About the 40 Days and 40 Mics project
For lent this year I decided that I was giving up not doing comedy. I wasn’t sure what this would look like, especially since I’m technically Jewish, but I suspected that it would involve a show a night.
At least one show a night! I declared, to no one in particular.
I live in NYC; maybe I should do more than one. Isn’t that the whole reason I moved here? The goal was to be onstage more than I was in my small town of Aspen, Colorado. I got here about a year ago, went to one open mic, and pretty much immediately lost my mind (more on that later in the blog) so any level of commitment would be an improvement.
They say your first year in NYC is hard. They are understating it.
I figured I’d show up, flash my bartending resume (which includes Nobu – the fanciest, most expensive, highest-end, celebrity-infused chain in the world), and get a job that would support me without cutting too deep into my stand up time. Ha! That was the city’s first joke (NYC: 1, Alexa: 0). Fifteen months later, I’ve gone through my savings, am hugely in debt, and don’t have much to show for my efforts.
I need to step up my game.
So lent came and I started. I got online and looked up open mics to fill in the gaps in my schedule and charged up my unlimited metro card and went on my way. Wandering into strange rooms with microphones, multiple shows a night, introducing myself to strangers who ran the gamut between wanting to take me under their wing and wanting to show me my place between the abandoned umbrellas and the sandwich bags of dog poop, (“If you don’t have experience in New York, it doesn’t really count,” I was told repeatedly. Most often by the least funny person in the room.) Still, I was on a roll, until I read about the fact that lent is really 46 days and you get Sundays off.
So I don’t have to do 40 days in a row? That seems like a scam. One day off rolled into two rolled into a week…you get the idea. My game fell apart.
And then I remembered that I’m not Catholic, so I’m not locked into the rules of lent. I decided to start over and keep a log, which in modern times is a blog and gets posted online. At least at the end I’ll have a record of the experience. And, did the tree really fall in the woods if there was no photo tweet instagrammed to a Facebook profile?
How did I pick these 40 days? Well, I pretty much have enough money to cover my rent and meager food consumption through the month of April and then I’ve got to figure out something else. My parents want me to move back to Aspen and I don’t want to leave New York without feeling like I gave it a real try. (Full disclosure: they’ve wanted that since the day my Chevy Blazer rolled west on CO-82 and are willing to send me money, but only if I use it to get back home.)
I also see that going homeless in New York isn’t the wisest decision if I don’t have a plan (more on that later, too). Some of you are reading this and thinking that the period should have come after the word decision. You might be right. Either way, sustained by a combination of Ramen and Internet dates, I am going strong for the next 40 days and leaving the rest to fate.
Why 40 days?
Forty is significant in the Bible as a period of testing – Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai, the rains fell for 40 days, Goliath tortured the Israelites for 40 days until David stepped up…and that’s just the Jews. Mohammed, Buddha, and Jesus each fasted for 40 days. In pop-culture/self-help, Morgan Spurlock and Gretchen Rubin agree that 40 days is a sufficient amount of time to change a habit. Egyptians believe that it takes 40 days for the soul to be fixed in the body. And then there’s an Arabic proverb that says: To understand a people, you must live among them for 40 days. The Alexa variation on that proverb is that, to understand me, and my desire to be a comedian, I’m going to do 40 standup shows in 40 days.
I’m making up my own rules.
1. Get on stage every night.
2. If I don’t get on stage one night, I need to do two another night to make up for it.
3. Write a blog about the experience.