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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

Dream On II

Back in March of 1999, when I sat down to write my very first column for on my Toshiba Satellite T1850C--otherwise known as my crappy laptop--I decided to tell the cyber-world about a recurring comedy nightmare that I had been having for years. My reasons for doing so were twofold: First I had hoped that by allowing my peers to peek into my psyche, they would in turn peek into their psyche and we would form a common bond based purely on insecurity and fear. Secondly, I thought that putting fingers to keyboard would be cathartic and that perhaps once I exorcised these demons, the dream would simply go away.

The response from my comedy brethren, I suppose, was to be expected. "What the hell have you been eating before you go to bed?," they said as they backed away from me slowly. So much for bonding. But, the dream, I'm happy to say, did stop. If this were baseball, I'd be batting .500. Of course, if this were baseball, I'd be making $2 million a year and answering to the name "Sparky."

Why am I bringing this up now? Because here it is, almost 23 months later, and once again, my nightime brain is being haunted. It started a few weeks ago, seems to be gaining momentum and, while this dream does not directly revolve around standup comedy, my half-educated mind tells me that the standup business is the reason for its existence.

Lately--I hate to admit it--I have been dreaming about being beaten-up by thugs. Somtimes it's by a large group, other times it's by a smaller group of three or four and once it was by a guy who alternately punched me in the face and tickled me while two of his friends looked on and laughed maniacally. (Ok, you can stop backing away slowly now!) The criminals in these dreams never physically resemble anyone that I know during my waking hours. In fact, they look ludicrously like a group of actors out of central casting. They particulary remind me of the gang in that horrific 1979 movie "The Warriors" (at the time, my teenage friends dragged me to it against my will). I still remember sitting in the theater and not being able to take my eyes off the actors' teeth. Here was a group of supposedly underprivledged youths and each had a blinding set of choppers. I kept thinking to myself, "These guys need to knock off a liquor store a day just to pay for their dental work."

It is this striking resemblance to Walter Hill's directorial catastrophe that leads me to believe that these nightmares are a direct result of my frustration with the comedy business. In other words, I'm feeling pretty beat up these days, so why shouldn't I feel beat up when I sleep. It makes me realize that I have to start taking my search for inner peace a bit more seriously. But how does a person who is cynical by nature find solace without losing my edge and turning into Oprah Winfrey?

I don't want to turn into Oprah Winfrey. First of all, I couldn't take the yo-yo dieting. I especially don't want to fall prey to that Remember Your Spirit--Angel Network, "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" pseudo-cult nonsense. Self-help gurus make me nervous and until one of them writes a book called "Ipecac® for the Soul" I don't want to be part of their weepy little world.

In all fairness, Ms. Winfrey has made one suggestion in the past that I find quite sensible. She suggests that everyone keep a "gratitude journal" into which you daily enter a list of things for which you are grateful. I don't like the name "gratitude journal." It sounds too, well, too Oprah-esque. I've decided to call mine an attitude journal and instead of writing in it daily, I turn to it on a weekly basis. My hope is that I'll eliminate the negative and start to accentuate the positive.

So far, it seems to be working. I find that when I list my business accomplishments from the previous week, I spend less time obsessing over the cancelled gig or the bounced check and more time congratulating myself on my progress. I can then carry that positive outlook over to the next piece of business. This way, while I am trying to convince other people that I am wonderful, I can simultaneously convince myself. I guess I'm trying to impress myself with my own life resumé.

Admittedly, I still can't get myself to write anything sappy in my attitude journal such as "Today I enjoyed the laughter of a child," nor do I think I ever will. But, I'm hoping that with dilligence, I will be able to regain the perspective that I once had. I don't expect a quick fix, but I have to start somewhere.

The other day, I decided to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon. (There's one for the attitude journal!) Three minutes into sleeping, I dreamt that someone threw me out of a plane. Like I said, this is going to take awhile. HOME Back to the Top