I have a social media addiction, something I share with 90% of the civilised world. I’m connected to social media through all aspects of my life.
(well not all aspects)
It’s been debated many many times and the effects of it researched by genuine scientists (not the crazy ones with a lab full of Monkeylizards and Bananacrabs). The research goes from the extreme to the obvious as I think we can all agree that the one thing we all like talking about is ourselves.
(that and cats in bread, apparently)
It’s ironic that I’m talking about this on here as this is essentially one big ego massage but I’ve always struggled with how much I should talk about myself in social situations. As comedians we are expected to promote ourselves and tell everyone how great we’re doing, can’t be self deprecating and modest if you’re trying to sell out a 2000 seat theatre “oh yes I’m alright, my mum says I’m funny. You should come and see my show if you like jokes and have the time but I really don’t want to put you out, if you’ve got something better to do I’d do that” if the tagline on the poster reads “He’s ok but only if you say so” you’re unlikely to buy tickets to that show. However this bleeds over into my normal life.
Here’s an example. Recently we had our neighbours over for drinks, it was Christmas and we hadn’t done it since we moved in, look at us being adults, the wine was flowing and we were enjoying ourselves. They have recently got engaged and soon after found out they were expecting their first child, this is amazing and enjoyable news however I would say that considering there were 4 people in that conversation all talking about different things and some huge news I took up 75% of the conversation space with inane stuff about me. I talked about gigs I’d done, stuff coming up in the new year, how I started out in comedy, my haircut, pictures I’d had done, thinking I could beatbox, this blog.
(and my ever growing collection of stock photos)
Thing is I don’t even realise I’m doing it. It’s your job as a comedian to fill dead air and get a reaction, you don’t want big gaps in the conversation because that’s where heckles and sadness live, but when you’re not on stage how do you hold a normal discussion without trying to slip in a punchline or tell people how fantastically you’re doing? There’s actually research to show that talking about yourself has the same effect on your brain as food, money and sex so I have no chance whatsoever because I love sex, food and money more than I like being alive.
Comedy is a harsh mistress, it sucks you in and takes away everything from you that isn’t related to itself so it gets tough to have hobbies and interests aside from being a comedian. I have always been a massive geek, I’m overweight and my mum made me take mensa tests everyday when I was growing up I stood no chance, and my interests tend to centre around dragons and video games. Will I be talking about this to other comedians at shows? NO! Will I be mentioning that I like painting tiny models in my set on stage? Double NO! Will there ever be a successful comedian who does a lovely set on the advantages of old school Mario games against the newer Mario party games? HELL FUCKING NO!
(although there will be studies into frequency of interaction with Super Mario against the chance of meeting real life sexual partners)
I’d abandoned all my hobbies and interests outside of the comedy world up until the beginning of this year, there comes a point where you feel like all you are is a set list of jokes and a ten minute promotional video, so my big new year’s resolution was to get back into the things I enjoy. I’ve already caught up with Game of Thrones and got myself some new paint brushes so I’m well on my way into the basement of geekdom. The way I see it is that as long as I have hobbies I can maintain a conversational balance between what’s happening at work (comedy) and what I’ve been doing in my spare time (kids, holidays and dragons) that way there’s less chance of dominating a conversation. People don’t like talking about work much, when someone tells me they’re an accountant I don’t ask them about how they’ve correlated recent tax figures or how they calculated their profit and loss sheet.
(sorry nodded off for a second there, are we back to me yet?)
So I can only imagine how boring it is when I’m talking about how far I’ve driven in the last week (678 miles) or which towns I’ve performed in (London, London, London), to me I’m exciting but to them it’s the same as someone explaining new Anti Virus products at PC World.
Ironically by going back to my old interests I’ve got some great opportunities for work, I’ll be a talking head on a video games show soon for example, so I guess that shows that maintaining a strong personal life is key to success.
I don’t know if there was a point to this post other than venting about something that’s been on my mind for a while. Hope you enjoyed it, I know I loved looking up the photos. I’ve just had an audition for hosting a TV show on Channel 4 and I’m currently writing my hour long show to be previewed at a Guinness world record attempt for longest standup show so maybe I’ll slip some kick ass material about elves and their representation in the classic Gauntlet games OR maybe just stick to knob gags.