Can sobriety and comedy co-exist?
By Scotty Mays
I am asked many times if it is hard to perform comedy sober when so many people around me drink. Being a person in long term recovery since Jan. 13, 2016, I can honestly can say no. Drugs and alcohol were just a symptom of my disease, and yes, addiction is a disease.
I have a Scotty problem. A problem that goes way beyond drugs and alcohol. Every day I have tools to deal with my issues that require daily maintenance. The obsession for me to drink has been completely lifted. That obsession stays lifted as long as I continue to work a rigorous recovery program every day for one day at a time.
The obsession for me to do drugs has been lifted as well also applying those same principles that I do toward not drinking. I am around quite a bit of things that could be deemed as “triggers,” but I do not have to participate in those activities today.
Every time I do comedy at a bar show I always question my motives. I hang out as long as I can but I CANNOT linger too long. I miss out on supporting a lot of my friends in the comedy game because I am at recovery meetings a lot. Between my work schedule, the work I do in the recovery world, and meetings, I have a very full plate.
Comedy is for ME. That’s my time, where every single one of my personalities can come out and play on stage. We all wear masks; we wear them to hide from things we don’t want to face. We wear them because we are afraid of how people will view us.
When I am on stage and have the ability to make people laugh, that is when I get some great medicine for my comedy. It can be a challenge though. I have nothing in common with a lot of comics, and I almost feel like they distance themselves from me.
I still have major insecurities. Deep down inside I want a level of acceptance. My old friends bailed on me during my drinking and drugging days. I was in a very dark place. So dark in fact that in early January of 2016, I was literally at the end of my rope. I was at a local park; it was gloomy and snowy that Sunday. I was standing on a picnic table with a rope around my neck. I was done. I had lost everything.
My phone started ringing and it was a friend I hadn’t spoken with in months. He said, “Hey man I was just thinking about you, and wanted to see if you want to go to church with me?” I am not so naïve to realize that some divine intervention didn’t come into play here. So I said, “Bro, get here as quick as you can.”
I remember sitting in church and crying like a little bitch that whole service. I was so fucking lost. I knew this was it. So that week I got my ass into treatment for the next 6 months and haven’t looked back since.
This is also where I ventured into comedy.
Comedy has been a major game changer for me and has helped reveal purpose in all aspects of my life. Ninety-five percent of the jokes I share on stage are based off of my life, a past I can laugh at today that used to bring so much pain. I hope by sharing my experiences, others can relate and realize they do not have to be stuck in the pits of hell of addiction and help is there if they want it. The other five percent were street jokes from what I have been told, so those jokes have been eliminated.
The comedy scene is truly unique. I’m not sure why people with insecurities would pick a form of entertainment that could easily make you question yourself constantly. It’s hard to explain really. I would be lying if I said when I am telling jokes to a room full of comedians and they don’t laugh that I want to snub my nose and say, “Fuck you!” But I have really taken on a new view knowing that it is OK if they don’t laugh. It’s when I do those same jokes to people looking to escape reality for a couple hours that matters.
A lot of people who come to shows have had shit days or weeks. My job is to get up there and help them through that stress by giving them things to laugh at. The short year and a half I have learned so much. I cannot wait to see what the next year and a half brings.
I must remain teachable in this game. I must be open-minded to constructive criticism. I MUST KEEP GROWING. The moment I stop growing in comedy is the moment I need to take a deep hard look at myself. I do know that if I was not sober today, I would truly be dead and I would not be talking about comedy.
I have so much gratitude. I am grateful to Karen Jaffe who gave the opportunity in the first place. Her guidance and wisdom in this scene has kept me hungry for me. I am grateful for Nate Washington who told me before I went on stage for the first time to relax. I will not die!
I am grateful to Jesse Nutt for the constant feedback he throws my way. I am grateful for Joe Young, Joe Robinette, Mike Wells, Carlin Hagerty, Jack Wilson, Doug Morgan, Dan Sebree, Keith Irvin, Ranson Karr, Holly Shock, Don Smith, Michael Morris, Dale Blomquist and Aaron Philips.
I am grateful for Jon Morris and his brutal honesty when I almost quit comedy a year ago, but instead looked at ways to keep improving. I am grateful for Luke Capasso and some golden nuggets he has thrown my way. I am grateful for my good friends Donni Krier and Jessica Graue. There are many many more and I am truly sorry for the names I have left off, but you all know who you are.
Thanks for all that are here for me and just know I will always be here for you. I know I have another relapse in me. I do not have another recovery. Much love yall and BE GREAT TODAY.