A Week in the Life of a Brooklyn Stand-Up Comedian
by Patrick Hastie
This is Comedy Diaries, where we help outsiders and aspiring comedians understand the bombs and standing ovations that happen to people pursuing a life in comedy in a seven-day period.
Today: A stand-up comedian who also wants to be a writer (but really just wants $35,000).
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Hometown: Glenwood, Iowa
Years in Comedy: 8
Day Job: Account Coordinator for a PR firm
7:30 a.m. — I wake up and my wife Stacie is already getting ready for work. She’s a landscape architect and very good at it. The weekend was kinda crazy. I ran around trying to get a tape for a thing, recorded two podcasts, and had a nice breakfast with my wife, but our dog Murphy (good boy, great friend) was sick and we ended up having to take him to the Emergency Vet TWICE yesterday. This morning he’s acting pretty normal, so we gave him his medicine and took him for a quick walk and then I got ready for work.
8:15 a.m. — I ride the train with Stacie until her stop at Wall Street. It’s my favorite part of the day. Goofing off with her, stealing her mints and reading her my best tweets from the previous day. When she gets off the train, I do all promo for today’s episode of my podcast (The Nostalgic Front). Our guest was Brian McGuinness. I gotta make the image, post it on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
9:00 a.m. to 3:00p.m. — I work at my day job. I’m a temp for a PR firm and it’s pretty great. The kind of job every comedian is hoping for. It’s not mentally taxing, it’s not super hard labor (like being a mover or doing construction), and everyone I work with is pretty cool. This week happens to be my busiest week of the month though, so I spent the entire day packing up product to get it ready to ship for a photo shoot later this week. This pack-up started last Friday, and since the temp agency I work for is full of comedians, I got to bring in Kevin O’Brien to work with. I can’t stress how nice an office/temp job is when you got another comedian to talk and pass the time. Today though, it was just me. My back kills and I haven’t had any chance to take a break or a lunch or anything.
3:00 p.m. — I finished the pack-up early and usually I work until 5:00 p.m., but since Murphy (good boy, great friend) has been sick, I’m going home early to give him some extra love. Then I hope to do the mic at Dream Baby.
5:00 p.m. — I got stuck on the dang Q Train heading back to Brooklyn. It sucks. Murphy had an accident (gross) but is doing better. I take him for a walk.
6:00 p.m. — I get back in from walking the dog and realize there is no way that I’ll be able to make it to any open mics tonight, so instead I decide to finish up the writer’s packet I’ve been working on. It’s due Wednesday and I freak out so hard over these things. I’ve spent almost a decade doing stand-up so, like, I’m not nervous or stressed out about doing sets. But I’ve only submitted three writing packets ever, and I don’t have any agents or managers or anything, so it makes me crazy. I give so much power to every little thing. It’s really frustrating and embarrassing.
6:30 p.m. — Stacie got home from work and since she still has stuff to work on, we eat dinner and watch last night’s “Game of Thrones” episode again. I thought it was too shaky and dark and fucked up, but I still liked it. She loved it. I also think (no spoilers) Arya pulled a move very reminiscent to a move Rey pulled in The Last Jedi. Which rules.
7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. — I work on this packet getting it all finished and formatted correctly. I sent a section to my friend Nasser Khan because I really like his perspective on my jokes, and he liked it which gave me confidence. I sent it in and went to bed (but really I watched the episode of “Star Trek: TNG” where people keep disappearing and Beverly Crusher is the only one who remembers them).
7:50 a.m. — I wake up late and my wife is already out with Murphy. I take a quick shower and we leave together.
8:15 a.m. — We get to the train station right as the 5 Train comes, so I swipe and run through, but Stacie’s MTA card was expired so she didn’t make the train. We yelled goodbye to each other like lovers in a movie, and I rode to work by myself. I used it as an opportunity to draft an email I need to send tomorrow to this comedy club I want to try and get work at. Much like the packet writing thing, I also hate writing these emails. I have no real credits other than comedy festivals so it always feels like a fool’s errand. But I think everyone kinda feels that way.
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. — I’m not working at my office today, I’m working at this cool gallery in Chelsea. I’m setting up for a photo shoot, which sounds cool, but really it just means I’m opening tons and tons of boxes and unwrapping tons and tons of product. All the stuff Kevin O’Brien and I wrapped on Friday. It takes the whole day. I’m the only employee from my work there so I just get to hang out with the photographer and the photographer’s assistant all day, which is pretty fun.
6:00 p.m. to 7:00p.m. — After work, I head to The Creek and The Cave in Long Island City to do Danny Stratton’s 6 p.m. open mic. It’s always fun and I really like Danny. He’s very funny and we always have fun together. Tonight he had Phil Forrence co-hosting. Phil is also funny and we had a lot of fun in Pittsburgh last month at a comedy festival. The mic was good from the top, but I had nothing ready. No new jokes I’m that stoked about, no new ideas. I was talking to Donnie Sengstack and he told me about a new haircut bit he wanted to do, and so I decided that if I went after him I’d use that as an in to do my old haircut bits and see if anything came from them. Donnie got called in the first group, and I started making notes about the haircut bits and another older bit that I did a bunch but was never satisfied with about my college girlfriend’s beta fish. Donnie’s haircut bit crushed, and I got called in the next group, so I knew my haircut bits could work, or at least ride off the energy of his. Casey McGowan went in my group and did a bit I’d never seen him do before about seeing a dog on an elevator. It crushed really hard, which is saying a lot for a 6:00 p.m. Creek mic. After Casey, Pedro Salinas ALSO crushed really hard doing a bit about a dog, so when I went up I abandoned the haircut joke, and instead told a story from when I was a dog walker about how I went to pick up a dog for a walk once and the dog wasn’t home because it was in Australia. They had flown the dog to Australia and didn’t notify me, the dog walker. That joke went nowhere but I refused to bomb, so I used my skills (i/e yelled a lot) to get the room back and then did the joke about my college girlfriend’s beta fish, which ends really groany, so that was fun.
8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. — I went from The Creek and The Cave to Branded Saloon and when I got there I hung out outside with Sam Bourne, Kevin Froleiks and Harrison Tweed. We had a nice chat about the merits of handshakes and hugs between comedians. I am anti-hug, unless it’s a close friend. When the mic started I got called in the first group, followed Harrison (who had a great set and did this really good bit he has about Obama doing stand up), did the bit about my college girlfriend’s beta fish, and did it OK but the ending is still so groany. Not what-a-lame pun groany, but jesus-christ-that’s-upsetting groany. I think I should maybe actually try to write the joke out and make it good instead of just saying it 1,000 times and hope it gets good. After my set, Michael Good went up and had a pretty good set. I really like Michael. He started comedy in Des Moines a few months after I moved to New York. The first time I went back (in like late 2013) I was blown away with how funny this new dude in the scene was. Later he moved to Austin and did like 4 years there and now he lives here. He’s very funny. We ended up hanging out in the bar for like two hours talking shit about comedy and our dumb friends from Iowa.
10:30 p.m. — I get home and Murphy is doing much better. He’s 11-years-old, and we’ve had him for 10 and a half of those years, so it’s always scary when he gets sick. We also have a really wonderful cat named Mattie (good girl, great friend) who is lying in my lap as I write this.
11:30 p.m. — Stacie went to sleep and Murphy and Mattie went with her. I check my work email to make sure nothing insane happened and then I check my comedian email to make sure Conan O’Brien didn’t send me something that accidentally went to my spam folder. No on both. I get ready for bed, and realize I never edited the FUN SIZE episode for my podcast. I quickly open Audacity and put it all together. Every week Brandon Ream and I put out two episodes of our podcast. One is a guest interview and one is a FUN SIZE episode where we do a deep dive into a specific topic. This week’s FUN SIZE is about the movie “Beetlejuice.” I love it and I’m surprised it took us this long to talk about it. After it’s edited and rendered, I upload it and go to bed (but really I watched two episodes of the 2012 Nickelodeon “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” series which is really really good).
7:50 a.m. — I wake up late and Stacie is already gone. I shower, get ready and take the dog out. Then I take the train to work.
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. — I worked. Today wasn’t as busy as the last few. I was at my desk most of the day just doing desk stuff. I’m going to San Francisco and L.A. for a week next month, so at lunch I go over how that is looking. San Francisco is all booked, which rules. I only have a few things booked for L.A. though so I send 10 follow up emails to shows and bookers that I originally emailed in March. Then I also send three messages for a run I’m doing in August in Wisconsin. This is easily my least favorite part of doing comedy. I hate having to constantly be like, “please for the love of God let me do your show I swear I’m funny and not a dipshit.” At lunch, I also did all the promo tweeting for my monthly show JACKKNIFE COMEDY. I tweeted out a tweet with each comic doing the show’s headshot.
6:00 p.m. — I go to the Pinebox open mic. This mic is a staple of Brooklyn comedy and I’ve always enjoyed it. It was one of the first open mics I did when I moved to New York in 2013, and I’ve never been a “go every week” kinda guy, but I do try to make it as much as I can. The mic was fun and I saw a lot of friends. I got called to go last in the first group, which is a good spot at any mic. The first bit I did was this thing about gentrification that I’ve done a few times, about how my street was renamed after Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the leader of the Haitian Revolution. It did OK, then I did my only real “new” joke which is about Danny Boyle’s new movie “Yesterday.” It went well and I am glad that the movie doesn’t even come out until the end of June because it means I get to have this dumb topical joke for another few months.
8:00 p.m. — I get home, Stacie and I take Murphy for a walk, and then we sit down to watch the latest episode of “What We Do In The Shadows” which ruled. I fell asleep on the couch and that’s it for my Wednesday.
9:30 a.m. — I got to sleep in some today. I don’t work for the rest of the week because Gideon Hambright, Brandon Ream and I are heading north to do a show in Saratoga Springs, NY, tonight. Murphy (good dog, great friend) is now back to 100% and so I take him on a big ol’ walk. We walk about 20 blocks and then head back. We stop at StreetSweeper (my favorite coffee shop/cafe in Prospect Lefferts Gardens) for an iced coffee and Murphy loves being inside there. I think he smells all the food cooking and it blows his mind.
10:00 a.m. — I do laundry. They can’t all be big paragraphs.
12:00 p.m. — I say goodbye to Murphy and Mattie and walk the 6 blocks from my place to Gideon’s. I wear these new orange sunglasses Stacie got me and on the way I try and take a *cool selfie* to send her. While taking the picture, an old man in my neighborhood sees me and yells “lookin good.” That was fun.
12:30 p.m. — I get to Gideon’s apartment where he lives with his wife Katie and their new baby Robley. Ream is already there, so we chat for a little bit, I play with the baby (and their dog Penny) and then we head out.
1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. — We drive from Brooklyn to Saratoga Springs. Gideon drives the whole way. Ream and I take turns playing music. Mostly new indie rock and old country. We stop along the way for snacks and it’s a real fun time.
6:00 p.m. — We get to Saratoga Springs. The town is beautiful and seems to be full of horses and horse people. Gideon booked where we’re staying and I just assumed it’d be some Super 8 or something, but it’s actually a really nice Bed and Breakfast. They have free cookies and coffee. It’s wild. We unpack a little, watch some TV and then get ready for the show.
8:00 p.m. — We get to the show at a bar called Gaffney’s. The show is called Comedy On Caroline. It was hosted and produced by Erin Harkes, who was really cool and really funny. The three of us were splitting a feature set. The order was Erin, Me, Ream, Gideon and then the headliner was Kelly MacFarland. The show was sold out, so we couldn’t even fit in the room to watch, but everyone crushed. Kelly and Erin are both so goddamn funny!
9:20 p.m. — We leave Gaffney’s and go looking for a place to eat dinner. Ream saw a microbrewery on Google, so we start walking towards and end up walking right by a comedy club called The Comedy Works. We go in and find out an open mic was going on, so we signed up at the end. There was about 40 comics before us on the list and everyone was doing 5 minutes, so we went to the microbrewery and had dinner. It was great.
11:30 p.m. — Gideon, Ream and I walk back to the comedy club and there are only like 3 or 4 comics before us. Everyone is pretty funny and it’s cool to see the camaraderie they all share. It REALLY reminded us of what it was like back in Des Moines when we first started. Back when your entire comedy world was the 50 people who lived in a 20 mile radius. One dude named Jack (just Jack, no last name) went up for the second time ever. He was from South Carolina and very funny. You could tell that he had listened to enough episodes of Maron or Pete Holmes or whatever that he understood what doing stand-up is and should be and he really wanted it to go well. It did, he had a good set and was funny. Ream went up and had a fun set. It is always so great watching people figure him out. Silly one-liners, puns, goofy shit. Then I went up next, the host (a great dude named Collin) accidentally brought me up as “Brandon Hastie” which I thought was very funny. I opened my set by talking to the Jack dude about his set. I complimented him and then riffed with him about how he should be better since it was his second set. I then did a few farm jokes and a thing about a girl I dated in high school. The set was really fun and loose and it was cool watching all of the local comics laugh and sort of invite us into their clique. Gideon went after me and also had a fun set.
11:50 p.m. — We went back to the rad Bed and Breakfast, Ream slept in the bed, Gideon slept on the Air Mattress and I slept on the floor. I watched “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” until I fell asleep.
9:00 a.m. — We all three kinda woke up at the same time. I was freezing. It was also pouring out and we missed breakfast. We all took showers, turned in the keys and headed out.
11:00 a.m. — Saratoga Springs has a lot of stuff named after some dude named Gideon Putnam, so we drive to a Gideon Putnam Drive and pull over so Gideon can get a picture. While taking the picture, a cop pulls up next to us and asks what we’re doing. We tell him we’re looking for a coffee place, and so he gives us directions to a place about a mile away. We go there, get breakfast and coffees, and just kinda wake up.
11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. — We drive from Saratoga Springs to Vermont. Our hotel is in a place called Shelburne. We check in and then go get dinner. After that we head to the music festival.
6:00 p.m. — We get to the Waking Windows Music Festival which is a huge. It takes place all over the downtown of Winooski, which is just across the bridge from Burlington. Gideon and I are both booked on the festival, but Ream is just hanging out. We were booked by Annie Russell, a great Chicago comedian who I met at a festival in Detroit last year. We get Ream a wristband, walk across the bridge to Burlington for coffee and cool photos of the river, and then go watch some bands. The one I liked most was Twin Peaks, who are apparently friends with Chance The Rapper.
9:30 p.m. — Gideon and I head to the venue where the comedy show is and it’s very cool. An art space, small and well-lit for comedy (meaning not super bright lights on the audience). Annie is there and I introduce her to Gideon and Ream. She asks Ream if he wants to do a guest spot and of course he does. Also, Erica Spera from NYC is featuring at The Vermont Comedy Club for Tim Meadows this weekend, so she’s doing a guest spot. It was rad when she walked in because we didn’t expect to run into each other on the road, and that is always fun.
10:15 p.m. — The show starts. The lineup is Annie (hosting), a great Vermont comic (who is moving to NYC in like 2 weeks) named Carl Sonnefeld, Ream, a hilarious Vermont comic (who apparently just won their contest) named Kathleen Kanz, Gideon, Erica and then me. The audience was good, but you could tell they were a little tired. Most of them had probably been seeing bands play all day, but they were still really on board. I did 20 minutes and it was fun. A ton of riffing and crowd work. I did a bunch of the jokes from my long set, but also put in this rap metal joke that is on my second EP from 2016, because I figured if you can’t tell it at a music festival, when can you? I closed on a bit about the subway which was dumb as shit. It worked and went OK, but it is so alienating to do a joke about public transportation in a place where everyone drives a car. I knew that and I know that. I just zigged when I shoulda zagged, and didn’t have time to bail to a different bit. I wanted to beat myself up for it, but the joke still did well and the set was really fun, so there is no use. Plus, everyone was super cool after the show.
11:30 p.m. — After chatting with Annie and the other comics for a bit, we take off. Ream is pretty *buzzed*, so our plan to record a FUN SIZE episode of our podcast tonight in the hotel is out of the question. We get food at a gas station and then turn in for the night. I watch “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” until I fall asleep. The podrace scene is so long and so bad.
9:00 a.m. — Today is May 4th, so in honor of May The Fourth Be With You, Ream woke me up by absolutely BLASTING the imperial march into my ears. I got up, showered, and we headed back to the city.
9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. — We drove back to the city. Gideon drove the whole way, and much like the ride up, Ream and I took turns playing music. It was a lot more indie story songs and sad bastard music to go with the grey rainy day. It was a nice trip though. We’re all really burned out and tired from the weekend, but we still have stuff to do tonight. Gideon and I have to run JACKKNIFE COMEDY (our monthly show) and Ream has to go do some electrical work for a friend. Tonight is the 59th monthly show we’ve done. We’ve been doing it for almost 5 years and it’s always fun, but we do a lot of work for it. So in the car I pull out my tablet and make the PowerPoint so that every comic will have their name in big letters behind them on stage. Once I’m done with the PowerPoint, I just kinda kick back and talk shit with my friends until we get home.
4:00 p.m. — We get back to Gideon’s place in Brooklyn and it is nice and sunny out. I ask Stacie to walk Murphy towards Gideon’s apartment, so I could surprise him on the street. When I do, it’s great because he is not expecting to randomly run into me so he loses his mind. We walk for about 20 minutes and then head back to our place. I’m so tired. It was a long weekend. Stacie and I cuddle on the couch with Mattie and Murphy for an hour or so and watch some of that 2012 Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon.
6:00 p.m. — I take a shower and then set up the comics pay for the show tonight. Everyone gets an envelope with $10, a JACKKNIFE button and a JACKKNIFE sticker. It’s not much, but we’re glad we can pay our comics because for a long time we couldn’t.
7:00 p.m. — Gideon picks Stacie and I up, and we head to The Creek and The Cave for the show. We started the show at a terrible bar in Gowanus and did it there for like 6 months and then moved it to a cool bar called Hank’s Saloon, but they didn’t want to do comedy shows in the summer, so we stated looking for another venue and Peggy O’Leary asked us if we wanted to move it to The Creek. I love The Creek, so it was perfect. We’ve been there for 4 years now and the show is always good and always fun. We’ve actually been completely packed for like the past year which feels awesome.
8:00 p.m. — The show is supposed to be starting right now, but we’re still empty. I’m in fucking crisis mode. Like, maybe 10 people, including our regulars. We’ve never been this empty at start time, so my impostor syndrome kicks in and all of the accomplishment and pride I have in producing live comedy is out the window. It makes me crazy anyways, but this situation is what we’re always afraid of. We decide to push until 8:20 p.m.
8:20p.m. to 10:00 p.m. — The room is half full at 8:20 p.m. and we start. We have no idea why it took so long for people to show up, but we’re glad they did. The lineup is set for Gideon going up first, me, and then after that it goes Brittany Carney, Drew Anderson, Allison O’Conor, Rufat Agayev, Sallie Smith-Fitch, Patrick Schroeder, Jordan Kleine and Devon Walker. We work really hard to put together great shows with great comics. Tonight is a perfect example of that. My set was fun, I just kinda goofed around and did some crowd work, but folks were into it. Everyone did great and the whole show ended up being a ton of fun. Alex English (who had done the show before and is always so hilarious) brought some friends and family who were in town so we added him as a guest spot. He crushed as well. In the end, the show ruled and I’m really stoked for our 5 year anniversary show next month.
11:30 p.m. — I get home and immediately go to bed.
10:00 a.m. — I wake up and Stacie is watching TV in the living room.
10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — We go to StreetSweeper for breakfast and I upload all of the photos from last night’s JACKKNIFE show to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I then reply to an email I got about these dates I’m doing in August in Wisconsin, and it looks like another show is booked. Which rules. I have no responses from any of the L.A. shows I emailed on Wednesday. Oof. Also, we don’t have a guest for today’s podcast recording, so I check our list and send 3 texts out. First response back is Steven Rogers (who is so fucking funny) and so we book him.
1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. — I take the bus to Ream’s and grab another coffee and a cookie.
2:00 p.m. — I get over to Ream’s and Steven is already there. We record the episode and it’s great, although it’s obvious Ream and I are tired. Usually we see each other once a week, and so spending three days with each other has made us all riffed out. Luckily, Steven is hilarious and mixed with our energies perfect and we have a blast.
3:30 p.m. — Steven takes off and we record our FUN SIZE episode about Music Festivals. It’s fun and we’re back to our normal fun energy by this time. The only real hiccup was when I ate a bite of my cookie, not realizing it had some ants on it. So there ya go. Vegetarian for 4 years and I accidentally ate some ants. What a world.
6:00 p.m. — I get home and I am so tired. Stacie is making a tart for this Game of Thrones watch party we’re going to tonight with some friends from her office. I lay down on the couch and watch the Jon Favreau movie “Made,” which I haven’t seen since like 2005. I still love it.
8:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. — We go over to our friend’s, have dinner and watch Game of Thrones. It was great.
12:00 a.m. — We get home, Stacie goes to bed and I edit Steven’s podcast so that it can be dropped tomorrow. We don’t do much editing, but we got on a weird run of talking about the bible, so I had to find some choir music to put behind this section where I just read the bible weirdly. It’s dumb, but fun. I get the episode uploaded and set to release at 3:00 a.m. Then I finish writing this diary and send it off. Which I am gonna do right now. I am sorry for all of the spelling errors. Be cool, live forever, never ever die!
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