Am I floundering?
I ask myself.
I’m telling you, man, at 46 years of age, this middle-age game is rough. I’m starting to have a lot of those “Get off my lawn!” moments and it bothers me a bit. I was always a very edgy, open-minded guy but I feel I have grown very impatient over the years with the state of all that is. I’m becoming more of an introvert than I EVER was. And really reclusive, too. Like, going out into the world for me anymore is just. Such. A CHORE.
I dunno. Maybe I need a vacation. Or more wine.
I also feel like I’m not doing enough creatively. Or maybe I have too many ways of expressing myself and wonder if I need to focus and pick ONE avenue of inventiveness and just stick with that. I get very caught up in trying to entertain my crew on social media but that doesn’t really accelerate my career. But then again, when one of my friends who has some considerable clout in the entertainment business winds up giving something I posted a “like”, I somehow convince myself that that is some sort of accomplishment.
But it really isn’t, is it. I mean, it would be if that person would soon after send me a direct message which read, “Wow, Max, I laughed so hard at that last post that I wanna put you on this TV show I’m working on. I just think you’re SO underrated and I wanna help put a fresh new credit on your resume!”
Uh. Yeah. Unfortunately, that NEVER happens.
I get so scared that I’m going to be obsolete BEFORE we get nuked by God-knows-who.
That said, I’ll tell you a cool story:
Last night I went and saw a friend do stand-up at the world-famous Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip. I really did NOT want to go. But this friend sincerely required my support and I was honestly curious to see what material she would perform and so I agreed to venture out. Did I prefer instead to stay home with my pugs – one who is still struggling with cancer, meaning my remaining time on Earth with him might now be limited – and watch a documentaries all night by candle light while drinking wine? OF COURSE! But I forced myself to get off my ass and GO. My wife was out at a Second City class anyway, and so I made it a date with myself.
I’m honestly glad I did.
While it was, at times, a very surreal 2 hours of (mostly amateur) comics blabbing on about Tinder, Trump, body image, parenthood, speech impediments, LGBTQQ issues, food, finances, and bladder function, it was also very illuminating to witness several vulnerable folks in a row having the bravery to go up on stage and reveal themselves through one-liners, jokes, and zingers…a few of which fell completely flat. But that’s okay, I was enjoying a rum beverage called The Punchline (haha?).
But then something really crazy happened.
As it turns out, the main headliner from downstairs had come UPstairs to The Belly Room (where I was at) to grant us an impromptu closing set. Lo and behold, holy shit, turns out it was writer-director, Judd Apatow. Now this was REALLY cool for me because I am a MASSIVE Freaks and Geeks fan. Sure, he’s known for many already classic comedy movies, but seeing him on stage 8 feet from me doing really solid, hilarious stand-up was TRULY an inspiration. I was so excited for my friend, who did a fabulous job, that I texted her afterwards that she can OFFICIALLY go around boasting that she had opened for Hollywood Big-shot Judd.
So as I drove home, I felt just a little bit better about MY place in the world. But I do think I can be doing even more. I see so many friends ascending all around me, while at the same time talking to others who’ve won acting awards in things I’VE written now working in sales or real estate.
Well, I’m not ready to go back to waiting tables. I’ve come too far and done too much but I want more now. Judd Apatow helped. And my friend helped, too, because she’s sort of going through her own little renaissance right now, doing stand-up and making short films while also trying to work a day job and be a mother to two boys. So what the hell am I complaining about?
And what about my wife, my own WIFE! She busts her ass 40 hours a week at a corporate gig and decided last year to get back to her writing and performing by signing up at Second City. Oh, she revs my juices ALL the time, I’ll say. I’m so deeply proud of her gumption.
Look, this is all telling me it’s never too late to re-boot, re-invigorate, re-invent. And, God forbid…step out of the house again once in a while.
Could be a good idea to take a class soon. Be it for stand-up, which I’ve done, or acting or whatever. Get some disciplinary brush-up action is all. Because not to be a conceited dickhead or anything, but I seriously sat in that audience last night thinking, “Man…I could get up on that stage right now and murder it, I bet.” Or fall flat on my face. The point is: THE FIRE INSIDE ME STILL BURNS!!!
I’ll be fine. I mean, I’m busy as hell every day. Working my ass off on various projects coming soon and working to be better. But it would be good to get some help from a professional mentor or instructor. A fresh, outside perspective. It’s time. I just don’t wanna feel like a flounder-er anymore. I don’t like it.
Or maybe I won’t do a damn thing.
Okay, I just took a break and Googled “flounder.” Look at THIS guy. You think HE’S sweatin’ life?
I’ll leave you with this:
I woke up this morning feeling pretty depressed. First time in a while. I did my morning ritual. Y’know…fed and walk the pugs, breakfast, newspaper, listened to the Alec Baldwin interview on Stern…”THERE’S a guy who’ll leave a legacy!”, I exclaimed, as I picked at my eggs, feeling sorry for myself.
And then I came to the desk. And I knew I was going to draft a blog entry about feeling like I’m floundering. Like I’ll never truly “make it.” Like I’ll just be known as a Z-level nothing for the rest of my days who’s made no impact, who no one in the industry knows what to do with, who’s bound to simply fade away into obscurity.
And then I get THIS email (copied and pasted with permission):
The Sopranos and the work of James Gandolfini have always been very close to my heart. The last season especially, it always gets to me: from Tony’s coma dreams and the stay in the ICU, to the final cut to black. I was having some troubles of my own during its original airing, with a lot of the material hitting close to home.
On subsequent re-watches, I can never shake the feeling the show gives me, and especially Gandolfini’s character work. After concluding my third series rewatch, I was already missing the character Tony Soprano: his mannerisms, quirks and personality. I went searching for some familiar moments from the show, but also something fresh maybe, like a compilation of outtakes, greatest moments, quotes, etc.
During this search I got very lucky and came across your videos. I was immediately impressed with your ability to so accurately channel the big guy, and knew within the first few seconds I’d found gold. Your flawless impersonations, and the ability to mimic and recreate the minutia of such complex characters are outstanding. Chrissy, Sil, Bobby Baccala, Junior – they’re all fantastic and very well done. It brought some nice feelings after missing these characters; it helped me reminisce, in addition to bringing fresh insight about what makes these characters who they are.
I think any accurate impression does so, as it relies heavily on mannerism and traits that most viewers likely only interpret subconsciously. But you bring them to the forefront, and use these things to recreate complex personalities. It’s very impressive, and must take a ton of talent and insight. Well done.
Your channel has a ton of great stuff, and I couldn’t subscribe fast enough. I think you’re very talented and have a great ear for impersonation and narrative. I just want to thank you for doing such a great job channeling these characters and adding something fresh and entertaining to the show, characters, and experience that means so much to me. Cheers.
S. C. Bryant
St. Louis, MO
I gotta say…I couldn’t have been more grateful for that. The timing was crazy. It totally lifted my spirits. And was such a nice change of pace from “You suck, loser!!!”
So thanks to S.C. and thank you, dear reader, for reading.
WINE PAIRING: Did you know Flounder goes GREAT with a White Bordeaux? How did I know that? Via this awesome Wine with Fish guide, courtesy of Wine Folly.