J.B. Wiley is a stand-up comedian who was raised in Montreal. I have known him since the 1970s where we went to high school together, played football, and laughed our heads off along the way. J.B Wiley was the best football player in Montreal in those days, and one of the most courageous feats I’ve ever seen, was J.B. play his senior varsity football year with a broken ankle. I couldn’t believe it, never mind that he was our team’s most valuable player that year. My secret about J.B. is he is actually James Bradford Wiley, but let’s keep that to ourselves. J.B.Wiley is one of the coolest names I’ve ever heard, and he is one of the most amazing — and funny — guys I know.
A stand-up comedian’s serious message to youngsters: “Follow your dream.”
Thank you for including me in your online magazine, Secrets from the Inside. I feel honored.
Growing up in Dorval, Quebec, we were very lucky to have such a fantastic community on a number of levels, including sports, where most of us met and friendships were forged.
Teammate or rivals, we were tight friends. These friendships – many that continue to this day – gave us a solid foundation of compassion, commitment, and work ethic. It helped guide the paths we chose in our careers, and gave us the drive to succeed.
I never felt I owed the community anything, but rather compelled to give back what was given to me. I coached countless teams in countless sports, was involved in fundraising for various causes, and even volunteered at a local women’s shelter. That my friend, is a result of growing up in a tight community did for me.
How did I end up being a stand-up comedian?
I was 23, was sitting in a comedy club, and audience members were invited to participate. I had no material rehearsed, and just went off on rants. At the end of the show, the participants came on stage to be judged by applause – and I won!
I told myself this can’t be a way to earn a living. I needed to get a real job, with real pay. For the next two decades, I did just that. But my real passion was comedy, and that feeling in my heart never left me.
In my forties, I finally decided to chase my dream. I took some Improv and comedy classes. The passion for my craft drove me then, and keeps me chasing the dream to this day.
My message to you young people today would be, if you have ever considered doing comedy … DO IT!
What’s the worse that can happen, you bomb? We all fail many times in our lives, but we learn from it. Just do it.
There is no drug in the world that will ever give you a high like standing in front of a room full of strangers – and killing it. When an audience laughs and claps for you, the feeling is indescribable.
You have to experience it, and I hope you do!
Follow your dream.