'The entire town was out of my league'
Rajiv Satyal shares an excerpt from No Man's Land, a new show distilled from the experience of his own dating life, which has been alternatingly -- and occasionally simultaneously -- tragic and comedic.
I was honoured to be asked to contribute to the Valentine's Day edition.
I think the staff knew I wouldn't be busy dating anybody.
I thought about writing a brand-new column, but then it occurred to me the best thing I could do would be to share -- for the first time -- an excerpt from my show.
We could normally attribute this to the fact that comedians are inherently lazy.
However, I'm going to go with the idea that actually I'm not lazy.
After all it took me four years to write the show. Or, one could argue, 37 years…
After the breakup, it was time to move out of Cincinnati.
That town wasn't big enough for the two of us.
March 2006: I turned 30.
May 2006: I moved to LA.
That's what you have to do when you're out of your 20s. You turn 30.
But really, when you're out of your 20s and not in a relationship, you move to the coasts.
Everybody in the middle is married.
So, I left the world headquarters of Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati and I took a job as the Brand Manager of FIJI Water in West LA -- for a whole 12 weeks before I jumped ship to do standup full-time.
I'm now the definition of a free man -- no boss. No wife. In the USA.
But not just anywhere in the USA. In LA, where even a free man can feel trapped.
I'd never lived in a place where the entire town was out of my league. At least it felt that way.
And people say, 'Oh, dating is hard everywhere.' No. Los Angeles is a special kind of dating hell.
I've got a theory as to why that is: Everybody's selling and nobody's buying.
It's all about, 'Come to my comedy show at the Laugh Factory!' or 'Read my blog!' or 'Listen to my podcast!' or 'Subscribe to my newsletter!' And that's just me.
But the minute another entertainer says, 'Hey, come to my band's set at the Rainbow Room,' I'm like, 'Ah, man. I don't wanna do that.'
'Well, I came to your show at the Laugh Factory.' Right. You came. I got you in for free and entertained you. End of transaction.
Our relationship is in equilibrium. We don't need to create an infinite feedback loop of Factories and Rainbows.
This everybody-selling mentality is understandable -- it's why we went to LA.
But it permeates the dating scene.
We're all pushing ourselves and folks don't really want to make that commitment lest something better comes along.
So, I'd take girls out for drinks but didn't really get very far.
What made my road all the more lonely is that, in addition to doing comedy clubs, corporations, and colleges (hire me), I started to perform standup at a lot of weddings.
At a lot of Indian weddings.
It wasn't easy to keep seeing all of these Indian girls get married over and over again.
We've all heard the question a lot, but I've been asked, 'Beta, why are you not maaarried yet?' by more aunties than anyone.
I was always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Or always an entertainer, never a groom. Or something.
I'd wager that nobody meets more Indian females that I do. (Maybe an OB/GYN doctor in Edison, New Jersey.)
I was determined to make this move to LA work but seriously... I was miserable. Alone.
I'd grown tired of using Jack Daniels as my wingman.
So, I picked up a copy of The Game by Neil Strauss.
Yes, the pickup artist book. I know, I know.
It's so douchey and despicable. But I wanted to read it from a branding perspective.
Just to see how author Neil Strauss recommends you overhaul yourself. That's why people read it -- and Playboy, right? The branding?
Hey, I was a Brand Manager. OK, maybe not.
Listen, I was desperate.
My game up till this point was either to use alcohol... or to beg.
I sounded the same whether I was asking a girl to give me some or a serial killer to free me from captivity: 'C'mon, man! Please? Why me? I've come this far! Don't do this to me! What have I done to deserve this?'
Does The Game method work? It does.
And I wish I had a good story to go with it.
It was so straightforward that there was no drama to tell.
I'd meet a girl at a bar.
I'd walk up to her.
I'd use the techniques.
I'd get her phone number.
I'd call her.
I'd take her out.
We'd hooked up.
'Yada-yada-yada.' And that's that.
The only resistance a girl put up one time was when she pretended she had a man.
She goes, 'I've got a serious boyfriend.'
'Well, you need a funny one.' Boom.
Rajiv Satyal debuted No Man's Land, 'a solo show about being solo,' show in Los Angeles in November 2013.
After playing to a houseful in New York, he is taking it to San Francisco March 15.
He is also setting up stops in Cincinnati, Chicago, Washington, DC, NY (again) and LA (again). Find him here.
Image: Rajiv Satyal