Back in October 2017, I said YES and took a Stand up 101 class at The Second City in Chicago. What meant to be simply a crossing-it-off-my-bucketlist idea, soon became much more. I loved what came with performing and making people laugh. In January I started scoping out venues in Chicago to find spots to curate a show with two of my favorite things: art and comedy. I came across Matildas Baby Atlas as one of the options, but it wasn't ideal for hanging paintings. Though, their grungy, industrial vibe kept calling to me, "Put on a show here, just do it." Let's be real though, they had a giant neon "ASS" sign that really lured me into putting on a stand up comedy show there. I hit up the peeps in the Stand UP 101 class, and everything pretty quickly fell into place. The date was set, the manager was on board, the line up looked rad, music was picked, marketing was pushed, and my adrenaline was on a new high. We called it Mary Jane's Ass Play since it was on April 20th...The show went better than imaged, with over 50 people attending (in a standing venue) and people inquiring about the next show.
I wanted to do it all over again but this time at a bigger venue. I contacted a few people to see if I could get leads on a venue and on September 8th this year, we threw a sold out show at Wise Owl Drinkery and Cookhouse. With a packed house of over 100 tickets sold, the bar owner and I worked out a schedule so we could perform there every month!! I'm now working with a team of 5 producers to put on Hoots Owl Night Long featuring a fresh line up of stand up comedians the second Saturday of every month. We even call ourselves D.A.S. Funny Comedy. Free tickets to our next show if you can guess what D.A.S. stands for.
With 5 shows under my belt and with miles left to learn, here's what I learned in 2018.
1. Finding your flow is a constant journey.
You know that flow people talk about? Where you feel challenged, completely involved, and love what you're doing? When I was doing standup (as my teacher mentioned) it was like I was shooting myself with adrenaline on stage, but with producing stand up shows, I knew I would be okay not doing stand up in the future. Running around making sure all the comedians were ready, meeting everyone that came, connecting different groups to each other, coordinating with the bar, all of it…all the excitement and energy was coursing through my veins. Anxious energetic Jess was on another level of flow! I crave to start planning the next show after ever event.
2. Haters are going to hate, but people are going to help too.
One thing I am constantly working on during this self loving journey is to stop worrying about pleasing everyone. Reality is, haters gonna hate. There are always things I can improve on for the next show, and there are always people who will go out of their way make sure I know their opinions. I can't fully enjoy the process, hiccups included, if I worry incessantly on Debby Downers. As long as I continue to make sure I try my best, the comedians and producers are taken care of, and work on improving events every time, then it's only going to get better from here! I think people can see that, too. Ever show so far, I've met people who want to help, whether it's promoting the show on their social media platform or connecting me to someone in the industry. All I can say is that I'm extremely grateful for everyone's help and the opportunity to continuely meet passionate people.
3. Don't forget to eat and hydrate.
As someone with ADHD/Anxiety, I get into this zone where I hyperfocus and I forget to eat and drink. Usually before shows I get so hyper-focused and anxious, I usually end up with nothing in my system. I definitely learned my lesson the hard way after one show when there was only alcohol and two chicken nuggets in my stomach. Now, I make sure to eat and hydrate consistently throughout the day, which means setting reminders on my phone to get my attention when I'm in my pre-show zone.
With 2019 around the corner, all I can think about is all the stand up comedians we'll be able to work with on our Hoots shows. On top of that, I've been in the works with producing some art and music shows! You can't see it, but I'm currently doing my happy dance.