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From the WitOut Archives: Why Not Me? (or: Getting Off Your Ass and Doing It Yourself) by Luke Giordano

Twice a month, WitOut digs through its virtual piles of old columns to repost something great you may have missed.

This post was written by formerly Philly-based comedian Luke Giordano, who currently lives in L.A. and  is working as a writer for an upcoming Nickelodeon sitcom.  Luke is also the creator and writer for the comedy website Everything You Like Is Stupid.

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?

Philadelphia encompasses a large metropolitan area. There are four and a half million people here. Out of those millions, there has to be a couple thousand of them who would come to comedy shows on a regular basis. How many of those people are we tapping into as a community? How many people do you think are interested in coming to a local comedy show but don’t want to take the risk or are afraid it might suck? This is a growing comedy community and there are more people to perform in front of than are actually coming out. There is a lot of great comedy in this city and there could be a lot more opportunities for comedians to get up in front of real people if we all take it on ourselves and put the work in. Basically, if I want to be on more shows, I’m going to have to create these shows myself. Instead of going to the shows that are here and waiting for people to hand me things, how about taking things into my own hands?

There is a big crowd of real people at the Center City Comedy open mic pretty much every single week. It’s not just because it’s in the right place at the right time, it’s no fluke, it’s not just a restaurant in a good location. It’s because Chris CottonConrad Roth, and H. Foley put the work in. They’ve spent a lot of time and hours and care promoting it and cultivating it and it paid off. The question we all have to ask ourselves is can we put the work in like they have? And if not, how can we get better and grow as a community and as individual performers? There’s room for a lot more shows in this city. There are a lot of people who would come out to see them. The only problem is we’re going to have to work hard for their time and money.

My default as a person is a swirling black hole of loathing and negativity. It’s going to take a lot for me to eliminate it from my system and stay humble. But I’m willing to do that and work harder and get off of my stupid ass to better the scene and myself as performer. My motivations are selfish — I want to get on stage more often and get more bookings. But if everyone else is helped by my efforts as well, then even better.


1 comment to From the WitOut Archives: Why Not Me? (or: Getting Off Your Ass and Doing It Yourself) by Luke Giordano

  • Craig Needles

    This is a great article! As a musician, I often think, “Why isn’t my band playing that show? We would be perfect!” Then I think, “Maybe it’s because instead of working on my new song last weekend, I watched a Mythbusters marathon for 6 straight hours.” You need to stay motivated, good things will happen.

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