DOWNTOWN — For a man who has only performed stand-up comedy four times in his life, Blake Dirickson sure is ambitious.
The scruffy, 31-year-old Santa Monica resident, whose hair borderlines on afro-size despite his Irish roots, will attempt to perform 100 consecutive days of stand-up comedy in venues mostly in and around the city.
“I just want to make a lot of people laugh. I’d like to make 300 million people laugh,” said Dirickson, referring to the population of the U.S. “If there are some internationals, so be it.”
Dirickson, who touts his international appeal through his one fan from Italy on Twitter, isn’t settling for performing 100 days in a row. With the help of a production team made up of his fiancé and friends, he will also be filming the entire journey, every laugh, heckle and breakdown along the way.
“I think the pressure is on him, because now everyone is working. … But now, there are so many people who believe in him and so many people watching him, there’s no backing out,” said Liz Destro, Dirickson’s fiancé.
Originally from Texas, Dirickson comes from a family of storytellers. He credits his funny genes to his Aunt Barbara, who was a theatre actress, and his Uncle Rick, who was an investment banker.
Although Dirickson always considered himself to be a class clown (“I think I’ve got some documentation in my high school yearbook to prove it,” said Dirickson.), he got his first official taste of stand-up in 2004, when his newly acquired talent manager booked him at Brainwash Café, a restaurant and laundromat in San Francisco.
After a disastrous show that involved heavy drinking and getting booed off stage, his talent manager dropped him.
“He wasn’t the type of manager that would stick with you. So that’s one of the goals of the doc[umentary] … is finding some representation and seeing my act improve,” Dirickson said. “Just the process is going to make a change in me.”
Six years later, Dirickson has already cleaned up his act. He’s quit drinking, partying and is usually in bed by midnight. He’s also run three marathons, which he believes will help prepare him for the next three-and-a-half months.
“There’s really no reason why I can’t do this. It’s not courageous … . It’s just something that I feel is going to help me in the end,” Dirickson said.
Dirickson, who came up with the idea during a run about six months ago, believes in the unofficial comedian’s rule — that after 100 days, he will have cycled through enough material to leave him with a comedic set consisting of only his best jokes.
“I’m at a point in my life where I have to… I’m engaged now. I’m trying to start a family, so I need to broaden my horizons. I need to get the most out of being me. And a good way of doing that [is stand-up]… I’m kind of forcing my hand,” Dirickson said.
After a few months of pestering by Dirickson, Destro, who works both as a lawyer and an independent producer, organized a production team to work on the film.
“Literally, everybody that I pitch it to is like, ‘I’m on board,’ and signed up right away. It’s cool, but there’s no money,” Destro said. “I pitch people for actual money and they’re like, ‘No, I don’t like that.’”
Kelly Slattery, executive producer at Therapy, a production company, and Patrick Keane, a producer and stand-up comedian, are among the first to have signed up.
Dirickson is also working with Russell Bailey, co-producer and stand-up coach for the project, to work out the kinks in his material.
“I think I’m in the shrub stage now. It’s kind of like my hair. I need a haircut really bad,” Dirickson said. “There’s all this stuff on my head right now, and I’m going to get it cut before the first show.”
During the project, Dirickson will still be working full-time independently selling Internet, radio, and TV advertising, along with writing scripts on the side.
“There isn’t going to be [personal time]. Luckily, Blake and I have been dating for a really long time, where we are at a place where I think we can handle it,” Destro said, who anticipates an emotional rollercoaster for the next 100 days.
Besides finding a manager and launching his comedic career, Dirickson expects the project will help him become a better “talker” and potentially earn money. But, he worries that the stress might make him act a little crazy.
“My worst case scenario is me sitting [at the end] alone eating pizza… I think everything after that will be a bonus,” Dirickson said. “[My goal is] maintaining those friendships and obviously that love that I have with Liz. You know, the ring on her finger, that part.”