Every year I make goals. Goals like, get another booker to expand my comedy horizons, do more shows than last year, write new material, create new characters. By this time of year, I get discouraged as I review my goals and beat myself up for not achieving them. I just add them to the top of my new goals list for next year. There was a time when I achieved all my goals, but things have sort of slowed down. Some of it is my own laziness and attitude. Some of it, just the way things work out. Sometimes, I just fail.I know the difference and I I try not to fool myself or make excuses.
People don't understand what I do. They find it odd that I go up there and do the same jokes everywhere I go, with only a few new bits in my standard set. Some who have seen me perform more than once are surprised. They thought comedians do new jokes every time they go up on stage. That is not how it works. It takes a long time to work out material to a point where it's comfortable enough to sound fresh. The goal is to have material that works everywhere. It's a painfully slow process. I have a rule of three. If I try a new joke and it gets no response in front of three different audiences, then it's time to either re-write the joke, or drop it completely. It's all about practice. I get a kick out of people who are coming out for the second or third time and say "are you going to do the same jokes"? Tell me one joke you remember me doing word for word and I won't do that one. If they go see Billy Joel in concert and he doesn't do Piano Man, they would be upset. I think they heard that song a few times, yet expect to hear it again. Not the same for comedy. We are expected to be original all the time and we can't do covers, like some bands can.
I am so driven by my need to succeed in comedy. I am out there trying to make people laugh. I gauge the success of my routine on the reaction of the audience. They are my customers. If I have a bad set, I am depressed, threatening to quit, driving home angry. It's pathetic.
Once in a while, I am reminded of the good side of doing what I do. During a show at a Christian coffee house, called Samantha's Lil' Bit Of Heaven (http://www.lilbotofheaven.com/ look it up and support them), I was approached by a lady. She said "I had the worst day today, my Mother is dying and I almost didn't come out tonight, I am so glad I did because when I laughed you made me forget everything. thank you so much and God bless you". Recently, an older comic, new on the scene, came up to me. He said, "I decided to try this when I saw you perform". My natural negative response was "You mean, If I can do this, anyone can"? He said, "no, you inspired me to follow a dream I have had for a long time, thank you". This has happened to me a few times. Reactions like these are what makes those bad nights tolerable. More importantly, it makes me realize that even though I failed at some of my goals, I HAVE succeeded.
So, as I start working on my 2009 goals, I will keep these people in mind and thank the higher power that gave me this ability to spread laughter around. I am humbled by this gift and feel proud to present it as often as I can.
2009 Goal Number ONE: Keep going....