Mental Health Awareness Month

I had always been ashamed of my paranoia, anxiety and depression. But the same brain that’s prone to paranoia, anxiety and depression is the same brain that’s capable of being creative, divergent thinking, less filters, out-of-the-box thinking and imagination in storytelling … similar to certain autistic individuals who show talent in other aspects of life and the arts.

Of course if you don’t maintain your mental health properly, you will become not functional in daily life with all these problems. But with age, wisdom and life experiences, I believe you can gradually train your fragile brain to become better and better, more and more stable, instead of falling victim to its negative aspects all the time.

If you learn to tame your mental demons, you can then leverage them for good … and for creativity. It’s a blessing and a curse.

Advice from Kobe from Heaven

What I’ve learned in my life after my last basketball game in NBA. 

The lesson I cherish the most is … how important it is to Love what you do.

If you love what you do and is making you happy, 

All that hard work and perseverance will pay off

If you know you are truly giving it your all, there’s no greater feeling in the world.

There was a guidance counselor that once told me I should stop playing basketball that it will never amount to anything.

Well, I took his advice. I took it and I used it to become the best basketball player I can be.

His negativity towards me made me stronger.

You cannot stop others from trying to limit your dreams. But you can stop it from becoming a reality.

Your dreams are up to you.

I encourage you, to always be curious, always seek out the things you love, 

and always work hard once you find it.

Please know that I’m thinking of you, supporting you and encouraging you always.

LeBron James writes he's 'heartbroken and devastated' after Kobe Bryant's  death

Peace.

Creating our own ultimate freedom.

All this senseless competition … will never stop. Ultimately you need to go find your own tribe.

A few friends I had back 10 years ago told me getting passed into one big club doesn’t mean anything because she can’t get consistent work there regularly. You still have to keep hustling, keep putting yourself out there, and find your tribe any way possible. If you can create your own fanbase, you can go anywhere and do anything. You will truly be free.

Maybe it’s okay not to be a huge comedian in the eyes of others

Not everybody will get into places like Improv, Comedy Store, Cellar, wherever … not everybody will get a 1st place prize from a famous festival. Those spots are coveted and the people who pick those winners and comics very often base their decisions on politics, demographics, quotas and more that has nothing to do with a person’s raw comedy potential or skills.

All goes to say, I think it’s very likely that at least in the US, talented standup comedians may actually go unnoticed their entire careers. It has less to do with their comedic skills and more to do with what’s acceptable at the time, which trends are happening, which demographics are “in” and which identity politics are at play, and what kind of doorkeepers are hoarding power and/or keeping people out. Not only that, there’s so much competition that it’s sometimes hardly worth it IMO to waste your time trying to get into a big big club or win a huge festival especially if you are not fitting the “mold” that these big clubs or festivals are looking for.

Not all of us are gonna make it. I would be surprised if I even “make it” whatever that means. Certain clubs might be off-limits to me my entire life. But a shitty comic doing subpar comedy at a big club is a shitty comic no matter how many followers he has or where he gets passed. A great unique authentic vulnerable artistic comedian at a small, tiny club or even an open mic is an amazing comic, no matter how small a following he/she has

No techniques, just heart and presence for everyone.

In LA, I think being real and genuine on stage becomes especially important because it’s so rare to see real and genuine people in general.

All of us comics and wanna-be artists gathered here to make a name for ourselves from all over the country and the world. It took me some time to realize that LA really can be “fake” and “phony” in many ways. Even if somebody is nice to you during interactions, doesn’t mean they care about you. There’s a lot of importance LA people put on “clout”, the number of followers, how popular and well-connected you are, because everybody’s desperate to get ahead and to enlist the help of other famous people, so that they can become famous themselves. It seems like a never-ending marathon of sucking up and impressing the right people, although I guess it’s pretty similar in any other industry anywhere.

So LA’s not all artistic innovation and a haven for sensitive artists to gather and ideate together. It feels more like a cut-throat dog-eat-dog game, and the survival of the fittest. People you think are your “friends” sometimes leave you out to dry or manipulate you so that they can take advantage of your good nature.

That’s why I think a real, true soul is rare but enjoyable to watch. On stage, nothing can really be faked. I mean, yes, you can do material up there that’s been premeditated and full of exaggeration and lies, but I’ve begun to realize that the audience generally has a very discerning eye for truth, authenticity and real-ness. They instinctively feel when somebody is just scripted or being manipulative, like they want something, a reaction. And they also can feel when somebody is completely unscripted, and being genuine, attuned to what everybody’s feeling or needing. Emotion especially is hard to fake on stage because audiences usually have an antennae for picking up on emotions through your face, your body, your voice. Because of this, when I’ve leaned into real genuine feelings on stage, I was able to connect with audiences in a much more profound way and as a result, just get huge laughs in a way jokes cannot.

Because if you care about everyone in the room, and what happened in the room and in the moment, you can make everybody else care about what you are saying, what you are talking about, and what’s going on in the present moment in that room. It seems so esoteric when I try to explain it in words, but I think the ability to bring people into the moment is a gift, whether you are a comedian or a musician or a general public speaker or whomever you are. I think most of the time, we are not in the moment, even as comics. We are thinking ‘oh my god, I hope I do well’ or ‘oh my god, I hope they didn’t just notice the mistake i made in that last joke’ or ‘oh man, when is this show going to be over so I can jump to the next show?’ … But the rare comic on stage who can actually make us all care about what’s going on and value the present moment … who’s totally in the moment and can help us see the beauty and value of the present moment … I think that’s just unique energy and ability altogether even beyond getting laughter.

Hopefully in the future, we can learn to assess our own performance, not just based on the laughs you’ve gotten or how many jokes you told, but on how courageously vulnerable you were and the degree to which you leaned into your own authentic feelings and thoughts during that moment, and how honestly you were able to bring out those feelings and thoughts, and bring the room together.

Comedy book?

I was thinking about different ways I could be of help to the comedy community and other comics. I don’t mean to sound like an expert on everything comedy but perhaps I can create something of value for younger comedians or future comedians who can benefit from reading about some of my experiences and discoveries, the things I’ve seen in the comedy scene

I feel grateful

If I didn’t move to California in 2023, I’d probably be hiding somewhere.

Instead, I get to occupy a spot, a slot, a place in the lineup. With people I had never met before. With friends I just made who think I’m rad.

These photos I take with other comedians … there would have been no Terry Bu. I would have been a ghost. hiding somewhere. Like I had hidden away for many years. I would have been invisible. Not in LA for sure.

For me to be here. With these people. Fellow comics. And meet new people and deepen friendships with existing people. Everyday feels like a privilege. A real joy.

The kind of joy I had always escaped from … I had never really known before in my life.

The joy I can give out on stage is only as much as the joy I have within myself :)

My ability to exude Joy and Happiness and Fun and Empathy out into the world is amplified by my ability to harness joy, happiness, fun and empathy within myself. Not only amplified, but made possible only through my ability to be happy in myself. 

To feel happy about myself, to feel joyous about who I am, what I achieved and what I do … To have fun with genuine things deep inside my soul that inspires curiosity … and to feel love and empathy for myself and for everybody else … first …

and then stepping on the stage becomes really natural and easy from that. 

Then you are not on stage to get validation from laughter and prove something about yourself, that you are funny.

Instead, you get on stage to give gifts to people. Share with people. All the joy you have within yourself to make people smile. And you don’t need them to laugh back. You just give out your gift freely. And sometimes they laugh, sometimes they don’t. It doesn’t matter. You are there to do your duty as a comedian to give out your joy. share your joy.

all angels sing in heaven

I was thinking today that all angels sing in heaven. that there’s no distinction between an “artist” “creative” and a normal person.

We all used to think there’s artists and the rest of us who are not so special. But that’s not true. We’ve actually lost touch with what is our divine destiny and what our goal should be (which is self realization and evolution) and so there are people who forget or choose to forget that divine goal. When we remember and decide to pursue self actualization and evolution, we naturally become artists and creatives in our own right. To pursue self-actualization means to actually learn to create for yourself. Create your own life for yourself … to be creative … is just a natural by-product of that. To take the reins to design your own life, your own world.

Instead of being a passive cell in this world, You are choosing to “happen” to things and take initiative to make things happen in the world and in your life instead of waiting for things to happen, fun to happen, etc.

My mom tends to judge me harshly when I sing and post on social media lol because she doesn’t understand. She seems massively bothered by it. I think most people are unfamiliar with the importance of self-expression, creative artistic expression and the importance of “doing” things in the spirit of flow of action … and how that impacts our brain and our well-being … rather than caring too much about the “end result” of it.

To be a creative person is to lose the fear of expressing yourself, and instead to revel in the act of making. It’s essentially a decision to think that way and act that way, instead of doing nothing and just staying as a passive observer. Instead of watching TV at home, instead, we can be active in the the act of creating. That action piece I think scares most people because they are so afraid of being judged, criticized or rejected. When in fact, it’s really not that bad when somebody judges you harshly, and that action is critical to leveling up, evolving as an artist, as a creative person. As you learn how to express yourself more authentically, more relatably, more uniquely, one mistake at a time. You have to make it a habit to express yourself. Otherwise you lose yourself in the ocean of … self-doubt, inertia, and … of course aging and old age. We just die if we just let things happen. You need courage and balls to make things happen in this world.

I think when people who are not yet capable of understanding that fact judge others harshly because they automatically think “oh you are trying to impress” or “oh you are trying to be that” … I wasn’t trying to be anything. That was me having fun, and some other people had fun as a result of me having fun. It was weirdly cathartic for all of us.

And all angels in heaven are free. Free to express. Free to sing. My goal is to try to become one of those angels. They become unafraid to express themselves because they realize God is always protecting them and there’s no need to fear others. That we were, since the time of birth, designed to create, sing, express, make art, and make our life into a masterpiece … just like God our divine creator. That we sing and create art and comedy not to please one person, or one booker, or one audience …. but to please God within us who knows that we are trying our utmost to bring out what is within us and capable inside us to bring out in the glory of God. In honor of God. And when we die, God will be proud of us. I am absolutely certain of that without a shred of doubt … It just came to me this morning.