I am a bad human being at heart. More often than not, when a friend sends me a Facebook invitation to an event for a comedy show, the first thing my mind goes to “Why’d they book him on the show? I should be on this show. Why not me?” I feel like I’m not alone in my bitter jealousy in this regard among comedians. The fact is that I have not been doing comedy long enough nor have I reached any sort of level of success to justify bitterness or a negative attitude. Not even a little.
I’ve been doing comedy just under four years now. My position in the Philadelphia comedy scene or lack of one is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter what I’ve done to this point. No matter how much it pains me to admit it or how much I dislike confronting the fact, I am still in the position where I have to prove myself to people. The existence of my ego is poisonous to myself as a person and to my continued success in comedy I’m on the lowest end of the lowest totem pole, I have no right to believe I deserve anything in comedy in this point. No one owes me anything. I might sound like I’m beating myself up, but I feel like admitting this is a healthy first step. I have to remove the arrogant negativity and replace it with something positive.
When I’m not booked on a show, there could be a lot of reasons for it. I might not be right for the line-up or the audience. The audience might not like the style of comedy that I do. I might have booked on that show already in a previous month. The host might be keeping me in mind for a future show. The host might have had a very specific line-up for the show when getting the idea for it. There are a hundred things I consider when I book a show myself that I should probably understand these things. There is also another possibility, and here’s the big one — there is a good chance that if I’m not getting booked as much as I would like, I should probably work harder on getting better so people would want to book me more often and pay me money. The easy thing is finding someone or something else to blame for my failures. The hard thing is taking ownership and making a point of getting better.
Nobody is going to hand me anything. Nobody should hand me anything. The magic answer to every problem I have is “work harder, get better.” That’s all I or anyone can do. Instead of poisoning my mind and the comedy scene in general with my envy and negativity, I need to keep my head down and do the work. The sad fact that there are thousands and thousands of comedians across the country and the world who are equally as or more successful than I am at comedy. How far will I get by being lazy and negative and complaining?
If you put the work in, you’ll create your own opportunities, just by the virtue of people that will see you more often. And you will only get better at your craft by working harder. It’s hard to admit to yourself that any lack of success or problems you might have are probably your own fault. Sure, I might not be the most mainstream comic in the world and that might eliminate some mainstream club and suburban opportunities. But that only means I have to work that much harder at getting better, exploring other opportunities, and creating other opportunities myself. I need to work on getting so good that I can’t be ignored. And until that point, I have no right to whine. Am I good enough right now not to be ignored by people who matter? No. So what right to I have to be negative?
Continue reading OPINION: Why Not Me? (or: Getting Off Your Ass and Doing It Yourself)