The Stand Up and the Farmer (A Love Letter)
I'm a small farmer and I love stand-up comedy. I don't get out to shows, and for that, I apologize. It's not for a lack of enthusiasm, it's just hard to make a night of it. The closest cities to me are hours away and I have animals on milking schedules, a 5:45AM alarm, and my only employees are a pair of border collies - so the opportunity to get out for a night in the city is about as likely as you doing a show at my local Grange Hall. But I have some things I want to tell to you.
I live alone on the side of a mountain. I manage six acres of sheep, goats, pigs, poultry, beehives and vegetables. I have a draft horse instead of tractor and my internet connection is a weak high-five above dial-up. I make some of my living from my farm, and some from my writing - neither of which is very lucrative but I feel like a success having figured out how live the life I want. I am waking up tomorrow doing what I love and being my own boss, which I think you can relate to. (I also know the import and pressure of having to sell yourself constantly. Everyday is a hustle, and we both know if we slow down there's a cubicle waiting with clammy palms to shake our hands.)
And that's why I connect more to you feral people behind microphones than other professions, including those in agriculture. In Stand-Ups I see my Tribe; people a little broken and a lot stubborn. Fiercely independent and determined to live the life they dreamed of despite the likelihood of success. You have no idea how much those of us out here on tractors respect that. We are that.
Stand up right now is incredibly personal, at least from the folks I listen to. I know about your spouse's coma, how you lost your virginity, your coming-out stories, your horrible dates and shattering divorces. I know your blunders and victories, your pets' names and your crash diets, and through it all I cheer for you weirdos like other people cheer for sports teams when I hear about your movie or TV deals. Your success is proof positive that we can want a ridiculous life that fulfills us without hurting others. That is not a small thing in this turbulent world.
These days laughter is needed more than ever. With the news constantly smiting us with the latest mass murders, police brutality charges, an atrocious presidential candidate.... I depend on an alternative. Thank you for providing it, generally for free or at little cost. I am constantly encouraged by the voices of people who observe and mock an insane world to help keep the rest of us sane. We depend on each other to be sated more than you realize.
When I put in earbuds to spend a few hours fixing a fence line to a comedy podcast - it is your lives I am sharing. Hearing hardworking people who made it following an equally unreasonable dream as my own is part of getting through another hard day. And the ease I am granted hearing the sound of a voice that I know is doing what it loves is a quiet thrill. Thank you.
Guys, I've heard all the self-effacing bits about the need for validation, attention, and the selfish desire to fill a hole inside your hearts. But you managed to find a way to do those things by making other people happy. And we live in a time where some people who want validation and attention are reloading cartridges. Your way is better.
We are strangers. We will never cross paths because we lead drastically different lives, but we're still in the service industry. People need to laugh and they need to eat. We're both doing what we love and fervently hoping we get to do it a little longer.
Cold Antler Farm