10 Lessons on 2 Years of Standup Comedy

Yes, it’s been 752 days of doing standup comedy for me.

October 29, 2019 seems like eons ago.

One of the first reactions that people have when I tell them that I do comedy is ” oh wow, that’s so brave.”

Or it’s “You don’t look like a comedian”, which I do consider an absolute compliment to my amazing Asian genes.

I figured now is as good as a time as any to share some of my thoughts on the art form, the “scene”, my thoughts on its past and future, and of course a time to remind you of how amazing I am.

Lesson 1 : Start.

I’ve wanted to try standup comedy since at least 2015, when I would go to comedy shows and be PETRIFIED of being in the front row for fear of the comedian roasting me.

Well now times have certainly been opposite and many audience members who have heckled me have been on the other side of it.

Back in 2017 I went to an open mic at the Harp Inn at Costa Mesa thinking WOW, these comedians are SO AWESOME and I Wish I could have friends like them one day!

Well, on October 29, 2019, I finally had enough of my golf course co-workers and the League chat members telling me that I needed 1 more MONTH to be funny.

Fuck them, I decided to write out my lines and in 2 days I was performing, it was literally the LONGEST open mic ever, I had to wait at least 3 hours before I got to perform, but I did better than I expected and I realized that this was something I can start doing regularly.

Lesson 2 : Be You

My VERY first line in standup comedy was ” I’m a Trump supporter because I’m not a loser.”

Now, I’m aware that I’m performing in California in front of a bunch of 20 year old dudes who absolutely wish that Bernie Sanders is their Dad, but I decided to take this risk–hell, I’d already lost a parent, gone through a divorce, lost friends after I switched from being a Berkeley educated liberal who started an SJW business helping immigrants get H-1B visas to a Trump loving Republican (still business owner), I’d be dead before I become a hypocrite about my beliefs.

What I love is seeing people speaking their truths, because the last bastion of truth and democracy..is ironically a run down dive bar with people telling dick jokes. If you can’t tell the truth there then why the hell did I come to America??

Lesson 3: Write Constantly

I’m always puzzled at people who call themselves comics who NEVER performed during the pandemic, never uploaded their videos, who maybe write once or twice a month–maybe it’s a work ethic thing, maybe I’m just a chinky cunt, but seriously if you are not writing notes and putting down what you find funny on an hourly basis–can you really call yourself a comedian?

No it’s completely not contradictory to try to encourage you and belittle you at once–it’s the Asian way.

Lesson 4: Defend Your Honor

After about a month of posting “smart women marry rich” and “the Quran says whatever money the woman earns is extra and hers to keep, but the man is supposed to provide for the woman” and other obvious truths, I of course started to get haters.

I had people who were the “producers” of shows tell me to quit comedy in front of 20 people, and those 20 comics did a walkout during my set to do a statement, and that was when I decided that I would NEVER quit comedy until I bought their comedy clubs and made them work for me.

(well, during this time I had wanted to quit several times, but I am glad my rage got me back to who I was, to keep going for my dreams)

Lesson 5: Good Enough for the Comedy Store

Around Winter of 2019 I was able to get on Kill Tony at the Comedy Store and it was actually a lot easier than I thought. There were haters who said they didn’t even dare to step in there 5 years after doing comedy but that just proves why they’re unsuccessful.

It was helpful to see higher level people see the potential in me and it confirmed that as long as I gave MYSELF the permission to go higher, I would be one step closer to the dream.

Never let anyone who hasn’t believed in themselves to tell you what to do.

Lesson 6: Get on Youtube

I had already been a career coach who’d gotten most of my Chinese clients off of my Youtube videos, so I was no stranger to social media.

There were people saying “oh people will steal your jokes” or that nobody would watch them, but lo and be hold I hit 101K views on one that went viral and eBaumsworld picked it up, Reddit picked it up, albeit for /r/Cringe but I found some of my most ardent supporters literally loving all the things that I said–not to mention several of my previous career coaching clients who agreed with my comedy–what can I say, the harshest critic will always be an H-1B immigrant with a work visa who’s worked years of their lives to get to their dreams.

Get on youtube. Nobody will steal your jokes. They suck anyways.

Lesson 7: Get on Tik Tok

It’s always funny looking back seeing the older guys who criticized Tik Tok the most weren’t getting any booked gigs during the pandemic and seeing comics who seized this opportunity literally get MILLIONS of views, and the ones who really capitalized on it instead of criticizing it REALLY took off.

Just goes to show that having an old fart mentality doesn’t pay off if you’re just gonna be lazy and criticize the ones who are hustling and grinding any way they can.

I’m very happy to see smaller comics truly go viral during this time without the gatekeepers.

Lesson 8: Netflix & Hulu Specials Are Closer Than You Think

I had been to 3 of my friend’s Hulu special tapings this year and I want to congratulate them on their amazing success, almost all of them started around the same time as I did, 2 years ago, and it goes to show that if you believe in yourself, and make the right connections, why should it take 10 years? Some people can do in 10 months what others were never able to do in even 100 years.

Also props to them since they are all MOTHERS, and if you want to check out Asian Invasion comedy I HIGHLY recommend seeing Jiaoying Summers, Lin Sun, and Nishy Acsell, and at the time of writing their specials should be coming out around 2022!

There’s nothing like your peers motivating you and inspiring you to greatness, and all of them have been extremely encouraging

Lesson 9: Cut Haters Off, Never Your Dreams

I believe that if you are doing something right, you will always attract both the people who support you and the people who secretly or not so secretly shade you by cutting down your self esteem. Yes I hope most people can tell the difference between constructive criticism and someone who really wishes to see you never achieve anything and to boost their own ego by putting you down–in this case, cut them off.

I had clapped when someone told me to quit comedy, and in this instance I basically at that moment decided to be in comedy forever and to also have a 5 year goal of buying the comedy club that he hosts at, so hopefully I can look back at this blog in the future and we can laugh about it.

For now, I’m going to stand my ground and do what I love.

If it makes me seem unhinged or improper..all the better for it to go viral on Tik Tok.

During this time I also realized that I truly do not give a damn about getting married again. If it means diminishing myself to please someone so that I can basically live a half dead life..NO THANK YOU!

I’d rather be single and happy than to be married to the wrong person–been there done that when I was 26 and I have no intention of repeating it again.

Lesson 10: Life is Short, Have Fun !

Lastly. I started comedy as a fun outlet and distraction from my Mom’s passing, and to fulfill a dream that I’d always wanted to do but never had the guts to do. That said, comedy is about FUN

If you’re not having fun, what’s the point?

If you want to do comedy DO IT.

Tomorrow is never guaranteed.

x

Troublemaker of Comedy

Li Lin AKA WE WIN