Real Sh*t Learned in Los Angeles
I’ve just moved from Los Angeles, California after living there for a year pursuing a career in comedy and television. It was the most fun I’ve had in my life, but I also learned a lot about my self, the real world and the City of Angels.
Facades are Real
Have you heard the phrase “acting Hollywood”? Well it's a real thing and nowhere can you find people more “Hollywood” than in Hollywood. A solid percentage of Angelinos are imports or aspiring artist like myself. Most take the opportunity of being the city to create new larger than life, Instagram appropriate versions of their former selves. Some even get really creative and scrap their prior selves completely. Exciting stuff. In this dreadful celebrity obsessed day and age, the reality of achieving financial success by being a persona rather than a person is something that pushes a lot of people to keep it anything but real. I’ve seen too many friends conform to the look and behavior expected in the environment we entered together. Weird that in a place that seems to value individuality, barely anybody is brave enough to be that. Keep it flashy, keep it sexy, keep it cool, but most importantly keep the projected perception alive. Oh, and nobody calls you out on your crap because that would wake folks up to the idea that they, too could be full of shit.
Sexism is Real
Being in the entertainment industry, connections and networking are important. Not just for advancing your career, but for building a community of likeminded people who can inspire and push you to strive for greatness. Never before in my life have I been objectified more than in my quest to find friends and colleagues in comedy. A male dominated field, most comics hit on me before picking up on the fact that I’m a comic from how hilarious I am (yeah I said it) in casual conversation. Even after being told, many of them still insisted on seeing my mouth as an entry-way for dick. I even had a conversation with two male comics who agreed that the only reason men talk to or spend time with women is to gain entry… which made the fact that we were grabbing drinks weird AF. I’m still trying to figure out how women get anywhere with the cock-shaped road blocks around every corner. My female mentor told me to finesse those situations into opportunities, but I shouldn’t have to. I should be respected and taken seriously.
Intersectionality is Real
Los Angeles is a very diverse city, in every possible way. There is as much ethnic and cultural diversity as there is economic. From the extreme poverty of LA’s huge homeless population, to the extreme wealth of those fortunate enough to head for the hills, I was exposed to so many different people. At one point, I was on a job interview with both a homeless woman and trans woman. We got to get to know each other in the waiting area. Barbara, who had been living on the streets since her parents kicked her out for being lesbian, was glad to have a job out of the sun. Jen was happy to have the opportunity to work at a desk. Her hip and leg were still healing from a hate crime. She showed me a scar on her arm from being attacked with a knife. Needless to say there is way too much hate in this world. I never saw Jen in the office, and Barbara was reprimanded for having an unpleasant smell. She told me she didn’t know where to do laundry, and probably couldn’t until we were paid. In such a relatively small city, there are a lot of areas where wealth and poverty meet. The most interesting thing was perhaps how seemingly easy it is for the rich to turn a blind eye.
Rides are Too Real
Los Angeles has an amazing public transportation system. So amazing that many people don’t really feel the need to buy cars. Which is great for helping the cities shitty carbon footprint, but can be horrible for those of us who drive. No lie, I once had 2 grown ass men tell me we were going to a comedy show where I could perform and had me deliver them to a party. I hadn’t been used like that since my freshman year of college. I was invited to shit that people ordinarily wouldn’t have thought to bring me to if they didn’t need me to bring them! It wasn’t until the shit got really predictable that I realized what was going on and decided to protect myself- and my gas tank. Over the course of that year I found out that cars are only one way one can be used by another to get from point A to point B.
But wait, there's more... Real Shit Part II