Rosebud Baker: A Stand-Up Career Started by Sobriety

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Rosebud Baker: A Stand-Up Career Started by Sobriety

By Rebecca Rush 09/03/18

“As much as it sucks to be fully sentient through every failure, I think it’s helped me in the long run.”

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Comedian Rosebud Baker
After a few drinks, it can be hard to decipher the truth of what’s happening. That false confidence can really slow your progress as a comic.

You may not have heard of Rosebud Baker, yet, but you will. As a stand-up comic, actress, and writer, she's been rising through the ranks of the NY comedy scene faster than anyone I've ever seen. What is her secret, I wondered. Well, one of them is a decade in sobriety. Recently I was at a big comedy show full of successful comedians, the exact kind of environment where if I hang too long, the thought of drinking or using increases exponentially by the hour and sometimes wins. Marijuana perfumed the streets as I hit my Juul and attempted to shoot the shit with others outside the venue. I looked to my left and saw Bobby (Kelly), and thought phewsober. To my right Rich (Vos) phewsober. And talking to both of them? Rosebud Baker. Not only does she regularly work at every prestigious club in the city—including a hosting gig this August 21st at inarguably the greatest club on earth: the Comedy Cellar—she was chosen as one of 2018’s New Faces in the most coveted and career-changing comedy festival, Montreal’s Just For Laughs.

On a more personal level, the last time I relapsed on the road I came to in a strange Chicago suburb on a day I had multiple Laugh Factory shows in the evening. I called a friend in a panic, who, being new to sobriety, was not equipped to handle the situation. But she knew someone who could. She gave me Rosebud’s number. Despite her busy schedule, she stopped and took the time to listen to the insane fear ranting of a post-coke and -booze binge stranger. I am forever grateful for that talk, for the compassion I was shown, for how someone can treat you better than you know how to treat yourself. I calmed down enough to nap before my shows, to perform well that night, and to go to a meeting the next morning. It’s what got me to fight another day. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the only thing that matters is getting up one more time than you fall. But that’s my story. Here’s Rosebud’s:

The Fix: What is the hardest thing about being sober in comedy?

Rosebud Baker: There’s nothing I can think of. You’re in bars a lot but as long as your focus is on your comedy, on what you came there to do, it’s simple. When it’s a really important audition set and the nerves are killing me sometimes I feel like drinking, but I just don’t - or I haven’t yet. I had six years of sobriety under my belt before I started in comedy and I had been through a lot of shit, so it’s like, I’m not gonna drink over a showcase.

What’s the best thing about being sober in comedy?
The clarity you have. There’s an advantage to being honest with yourself in life, and especially in comedy. I remember someone asking me once after they got offstage, “Did I bomb?” …and I was like, “you were THERE, weren’t you?! Don’t make me say it.”

After a few drinks, it can be hard to decipher the truth of what’s happening. That false confidence can really slow your progress as a comic. People just stay at this embarrassing level of skill for YEARS because in their mind, things are going a lot better than they are. So as much as it sucks to be fully sentient through every failure, I think it’s helped me in the long run.

How did you deal with the early days?

With being sober? I put my own well-being first. I still do.

What do you think it is about comedy that attracts so many addicts?

The lifestyle of a comic creates the perfect disguise for an alcoholic/addict. They get to go out every night, get hammered, maybe fuck a stranger, and tell themselves “I’m just at work!”

What advice would you give someone who struggles with chronic relapse and is a comic?

All I can say is what I did when I got sober: Take a year off. Get a day job you think you’re too good for. Humble yourself in a real way, and focus on getting sober. Put all your energy into spiritual growth. Be willing to accept that everything you think you know about yourself is probably false. Stay away from big announcements and proclamations about the changes you’re making in your life and just make them. Get off social media and buy a diary.

***
It’s inspiring to interview sober comics at the pinnacles of their career, and it’s differently inspiring to interview a sober comic rising at breakneck speed. The humility cultivated in the first year has served Rosebud well, as has her fearless self-examination and tireless work ethic built on a foundation of spiritual well-being. The idea of putting sobriety first has long evaded me because I thought that to do so one must forsake everything else. Stories like Rosebud’s help drive home the truth: on drugs and alcohol, your world quickly shrinks until all you are left with are your chemicals and delusions. On the other side of that? The whole rest of life. What is using anyway but a (usually false) shortcut to the feelings that we seek from spiritual well-being and external accomplishments? May there come a time when every performer puts down the drink ticket and picks up the whole rest of life.

Check out Rosebud Baker’s new podcast Two Less Lonely Girls, and writing on Elite Daily as well as comedy all over NYC.

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Rebecca Rush is a stand up comic and writer from Connecticut. Her work has appeared in Broke Ass Stuart’s Goddamn Website, Bantergirl, The New Haven Advocate, and MiamiBeach411.com. She resides in NYC’s West Village with her dog. Find her on Twitter and Insta and at her blog http://rebeccarushcomedy.tumblr.com.

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