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Arts and Entertainment

LA Only Crushed Some Of My Dreams, So That Makes This A Success Story

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(Photo by Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
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I always knew I wanted to do something creative with my life, but I started to think that life was something that other people get to live.

Still, I tried. I tried hard.

I tried to get a job in entertainment -- any job in entertainment -- but was passed over for every single job and internship. I worked my way up in community radio, but never landed that DJ gig I was aiming for. I even tried to become a pastor, but that didn't pan out either (when a crucial piece of paperwork didn't arrive on time, I took it as a sign I was meant to do something else).

I was living in Seattle -- I loved the city, but I started to feel like it wasn't the place I could accomplish what I wanted. I got sick of feeling that hope slip out of my grasp, so I threw myself into applying to jobs in Los Angeles. I felt a draw to this city's creative possibilities.

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After months of applying, I finally landed a full-time gig working at KPCC.

I MADE IT.

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Mike declaring VICTORY over his friends. (Courtesy Mike Roe)

Except not really at all. At least, not at first.

Those first few months were rough. Didn't have friends rough. Living in a hostel rough. Getting pizza stolen literally out of my hands rough.

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I started at the bottom, but being at KPCC let me start exploring my new L.A. home. I found friends who shared that same drive to express what's deep inside.

One of those friends invited me to audit the improv class he taught, and that class got me hooked on comedy.

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Mike doing sketch comedy at the Pack Theater. (Courtesy Mike Roe)

Yes, I know that feeling an explosive joy caused by improv makes that version of me an L.A. twentysomething stereotype. But it was exciting, because my dream life suddenly didn't feel so far away -- and being on stage, surrounded by other excited comedy nerds and making something up on the spot, made me feel like the lightning storm of ideas in my brain finally had an outlet.

I started doing improv and sketch comedy at local theaters. One of the first big sketch shows I helped write even got the blessing of the ultimate Hollywood character actor: Stephen Tobolowsky (aka the guy from Groundhog Day, from Memento, from One Day At A Time, from everything), after we wrote an insane show based on his films.

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We worked for months fine-tuning it, rehearsing, making videos, and then to see my words and ideas up on stage finally alive, with a crowd that cared and liked what I was putting out there, made me feel like anything was possible.

Validation y'all. Get yours.

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Mike with his wife Kristiana, enjoying a Superman/Wonder Woman comic together. (Kyle Crocker, courtesy Mike Roe)

I started to pour myself into writing. I met another creative person who I completely clicked with -- and she ended up becoming my wife. We started writing TV drama scripts together, and if you don't think that's romantic, I can't help you.

Meanwhile, I worked my way up at KPCC, covering everything from fires to weather to shootings. In between, I was having conversations with creative people, which has always been my favorite part of the job.

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Covering pop-ups for your joy. (Mike Roe/LAist)

When KPCC bought LAist, I jumped at the chance to lead our arts and entertainment coverage. So far, I've reported on everything from how creative people get where they are to the award-winning (?!) story behind 30 Rock's Werewolf Bar Mitzvah.

Now I don't just get to live that life I fought for -- I get to bring attention to others trying to make it out here too.