The big leagues


Charlie Nadler grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and graduated from MVRHS with the class of 2002. Until mid-March, he lived in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles where he worked in the film and television industry and performed stand up comedy. He’s just relocated to New York City, where he will continue to muse about his life on and off Martha’s Vineyard in his weekly “From Afar” column.

It took me a long time to merge affinity, ability, and ambition. As a kid I had affinity and ambition for basketball, but my abilities were better suited on a chessboard than a playground. My mathematical brain probably helped my jump shot a little bit, but there was no formula to solve my peers’ exponential advancements in height, strength, and speed.

In high school I fostered some affinity for math because it came easily and it felt good to be successful at something. But once Calculus showed up my ambition waned. Calculus is all about finding the area of a curve. Finding little enjoyment in that, I curved away from the calculus area.

I’m thankful for stand-up comedy because it is something that I love and that often loves me back, especially when I put in the extra effort. I like how any life experience can turn into a joke and I LOVE when the event in question happened way before I ever picked up a mic. It’s a fun blend of time travel and catharsis, although in this case it’s like going to a therapist who says, “Tell me about childhood, and if it’s entertaining enough you can bill me.”

One of my foibles is running analogies into the ground and my analogy du jour is European soccer. European Soccer has a pyramid structure where — when you win a league — you get promoted into a higher, more competitive league. Conversely, if you perform poorly and lose a league, you get relegated to a lesser group. I would like to see this instituted on Facebook to encourage less whining, fewer poorly lit dinner plates, and an end to the incorrect usage of comment threads. I also wish they had this system in JV Basketball because I would have been MVP of the small, weak, and slow league.

I bring this up because comedy fits this model at times. Open mics turn into “real” shows and then “pro” shows. The Big Leagues. I was fortunate to get a short guest spot at a real live comedy club last week. Hopping the train to the venue, I felt like a Triple A ballplayer heading in from Pawtucket. All the other comics had been there before and will be there again. “How should I introduce you?” asked the host. The last two comics he had introduced had been on The Tonight Show and taped a half hour special for Comedy Central. A part of me wanted to yell “DON’T!” and run out the door screaming.

I stayed of course, my ambition anchoring me into the floor. The experience was both scary and fun, humbling and exciting. I am learning that I still have a long way to go, but I traveled far to get to this realization and I am proud of that. It is a journey that will inevitably throw me massive curves, but for the first time I would like to calculate the area.