Kaseem Bentley was my after school chancellor at USF. During a field trip I asked him if there were any venues where I could perform stand up. He knew so much about the comedy scene and I wanted in.
"Yeah there is a place called the Luggage Store on 6th and Market. I'll take you there Monday" said Kaseem.
Kaseem is one of coolest guys on the planet. However, during this time in his life, he was so unreliable and you could never predict what he was going to do. We agreed to meet on the coroner of 6th and Market around 6:00 PM but he didn't show up until much later. I was really young at the time and I had never been in that area by myself, so I was scared shitless. Crack-heads were abundant and they would come up to me and try to sell me random things. One guy tried to sell me a copy of Star Track First Contact on VHS. It was a different world. Another crack-head said to me,
Ahh.. You got a quarter?
(As he was walking away)I know you got money...SUCKA
I tried calling Kaseem on my cell phone but he wouldn't pick up. Finally after an hour of waiting he arrived. But by then it was 7 and I was already traumatized to the point of no return. Looking back, this was the exact moment I started down my road to becoming a true comedian.
Hey! You said you be here by 6!
Sorry but the bus came late.
That's cool.... Damn man this place is hella scary. Where is the Luggage Store?
We walked across the street and into a shady looking building with graffiti written all over it. However, things started to change when I walked up stairs and onto top floor. It was a gallery with a huge open space, where artists would hang their work. I was never exposed to this type of environment before and when I saw the venue I knew comedy was my future.
We walked in during someone's performance. I kept silent in order to not disrupt the show. Kaseem then introduced me to the incredible Tony Sparks. Known as the God Father of Bay Area comedy, Tony has helped every single comedian who has attempted to build a comedy career in San Francisco. He is the peanut butter in a P&J sandwich—without him there would be no sandwich and there would be no comedy in San Francisco.
Tony gave me a sheet with all the open mics on one side of the paper and showcases on the other. My original plan was to perform at the open mics, then slowly transfer to showcases only. Had I known comedy would take years to perfect, I would have been less ambitious and enjoyed spending hours watching comedy at crappy coffee shops.
I sat down and observed quietly, soaking up the atmosphere. Every single comedian who performed that night bombed horribly. It was like staring into someone's ass hole, while they were taking a shit on your face. You couldn't leave during someone's set because that would have been rude. So I had to sit there and wait until they finish taking their shit. My ego started kicking in and I said to myself, "if this is comedy then I could do it too." After the show was over, I thanked Kaseem for introducing me to the comedy world and I immediately ran home to write my own jokes. That night was truly forgettable
Today Kaseem is one of the best insult comics in the Bay Area, and you can see him regularly around the San Francisco comedy scene. Check out this interview I made with him click below.