A Big Thank You

Bret Belden

By Tim Drugan-Eppich
The end of the school year always offers the opportunity for reflection.  For me, this year has been a pleasant one in the sense that I had more opportunities than I have in years past.  And for that, there are a slew of people to thank.
I arrived at UNH last August, beginning my junior year in an odd frame of mind.  I had no idea what I wanted to study, no clue what I wanted to do for a living and only a slight inkling of who I was.  I have always enjoyed sharing a good laugh, but it has been difficult for me to find a way to satisfy that pleasure.
At UMass Amherst, my first school, I briefly had a column that I walked away from because it was edited to the point that it became unrecognizable.  Then I auditioned into an improvisational comedy troupe that promptly kicked me out for reasons that were never quite explained to me.  Something about me not melding well with the group and not quite following the structure in place.  I have to think it had something to do with me telling the senior members of the group they weren’t funny and were ruining comedy, but, to my defense, they weren’t funny, and they were ruining comedy.  Then, when I went to Emerson College I got a radio show on WERS.  A radio show I quit when I was told to play more music and not talk so much.
The only solace for me has been stand-up comedy- a solo act where you tell jokes, say whatever you want, and don’t have to worry about anyone editing you.  But where there are plenty of opportunities for stand-up in Boston, there is a lack of such in New Hampshire.  My friend and I had to drive to Newburyport, Massachusetts for a five minute slot every Monday night when we were living in the area over a past summer.  Something I couldn’t see myself doing while in school.
So when classes started I was lost- my third school, fifth major, and no friends other than those who were miles away, scattered from Boston to Los Angeles.  Luckily I was in a small fiction class led by Jaed Coffin, who quickly let me know I wasn’t a fiction writer.  But as I floundered, Jaed told me to get involved in the newspaper, something I was reluctant to do because of my past experience.  So this is my first thank you, to Jaed, because it was the push I needed.
I sent an email to Nick Stoico, the executive editor at the time, who gave me a bi-weekly column, which became a weekly column because I had more nonsense to say than I could fit in every two weeks.  This column gave me the soapbox I needed to spew all the garbage that trickles into my head, something I cannot thank Nick enough for.  Because not only did he not edit me, he also put up with me accompanying every column with a note telling him how displeased I would be if I found any edits.  I was a constant headache for him, but he let me keep on.
This column has resulted in me receiving emails from professors and students alike letting me know how much they enjoy my writing, and I feel I should thank you all for those.  It has also led to emails, messages, and letters to the editor from readers insulted and offended by my content, and I thank everyone who sent those as well.  These almost please me more than the complimenting emails.  Through it all, TNH has let me continue to run my mouth, and I appreciate that.
But there is the danger of running a good thing into the ground.  While I have enjoyed the character of “The Loser” I have to think it has run its course, an insight that was sparked by both Jaed and my best friend Joe Borg.  Joe has always let me know when I’m not funny, whether doing stand-up in Newburyport and Boston, my radio show, or now with my column.  So a tremendous thank you goes to Mr. Joseph Borg, a funnier guy than me.
Finally I have to thank my parents, because I am living at home and that must be awful for them.  I am terribly messy, eat a horrendous amount of food and have rowdy conversations with myself.  All of which adds up to a horrible house guest.  And while my mom has threatened to kick me out several times, she has yet to act upon it.  Oh, and also they’re great people, so there’s that.
“The Loser” will not be back next year, but I will be.  I’m not sure what angle I will be writing from yet, what shtick I will be working, but I’ve always found my strong suit to be making some chuckle and the majority mutter angrily, so my writing will probably continue along those lines.  If you enjoy my writing, no need to worry, I’ll be back.  If you hate my writing, I will still be back.  It only gets worse from here.