Talking to Mark Normand About Standup, The Comedy Cellar, and Why Comics Are Terrible People | Splitsider
A chat with standup Mark Normand.
Heading out to my original home club Laughs Unlimited tonight, not to perform but to see some old friends and to whet my appetite for performing.
I haven’t been on stage for over two years now. I began doing stand up in 2002 at the age of 37 and worked consistently for six years or so mainly as a road comic, but after a DUI and a series of other horrible decisions, along with never really establishing myself in the Sacramento and Bay Area clubs I worked less and less often over the next few years. I was able to perform well for quite a while even without frequent stage time, many times there were weeks between performing but I still managed to ‘bring it’ and have good sets but I certainly wasn’t growing as a comedian.
Then seemingly out of nowhere I began having trouble remembering my act while at the same time experiencing the feeling I was going to pass out at any time while I was on stage, funny thing is I was more concerned with remembering my act than passing out. I guess I figured I wouldn’t have to be there for it if it happened since I’d be unconscious but I ‘had’ to be there when I had to pull my set list out and stumble through an act I’d been doing for years, go figure.
This went on for a year or more, a couple dozen performances before I could no longer handle what eventually became near terror at even the idea of performing and I had to walk away from stand up in July of 2011.
I soon went into a deep depression that wouldn’t wish on anyone, and one that I am grateful for having survived, it got a little dicey there for a couple months. Since coming out of the worst of it I have been working on getting the core of the problem, which for myself was living in my head 24/7 and avoiding the present moment at all cost. Through meditation and present moment awareness, along with learning to accept what is, including depression rather than resisting it has enabled me to get to this point. Something that mere months ago seemed an impossibility.
However, there are some lingering fears. Thankfully though they aren’t as overwhelming as they once seemed. One obviously being getting on stage again but secondly in revisiting the comedy scene that in my darkest moments I alienated myself from and at times even lashed out at with the aid of social media, I don’t how I would have accomplished it 10 years ago, ;)
So as I begin my second go at this thing called stand up at the ripe young age of 49, I hope to be able to transform my experience and suffering to material that will serve the seemingly epidemic amount of people suffering depression and anxiety issues, while hopefully inspiring someone to never give up on themselves or their dreams.
Wish me luck :)