Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Sad clowns

Nobody likes complaining.
Actually, that's not accurate: Everybody loves complaining. Nobody likes listening to complaining.
I'm no different. Even though I now recognize and appreciate that I have very little to legitimately complain about, I still do it. And since I'm not truly suffering in any meaningful way, that means when I rage about something trivial like how much of my day is spent sitting at traffic lights and how they serve no purpose other than impeding me from getting somewhere, it is strictly a recreational activity that I must secretly enjoy.
Welcome to Tampa
But I do not enjoy listening to others complain. Not on any level, not at all. It's their thing and brings me no enjoyment whatsoever, so what's the point? Keep that shit bottled up inside where it can kill you or whatever it takes to keep me from hearing about it.

Especially if you're a comic.

(Most of what follows applies to just about any job or creative pursuit or any endeavor that you are passionate about and should be at least somewhat fulfilling. Heed my words because I'm enough of an expert on everything that I should totally be telling people what to do.)

Here are two articles I've come across recently written by comedians about what a drag it is to be a comedian.

Boo. Hoo.

Yeah, comedy is not easy.
Yeah, people who don't know better say things and ask questions that aren't fun to hear.
Yeah, nobody understands The Struggle.

And guess what? Nobody cares. Nor should they. That's the territory. It's a medium designed for unpredictable give-and-take and that naturally means it isn't always going to go the way you want it to. Listen, if the rewards you're experiencing don't outweigh these petty annoyances by at least a 2/1 ratio (two good things for every one shitty thing), you might be chasing the wrong dreams. This is where I could insert some corny metaphor about how embarking on journeys is always far more meaningful than arriving at destinations but I'm not going to, even though it would be apt, because you should already know that, having heard some variation on that theme hundreds of times. You're going to spend more time reaching than getting and if that's making you miserable, STOP, for God's sake! 
At least consider that option and read this article while you do so.

Because here's the thing: most, if not all of those people who don't understand what you do, who say or ask what seem like insensitive things to you, think you're a fucking hero. I haven't even been at it that long and I've lost count of how many times someone has told me how BRAVE they think I am, how they can't imagine having the COURAGE it must take to stand up in front of strangers and try to make them laugh. On one hand, I kind of get that: doing stand-up comedy gives people the chance to hate you and the material you produce, plus you're up there all alone without the benefit of being able to blame a bad performance on dudes in your band. On the other hand; Bravery? Courage? I'm not jumping out of helicopters and saving lives, for cryin' out loud. But that's how people see it and their perception is their reality. You might want to cut some slack to people who see you in that light.
Be gracious, you prick
Here's another thing: you might have started doing this as a means of gratifying yourself, seeking approval or "love" or whatever is lacking in your life or some other completely selfish desire AND THAT'S PERFECTLY FINE! As long as you understand that at the same time, you committed yourself to serve others (in the from of audiences) as an entertainer. You get self-gratification and instant feedback in the form of laughter and applause (ideally) in exchange for what you give the audience. They're not your adversaries. They have shown faith in you by paying money and paying attention to what you have to say (again, ideally). They're entitled to expect it's going to be good. That's the contract you signed when you started this. You can opt out anytime you want, but the terms are non-negotiable. 
There's also a "no bitching about it" clause
Look, I'm in no position to present myself as anybody's mentor. But I'm not above offering help if I can. So with that intention, here's a little mantra I've cooked up for myself. Feel free to use it if you think it could be helpful to you...
  • Show up on time
  • Hit your mark
  • Be good
  • Get out
  • Repeat
Or there's always the abbreviated version...
  • Shut up and be funny
Either way, good luck out there.

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