Filed under: Festivals
For those of you who don't know me in person or on stage, I can be pretty cynical. Prior to this week, I didn't know if there was a way left for me to feel alienated. Los Angeles found a way, my friends. I have always escaped into a rich fantasy life, facilitated by the silver screen. What I am about to say next may sound stupid, and I knew it intellectually, but it still hurt, you guys... the movies aren't real.
I'm going to pause so you can compose yourselves.
Go watch an episode of Entourage with the sound off. What ever you do, leave the sound off. It looks so crisp, clean, and hip. All lies. When we were landing, I went to take a photo of the mountains and I thought my camera was blurry. It turns out there's honestly just that much smog. It even creates a weird fog in the distance as you drive, that makes the Hollywood Hills seem like a cardboard cut out you're going to mow down with your rented car. If you lived in this much toxin, you'd do every kind of cleanse you could too.
Before the day of the Academy Awards, the Oscars Red Carpet looked like it was produced by my grandmother. Everything was covered in a thick layer of plastic, as if they expected Hugh Jackman to spill grape juice on everything (sources neither confirmed nor denied). If you pointed the camera in any other direction, you'd see a McDonalds and a strip mall. I wanted a glamorous world where everyone was better than me, but everyone just sort of looked okay; some people even wore track pants. I was disillusioned.
It wasn't a place where everyone came to pursue their dreams, where everyone was an actor just waiting for their big break. Trust me, we tried to film a few man-on-the-street bits for the coverage and no one wanted to be on film. As a comedian, I can tell you that you have not bombed until you've bombed for six hours straight. This city chewed me up and spat me out. That cliché is the one that turned out to be true.
Which, I have to say, is oddly inspiring. There isn't much that's going to scare me anymore, and I'm alive to tell the tale. Then, another interesting thing happened to me: pity. I stopped going up to people and instead people saw my sad mug of a face, with my 70s lounge singer outfit (which I rocked), and came up to me instead. There is one universal truth in this city and it is rejection. We are all actually average looking people constantly looking for work and hoping not to get rejected.
That's when it hit me. This place is actually really shitty... but it makes the people genuinely nice. Those strangers came up and helped me because they knew how I felt, and let's face it, if the media machine in L.A. stops turning, then it might as well fall into the ocean. Much like Chicago supports the Cubs to help build a community and infrastructure, so must Hollywood keep pumping out work to provide jobs for most of the state. Suddenly, everything seemed a lot less jaded. People weren't avoiding the camera to be jerks, they had humility. Not everyone wanted to be actors; some people I met were doctors, or worked in park services, and they all had a screenplay, but that's not the point. Everyone had a friend that was letting them crash on their couch 'til they got on their feet.
I got to see some of my heroes do comedy out here, but it still had the vibe of a really great local show, because it was a local show, and they were all just friends and neighbours that weren't so much famous as good at their jobs.
So I guess my point here is that no one is better than me, and Los Angeles is a run-down and filthy place, where everyone takes care of each other. It taught me how to love my fellow man again. More importantly, it taught me to love myself again. I guess L.A. just does that to people.