Ryan Alexander-Tanner

MY CREDIT SCORE is bad. My credit score is a ghost story that car salesmen and financiers and landlords whisper to each other through Bluetooth headsets, shaking with such vibrant fear that they nearly spill their Monster Energy tallboys all over their Wrangler jeans. My FICO score can only truly be seen if it's being worn on the jersey of someone who is getting dunked on real hard by peak-of-his-game Shawn Kemp. I recently applied for a credit card and American Express sent me back a USB drive with sadtrombone.mp3 on it. My credit is bad.

In sharp contrast to the quality of my credit is the quality of my life. I have a loving family and truly funny and loyal friends. I have an astoundingly wonderful girlfriend and she has a cool dog. More germane to the point I'm trying to make, I have a very good job. I get paid a dumb amount of money to be funny for a living. I'm one of the RARE PRECIOUS FEW who get to have a job that is creatively and economically satisfying. I have a good life despite having bad credit, but that isn't even really the truest way to put it. If I'm being totally honest, I have this amazing life because I decided to let myself have bad credit. If you've enjoyed anything I've ever done, it's because I let myself have bad credit.

I'm not writing this shit to brag about how I have a cool life. (BUT I DO. I MET KEVIN BACON TODAY.) I'm also not writing this shit to complain about debt or credit or student loans. (I've already written about those: Either you get how fucked up student loans are, or you're too old to understand—full stop.) I guess I'm writing this because now I'm KIND OF on the other side of the terrifying uncertainty of trying to be a comedian for a living, and I'm looking back at the minefield I just staggered through, and because of a combination of dumb luck and hard work, I realize I'm incredibly fucking fortunate that my bad credit is the only wound I carry.

Looking back, it's not too hard to imagine a reality where I bombed at the wrong stand-up show, where I wasn't quite the right fit for a writing job, where I stumbled through an audition, where my appendix burst before I had insurance, where my laptop got stolen the night before a late-night submission packet was due. If my luck broke just a bit different either way, even just a couple of times, I would've had this bad credit and no prospects and no real hope and, for lack of adequate poetry, just a fucked-up life. For every artist who makes it (or in my case, kind of makes it), there are dozens more, just there on the margins. .