Chapter 4, Verse 20: Stand-up Comedian ‘Valley Jesus’ Experiences a Marijuana Epiphany

By, Charlotte Wilson-Langley

Most individuals knew Ryan Talmo as “Valley Jesus,” because of his lengthy hair and pleasant disposition and excessive profile, so to talk, within the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. But he doesn’t preach about faith: He’s been a staple within the L.A. comedy scene for near a decade.

Talmo acquired began in comedy when he moved to Los Angeles in 2010. After leaving a dangerous breakup behind and fighting melancholy, he determined to satisfy a lifelong dream of turning into a filmmaker in Hollywood. But after arriving in L.A. and seeing the quantity of competitors, he started to query whether or not filmmaking was what he actually needed.

“Eight years ago, the stand-up scene in L.A. wasn’t nearly as saturated as it is today, and I was very drawn towards it,” Talmo stated. With open mics accessible each night time, It didn’t take lengthy earlier than Talmo started to shift his focus from filmmaking to creating individuals chuckle.

Photography by, Jeff Snyder

Looking at Talmo, you’d assume one in every of two issues — this man undoubtedly appears like Jesus …  and this dude has obtained to be a stoner. But as a lot as Talmo seems the a part of the toker, weed was by no means his factor; he was extra of a drinker. Many of his buddies, together with his roomate, are 420-friendly. He even ran a fashionable present referred to as “The Marijuana-thon.”

“We had as many comics as they could fit onto a lineup, but unlike a regular comedy show, “[the comedians]were stoned as hell,” Talmo stated .

But regardless of dwelling a 420 city, in a 420 group with a 420 roommate, Talmo was by no means excited about weed. His avoidance got here from robust — however combined — messages concerning the risks of marijuana.  

“I was never against it, but I was never interested in it, because my biggest fear was that it would control my way of thinking,” he stated.

So the place did Talmo get that sentiment? We D.A.R.E. you to guess.

Talmo stated that when he was a child, his mother and father lived two totally different lives: “I was raised Catholic, but that’s not what was going on beneath.”

Turns out, Talmo’s mother and father have been complete hippies, however didn’t need to be perceived that means. So they did virtually every part they might to cease anybody from understanding that they have been into marijuana. It didn’t all the time work.

“I used to watch my dad roll joints as a kid, but I didn’t know what the hell he was doing. It was in a shoebox in his cabinet in the bedroom. I’d watch him take it down, roll a joint on the bed and then he’d take me to school,” he stated.

That secrecy intrigued Talmo.

One day, when Talmo was 10 years previous, he noticed a D.A.R.E. business starring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was then that he discovered two issues: One: His fad was smoking pot. And Two: pot was for “dorks.”

The business “had this kid with a weird drug deal going on. Then they showed a picture of joints and I thought, ‘that’s what dad smokes!’ So I was raised in a way that implied that [weed]is bad and you shouldn’t be doing it. Nancy Reagan did a good job on me,” Talmo stated.

Even although Talmo was round weed within the L.A. comedy scene, he all the time caught to booze.

“I didn’t start drinking until I was 21. So I was playing by the rules with that, too. But for some reason, alcohol seemed way more acceptable,” he stated.

Talmo admits that he’d mastered the artwork of being drunk on stage. As a one that had lengthy suffered with nervousness and melancholy, he stated alcohol softened the blow of the tough world of stand-up comedy and made him really feel extra relaxed.

Until lately, you may go to the Valley and there’d be a robust a probability that you simply’d discover Talmo performing, operating a present or internet hosting a mic — and all the time with a drink in his hand.

A life-changing analysis

Comedy as Talmo knew it got here to a screeching halt when he turned ailing and was recognized with most cancers on Friday the 13th — April 13, 2018.

He’d been feeling unwell for months and there was a unusual lump in his neck that randomly appeared in August 2017. Although some buddies had pointed it out, he thought it was simply a swollen lymph node. Later Talmo chalked it as much as his dangerous food plan and thought altering his consuming habits would assist. But by December, the lump began getting greater, and this time he’d satisfied himself that it was the flu.

At the time, Talmo was working seven days at week at a deli in Hollywood. Under strain from household and pals, Talmo used a time without work and went to pressing care regardless of his dislike for hospitals and physician visits. It didn’t take lengthy earlier than Talmo was recognized: stage III non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Photography by, Steve Robles

Doctors have been unable to take away his lymph nodes and instantly beneficial chemotherapy. After his analysis, Talmo was flooded with worry and nervousness. His roomate on the time, who battled nervousness herself, prompt that he attempt weed as a result of it helped her discover aid from nervousness and insomnia. Prior to this, Talmo’s angle towards marijuana had slowly been softening through the years. Many of Talmo’s pro-marijuana pals typically challenged his place with conversations about perceptions of weed versus alcohol — even caffeine. After his analysis, Talmo had already made the choice to chop again on consuming and strongly thought-about his roommate’s suggestion, however he nonetheless felt not sure.

When Talmo went again to the physician, the very first thing he requested his oncologist was if he was allowed to drink. The reply was a onerous no, however his physician did inform him that he was allowed to smoke weed, eat edibles and use topical merchandise. Talmo had already been experimenting with edibles per his roommate’s suggestion, and located that consuming them helped him to loosen up and make it by means of the day. But as soon as his physician advisable he attempt marijuana, Talmo was all the best way in.

Then got here the onerous half — chemotherapy.

Chemo induced Talmo to lose his hair, have main nausea and one sudden symptom: extreme melancholy with suicidal ideas. Talmo quickly went again to his physician and requested for antidepressants. The physician’s response was that Talmo’s physique was already slowed down with medicine and he didn’t need to add anymore.

His recommendation: Smoke some weed. Hang out with buddies. Relax your mind.

His physician additionally stated that he needed Talmo to get speedy aid from marijuana that wouldn’t be potential with typical antidepressants, which take weeks or typically months to kick in.

Talmo stated the melancholy that comes from most cancers and chemo is the darkest he’s ever skilled in his life, and weed has been the one factor to assist him get by means of the day.

Talmo additionally struggles with bodily ache and was prescribed ache treatment, however he doesn’t prefer it as a result of it trigger drowsiness and provides him a hangover the subsequent day. So he makes use of a marijuana-infused balm that his father gave him as an alternative. He rubs it on his chest and again earlier than he goes to mattress and stated it helps him together with his nervousness as properly. He additionally used a CBD-infused cleaning soap that he says provides him a good enjoyable feeling particularly in his chest and again.

Talmo stated he’s extraordinarily grateful to his associates within the comedy scene who created a number of fundraiser exhibits and offered him with an countless provide of edibles.

Cannabis helps ease the ache, stress of chemo

Lymphoma is a curable most cancers, however it’s additionally troublesome to deal with.

Talmo stated that chemo simply wears him out, and once you add the steroids that he’s required to take, “it feels like the chemicals are playing tug-o-war with my body.”

“Two days before chemo comes around, my anxiety builds up,” he added. “When the doctor tells you, you have a 70 to 80 percent chance of living, no matter what… and someone gives you a percentage of a life rate, it’s kind of eerie to know that you might not make it out.”

Talmo was together with his mother and father when he was recognized, and his dad wrote a highly effective message on a piece of paper. “To beat this, it’s going to be 90 percent you and 10 percent of the drugs [chemo].”

That message caught with Talmo, and has been his strategy to this complete state of affairs. For individuals going via an sickness or life-changing circumstances, Talmo shares three phrases which have helped him: “Mind over matter.”  

Change in Perception

Talmo’s analysis with most cancers modified how he sees every little thing. Even his comedy has grow to be much less concerning the self-deprecating dick and fart jokes of yore and extra about discovering humor in what he’s been going by means of.

“I was at a bar the other night to watch a comedy show and everyone was pretty hammered. I started seeing everyone act differently,” he stated.

Talmo additionally stated that he observed how infantile individuals would act relying on how a lot they’d needed to drink and he realized, “Wow, this is a lifestyle that I can’t do anymore.”

Talmo was a comedian who by no means obtained on stage with out a drink. Now he’s doing it with nothing in his hand apart from water. Transitioning to a “dry” comedian wasn’t straightforward — particularly with most cancers — as a result of his nervousness turned extra amplified than ever earlier than.

“In the beginning I was freaked out because it was anxiety on top of anxiety,” he stated.  But now he says his comedy is free flowing and fearless. “Really, what do you have to lose? If you’re fighting for your life, what do you have to lose on stage?”

Talmo stated he now sees weed as a healthful various to consuming, notably as he realized that with weed, he wasn’t going to finish up with horrible hangovers and alcohol’s adverse long-term results. He additionally discovered that with marijuana, he’d get up together with his mind feeling extra refreshed.

Talmo admits that he’s not the kind of one that finds creativity whereas stoned. It actually simply helps him to really feel relaxed. Through a lot of trial and error, similar to consuming a whole weed Rice Krispies deal with adopted by two weed-infused espresso beans, Talmo found out that he does greatest stopping at 10 mg of THC.

What’s Next for Talmo?

Talmo plans to make a e-book out of this expertise from the start of his journey up till when his physician tells him that he’s cancer-free.

“Cancer is a chapter of my life and my comedy career. At the end of August, I’m recording a comedy album where I can take my comedy from the last eight years, as well as some of my cancer stuff and turn it into an album,” he stated.

Talmo’s objective is to have it accomplished by the point he goes into remission to suggest the top of a chapter. He additionally needs to get again into producing and writing when he goes into remission.

“Everything in my life has changed. I see things differently, I act differently. I have a lot of baggage from previous relationships and now I’m like, why? What was the point of this?”

Talmo says that he has even reached out to individuals from his previous.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen and life has become really precious,” he stated. “Life is gorgeous now. I see every little thing in another way. Just going via Facebook, I’ll by no means decide anybody with what they’re bickering about, however life is beautiful.

“Don’t be mad about something you have no control over,” he added.

As we have been speaking, we each realized one thing that parallelled together with his filmmaking background. Before most cancers, the digital camera of his life appeared to be zoomed in and targeted on the small stuff, enabling him to get bitter and indignant. But after most cancers, the digital camera has pulled again giving him a wider, greater image view of life. Talmo agreed and stated that he’s having fun with life extra and never sweating the small stuff. Something that we might all study from.

Talmo’s favourite weed:

Edible bitter belts, Cheeba Chews and his new favourite, CBD tub bombs. He stated they provide him the last word physique excessive and he says “his body feels like magic.”


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