I’ve been recording a podcast with a friend of mine. For weeks we hadn't launched it because we’re comics. What that means is we’re not organized. It took a while but now we have it here. The podcast is called Comic’ly Unstable. This week we interviewed Geno Bisconte, who is a great, funny comedian and best friend of the host, Tommy A. Geno has his own show on the Cumia Network and you can go check it out here: www.compoundmedia.com/show/in-hot-water/ We all go way back and the connection is comedy and Brooklyn. Those two lived together at one point and although it was a great interview, the bromance between them was practically filling the room like a big, thick cloud.
Comedy careers have ups and downs and are completely unpredictable. My experience is sometimes you’re in Vegas making serious money and sometimes you’re in rural Pennsylvania telling jokes to a drunk bridal party for $100 bucks questioning all of your life decisions up until that point. After talking with Geno it became evident that his timeline has been no less dramatic. Recent highlights for him are appearing in HBO’s Crashing a new sitcom starring Pete Holmes about standup comics in New York. He was invited to roast Gary Busey at the Friar’s club which is a New York staple for show business. It was founded by Milton Berle and the current abbot is Jerry Lewis. All that said, the interview was more about hard times and how to endure them, and coming out the other side.
He told us at one point, he was living in his car. The lease ended at his apartment and his then roommate was going to LA and rather than deal with getting a new apartment right away, he decided to wing it. He slept in Jersey at his aunts at times, and much like Pete Holmes character in the aforementioned show Crashing, he slept on friends’ couches.
What I came away with after listening to him is that it might get impossibly hard, but it will be worth it to stick it out. New York and living for your art is pretty challenging. Particularly, (especially) if you’ve chosen either New York or LA. You have ups and downs and take risks that would cripple other people. I suspect most people would never wager such a bet because it definitely blows up in your face at times. You do shows, you get work, you get fired, you get rejected. You do shitty gigs, and you probably develop a drinking problem, but here’s a side note, if your life is in the toilet but you are grateful for those gigs, you might be headed in the right direction. I’d rather enjoy myself at a dump in New Jersey and have a good time than be sitting in the back of the room rolling my eyes and lamenting at how shitty it all is. But we’ve all been on either side of that fence.
The business is tough. You have to have conviction. I suspect that the wake that is created by trying to be true to yourself will be made up of the good, the bad and the ugly. <---- but how amazing is that? You have to deal with the shit, but you ultimately will revel in the glory. I think this is what he was getting at.
My take after doing standup 14 years, and the point of a lot of what Mr. Bisconte was getting at, is the fallout that sticking to your guns creates is, at times unbearable, albeit fucked up. You lose relationships, apartments, jobs, cars. There is no safety net and it’s terrifying, but you have to stick it out. <--- (this is exactly what I’m currently going through with comedy + life). But isn’t it strange i.e. the universe’s timing of this interview and my own crisis? <--- (maybe not. Most comics are having crises).
If you are gifted the freedom of a catastrophe, but then get to the point where you’re not ruined by it, I bet it’s the best feeling in the world. I’m still going through it, so I’m suffering somewhat, but Geno seemed content. I must state this again because none of the comics I know feel this way ---> he seemed happy !
We’re all sort of waiting for the reward, but I’m sensing that it’s already here. <--- the trick is to feel that way regardless of circumstances. Artists live life on their own terms, which isn’t always great, but I think it’s the conviction of saying “I can do this” that is so empowering. You can come out the other side and say you didn’t die. You’re still here as Elaine Stritch epitomized. At present, I have a part-time office job, roommates from hell & my car got totaled so I’m not 100% feeling this, I’m sort of mad at the universe, but you know who isn’t? Geno Bisconte. Twitter: https://twitter.com/genobisconte