I had a conversation this week with a fellow comedian while we were on a long drive to a gig. During the course of the conversation we came to the realisation that while we were both at different points in our careers we had exceedingly similar issues with regard to how we felt. It was a lovely open conversation with a good friend.
(“…hahaha and then I shanked him in the shower” sharing is caring)
The next day out of the blue I got a message from another comic asking me if I had ever felt a bit out of sorts and if my confidence ever wavered. This was exactly what my conversation from the day before had been about and I realised that while we all put on this bravado and bluster we all pretty much have the same insecurities. The overriding theme was that while we were surrounded by people all doing similar things we felt pretty much alone as performers.
(some out of choice and some because you’re dangerous to be around)
Obviously I can’t speak for everyone but I know a lot of us feel like this and I wanted to write a post that reassured people and helped with some of that neurosis.
Here’s an example. I often get good news with regards to my career, it could be a slot I wasn’t expecting to get at a well known club or an extremely well paid corporate for a big company or even just that an agent from a TV agency is coming to see me perform, and when I get that news I instantly want to share it with my friends. A large part of wanting to share it is to show everyone how great I’m doing and there’s nothing wrong with that, prior to my comedy career I wouldn’t have thought twice about posting up a status about a promotion at work or a bonus I’d be getting, but now I get this good news and I realise there’s no one I want to share it with. My friends are mostly comics like me, any good news for me is usually bad news for them, so calling someone and saying “This agent is coming to see me perform!” turns into an unpleasant conversation for them as they consider why they haven’t had an agent see them or why they didn’t get that gig or even just why is Chris calling me to tell me how great he’s doing?! What a dick! And I’m exactly the same when people call me.
(Oh look at you doing so f*cking well! Oh oh oh look at me with my fresh food and holeless trainers, don’t we think we’re the smartest smarty pants ever. F*CK YOU! F*CK YOU IN YOUR WELL FED MOUTH!)
BUT that’s not really true. Most of that is to do with your own paranoia because we don’t openly talk about the negative side of ourselves in regards to the circuit. I just want to reassure you on a few points:
- I do start to hate my material after a while
- I do worry about how well I’m doing
- I do worry about what other comics think of me
- I do have a fragile ego
- I do work very hard to get the smallest of successes
- I do like to tell people I’m doing well and have them congratulate me
- I hate being criticised
- I sometimes feel like I’m not in control
- I do get jealous of other comedian’s success
All of those things are about me but I know for a fact that a lot of other comics feel exactly the same and I know that the biggest catalyst for feeling all of those things is because we feel like we’re alone working against the rest of the people we know.
I’m here to tell you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We’re human beings, we all feel like that and that’s ok. We’re supposed to. All of those things make you a good comedian, a great person and a hard working individual. It’s not going to change overnight but I’m going to start being more open about these things and you should too.
Let’s start now. I want everyone to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me how great they’re doing. I want to hear every success story and every win, not just in your career but in your life. I want to hear about it and I want to have a conversation about it. Let’s end this year by telling each other how great we are and feeling good about it.
Let’s change everything.
- Why Do Comedians Become Comedians? (psychologytoday.com)
- Sometimes Even A “Bad Idea” Can Lead To Something Good (thenovelapproachreviews.com)