Jimmy Fallon's newly obtained college degree may not seem like a big deal to many people besides Jimmy Fallon and his close friends and family. But you know what? I was pretty psyched about it. Why? Because it took me forever to get my college degree. I got my BA in Political Science from Hofstra University in 2006, right before turning 27 and after going through five majors, numerous unsatisfying jobs and dropping out twice. I know what "giving it the old college try" means. I did it three times.
Not being able to find work is what prompted me to go back full throttle and get my degree. (So did guilt, courtesy of my caring, concerned and fed-up-with-my-whining family.) I was told by so many people that getting my degree would get me a higher salary and a better position, and I figured that with years of full-time job experience plus the Holy Sacred College Degree, I would be unstoppable.
Turns out I was actually quite stoppable. But I know I was not and still am not alone -- right now, you pretty much have to be, well, Jimmy Fallon to be guaranteed a job after getting your degree. If you're lucky enough to have a job, it's most likely entirely unsatisfying and has nothing to do with your intended career, which is probably going extinct anyway. Yet you have to be grateful to have a job at all, a situation that can, at times, deplete you of all hope and joy while you're festering away. Seeing interviews with recent college grads is just depressing. They're going on an interview here and there, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, told that companies are not hiring but laying off workers, or that the most they can offer is an unpaid internship. This is what I experienced upon my graduation. When I did find work, it was part-time, temporary, and paid me about the same amount I was making in high school. I finally found full-time work and I'm still making less than I did as a filthy college dropout.
Wow, want to kill yourself yet? Sorry, homies.
Enough bitching. The reason I went on like that is because there are so many of us going through this. But I've found this frustrating time to be the perfect opportunity to pursue my chosen career -- comedy writing and performing -- on the side. I have to. If I don't, I will surely continue to do nothing but feel sorry for myself and I'm just sick of it. Sure, there's rejection and criticism in entertainment. It comes with the territory. But it definitely doesn't suck more than thinking I'm stuck going in circles down the toilet and leading a life that's going nowhere because the economy is stuck like dirty, week-old gum wedged into the soles of someone's shoe. And believe me, I'm not having monumental success in comedy, but I do feel like I'm getting things done. I'm not sitting on my ass all day. I'm a writer, a producer and performer. I'm going live with my own site soon. That is where I'll be kicking ass, because I had to start kicking ass somewhere. And I do kick ass, and soon people will start to see it for themselves. (Even if I happen to know all of those people personally and I had to physically sit them down in front of my site. They will see the ass-kicking.)
So what does Jimmy Fallon have to do with this, besides the fact that we are fellow geriatric college graduates? (And also how I joined my school's sketch comedy class and got my Tina Fey on in our SNL-like news segment -- yeah, you know it.) Well, I've been a big fan of Jimmy Fallon for a while. About ten years, actually. Okay, I'll come out with it: Ten years ago, I chased Jimmy Fallon down the street outside Rockefeller Center. I would like to apologize to him for that because it must have really, really freaked him out. I mean, I've never been intimidatingly scary, certainly wasn't at 19 when "The Chase" occurred. All I can say is that I'm really sorry, Jimmy, if that did scare the hell out of you. I was very excited to see you, and I was also very 19 at the time. (And I'm still so psyched that you liked the bar mitzvah card I sent you.)
But Jimmy Fallon is the one who helped me take my first step into sketch comedy. When I told him I wanted to write for/be on Saturday Night Live, he told me to take improv classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade. So I did! And I sucked! But I was good at sketch comedy, which was directly related to my improv experience. (Especially since I would write sketches in my head on my way to improv classes. That is not how to improvise. In fact, that is exactly what improv isn't.) Since Jimmy bestowed his wisdom upon me, I've done a pretty good amount of sketch comedy for someone who has worked full-time and gone to college (every once in a while), and it's been my lifeblood. My bread and butter. My joie d'vivre. My sugar daddy. I say that in honor of my first paid gig, which I shot last month. But now I've finally found the time and focus to start my own site and write and produce my own sketches. (Actually I've had the time, but I just had to get really, really fed up first, which happened.) I have no idea where it will lead, but all I know is that it's what I do and it's what I'll always do, whether I'm being paid for it or not. (But honestly? I think I will be.)
Thanks Jimmy, and Congratulations on your degree! (And again, sorry about chasing you down outside 30 Rock!)
(And Do I Look Fat In These Shorts? aka www.DILFITS.com will go live later this month! )