#MAIPAlum Carlton Wilcoxson (2015) on fulfillment, doing it for the kids and making people laugh coast to coast. This was written by Carlton for the 4A's MAIP.
I guess advertising wasn’t enough.
Truth be told, I always knew this. I saw the ad industry as an opportunity to make my mother proud while never being forced to wear a tie. After my MAIP summer internship in Austin, TX at McGarrah Jessee, I came back to Austin because I found something more than a job. I found stand-up comedy and the program E4 Youth.
In advertising terms, I was never considered a creative and I can’t really say why I chose to try stand-up. All I knew is that I had nothing to express myself since I wasn’t a scenic photographer, travel blogger or inspiring videographer… and being an account manager didn’t help. I knew I had something and after many thoughts and drinks, I went to my first open mic.
At first it was just one open mic every two weeks but then I became obsessed. Going up as much as 8-10 times a week. Despite my obsession, I bombed 90% of the time for 8 months straight and I wish I were joking.
Around the same time, I was introduced to E4 Youth. E4 Youth is an organization dedicated to exposing High school students to the commercial arts based in Austin, TX. At first, I would just do a couple school visits. Showing classrooms the joys of advertising while omitting information like angry email chains over the color blue.
I would see kids who had something and just needed some encouragement. In hindsight, I saw myself.
But after these talks, students would come up to me not asking about my job but wanting to show me their work. Honestly, I stayed (knowingly) missing important meetings to view students’ music videos, clothing line designs, and scripts for YouTube series. In those moments, I would see kids who had something and just needed some encouragement. In hindsight, I saw myself.
So I committed. I became a member on the E4 Youth’s fundraising committee, a summer program coach, a mentor, and an ambassador for the local ad community. I decided comedy is a craft I would hone. The results of both of those decisions has led me to interesting places. Through comedy, I was able to tour to San Francisco & Portland, OR doing collectively 18 shows in 2017.
While in San Francisco, I was able to connect with Mike Shine, a co-founder of BSSP and traveling mural artist. To which he later came to Austin to work with the E4 Youth students on an art piece for an upcoming gallery show and featured the students in the popular urban art magazine Juxtapoz.