Last entry was last October? DAAAAAMN. A lot has happened since then. This might be a long entry, or it might be a short entry, I haven’t decided yet and will just free-write. Within this past year, a lot has happened and I became pretty fucked up. If you’re going through something right now, maybe this will help you. Or maybe it will not and get you fucked up, too. You are forewarned.
To briefly fill you in on what happened in the past year: I just disappeared into this pit—this pit of non-stop hustle from October 2017 through early May 2018. I was nonstop working and going to class. I didn’t even have time to breathe and I’m not even kidding. I worked within the Union Square Hospitality group (USHG)—both at North End Grill and Gramercy Tavern, and I am constantly overworked. I got burned out pretty quickly and desperately needed a break. In between the two restaurants, I was back at Nom Wah briefly, while taking sketch and improv at UCB and acting classes at the Barrow Group Theatre Company, while doing the solo show one last time at the Museum of Chinese in America. It was a lot. I didn’t know my limits and overcommitted myself. I bit off more than I can chew and I thought I could do it all… all at the same time. And I became crazy… but you know what? Life is short, be fuckin crazy.
I took a lot of time to reflect after I left USHG in early May. I took an eat, pray, love trip to LA. Except I only prayed and didn’t eat because I was broke. My head was not in a good place to even pray. I loved by showing up to the last two days of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. It is and always will be the event I look forward to every year. I wish I would’ve gone to LA sooner, but I didn’t know I was gonna leave USHG sooner than I had expected. I wanted to stay at USHG for the long haul, but that inner voice within me says: you need to be somewhere else if you want to grow, and I listened.
This past year was really a year of FINALLY getting real with who I am, what I want to be, and where I should spent my time, emotions, and energy in my career and the people i surround myself with. For years I’ve struggled to figure that out and know what I want / know exactly how to ask for it. When I was in London/Paris by myself in the beginning of 2017, I was like fuck all of this shit and the shitty people I’ve ever met, I’m going to spend the year doing me. I made myself a priority, and kept going after the things I really wanted to get accomplished, even if it meant spending every last penny in my bank account to make it a reality.
Speaking of spending every last penny in my bank account, I don’t think I ever recovered from doing the show in LA. I emptied my bank account, and have been living paycheck to paycheck ever since. And guess what? I’m doing it again! I’m emptying out my bank account to do my second solo show in NYC’s Caveat. Boy, oh boy, was it expensive. I did extensive research on theatre venues, and all of it was around the same price as Caveat, way less in terms of capacity, and also they would have required liability insurance, which I do not have. I really had high hopes of doing the show at the TBG Studios again, but they’re no longer renting it out for public shows and will only focus on academic programming/rehearsals in the space. RIP TBG Studios and HELLO Caveat.
The show at Caveat is my second solo show or one-hour comedy special, whatever you want to categorize/call it, and it is called 28: Still Fucked Up. Yes, you guessed it — it’s about age, being 28, looking around you and realizing everyone else is way more grown up than you, trying to laugh it off by saying everyone has their own timeline, but then subconsciously you know you’re falling behind, and you look at the choices you’ve made in life and thinking if only I did this, I’d be there by now, but then quickly catching yourself thinking that, and convincing yourself everything will be okay but deep down knowing that’s not the case, and trying so hard to get over it—whatever it may be: your feelings, your thoughts, your emotions, that’s how you become fucked up. It’s the choices you make and the consequences that come along with those decisions.
I became fucked up because I made a lot of fuck it decisions, including that LA show in 2017 that drained my bank account, signing up for more sketch/improv/acting classes than I can pay for, and borrowing money from my brother and spending almost three months to pay him back. It was not cute. I definitely could have taken time off in between classes, but I didn’t wanna take a break between my UCB classes. I was hooked and obsessed about finishing the program because I wanted to audition for a Lloyd team. For those of you not familiar with the UCB circuit, a Lloyd team is the first long-form improv house team you get on at UCB in NYC — before you get promoted to Harold Night. It was my goal to get on by the end of 2017, but I didn’t get in Advanced Study after taking 401 for the first time, so I can’t even audition for any Lloyd teams. I passed 401 but the teacher recommended me to take 401 again. I was so sad after I didn’t get in Advanced Study and beat-ed myself over it. I constantly asked myself: Why are you so dumb and how come you didn’t pass 401? I let that voice replay in my head over and over again. I told myself the only way to get past this is to take a UCB class that focuses on specific skillsets and reapply Advanced Study. I got rejected again. It was rough. I had to take a step back and wonder why I’m trying so hard, and is improv giving me any true joy in performing. I’m closing in more towards a no at this point, so I’m taking a break from improv.
I’m now focusing on standup. I’m low-key in love with standup. I feel like every time I go to an open mic, whether I get laughs or not, it brings me so much joy. Let me repeat: so much joy! Mainly because I feel I’m so in sync with the audience and I love entertaining people. It makes me feel alive!
I’m still pursuing acting. It’s been 6-going-on-to-7 years, and I can’t wait to see what 2018/2019 will bring. In 2017, I was rushing to get my comedy chops on and acting game strong. I thought time was running out, and all I could do is try to sprint to the end of the journey. By mid-way, I knew I should’ve jogged instead. One step at a time. No regrets though. I learned a lot along the way.
28: Still Fucked Up is a very emotional/introspective piece. It’s similar to a comedy stand-up show with a bunch of one-liners or short bits. It’s completely different than my first solo show because it’s not a linear story, where this happens, then this happens. There’s no distinct beginning, middle, and end—only loosely. The only thing that’s similar is that I try to tackle heavy subject matters with a light tone. It’s about adulting, growing up, working in the nonprofit world & restaurant/hospitality industry, addiction, mental health, and how, if even, it’s (im)possible to be who we set out to be and the ways in which we fight to get there. In the end, we can only fight to get what we want.
I wish I can say more about the show, but you’ll just have to come and find out! The show will be on Saturday, December 1 at 2PM at the Caveat in the Lower East Side. Tickets went on sale two weeks ago, and you can get it here. Use the code “FOMO” for a 50% discount by Halloween - Wednesday, October 31.
Please come if you’re in NYC. It’d be so much fun! <3