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Thank you, Universe

I am delusional. I usually think that if I want to make more money in the performing arts, I just have to work harder. But the truth is when I do what the Universe wants me to do creatively, the money usually comes in, and usually not how I expect it.

For the last several months, I’d been wanting to write and perform a piece about my dad’s funeral, but I’d been sitting on it out of fear. Out of embarrassment. Out of whole bunch of unresolved trauma.

Anyway, with a lot of help from my friend, Gary Rudoren; my wife, Lauren; and my group therapy, I finally put it up at Louder Than a Mom, one of my favorite storytelling nights in Chicago. And it killed. I am tough critic of my own work, and even I thought it killed. I was so proud of it. I had a performance high for a week. I didn’t get paid, but that’s not why I did it. I did it to try out new material. I did it because it builds my confidence. I did it because it was an investment in myself.

And that creative investment really paid off, because the following week I had six on- camera auditions for parts in TV shows and commercials. Six! Then out of nowhere, my agent e-mailed me asking if I was available to shoot a commercial on Tuesday. “Of course, yes, I am available,” I wrote back. This was a commercial that I hadn’t even auditioned for! And guess what? I got it off an old headshot.

Was all of this just a coincidence, or was it directly related to me putting up my piece about my dad’s funeral?

Lauren kept saying it was “dumb luck” that I got the commercial. I don’t see it that way.

I have seen this happen time and time again — when I put effort into something that fills me up creatively and let go of “trying” to make money, the money comes. The problem is I keep forgetting it. I keep losing faith because I am too busy trying to control or predict the outcome.

I had put myself out there with my piece and then I showed up to all those auditions —some of them I even showed up to early — and the Universe took me seriously because I took myself seriously. Even if it was only for two weeks, it was working.

Of course this is easy to say in hindsight. It’s totally different when you are in the thick of it, schlepping back and forth from auditions and getting frustrated trying to figure out why you are not getting cast.

As you know, I have many talents, and telling stories is just one of them. It’s the one I struggle the hardest with because it’s the one where I am the most vulnerable, but it is also the one right now that is bringing me the most rewards, even if I cannot always see them immediately.

Want the Universe to open things up for you? Focus on your art in Jimmy’s next Two-Person Scene Tune-Up, happening Dec. 30. Only $79 if you register by Dec. 14!

196: Kelsie Huff

Kelsie Huff is one of Chicago’s hottest comedians. She has studied at iO Chicago and Second City and she teaches the popular Feminine Comique, which is a stand-up class geared towards woman. Jimmy talked to her at this year’s Chicago Women’s Funny Festival about how she uses improv in her stand-up, how to make the transition from storytelling to stand-up, and how she has been able to transform pain into comedy.