In the beginning part of 2010 I was kind of adrift. I’d moved to New York from tiny Ocala, FL to get away from… just everything. I felt like I needed a new start but I didn’t know what that start was. I was still doing my same job on a career path that I’d been feeling trapped by and I didn’t know what I wanted to do or who I wanted to (or could) be.
I happened to see that McSweeney’s, a site I loved, was running a contest to find new columnists. On a whim, I decided to enter.
I fought with myself over the entry and put it off to the last minute, in classic Scott fashion, but I forced myself to submit what would become the first installment of the Dream Jobs column, So You Wanted to Be a Marine Biologist…
The summer came and went and I’d all but forgotten about it until one kind of shitty day in September, I was boarding a plane at JFK to go to Chicago for a weekend conference, and I checked my e-mail one final time, and saw an email from John Warner saying they’d loved my submission and I was a new McSweeney’s columnist. It was…shocking. I called my best friend slash most complicated relationship ever, knowing she was also on her way to Chicago, and told her the news. That night we met some more of my friends in Chicago and celebrated.
That was the day I decided to be a comedy writer, which was a long-held dream of mine. I didn’t know how I’d do it or what to do next, but I knew it was a major turning point in my life.
Throughout the year I was a columnist, I experienced every up and down that decision could spawn. I hated everything I wrote. I wanted to quit. I wanted to disappear. I wanted to have never taken this on. I thought I was a terrible writer. I thought I wasn’t funny. I thought this was another stupid dream by a stupid guy who was 33 and should have stopped dreaming.
Emails came in from all over the world. People found me on Twitter. The response was overwhelming. it wasn’t a hundred a day or even 10 a week but it was enough that I gained some confidence and some much-needed external validation. People would ask me if they could reprint a column in their blog. A guy in Russia ran one of them in his actual print magazine.
By the time I wrote So You Wanted to be A Computer Programmer… I knew I was done with my old career. I no longer wanted to be on that path. I wanted to be on this new path.
I quit my job on New Year’s Eve 2010 and spent nearly all of 2011 just trying to figure things out. I tried to write a novel but couldn’t muster the discipline. I wrote a screenplay for the first time and fell in love with writing screenplays. I found UCB and took a sketch class with Melinda Taub (another pivotal moment) and met people I’m still friends with and fell in love with the UCB community. I did stand-up for the first time.
Fast-forward to now. I still do some software stuff to pay the rent, because I’m not being paid to do comedy and writing yet. Not enough, anyway. But I definitely feel like I’m on my way to something, and that the something I’m on my way to is by definition going to be a Dream Job, and none of it would have happened if I hadn’t taken a shot at that McSweeney’s new columnist contest and pitched a column about, appropriately, Dream Jobs.
A few years ago, my editor at McSweeney’s told me I should package the column into a book when it was done. It was always on my mind but I never pulled the trigger on it for some stupid reason (fear, always fear). But I finally did, and now it’s on Amazon and Nook, and I couldn’t feel better about it. Feel free to check it out, or don’t, but I wanted to tell the story because writing about dream jobs that turn out to be nightmares started as a cathartic release from my tailspin, and ended up being the catalyst that changed everything about my life.
Out of Context Notebook Entries
"At the end the guy is a killbot"
I bet whatever I was thinking this would mean to me later was pretty fun.
I’ve worked in high-tech for 15 years. By and large, white guys run the show.
I’m trying to work in comedy. By and large, white guys run the show.
In both places, I see a lot of white guys, who are otherwise “good guys”, who on a one-on-one basis would never exclude someone differently gendered or of a different race, take up arguments that are fundamentally counter to the way they lead their lives.
Takes one to know one, to be sure, because I’ve been that guy as well in the past, and I’m working to not be, but I’m not above admitting that sometimes my brain still goes there. Everyones been conditioned in some way and it takes work to reprogram the brain.
This is just a note to remind myself and people that look like me, (genetically, anyway), that a big part of white male privilege is that it’s easy to take the stance that “we shouldn’t argue and fight about every gender and race thing” and that “everything should be a meritocracy”.
Because we (white guys) DON’T have to argue and fight about every gender and race thing. That’s the privilege. We can ignore it and we’ll be fine.
Because most things ARE a meritocracy for us (white guys). And while there’s bias in every system, and maybe one type of white guy seems to get further ahead in some places than another type of white guy, we’re all still automatically swimming in the pool of consideration. We never have to jump into the pool. We were waterbirthed there. This pool metaphor is weird but I feel good about it.
We SHOULDN’T have to argue and fight about race and gender because it shouldn’t be an issue. But it is an issue. So, we have to work at it.
Yes, things improve here and there. In the 15 years I’ve been in tech there has been so much progress on the women-in-tech (and women CEOs/CTOs) issue. But there’s still a lot of work to do.
If things get better and you stop working at it, then things stop getting better. That’s a law of physics. All systems tend toward entropy. That’s why we need to care and continue to bring issues to light and work at it.
The fact that a movie like Bridesmaids or The Heat makes as much news for being helmed by women as it does for being funny is a reason we need to keep working on it.
The fact that every story about new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is compelled to point out that he’s Indian means we have to keep working on it.
The fact that when Sasheer got on SNL, the story was as much (if not more) about her being a black woman as it was about her being one of the most hilarious, hardworking people any of us knows… we need to keep working on it.
Open mic hosts still intro women comics with comments about how pretty they are, or going out of their way to make sure everyone knows she stands out because of her gender. We need to keep working on it.
If we (everyone) really lived in that equalitopian (made it up) meritocracy that we (white guys) think we live in, those stories would all be written differently. I’m not saying it’s bad to highlight things, I’m saying that we’re not at “Mission Accomplished” until it’s common enough that a black woman is on SNL or a non-white-guy helms a major company that it’s not the whole story.
And since we’re (white guys) the ones with the most influence, we (white guys) hinder progress every time we (you get it) say we live in a meritocracy that we forget only includes us. If we want it to be true, we can’t ignore that it isn’t.
Funny is funny. Good coder is good coder. These are true things. But it’s easy to forget that not everyone gets to get judged on these criteria, and only these criteria, without having to claw through a thick veil of biases first.
These are thoughts I have after reading a bunch of things in the last couple of days. They’re just my not-that-well-informed thoughts.
Best of the Seinfeld AMA
Noodles and beef, you gotta believe. It was spicy like I asked.
Jane, get me off this crazy thing. Called lunch.
Six-Legged Cat Dance
Written by: Carolyn Bergier
I can’t handle this. Caitlin, Jenna, and Alise are awesome in this sketch.
We made one oversight, which ended up working in our favor. It took 2-3 lines too many to mention that this was a single stall restroom. With such a supportive audience, this just made the sketch hit harder, but it’s something to think about for next time.
In order of appearance/voice:
RACHEL: Jenna Marie Carey
WAITER: Patrick Grizzard
LINDA: Caitlin Puckett
WANDA: Alise Morales
Great stuff. Follow studentsketchshows for the next fun show!
Photos from the first Think on Your Feet! improvised stand-up show!
This was so much fun. Stay tuned for another one next month!
Episode 5 is here!!!!! We promise this one is SUPER CATCHY.
Get down with Paul Simon, Origami, and a good old fashioned pizza. THIS ONE IS A BLAST!
Trevor Lyon, Jessie Jolles, and Tracy Soren are in this one! Plus Chris Scott makes an appearance as “THE PIZZA MAN”. WOOOOOO “THE COUPLE”.
PAUL SIMON’S YOU CAN CALL ME AL. PAUL SIMON’S YOU CAN CALL ME AL. PAUL SIMON’S YOU CAN CALL ME AL.
Here’s how this episode relates to ME:
- I have now heard a Paul Simon song all the way through for the first time in my life (and I will never forgive DIBS).
- During every one of these shots, I was in the corner trying to take a nap, since they didn’t need sound.
- I will never understand how that stove can cook pancakes without being turned on.
Dave Murray has to call out our ONE MISSTEP WITH THIS EPISODE.
Episode 5 was so fun to make! Here are some fun facts!!!
The scene where Trevor Lyon and I are waking up, was taped in the middle of the day we were up shooting at 5am and I was almost falling asleep.
Tracy Soren power walking is the funniest thing in the world to me - I laugh every time.
The sandwich Tracy eats was sooo good! We both had a bite and then gave it to Gabe Elder
We took the picture at Shake Shack and birds were everywhere.
Tracy and I wrote this episode last because we kept putting it off. The ending is my favorite.
Tracy and I wrote cute things with our scrabble words.
The champaign part was not planned, that was my genuine reaction, pure fear.
We always hide pieces of our life in the episodes, something my dad Robert Jolles, did is in this…can you find what?
New DIBS with DIBSFACTS
This is great! Love this episode!
Love this episode, love these two hilarious women. You should be watching DIBS! Season finale this week! Catch up!
Shows coming up the week of 10/14
Evil Jon & Scott present: Snake Eyes, a 2Prov Show!
This show will have an improvised two-person play!
Monday, Oct 14, 8:30 PM at Triple Crown (click for more info)
Evil Jon & Scott take over The Danger Room!
Evil Jon & Scott are taking over improv mainstay THE DANGER ROOM this week, because we are evil.
Thursday, Oct 17, 7:00 PM at Triple Crown (click link for more info)
Think on Your Feet! An Improvised Stand-Up Show
A new show hosted by yours truly, featuring some very funny comedians making up their jokes as they go!
Thursday, Oct 17, 11:00 PM at Triple Crown (click it, guys, you get it)
For more info about future Think on Your Feet!shows, follow along at the Think on Your Feet Show tumblr.