You may have noticed that I’ve been sticking up a bunch of pictures of myself with my jokes written on them. Like this one:
They’re from my upcoming show “Distant” and they’re very different to what I normally do. I wanted to cover topics that people steer away from on stage because they either find it too difficult or want to be safer in their approach. I genuinely believe comedy, when done in the right way, can change the world.
However when you’re tackling subjects like this you’ll always face some kind of opposition. It’s easy to feel bad and question yourself when you get comments like this:
That’s a pretty extreme reaction and it’d be easy to look at that and the many others and think “everyone hates me and I’m doing it wrong”. I started to think like that when I had a phone call with a good friend who’s a successful motivational speaker. I told him about this and he said he’d seen my stuff and thought it was great “you shouldn’t feel bad” he said (I’m paraphrasing) “these people don’t pay your rent”.
And just like that this massive weight lifted off my shoulders. The people who don’t like it won’t like it and the people that do will be your audience and they’re the only people that matter when you’re performing. The peers that mock your approach to things, the anonymous keyboard warriors that attack you, the heckler who shouts nonsense during your set, these people aren’t your audience and are thus completely irrelevant. Negative criticism always comes from a point of fear and jealousy.
No matter what you do remember that. Even if you’re working in a call centre and you’re worried about doing 30 minutes of overtime because it makes you look like you’re sucking up. Remember that your critics won’t feel the benefit of your extra work and are, in fact, proof that you’re doing the right thing.
They don’t pay your rent. Your audience do.