Complaining about other's success is a waste of energy

Congrats to everyone nominated for ECNY Awards. Bitter ya didn't make the cut? Feelgood Matt says you shouldn't! Too much bitter sniping among comics, I think. If someone you know does well, that's good for you too. Rising tides and boats and all that. Maybe when they break through to whatever the next level is they'll put in a word for ya.

Here's a new agey but kinda true view on all that (by Richard Carlson):

While it can be seductive, or at least habitual, to secretly desire to keep others at your level, it’s absolutely, positively not in your best interest. The way to rise to the top is to wish everyone well, to hope with all your heart that everyone can expand to their greatest potential, to wish that the people you know, and those whom you don’t know can all realize their dreams and achieve greatness.

It’s critical to know that there is plenty of success to go around. In fact, as people achieve their goals, the pie gets even bigger for the rest of us. We don’t want to see one another at our lowest common denominator but at our highest common vision. We can all succeed and each time someone does – anyone - it helps the rest of us.

When you wish someone well, it creates a momentum within you, an inner environment of success.

Alright, I'll stop before he gets to the whole "sprinkling the seeds for a garden of success" crap.


23 Comment(s)

Anonymous Dan Fontaine said...

I understand both sides because I feel bitter that Sandpaper Suit didn't get a nod for "website".

"I'm with Ruby" t-shirts anyone?

2/4/10, 1:15 PM  
Blogger soce said...

The funny thing about awards ceremonies is that the people who want the awards the most tend not to win, whereas the winners tend to be beyond the point in their careers where such awards even matter much.

There have been times when performer friends and I have been in direct competition for various awards, roles, etc, but even then you have to figure that someone's going to get picked, and you only have small odds, regardless of whom you're competing against.

2/4/10, 1:28 PM  
Anonymous LONDONCALLING said...


2/4/10, 1:48 PM  
Anonymous Selena said...

Great post, Matt. I agree wholeheartedly. My sister and I discuss this stuff a lot (she's a comedian in LA) and we're constantly saying that there's not a finite number of opportunities out there. When you smile at the world (and your fellow comics), the world smiles back :)


2/4/10, 1:56 PM  
Blogger Matt Ruby said...

Thanks DF!

2/4/10, 1:57 PM  
Anonymous Hank Thompson said...

The only time I root for someone's failure is first timers. If a person does poorly he/she is less likely to get addicted and more likely to quit. Less new comics clogging up the mics. Too many dopes get on stage and doggy paddle for two months before quitting. Nothing annoys me more than someone wasting their time, and the time of every comic in the room. I root for hard-working comics who are serious about improving, of which there are plenty. Success is a great thing for everybody. I hope it trickles down and to someday be in a position to trickle on others. All showers should be golden.

2/4/10, 7:07 PM  
Blogger Josh Homer said...

although I do think your website should have got a nod, I think the ECNY Awards are one dimensional as far as the type of comics (in age and type of material). As posted on another blog, there is no diversity in the awards. There are no females of color and the only 2 people who are not white (Hannibal and Baron) are alternative comics. The nominations are a lot of comics doing the same thing, which is indicative of the NYC scene nowadays.

2/4/10, 8:23 PM  
Blogger Abbi Crutchfield said...

"The nominations are a lot of comics doing the same thing, which is indicative of the NYC scene nowadays."

I disagree that homogeneity pervades the NYC comedy scene today. Like high shcool, the scene is made up of a bunch of different circles, and even when the people in the circles dressed alike and talked alike, one of them went on to become a local meteorologist, and one of them went on to rob a 7/11.

I don't put it on ECNY to include more women of color, I put it on women of color to put together a better awards ceremony. Or, not having the time, going on and being successful so that they don't need an awards ceremony to validate their worth as comics. This applies to anyone who feels bitter, disappointed or left out.

PS: If you take "consistently killing crowds" as criteria for earning the nomination, Wil Sylvince is missing from the list!

2/5/10, 4:16 PM  
Blogger Mo Diggs said...

As posted on another blog, there is no diversity in the awards.

What blog, Mr. Homer?

2/5/10, 4:26 PM  
Blogger Josh Homer said...

outside of the clubs (ie comics who are passed at clubs) it is a lot of the same. Just count how many times you hear "Really?", "Well played sir, well played" or references to comic books, Dr. Who, Robocop etc.

The ECNY is one dimensional, and by your argument Abbi, women of color should have put their own Oscars together (up until Halle won), their own SAG awards, their on WGA and DGA awards too? Sometimes you'd like recognition from your peers without creating your own thing. The BET Awards just ain't the same thing nore do they have the same recognition.

But that's just NYC now.

@Mo Digg it was The Comics Comic

2/5/10, 5:51 PM  
Blogger myq said...

Before I start, feel free to take my weighing in here with as many grains of salt as necessary (despite being a nominee, I'll obviously strive for as much objectivity as possible).

Here's something from the ECNY website:
"What makes one eligible for an ECNY Award?
Once you make your living in a particular category you are no longer eligible."

I don't know if the ECNY folks still follow this guideline or how strictly they do, but if they do, this certainly could provide an explanation for why comics from the alternative scene are more populous in the nominations than club comics, because with clubs often paying and alternative shows often not, it seems like making a living would be more common amongst the club folks, and thus make them more likely to be ineligible for nomination.

Also, is it possible that fans of the alternative scene are more likely to be computer-savvy and in the know about the ECNY's nomination process to begin with, which might also lead to more nominations of comics in that world? Not saying that club comics and fans of club comics don't use computers, but especially if the scene is so overrun with Dr. Who and comic book-lovers, I don't think it's so far-fetched that they might be more on the ball about nominating their favorites.

Another quick point--Baron and Hannibal are hilarious. They are two of the funniest comedians I know of any race, so I don't really understand any complaint on diversity grounds regarding them. You want people of color, but not these people of color?

As to this quote specifically...
"outside of the clubs (ie comics who are passed at clubs) it is a lot of the same. Just count how many times you hear 'Really?', 'Well played sir, well played' or references to comic books, Dr. Who, Robocop etc."
Really? The word "really" is alt-hack?
Sincerely, I'm not saying that there aren't any folks who talk about similar things to other folks, but to imply that it's not happening in the club scene as well? That seems flawed.
I think Patton Oswalt once said, when asked about the alternative-mainstream dichotomy, something like "90% of everything is crap." There may be a lot of sameness in the non-club scene, but certainly if that's the case, there's a lot of sameness in the club scene as well then.
There are shitty alt acts, there are hacky road or club acts, but there are also great comedians in both worlds. And those worlds aren't even necessarily separate. Plenty of people easily can and do entertain in all such venues and places.

And a large number of the comics nominated fit that bill, I would say.
While many of them may inhabit the downtown rooms more than the clubs, that says nothing about their ability as comics. It might say something about the process it takes to get into some clubs, with factors that include much more than just having talent and being funny. (This may be getting farther afield than we need at this point. Either way though.)

Regardless, comedy and art in general aren't objective sciences, obviously.
And in this particular case, where nominations were open to the public at large, and no one here knows how many club vs. alt comics were nominated, or white comics vs. comics of color were nominated, and with so few nomination spots available and so MANY talented comedians in this city, I just want to second Matt's initial post message.

Recognition like this is great for the people who get it, but it certainly doesn't take away from dozens of others (or more) who would also fit just fine on such a list.

2/6/10, 11:22 AM  
Blogger myq said...

PS On the Comic's Comic blog, I believe it's Jon Friedman, one of the producers, who weighs in with "The ECNY Awards is ultimately a show that spoofs award shows, and yes, it does heavily focus on the 'alt comedy' scene. It always has and has never hid from that. It's all for fun."

2/6/10, 5:31 PM  
Anonymous Mike Lawrence said...

Comic book references automatically make someone alt? If comic book movies are in the mainstream and making more money than just about anything else is referencing them in a set alternative anymore? I think my Dark Knight joke is a lot more accessible than some of the more personal subject matter I touch on in my act. I do think it's a bit shortsighted that all of the nominated comics are being tossed into one lump sum comedically (I agree that the ethnic diversity issue is something that needs work). You pick any 5 comics from the emerging, male, and female lists and you can easily have an extremely comedically diverse lineup. There are obviously a lot of talented comics who work hard and deserve acknowledgment for their efforts who were neglected in the results of the nominations. That said, making a blanket statement about the sameness of all the comics is as unfair as you claim the awards to be.

2/7/10, 1:11 AM  
Blogger Josh Homer said...

I said 'comic books, etc.'. I did not state that talking about comics automatically makes you alt.

All of the comics nominated perform for the same audiences, in the same venues, hang out together, know each other, book each other. That's my point. (I also think is's a bit funny that you say 'It's unfair to lump us all together, although you do have a point about that racial thing. I mean you could lump us in the white bucket together, but let's ignore that for the sake of my comment')

I know it's something that might be difficult for you to see since you are on the inside, and not on the outside looking in, but it's a comedy clique that the nominations are based on. It's like the jocks saying "look I know we're all jocks and hang out together, but if you take 5 dudes from the football team, you'll have an extremely athletically diverse lineup. I mean Ken throws the ball, I can't do that, I block. Oh btw, you can't play with us."

I guess in the future we can only hope that the "ethnic diversity issue" (and age diversity as well) gets some work not only on the awards but on the shows that are run on a regular basis in NYC, both in and and out of the clubs. My main issue is the awards are indicative of the scene for up and coming comics. When I go to non club rooms, the lack of diversity is astounding. Count the number of women and people of color on the shows, you will not need more than one hand to cover both. If you'd like I can provide specific examples.

Then I go to the clubs and it's an all white heterosexual male fest, unless of course you are lucky enough to get a theme night, like Urban Night or Gay night. If you'd like I can provide specific examples.

I can't argue this point. You have your feelings on the matter as a nominee and I have my feelings as an underrepresented minority. Now I look just like a complainer, instead of someone actually pointing something out. Oh well. Good luck Mike, I like your comedy and you. I hope you win, and Myq Kapalan too. I hope you both win in a draw with St. Germain, like a trinity of comedy. But St. Germain is totally the holy ghost in that trinity and you're Jesus cuz you can grow a full beard. Myq would have to be God then, which works cuz God is Jewish.

2/7/10, 11:58 AM  
Blogger Neil Constantine said...

I'm just happy to have Myq commenting on the blog again.

2/7/10, 11:58 AM  
Blogger Josh Homer said...

PS - as Myq already pointed out "Jon Friedman, one of the producers, who weighs in with "The ECNY Awards is ultimately a show that spoofs award shows, and yes, it does heavily focus on the 'alt comedy' scene. It always has and has never hid from that. It's all for fun.""

so one of the producers actually admits the awards are "alt heavy", which means HE groups all or at the very least most of the nominees in the same category. Which is the bias I was originally pointing out.

2/7/10, 12:36 PM  
Blogger myq said...

@Neil: I was just trying to increase diversity amongst blog comments.

@Josh: I don't think it sounds like complaining (though if you are, aren't you equally complaining about under-representation in the club scene, which I believe equally would love people to believe it is as diverse as possible, no?).

I think your point is a reasonable one.

(Though the jock analogy is an odd one, considering this: aren't the jocks on the football team likelier to be the better football players? Isn't the lower population of nerdy weaklings appropriate in that context? And are you saying that mainstream comedians and non-whites and non-males are the nerdy weaklings of standup comedy?)
You've just been alternatived!

PS Alternative comedy just involves changing parts of speech, right?

PPS Really Robocop comic books.

2/7/10, 5:32 PM  
Blogger soce said...

As any group grows and evolves, there are bound to become certain people who stand-out and those who don't. But not everyone who takes the spotlight will go on to have major success, and some people who don't promote themselves much will pull surprise manoeuvres later on.

You can't control other people and their outcomes. But you can control yourself and how you choose to spend your time and what your focus is. Not everybody will achieve their goals but you have to put your energy in the direction that benefits you the most.

You can spend your time hating on others or spend it loving others or not caring about anyone else and focusing on yourself or something in between.

2/8/10, 2:37 PM  
Blogger Marian said...

I'm fairly new to the scene. I was struck by the absence of women in the Emerging category. Really, none? (Yes, I'm a girl.)

I also agree with the basic premise of Matt's post. Begrudging other people's success is a waste of energy, only makes you feel worse, and does nothing to improve your own work.

2/9/10, 6:58 PM  
Blogger myq said...

A girl won the emerging title last year, so it makes sense to stack the deck so the less fortunate men can take it this year.

Also, Kate is a girl.

2/9/10, 7:01 PM  
Blogger Marian said...

Oh - I stand corrected! I thought there were no girls. Duly noted! All is almost right with the world again.

Begrudging is still for the birds.

Thanks, Myq!

2/9/10, 7:07 PM  
Blogger myq said...

No problem.

Sorry to almost begrudge you your almost-begrudging.

PS Some of the other men nominated are girly, if that helps.

2/9/10, 7:25 PM  
Blogger Marian said...

Ha - that should be a category. Emerging Girly Male Comics. Seems only fair.

2/9/10, 7:43 PM