binder again. He replies: LOL.
I suck air in and out, blinking slowly. NOT AGAIN and the fucking word gets stuck in my fucking head and I can’t stop fucking thinking about that stupid fucking binder. Ten fucking seconds is all it would take to look down and make sure.
“Not so fast you scum!” Iron Man shouts and a blasting noise shoots out from his hand. I grab a twelve pack, turn, and like an Olympic shot putter, throw it through his face. The cardboard snaps back as the twelve pack carries over my tidy little display and smashes into a fizzy mess. The noise of the soda spewing from loose cans fills my head. A lone can breakdances in circles spraying soda on the floor.
I go to finish off Iron Man, but I slip and go face first into the stack of two liters. I stick my hands out and land awkwardly on one. I feel and hear it snap. The two liters tumble end over end taking the tower with it and the rest of Iron Man. A two liter lands cap first and explodes like a messy wet torpedo, striking me in the top of the head and flying off near the cash register. I’m sweating and panting and the whole goddamn store is looking at me.
The operating room is cream coated with wooden cabinets. There are shittily painted pictures of elephants and tigers above the operating table. Ginny is lying on her side with a blanket over her. The doctor just euthanized her. She’ll lose consciousness in minutes and die. I’m bleeding all over my face. Dr. Jessup and Beth are here.
“We’ve come full circle,” Dr. Jessup says. He leans over and kisses Ginny. “Such a good, beautiful, smart, and wonderful little dog.” Ginny paws at his waist. He shakes the paw. He turns to me and I’m expecting some form of witty advice, but he just eyes me up, nods, pats my shoulder, and leaves.
Beth and I stand above Ginny. I have stopped crying.
“You’re a mess,” she says.
“No I mean a literal mess. You look like one of my tampons. Are you covered in soda?”
I nod and grimace as I continue to clutch my shattered wrist. My hand is swelling and bruising.
“I’m sorry,” she says.
“I know you are.” It sounds cold. I turn to her. “Thank you.”
“I know. You don’t have to say it.”
Ginny is looking at us out of the corner of her eye. She smiles and looks like she did when I graduated. I put my good hand on her side and stroke her. She seems so happy that the end is here. Beth takes my broken hand in hers and runs her thumb along my purple-blue knuckles. I’m starting to think that this is how life should end. I think that maybe everyone’s miserable, or maybe everyone’s just asleep and maybe they’re happy. I think I could be lying. I think Dr. Jessup and Ginny are trying to be happy. And I think Beth is trying to be happy.
I’m trying too.