The problem with self-pity

Rob Delaney talks about doing a benefit show and calls it "one of my more instructive stand-up experiences."

I resented that I was asked to wear a suit and tie, so I started my set kind of pouty and feeling sorry for myself, and I’m only admitting that because it could probably be of use to another comedian—that was very wrong of me. I should relish any opportunity to perform and respect the fact that I was asked to do the show, that there were people who came to see it. So I started off my set from a sense of self-pity. If there’s a commandment for comedy, that has got to be at the top: “Don’t you dare.” As such, I got into a hole I had difficulty pulling myself out of. I don’t think the set was the nightmare I felt that it was afterward, but my mindset was unhealthy and not conducive to enjoying myself onstage, which you must if you’re going to deliver a show people like. My main yardstick for if the show went well is, “Did I enjoy myself?” As a steward of this audience, of any audience, you are showing the people what to do, and it should be having a good time...

I’m actually glad it happened. I’m very glad it happened, because it made me re-evaluate how the audience is at least 51 percent of the equation. They are more important than, you, the performer, and they must be respected and loved. They don’t give a donkey shit if you’re wearing a suit and tie or if you’re fucking wearing Saran Wrap—make them laugh, you fucking idiot.

I like this advice: 1) Relish any opportunity to perform. 2) Respect the fact you were asked to do the show and that people came to see it.

1 comment:

aalap patel said...

Good advice. Something that I think the vast majority of us forget occasionally (and which some people seem to not learn at all).

I had a similar thought recently when talking to a non comedian friend. I was griping about how hard it is to make money at comedy but that I really enjoyed performing.

But if someone said, You can perform every night for 200 people but you'll never get paid, I think I could live with that.

But that's not too much different than being able to perform every night for 20 people, or whatever the number is, and living in NY I can already do that at the many open mics across the city.

And the way to get from 20 to 200 to 2000 is to care about the audience enough that you want them to have fun.

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