What If I Started Comedy Earlier? - An Honest Look at Young Turner
My idea for the blog this week was to take an old story of mine from my first couple years in China (2004 – 2006) and share it here. This would be a time-travel exercise where we could peer into the life of a 24 year old me and see what my thoughts, observations and opinions were on this country which I was brand new to. We could see how I viewed the world, what type of verbiage I used (hella sick bro!) and what my daily routines were.
What's that? China needs an unnattractive, second-rate boy band? Well, People's Republic, you are in luck.
Then just yesterday, I read a story I wrote in 2005. A story I remembered as being hilarious, insightful, honest and unique. I remember really stripping away my inhibitions and writing what I felt. I remember feeling like I was channeling Bukowski's honesty and Hunter S. Thompson's ability to paint a scene.
It turns out, I remembered it completely wrong.
It was terrible.
Come to find out, at that time I was an idiot. I was a nice person. I had friends. But ultimately I was 24 and had no solid grip on life.
It would be wildly embarrassing to share the whole story with you, and truthfully you wouldn't want to read it anyway. I was an insufferable self-congratulator.
I wrote like a “too cool for school” frat-boy who clearly needed to get beaten up. Here is an excerpt from a story about my friend Shannon (a guy, Irish people like girl’s names) and I going to a “Singles - Dating in the Park” day in one of Suzhou’s neighborhood squares in 2005. We had gone out to some bars the night before and concocted a plan to go meet girls at this dating event early the next moring...
First problem, its Saturday morning at 9 am. My old roommate Shannon called me at 9:30 “Put your diapers on dude, lets go dominate.”
I jump out of bed half-lit from the night before, throw on my Alex English mid-80’s rainbow Nuggets jersey, shorts and flip-flops and walk down to the park.
Ugh. I can’t stand this guy already. Basketball jersey and flip-flops? I’m pretty sure I had a hat on backwards too. Ashton Kutcher would be too sophisticated for me in 2005.
This jersey saw a lot of rejection. Thankfully I had hung up the jersey by the time I got around to doing comedy.
You would honestly dislike me as a person if I posted the rest of this story. I can’t, really. Ok a little more…
The park is packed with at least 500 people. We do a lap and realize that we forgot to factor in Chinese culture when considering this event. Chicks and dudes in their mid-20’s are sitting at tables flanked by their parents and in some cases grandparents, all literally pushing them towards girls/guys who they should talk to. Obviously, this means that zero chicks there are the type of girls anybody would really want to hit on. The cool dudes are my age and are struggling to make awkward conversation with chicks who can’t stop giggling because they are talking to boys. The average dudes are either hovering over chicks trying to work up the nerve to talk to them, or moving in and then aborting their mission at the last minute.
Its awful. Cringeworthy. Atrocious.
Who could say "no" to these Don Juan Demarcos?
Ok just a little more. I swear…
I see one chick standing by herself and looking like a solid 6.5, which at this point is as good as it gets. I move in on her to pass the time and to see if I still have my 10:00 am hung-over game while Shannon strikes off on his own.
Ok that’s enough. It’s terrible.
And here's the thing, it makes me happy.
I started comedy when I was 27, almost 28 years old. Since that time I have been plagued by the idea that if I would have started earlier I would be such a better comedian than I am now at the age of 33.
“If I started when I was 23 I would be ten years in and on a world tour” I’ve told myself. “I would be headlining clubs across the US and working my way up to theatres”.
Then I read this. I didn’t have it in me! I had spent zero time assessing myself. I had no core direction or message as a human that would have fueled meaningful comedy. I was directionless!
Shannon and I talking about how we just "dominated" - 2005
It was a complete blessing!
By starting comedy at age 27, I avoided five years of “What’s the deal with sorta-hot chicks” jokes, and “Give it up if you saw the new Entourage episode” premises.
Sure, I would have learned how to write a tight punch line a few years earlier, but that doesn’t mean I would have been saying something that people would want to listen to. That’s fantastic!
I am exactly where I am supposed to be. At best I’m a couple years behind, but when I started comedy five years ago I felt like I was 10 years behind. I’m catching up.
And yes, I am chalk full of delusion and rationalization. I may have morped into a complete human with the help of comedy at an earlier age. But probably not. Between buying basketball jerseys and high fiving my bros, I don't think I would have had much time to write.
Ok I’m good.
Now back to writing my joke about funny places to be drunk...