Ashley's Comedy Crush
In 2008, I graduate from Western Kentucky University with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.
Like so many other college grads, I’m unable to get hired in the field I studied. I need more
school to really get to where I want to go with it and honestly, I don’t want to ever pick up
another college course in my life.
In 2010, I get onstage for the first time at an open mic in Nashville. I fall in love with it right
away-or maybe I just become obsessed with it and with pushing myself. I take it very seriously
and am constantly reworking my material and going onstage as much as I can. I approach
comedy the same way I approached college:like its the only thing I have going for me in my life.
By 2013, I have been performing all over Nashville and in a few other cities. I also begin acting,
writing and producing sketch comedy with other comedians and my best friend, Jayme. We
develop a web series that is doing really well on YouTube. I am surprised by how easy acting is
for me. While I want to continue to pursue standup, I also want to pursue acting so I decide to
move to Chicago and enroll in The Second City despite the fact I have never even been to
Chicago. I do not know anyone in Chicago. I do not have a job lined up for me either. I am
blindly convinced that Chicago is the next season of my life.
I tell the other Nashville comics I am moving and several of them tell me to reach out to a guy
named Ben Bergman. Ben is a Nashville comic who also moved to Chicago to pursue comedy a
few years prior to me.
So I move to Chicago in the summer of 2013. I love it. I have a studio apartment by the lake in
the North side of Chicago. There are several bars in my neighborhood where other comedians
are putting on open mics and producing shows. I am right by bus stops and train stations that
can easily take me to any other room in Chicago. I feel like my life is a movie. I start my classes
at The Second City. I see myself as starting a new life and things will only go up for me from
here. I have the common theme running throughout this podcast, “a delusion of grandeur”.
The first time I see Ben Bergman is like a scene from a movie.
I am living in Chicago for several months at this point and I’m wondering if this Ben guy is even still alive. I am out almost every night but I still never run into him. Then one night, I get offstage at an open mic in Logan Square. I am standing across the street from the bar waiting on a cab when I see this tall, lean
man in a long coat walking into the bar. The wind blows. I watch as it catches his coat. Time
seems to stop. I have never seen this guy other than a couple of pictures on his Facebook, but I think to myself, “That’s Ben. That must be Ben Bergman.”
Even though I don’t talk to him, I start crushing on him right away. I get into the cab and ride off
thinking about how unbelievably attractive he is and how surprised I am that it has taken me so
long to finally see him. I wonder if and when I will ever get the nerve to talk to him.
Time moves on in Chicago. Although I am making a lot of new friends in comedy and at various
jobs I am working, I begin to feel very lonely in this big, bitter cold city. I am regularly getting
booked and I enjoy my classes at The Second City, but something seems missing from my life. I
am getting quite sad. I miss home.
I pick up a job at The Laugh Factory as a cocktail waitress which is two blocks away from my
apartment. I am hardly seeing Ben around, but I am always hoping to run into him and then one
night, he is booked at the club on a night I am working. I finally have the chance to talk to him. I
am really nervous. He approaches me and asks me how I like Chicago.
HE KNOWS WHO I AM! HOW DOES HE KNOW WHO I AM??!!!
I am honest with him. I am having a hard time. He says to me, “Your needs aren’t being met”
and then he says he felt similar when he first moved here too and encourages me that it will get
better. I just swoon. He cares, right? He approached me and talked to me!!! He asked me about
my well being. That’s a sign of interest, right? Is Ben interested in me too or is he just being a
nice guy? Either way, I am already making up scenarios in my head of us dating.
A short time passes and we run into each other again at an open mic and go out afterwards to
grab some food. At dinner, we talk comedy which is normal for comedians to do, but in my mind
I secretly hope this is the first of many dinner dates with Ben Bergman. We learn that not only
did both of us start comedy in Nashville and then moved to Chicago, we also graduated from
the same college years apart and we both grew up in Catholic school. The synchronicities
deepen my affinity for him. Ben says it is as if I am following in his footsteps. I think maybe
we have a divine connection. Does he feel it too? He has to if he mentions it, right?
Life continues in the windy city. Ben and I live in different parts of Chicago. He is a working
comic and is on the road a lot. I rarely see him but I still crush on him nonetheless. I even date
some other people briefly while I’m here, but Ben is always in the back of my mind. He is so
attractive. So kind. I like his comedy material. He is a very funny guy both onstage and offstage.
The few times I see him, he always compliments and encourages me. I feel so unbelievably
drawn to him and feel such a strong connection with him, that any time we spend together
seems like destiny to me. I am always wondering when I’ll run into him again. Does he know
how crazy I am about him? Do we have a chance together? Why does it seem as though we are these two ships passing in the night?
I eventually move back home to Nashville. Ben moves to New York. We never have a
romance other than the daydreams in my head. When I move back home, I reunite with an
ex and put Ben and my memories of him in the back of my mind for several years.
Nothing ever comes of my crush other than a friendship. It’s almost ironic to me how I
wanted to be his girlfriend for so long, but as time has gone by I can see the value in our
friendship, how it comforted me when I felt alone in a strange city. Even though at
times I thought of it as unrequited love, Ben’s presence in Chicago
grounded me, it gave me hope. My attraction to him was just what I need to
help me cope with all the changes that moving to a strange city threw at