Nothing is more detrimental to one’s career, no matter what that career is, than the fear to try. In my case it was the fear to really test out if I was funny or not. The real issue is that there is no straight-forward answer to the question of “am I funny?” Because you can have a five minute set and absolutely kill it, get a standing ovation and walk next door to another club, do the same set and completely bomb. And I mean bomb so bad that when a waitress drops a glass it is a welcomed reprise so people can watch something more interesting than the comedian on stage who isn’t funny – yes, a person cleaning up glass can be more interesting than a person performing on stage.
I let fear control my life for a long time. I was constantly seeking out new industries to try and break into, emulate other’s lives and whenever a new “cool” career choice came along I would drop everything and try to focus on that.
In my short time I have wanted the following:
– Marketing for a major guitar company
– A&R at a record label
– Advertising Copywriter
– Songwriter for a production house
– Music publisher
– Music manager
Writer is where I’m at now and honestly was the only place I really felt comfortable. I could write for days. My essays in college would be three pages of actual information and another seven pages of additional fluff that was me just rambling, but I would still get high marks on those papers. I always knew that I had a knack for writing, writing was in my blood.
I think deep down inside I always wanted to be a comedy writer. I always had love for Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien. Conan was my first real voyage into late night television and he had a similar sense of humor as I did and I felt at home watching his show. The combination of him and Andy Richter was a match made in heaven. One that was so perfect that when Andy left to pursue his own dreams I felt deserted by a friend who went to hang out with girls instead of his redheaded best friend who just wanted to hang around and trade baseball cards.
But there was something those guys had that I didn’t.
They knew they were funny and didn’t care what people thought about them. When they told a joke that didn’t work, they kept moving on and killed them with the next one.
That wasn’t me.
Despite my convincing to everyone that I didn’t care what people thought about me, it wasn’t necessarily true. I, for the most part, did what I wanted and dressed how I wanted but there was always this need to impress people creatively. It’s still there and I still struggle with it, but I have made strides to hush it.
My first failure in the vein of “creativity” was when I took the stage, guitar in hand, at an open mic in Astoria, NY. I got through the first song and probably sounded like a nervous child trying to tell his father why his car keys are wet and faintly smell of urine. Halfway through the second song I completely froze. I mean if you ever saw the movie “The Day After Tomorrow” when that weird storm comes through and it’s so cold that it immediately freezes people where they stand, it was exactly like that.
I had failed.
I failed in the most horrific way possible.
I failed in the most horrific way possible and was completely fine with it.
That failure pushed me to pursue what I really want out of life and that’s writing for late night television and sitcoms. It gave me the passion to write my own show, create spec scripts for “Psych” and “Louie” and enter my work into competitions. I may not win, I may not even get any feedback, but at least I’m trying. I don’t know if I read this somewhere so I apologize if I’m directly quoting someone, but…
The first step to success is failure.
I learned that is the most important thing to remember. I have failed at music (I was doomed from the start) and have even failed at comedy (when I completely bombed in front of my class) but hearing just one person laugh at something I created lets me know that I’m doing the right thing and the future will bring success. I took my first step and know that failure that incites passion is the best motivation to do better.