Moments from a Road Comic’s Life #7
Comedy is the one career where you have to fail, repeatedly and in front of an audience, in order to improve. I wrote this a year and a half ago, but didn’t share it with anyone. It just hurt too much. Now it’s time:
I was booked to feature in a major comedy club in Detroit. Two weeks before the date, the owner of the club saw me do 8 minutes of my act in the Detroit Comedy Festival. A few days later I got an e-mail from him telling me he’s demoting me to mc, replacing me with a better feature act. He was kind about it, and said he was just being honest.
I replied that I appreciated his honesty, and would welcome any specifics about how I can improve. He told me I do too much “mugging”. I hate mugging, and I know I used to do it a lot in my act due to inexperience, nervousness, and trying to look confident when I had no confidence. But I thought I had gotten rid of that annoying facial affectation. Clearly, I hadn’t, and still have a lot of work to do. I once again told him I appreciated his suggestions, and that of course I would be willing to mc instead of feature.
And then I got into the shower and cried my eyes out. Hard, loud, ugly-face crying. I was so embarrassed; completely humiliated. You try and try and try, do your best, work hard, and it’s still not good enough. And you feel like a failure. And you want to quit. And then you pick yourself up, and tell yourself, “Hey, at least I’m out there trying. And this will only make me stronger and force me to get even better, and I’ll show him someday that I am good enough.”
But it still hurts, and I’m still crying.
I’ve had hundreds of gigs since then, and plenty of successes. Remembering the failures shows me how far I’ve come…and how far I still have to go.