Should You Move To LA?

by Hank Thompson on October 18, 2014

A friend was at a crossroads anyone can relate to: What do I do next?

Sometimes the answer is easy. You stop masturbating and get back to the office. You throw away your Wendy’s trash and update your Wendy’s blog. You turn off the He-Man porn and you try to get some sleep before the flight lands. Simple.

But there are times when answering that question isn’t so easy. It can carry momentous consequences for the life you’ll lead and the story you’ll tell. Sometimes, the answers will turn up in your obituary. It’s THAT important. Who to breed with? Marry? Career? Where to live? Sorry, whom– whom to breed with. Ya happy?

In the comedic world, people are drawn to New York or LA, after deciding their incubation period is over. This is the choice my friend was mulling. Because I moved to LA after incubating in Chicago for four years (I wish I had one more year!), she asked if I like LA and if I thought she would like living in LA. I’d been in LA about a year when she  wrote. I figured I’d share my response in case there’s some insight others facing a similar choice could use.

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Should I move to LA or NY?

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My response:

Alright, Yes, I think you’ll like LA if you move here. Happy? Only you can answer that, which is such a disappointing answer. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I do. The public image of LA is either celebrity glitz and glam or terrible violence in the ghetto, because those are the interesting parts, but that’s a very warped picture.

If jealousy comes easy then LA is a bad place to live. You’re surrounded by wealth, fancy cars, stores, mansions, good-looking people, restaurants, hair-dos, etc. There’s also a historic grit and gritty history to the place that is cool. The thing that has surprised me most is the vast ordinariness of much of it. The place is filled with regular people carving out a simple existence just like anywhere. Yes, it’s an industry town. A high percentage do SOMETHING in The Business, creative or otherwise (trucks and food, the two things that make everything happen). People here are either wanna-bes, bes, or usedta-bes. The douche factor is high, but dwarfing it is the hard-working creative factor that drives most people to do what they do. Generally, those who move here do so because they’re motivated to succeed in their chosen field, and moving here makes you even more motivated. It’s the big leagues. Time to quit being an amateur. Or go home and tell your parents they were right.

I’ve met a lot of cool, smart, creative people who are just following their nose toward whatever passion attracts them. In that way, I fit in. LA makes a bad first impression because it’s all highways and confusion and traffic, but past that first impression a whole diverse and vibrant world emerges. Street fairs and restaurants and gardens and beautiful tree-lined streets and weird museums and all that crap. It’s lovely. I haven’t been to New York but I’m confident in saying it has a distinct energy from New York. It’s more laid-back, much less crowded, car-based. I’ve barely begun to explore all the cool things LA has to offer.

It’s a different kind of hustle and bustle. I hate crowds so it suits me. You can define your pace here more than the high vibration of New York. But maybe the lack of that energy will be a deficit that wounds you. Shrug. I doubt it, but I don’t know you that well. Hopefully you do.

I think the two questions you have to answer are: Where do your source your happiness and where do you source your misery? Because you’ll experience both here, not necessarily because of here. Also, how do you cope with each?

Weather aside (yes, the weather is magnificent and shouldn’t be discounted in your consideration. Don’t over-romanticize the suffering of winter.), do you manage happiness and frustration internally or externally? Maybe both. Is your identity based on your work or your location? Likely a mix but everyone has their own ratio.

It’s full if opportunity but there’s a lot of competition. If your heart is in developing as a stand up go to New York. Stage time here is much less available compared to there. There’s still a massive stand up community here; it’s just not New York. If your ambitions extend beyond just stand up (for me, i want to write, and ultimately create a show) then LA has a lot offer.

I guess it comes down to attitude and expectation. People who hate LA seem mostly frustrated about their own failings but the overt characteristics of this town serve as a convenient scapegoat. It’s an old story. But so is people loving it. Yes, you’ll like LA.

Let me know how I can help.

-Hank

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