I started this blog early Sunday morning sitting in a downtown coffee shop in the rich part of town. I was picking up my car after a night of celebrating the great show we had Saturday as a part of the Charleston Comedy Festival. The night was a smash hit. Sold out, crowd was hot, and everyone, and I mean everyone did well. I really needed that. Here is my reflections from that night that i had to finish later because I got hungover and sleepy and couldn’t stay there long haha.
Every pursuit has stages and levels.
Your level is your ascent in skill, notoriety, and/or your place in the power dynamic. The levels are endless.
Your stage is what phase of life your heart is in. And just like levels, the stages are endless. Some look similar but they have endless variations.
Lately, I feel like my personal stage of comedy has been one of depressive challenge. I feel like I’ve eaten from the tree of good and evil. My awareness has grown seemingly all of a sudden. I know this joke worked because I used a buzzword, I know this riff fell flat, I know this bit needs to be retired, I know that idea has potential, I know this person in the front row doesn’t like me and are tuning me out, I know this person thinks I can do no wrong, I feel it all.
For all this data, I’m not any more skilled. My writing output or quality hasn’t magically changed. My awareness walks several steps ahead of my skill.
All these impressions tend to depress me. I do a lot of shit, and in every category, I expect of myself miracles. Anything less than that feels like a failure.
When you have high standards, most things you do will cruise under the bar you’ve set like an air ball of ambition.
The answer isn’t to lower your standards. The answer I’ve found lately is to find a way to give yourself micro credit and to examine and edit the things under your control.
I think most people conflate their level for their stage. I feel good tonight, so I did good tonight. I feel awkward tonight, so I did awkward. I fall into this trap all the time. Comedy for me is both a craft and a state of mind. If I feel stressed and unfunny, I take very specific actions to hype myself into the right headspace. I am a method actor after a fashion. i have to carry the flame with me on stage, or I’ll never find it in the moment.
Because of this huge reliance on how I feel, sometimes how I feel gets too much say on how things are going.
This is a giant bear trap for artists. How you feel is not a complete picture of how you are doing. Once again, your stage and your level are different.
In Jiu Jitsu, you may have lost a tough fought match in the tournament. But paradoxically, while you are busy hating your silver medal, your skill bank account just silently compounded its interest.
To get a full representation of who you are, you have to examine both your stage and your level.
How you are feeling is not god. How you are doing on paper is not god. When you examine yourself and your efforts in something you care about, you have to widen your scope and take into account a lot of things.
And in the end, thats why I can’t be sad that my awareness is growing. To whatever degree I am aware, to that degree I am in control.