For a while, I sound like a cooky professor, I talk about my Oklahoma family, National Student Council, my major program in college, a subsequent travel fellowship I got, the Rally to Restore Sanity, Frank in “It’s Always Sunny…”, Beyonce, the Camino de Santiago, my LA Podcast, my friend’s awesome travel blog, and promise to give a few travel resources.
Comedians take a lot of heat. We take risks constantly and perform in all sorts of environments- hostile and friendly.
But what we risk more than anything is often being honest. Which can translate to “being edgy.” But I’m not talking about edgy in the overplayed “let me cuss a lot and offend everyone here possible” way. I’m talking about in the way that we say something that people really want to laugh at because it rings so true to them, but they don’t want to laugh out of fear of hurting someone’s feelings.
Let me start with saying I’m not a fan of any comedy that hurts feelings. I am, to a fault, a comedy person who likes to bring people along and not hurt feelings. I say “to a fault” because it sometimes means I won’t be the most memorable comic of the night. I won’t be the person who pissed you off or who shocked you. I’m learning how to make my style of stand up comedy really sharp so I can be that… but it’s a process. And I refuse to become something I’m not just for the sake of being “memorable.”
But I digress. What I was saying was that sometimes, people say things that ring true to them that bring out some issue or problem that they can’t address directly. And oftentimes, they cloak it in a joke.
Now, I could get into a deep philosophical discussion about comedy as a means to an end and as a constant and necessary way of human expression. I would start there and delve further into the nature of political comedy and why comedians, no matter what their intention or actual political leanings, tend to get viewed as more liberal. I could even delve further from there into my own journey with comedy- with my roots and interest in politics and how and why it changed throughout the years.
But I ain’t got time for any of that right now. So I’ll get to the point.
And my point is this: If you don’t like the type of humor somebody spouts, don’t support stuff they do. But don’t demonize them into something or someone they’re not. They’re a person with an opinion. And odds are, they’re testing to see if material will even work and people will be receptive to them. And as long as they’re getting audiences to listen to their opinion, they’re going to keep saying and exploring it further. If they don’t have an audience, they would eventually stop saying it. But as long as they can find support, they’re going to continue saying whatever they want.
And they’re allowed to. A comedians job is to find their voice and to connect with audiences. It’s also part of the description to be an exaggeration of who you really are and what you really believe. The exaggeration is where comedy comes in. It’s the difference between the seasoned pro who spends his set yelling while making the audience scream with laughter and the terrifying amateur who scares everybody in the room and comes across as a crazy person. They’re job is to hone in that persona and that exaggeration. Their job is to sell a style. And your responsibility is to support it or ignore it. They’ll become louder or eventually shut up depending on what you decide.
But it’s not your job to get mad at them for saying things. It’s not your job- or anyone’s- to demand apologies for having opinions. All people have opinions. Just because comedians cultivate an audience to listen to them doesn’t mean they have any more or less responsibility to agree with you. They only have a responsibility to their own voice and to their art. If you don’t like what they say, stop listening. But don’t demand us to stop having opinions.
It’s especially difficult for comedians in a world where everything can be taken out of context and twisted. Context for comedy is everything. And if you take time to pause and think about what was said, why it was said, and how it was said… you’ll be able to have a more honest understanding of the situation.
I think sometimes when something controversial is said or brought up that hits a nerve in society, we should examine why we are bothered by that nerve rather than get upset that we have nerves. It’s an opportunity to define who we are and what we are, not an opportunity to shame someone for expressing themselves.
So don’t hate the playa’s baby. In face, don’t hate anyone or anything at all. Hate is harmful. Love is power. Love them playas and know why they playin’ the game so you, too, can love dat game doe.
I’ve been watching a lot of Game of Thrones lately… so forgive the very specific partnership picture. I talk about being a lone wolf, but if you watch the show there’s a wolf in this picture so I’m counting it (nerdy laughter!).
Anyway! The latest episode of Femoir: The Podcast is live in iTunes. And it’s talking about PARTNERSHIPS!
I talk about how I’m going to vary my intro like the Simpsons, then I dive into being “particular about my company,” and talk about a famous song from Chicago about partnership. I discuss my solo show and my stand up comedy, make a reference to a delightful Chris Tucker moment, talk about how I write about partnership often, discuss Stage 32, The Other Client List (my web series), talk about Closure, and how not all partnerships can work out.
And I also discuss my upcoming Western.
So much discussed! Take a listen and subscribe for free if it please ya!
And now back to Game of Thrones for me…
Thanks to my new subscription with Audible.com combined with the hours I spend in my car in LA traffic, I’ve become quite the avid “reader.” I get to listen to all sorts of audiobooks on subjects that interest me that I would normally never make time for.
Which is why I can happily report that I “read” “The Inner Game of Tennis” finally after it being on my to-read list for the better part of 5 years. And I had no idea what to expect. I don’t even remember what inspired me to put it on the list. But I do know that I enjoyed it. It breaks down your mind into two different selves and lets you learn how to better trust yourself… but shutting your other self up.
It’s more than that. And the focus is, obviously, through the game of tennis and through athletics. But I found it invaluable for the creative world, too. I find most lessons from athletics highly valuable in my creative career.
I’ll probably re-read it ASAP just to get it all better in my head. And because holiday traffic in LA gets almost unbearable, so it’s nice to be productive while driving.
I wrote this article for Ms. in the Biz.
I’d say more about it, but I think it speaks for itself.
That is all.
There’s a study that just got published by Harvard School of Public Health that suggests moderate drinking is actually good for you.
Seriously. Read it yourself.
I’m not a heavy drinker by any means. I’m actually pretty satisfied with one drink any given night. When I really feel like going crazy, I might have two. If it’s an all-day party, I might even have three in the course of 8 hours. NUTSO!
So I’m not gonna feel guilty for the next few nights as I cuddle up with a seasonal beer and watch a Western. I’m actually getting healthier.
Steve has a new comedy show on Fox called Laughs.
And he has an interesting perspective on what lies beyond. Check it out in his podcast and show notes.
If you get a chance, be sure to listen and subscribe to the podcast.
I was nominated for an award a couple weeks ago for a project I created. I mentioned to a close friend I was excited about possibly winning because I thought I stood a good chance. They said, in effort to lovingly protect my feelings, “Don’t get your hopes up. I don’t want you to be disappointed.”
And I had a visceral reaction of complete disagreement.
I don’t ever want to lose the ability to hope. Because if I don’t even have hope that I can accomplish something, I’m setting myself up for a life of despair.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t win the thing I was nominated for. And truth is, I wasn’t all that disappointed. The person who won did a spectacular job and I was glad to even be considered. The cash prize attached to winning would have been delightful, but maybe it’s making way for something bigger and better. Who knows!
You never know how these things pan out and I choose to believe they happen for a reason and the universe is always conspiring to create your greatest good. So I don’t know what every small decision will lead to. All I know is I have to trust my gut, do what I think is best, and choose to believe I can achieve something spectacular if I just keep going.
When I was living in Chicago, I got this pretty great audition for an awesome opportunity. I was already considering moving, but I told myself that if I got this really cool thing, I would stay in Chicago and ride this wave out. I didn’t get it. I was a little disappointed. But that set in motion my cross-country move to a city that thrills me, and to a life that I feel very excited and satisfied by that is setting me up for the career success I’ve always wanted. A minor disappointment turned out to be a major gift in the grand scheme of things.
I’ve got some major stuff coming down the pipeline. On Sunday, I’ll be in show where I’ll be arbitrarily evaluated based on standards I’m not told by people I don’ t know who will decide an outcome I have no control over. Do I want them to like me? Of course I do. Am I hoping to do my best and to live up to their standards? Of course I am. I’m hopeful that I’ll have the outcome I want. I’m going to do everything I can to get that outcome. But if it doesn’t happen, I’ll be disappointed. But that’s ok. Because it’s proof that I cared in the first place.
I’d rather believe in myself and my abilities and look forward to the best possible outcome than to walk around always telling myself that I probably won’t get what I hope for.
Because you never know. So I choose to stay hopeful. And I choose to continue to let myself feel- both the good and the bad. And to remind myself to keep perspective on everything because you never know what’s around the corner.
…You can never achieve it.
I have a goal. It’s a little out there. Not in the general list of goals I have for myself, but just based on the reality I’m living in as I write this blog post.
I would share it with you, but I’m not ready. I already over-share, so please don’t feel slighted. I just want to keep this one pretty close to home for a while.
The seed of this goal got planted in my head from a few different outlets. And my first thought was, “Oh there’s no way I’ll be able to do that right now. Are you kidding?”
Then my second thought was, “But if I don’t think it’s possible, it will never happen. If it’s at all possible, I have to at least believe it MIGHT happen. Then who knows.”
I realize that’s a lot of thinking, but my logic basically boils down to this: It’s very possible that the goal I have in mind will not happen. Like I said, it’s out there for my situation right now. I don’t know how it could happen. I don’t see the ways in which I can make it a reality. Normally, I can at least have a plan in place to make something I want a reality. In this case, I’ve got nothing.
But as long as I believe it’s impossible, it will be. If I think it could happen, then I plant a seed somewhere in my brain (and in the universe). I start seeing connections and possibilities where I hadn’t previously. I open myself up to the possibility that this thing could happen. I maybe start moving in that direction. I start doing things I don’t even realize will make that dream a reality.
I had no idea what path I was going to take a few months ago. I had ideas and goals, but no real way to know where I would be or how I would get there. So who knows if these goals and dreams we make for the future can be reality. We have no idea where we’re going anyway, so why not make a small wish-list for the universe along the way?
It’s still possible I won’t reach it. But at least if I believe it could happen, it’s also possible I might. So I’m gonna choose to believe. And I’ll build this small dream. And since I built it… maybe- just maybe- they will come.
Steven Pressfield, one of my favorite modern writers, writes about this idea of “Resistance” as a prevailing universal force that keeps us from accomplishing that which is most important to us. His basic point is, when you’re doing something worthwhile and creating, you will feel tons of resistance. And that’s natural. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In this case, the act of creating- even though not always a highly physical action- will create resistance.
It seeps into everything. You really want to write that chapter in your book but you somehow spend the whole night on Twitter. Your apartment suddenly becomes in dire need of a thorough cleaning the same night you set aside to start your screenplay. You sit down to write a blog and instead look at pictures of Jay Z and Beyonce.
Reading and learning about this concept has changed my life. Once I realized that what I was doing was sabotaging my own creativity, I could use the resistance to my advantage. I could learn that every time I find myself not doing something, I just have to be aware that I’m not doing it and take note of what that something is. Because clearly it’s important.
For example, when I was writing my book and web series at the same time, I would force myself to sit down and have long writing sessions. I would set aside clear times where I went off the grid. And I would stare at a blank piece of paper with no idea what was going to come. I’d give myself every advantage to be productive and I would still think of creative things to do other than write. But I realized that I was resisting. Which meant I was doing something important. So I’d push through and write anyway. Not because it was the best stuff I’ve ever written. But because I had to show myself that I could beat resistance.
It’s the same with my physical fitness. I like running distance races not because I plan on winning anything, but because I like training my physical body not to give up and to push through. Lots of times when I write it’s just to force myself to focus- not because I think it’s the most profound thing I’ll ever write. I just want to practice pushing through. I do open mics for comedy not because I expect my new agent to be waiting for me in the audience, but because I want to practice pushing through the nerves of standing in front of people and saying stuff (that often isn’t funny…yet).
Lately, I’ve felt a lot of resistance. At first I thought maybe it was just a reaction to the fact that my web series is in post-production so there’s not a whole lot I can do for it (which is not true- there’s still lots to be done on my end. Tons, actually. Erg.). But I’ve realized it’s because I’m at a new phase of creation. I need to revamp my book. That will take a lot of creativity and discipline. I’m working on several submissions. That will take a lot of creativity and discipline. I’ve got a few new projects on the docket which will- you guessed it- take a lot of creativity and discipline.
So I’m resisting. I don’t make time to sit. I peruse dumb pictures on BuzzFeed or Facebook. I don’t focus. I throw too much out there.
But I see it now. So I’m gonna do something about it. Because clearly these things that need to be created are gonna be amazing. Otherwise I wouldn’t be resisting them.