In March 2020, the world shut down. Having just dug myself out of the deepest, most hopeless black hole of depression of a life filled with them, I had no idea the worst stretch of that life was yet to come.
But what about comedy? It had been the cliff's edge as I tumbled down the mountain, headed straight for oblivion. Now? There would be no comedy for the foreseeable future, at least not in the traditional "microphone/indoor audience" manner.
My best friend in the world, my "seeing-eye-through-depression" companion animal Shakespeare had just morphed into my spirit animal, and I was a wrecked boat lost at sea.
Normally, when doors close, I put my head down and smash through a wall. But not this time. No, I didn't care if I ever did comedy or anything else ever again.
Then, my comedy friends Brandon Ponke and Matt Conn both tagged me on the "Joke-a-Thon" going around Facebook. Slinging jokes was the last thing I wanted to do, but my fear of letting down others has always found a way to poke through my sadness, so I decided to answer the call to create and post my own video.
The best I could do, with what little energy I had, was to have Mandy record me reading my "ratemyprofessors" reviews from my teaching days, in the voices of the students I guessed had written each one. On review, the video was okay: not killer, not cringe.
To my shock, the bit was a hit: not exactly a viral phenom, but a healthy amount of views, likes, comments, and a couple of shares.
So we did some more videos: college English lessons with humorous twists, like proper usage of the words "irony" and "literally," and the difference between "could care less" and "couldn't care less."
From there, we would film me telling stories, like the one about the vulgarity I slipped into the high school yearbook during the editing process, or the time I asked my Comp II class if they wanted to see my balls, which were "hidden behind the podium," or when a young female student asked me to critique her poetry, which was written in one of those creepy little-girl diaries with a lock on it. Soon I was even taking song requests and recording myself giving dramatic readings of the lyrics.
We named the videos "Home-School Lessons from the Doomsday Shelter with el profesor," and all of those videos will be on this site, with hundreds more to come. Yes...literally hundreds LoL. Everything just grew from there into what it is now. But if a "10" is Doomsday Shelter becoming the ultimate vision of itself, we are barely at a "1" right now.
If your heart or mind is troubled, please remember this: six months ago I had the audacity to step one foot out of the darkness, only to be dragged right back in. I did not wait until mental relief arrived to find my purpose; I forced the issue and found my purpose at the lowest point in my life. I know how you feel: you don't even want to feel better, because what is the point? Try this: shelve the romantic angst and forget all the dime-store philosophy and just do something, anything; you don't have to love it, you just have to do it. It may take a very long time, but eventually this behavior becomes a habit, and the habit becomes the single reason you get out of bed in the morning (or afternoon, as it was for me). Once you get to this point, you now have a foundation: something to build on. But don't bury all of those negative feelings; re-shape and weaponize them, carry them with you and use them to take back the world you left behind and claim all of the other territory and treasures you so very much deserve.
You are in there somewhere; we just have to locate you and bring you back into the light.
And try to start each day with an inspiring quote. Here's one of my favorites:
"The world created this monster, and now the world has two choices: get out of the monster's way or watch the monster pulverize it into dust."
To the lovers: thank you for being here at the Genesis.
To the haters: Toxicity is unbecoming; this is not for you.