HOME   BACK to the Columnist INDEX ARCHIVE

TRACI SKENE has appeared on VH-1's Standup Spotlight, A&E's Comedy On The Road and Lifetime's Girls Night Out, all of which has done her absolutely no good.

Traci Skene


Traci Skene

SHECKYmagazine Chief

Wake Me When It's Over

It's been said that there is a fine line between genius and insanity. (I've always wondered if the person who coined this term was a great intellect or merely a nutball with a flair for public relations.) While I've always thought there was a certain validity to this theory, I've recently concluded that a more accurate statement would be that there is a fine line between exhaustion and insanity. I say this because I'm currently suffering from exhaustion. Either that, or I'm going insane.

Before setting out to prove my hypothesis, perhaps I should take this opportunity to distinguish between exhaustion and everyday fatigue. Fatigue is when you can't keep your eyes open during a Kevin Costner movie. (Or is that boredom?) Exhaustion is when a country and western singer passes out during her set at the Grand Ol' Opry. Famous people get hospitalized for exhaustion. The rest of us just take a nap or hang out at Starbucks.

My exhaustion has been 15 months in the making. Ever since we started SHECKY! ("We," for those of you new to this column, refers to me and my husband and co-creator, Brian McKim) I've been very tired. The schedule we maintain is extremely grueling. Along with writing and editing the web's most beloved magazine about standup, Brian and I also spend 40 weeks on the road performing comedy, we handle all our own publicity and, since we don't have an agent, we do all our own bookings as well. Now, please believe me when I ask you to kill the violins. I'm not looking for sympathy. I just want to explain what has led me to this recent state.

In many ways, exhaustion mimics depression. Not only do I have an almost unrelenting desire for sleep, but I also find myself weeping a great deal, becoming anxious about the most innocuous events and generally feeling hopeless about the future. It's like I have PMS and someone has locked up the world's supply of red wine and chocolate. It's at this point that someone is undoubtedly thinking to himself, "How do you know it's exhaustion? Maybe it really is depression?" To that person I say, "Very good question. But, I know it's not depression because I'm actually very happy with the way things are going in my life. I have a great marriage, I love standup and SHECKY! is without a doubt the most creatively fulfilling experience of my career." It's at this point that someone else is undoubtedly thinking, "Maybe you're depressed because you fear that you'll never be a huge success. Maybe you're afraid that someday SHECKY! will have to end. Maybe you're terrified that once you turn 35 you will be too old to continue with your silly little dreams." To that person I say, "Go screw yourself! What the hell do you know?!" With those words, I run away crying, throw myself on the bed and zonk out for two hours.

The exhaustion conclusion occurred to me during a 12-day period in June. As many of you know, we began the month by attending the Chicago Comedy Festival. Those of you who have been to a festival know that festivals are hard work. Schmoozing is tiring. As are the late nights, the late nights and the late nights. In my previously non-exhausted state, I would have operated on full adrenalin and my attitude would have remained consistently high throughout. However, I knew that my weariness was effecting my mental state when I realized that I had absolutely no desire to go on stage!

Last year at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, I must admit that there was a part of me that wanted to be in the festival as a comic rather than just reporting on it for the magazine. The first time I walked into Club Soda and saw the seething, capacity-filled room, I envied the comedians who were lucky enough to be on the bill. At the Chicago event, I felt no such envy. During the closing Comedy Blitz at Zanies, I was stunned at how disconnected I felt from the other comics. As the festival participants gathered at the back of the house, anxiously awaiting their turn, hoping that their name would be called, I just sat there. (And I devised an escape plan in the off chance that I heard my name come out of host Dan Carlson's mouth. Mind you, there was absolutely no chance that this would happen, but at times like this logic plays no part in my tired little world.)

The second indication of my exhaustion occurred on June 12 at Crackers in Indianapois during the Bud Light Ladies of Laughter Competition. (A friend of mine asked if it was the Bud Light Ladies of Laughter Competition, which is not a good thing to say to a women who is cranky and paranoid.) I realize now that in my current condition it was not a good idea for me to enter a competition. Since I'm not a particularly good five-minute comic, I normally don't do well under these circumstances. The combination of my diminished mental capacities, the pressure of competing with my peers and the fact that I went on dead last after 17 comics was a recipe for disaster. Needless to say, it didn't go well. Needless to say, I didn't win. Mind you, I didn't care that I lost (I was scheduled to work in Florida during the finals anyway) but I did care that I tanked in front of my fellow comedians.

The ride back to the hotel wasn't a pleasant one. I yelled some, I cried some and I yelled some more. Thirteen months ago, I wouldn't have cared about the outcome. Thirteen months later it seemed like the worst moment of my life.

The following week, we worked at Jokers in Omaha, Nebraska and we made an effort to try to make me feel rested and whole once again. We ate better food, we worked out and we slept at will. Slowly, and with much effort, I'm sure I'll get back to feeling like my old self again. If I don't feel like my old self, at least I won't be a babbling idiot. Now that I've identified the problem, it's just a matter of finding a solution. In the meantime, Brian will give me plenty of sunshine, water me daily (No, that is not a sex reference) and talk to me in a kind and loving manner. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to take a long nap. HOME Back to the Top