Runyon Canyon is a popular park in Hollywood for tourists and residents, with amazing views, dog friendly policies, and super hot people. Seriously, if there ever was a day time 'scene' in LA, it’s Runyon Canyon. Bring your dog, Lulu Lemons, and a little red lipstick, and you are ready to meet someone. There are different levels to the hikes at Runyon, and while Routes A and B are easier, with more socializing, Route C is meant to kick your ass. It is tall, mean looking, and high fiving the Hollywood sign. The first time I went up it, I was excited. I had my earrings in, and I was ready. “Not for the faint of heart,” I was warned, “but you’ll love the views.” My friend Ed was my tour guide. “The other two trails are cake walks compared to this.”
My first few steps were fine, what was Ed talking about? And then very quickly, the next few steps came. Suddenly my breath was escaping me, and I stopped paying attention to everything around me. Beautiful views? Fuck it. I was dying. The last thing I’d ever see was that damn Hollywood sign, a siren beckoning for me to continue. I flipped it off. I stopped, and took a sip of water. Ed was out of sight by now. Just a few more steps, I consoled myself, knowing full well there was more than just a few more steps. I finally hit a plateau, where Ed was waiting for me, annoyingly jogging in place. We still had that last big peak to go. “I’m not going to make it Ed, I’ll just meet you back at Chipotle.” I said only half joking. I continued on, and watched out for skulls of past hikers who never made it.
When I finally made it to the top, I could hardly take it in. Not from pride, but I had left a lung a few hundred feet back. I caught my breath, and took a look around at the 360 degree view of the city. The Hollywood sign and Observatory, downtown, Century City, and just past that was the ocean. It was really beautiful. I did it! Am I skinny now? There was a colorful wishing box, where triumphant hikers were supposed to write down and deposit their wishes. I looked into the wishing box, covered in stickers and graffiti, and saw trash, dog poo, and empty water bottles. I don’t know when it stopped being such a triumph to conquer this hill. Judging by all the trash, it’s not exaclty the road less travelled, so maybe it’s not the Everest I thought it was. It’s just that thing you have to do to keep up.
Later that day, I went to work. I was bartending at a roof top bar on a particularly slow night. Looking for something to make us do, my manager handed me a bottle of bleach and a towel and 'asked' me to get to work. While scrubbing something sticky off a cabinet, I checked my phone. 7:18pm. I was probably on cable at that very moment, because I was one of the featured comics on Stand Up and Deliver. I told my manager, and she said “That’s great! I’ll have to check it out on the internet.” So will I, I guess.
I had no way of watching, and all I could do was imagine what my set was like, wondered if I looked nervous, if my hair was ok. I scrubbed, and thought about how I would one day tell this story on Letterman. There I was on my hands and knees, scrubbing the floors with a toothbrush, all the while I was on TV! I had to hide in the bathroom to check my fan mail!
Comedy has a way of throwing you into stardom, and not paying you anything for it. When I lived in New York, I got the chance to perform at the venerable Town Hall. I was opening for someone, I wasn’t even the main act, but after the show, I was taking pictures with fans, and signing autographs. The next morning, I was back to serving pancakes to rude businessmen on their way to work. You are a clay pigeon as a comedian, thrust into the air, and shot back down in a million pieces.
In LA, it’s harder to keep up with the Joneses. You think you’re doing great airing on cable, but your best friend is on a hit show on network television. Maybe you were just interviewed on a popular podast, but three people you know currently have billboards on Sunset. You don’t realize how much you’re actually accomplishing, because you are surrounded by people doing it better. You forget that little by little, you’re going up that hill faster every day. You’re challenging yourself, shaping up, and becoming the person you want to be, even if somoene is running past you. You don’t see it, until your friends comes in from out of town, and take one look at that hill looming over Hollywood and says “You climb THAT hill!? That’s impressive!”
Oh yeah, I guess it is kind of impressive. It does mean something to be on TV, even if at the moment I’m cleaning crayon off a table. It’s all a process, and one day I’ll be sitting next to Kim Kardashian, having finally caught up, and sporting a better ass.
You can watch Maria on Stand Up and Deliver right here on the internet!