Islander from Afar


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.

I spent 11 months summoning the courage to write my first five minutes. In retrospect, I don’t know why courage was required to tell jokes at a forgettable open mic in the back room of a dive bar, but it was.

As I wrap up my fourth year performing stand up, I am relieved to have that rookie chapter in my rear view. It feels great to shed old fears and form new, scarier goals. Or maybe I just tell myself that to rationalize my obsessive behavior that transforms every comedy milestone into a false peak.

The moment I realized I could tell one joke successfully, I began to target the “milestone” of performing as a headliner, and I’m proud that I achieved this the other night; I told just under 45 minutes of jokes in my favorite town in the world: Oak Bluffs.

Preparing for this performance was a combination of a lot of living, thinking, writing, bombing, rewriting, and re-bombing. I arrived on the New Bedford fast ferry the night before very uncertain, and frankly unsatisfied, with several portions of my material. I rarely get more than five to ten minutes of stage time here in New York, so a good portion of my setlist had barely been tested, and I had no idea how it would all flow as one work.

I don’t know how this happened — maybe it’s the Fluoride in the water — but while reviewing my material in Oak Bluffs the afternoon of the show, I made a handful of last minute tweaks and punchline rejiggers, and suddenly felt completely reassured. I was irrationally comfortable. I probably should have sought medical attention.

I think this moment of Zen came from knowing that the audience deck would be stacked to an almost illegal level. Family, friends, so many types of wonderful people from all different chapters of my life turned out.

The immense love and support in the room that night made me feel like I could tell any joke I wanted, in any way I wanted, so I did. I am so thankful to have had such a special environment and memory. Oak Bluffs always has a knack for this kind of magic.

Serendipity has always played such a fun role in my development a comic, and I have so much appreciation for Tony Lombardi, Alex’s Place, and the Martha’s Vineyard YMCA for putting this all together for me. What started with my question about open mic night last summer, turned into opening for the IMPers, and now this year’s show. There is new talk about doing this every summer, so if you’ll excuse me I’m going to jump off this false peak; I have some more bombing and re-bombing to attend to!