Constellations are weird.
I can understand people looking in the sky and seeing pictures. I see pictures in the clouds all the time.
From our perspective, stars are just dots in the sky. It makes a lot of sense that people would just play connect the dots. Especially given our pre-disposition to finding patterns in everything.
What has always seemed strange to me, though, is the pictures that human beings have found in the stars. Not all of them. The big dipper makes sense.
I see a handle. I see a cup. It looks like a dipper. It also looks a little bit like the Tin Man’s oil can but I’m willing to call it a dipper.
It is also part of Ursa Major. Which is supposed to look like a bear.
Ignore the picture of the bear juxtaposed over that group of stars and ask yourself: if you looked at that particular grouping of stars, would you immediately come to the conclusion it is a bear?
When I started with Vilification Tennis, I was a vilifier. I was OK, I guess. I didn’t suck. But when I took over as the host of Vilification Tennis, I transformed the show. I didn’t transform it by making myself the star of the show. I transformed it because I figured out how to make the show look better to the audience.
I just have a basic understanding of how to run a show from the stage. There is a reason that I’m the front guy for The Dregs. Nobody has to tell me how to do it. I just know.
Every now and again, though, something happens that freaks me out a little. I get rattled.
We all get rattled sometimes. It can be a challenge as an MC because you need to be focused on the show and on the moment. If you are spending a bunch of the show worried about a choice you made, you aren’t in the moment.
Say you aren’t going to serve pizza to gay people?
Say you ARE going to serve pizza to gay people?
Be a woman with an opinion that you choose to say out loud?
Death threat! Rape Threat! Public exposure of your address, phone number, and place of business! But you shouldn’t take it so personally!
It has become clear a death threat is the internet equivalent of a mic drop.
Think you have a cogent argument? I’M GOING TO KILL YOU!
BOOM! Your argument is invalid!
This weekend, someone told me that they hated the sound of their voice. I replied with a much too flippant “everyone hates the sound of their voice.”
Flippant or not, I think my response was kind of true. Our voices sound different to us than they do to everyone else. When we hear a recording of our voice, we are likely to have an Yzma moment. Yes, I’m sad to say. That is your voice. Nothing you can do about it except get used to it. Because you want to know who doesn’t think your voice sounds weird? Everyone else. Many of them have been listening to you for years and do you know why none of them have complained about how horrible you sound when you speak? Read More…
If you click through to the link, there is video of a man being shot to death. That’s important to know because you might not want to watch such a thing.
Early reports about this incident indicated that the victim tried to take the officer’s taser and the officer shot him in self-defense. That was the story the officer repeated over and over again. And it was a lie.
Even if the victim had tried to take a taser before the video starts, it is obvious he posed no threat to the officer when he was running away and eight bullets were fired at his back.
Without that video, the officer would not be facing murder charges. Thousands of people would be telling us that we weren’t there so we couldn’t know what really happened. We should take the word of the police officer because why would he lie?
I don’t know. Maybe for the same reasons as anyone else?
Note: This is a post about self-doubt and self-exploration. It is not a post inviting a bunch of people telling me that I’m awesome and it’s all OK and I shouldn’t be so hard on myself and I really REALLY don’t want any *hugs.* I’m not broken. I just need to say some things out loud.
I’ve had some nearly crippling doubts the last few months. I’ve been on stage doing things that have, in the past, been very easy for me and I’ve found myself feeling inadequate.
As recently as this week, I’ve been recording a podcast recording and thinking “I have literally nothing interesting to say.”
I’ve found myself taking part in improv shows feeling as if I was simply not pulling my weight.
I’ve looked at the lyrics for some songs I’ve written lately and been annoyed because I’ve written way better lyrics than that.
And I start wondering, am I getting too old to do this any more? Was I wrong to think that I should even be doing this sort of thing? Am I letting the people around me down? Can they tell that I’ve totally lost it? Everyone loses it eventually, right?
These thoughts anger me because they are bullshit.
I know that improvisation is not about being the funniest person on stage. I know that if you don’t have anything to add to a podcast conversation, the best possible choice is to say nothing. I know that none of these doubts are about real things. They are thoughts that get in the way of being successful.
And they are thoughts I know a lot of performers have. The best performers have them. The best writers have days where they think they shouldn’t be writing the color text on their own dust jackets.
Every time I write a show, I’m worried that it isn’t funny. To me, I don’t measure success in ticket sales nearly as much as laughs. I could sell out every show and if my favorite joke doesn’t get a laugh, I feel defeated. I know lots of other people feel that way. At least I hope I’m not the only comedy writer this neurotic.
I remind myself that I’m extremely lucky a lot of talented people want to work with me even when I’m not my best. I remind myself that best is subjective and I need to cut myself some slack.
But you know, I don’t want to cut myself some slack. When I walk off stage feeling like I was the worst person up there, I want to demand we go out and do it again so I can do it better.
I’ve had a lot of off days in a row and I just keep asking myself if I’ve lost it or if I never really had it. As if I know what “it” is. That kind of thinking is poison.
Knowing it is poison and finding the antidote are different things. I want to power past it. I want to get on stage or try to write funny shit as often as humanly possible just to get that doubt demon to go fuck itself.
I haven’t forgotten how to be funny. I’ve forgotten how to not care when I’m just OK.
The secret to good improv is to just fucking talk. If you give a shit about saying something funny, you aren’t in the moment.
The secret to writing funny stuff is to just fucking write something down. Write something down over and over and over again until writing funny stuff is second nature.
And you have to remember that everyone has slumps. The best don’t give up.
I’m not the best. But I’m good. Sometimes I’ve been great.
I know I haven’t lost “it.” I just have to stop waiting for that one good moment that will make up for all the unsatisfying ones. I’m confident that moment will come as soon as I stop spending so much time worrying about the fact it hasn’t happened yet.
I usually look at them and ask if they think I’m lazy. I spend most of my time writing or promoting my writing or trying to find new projects so I can continue to write. And I don’t make a lot of money. Yet.
Even if I find a way to make this crazy writing career pay off to the extent I can afford to do it, it is not going to make me rich unless I accidentally write exactly the right thing at exactly the right time. J K Rowling isn’t insanely rich because she is so much more talented than the thousands of other writers producing books right now.
She is insanely rich because she wrote the right thing at the right time and because she got a whole lot of lucky breaks.