Improv, Comedy, Women, Melbourne and everything in between.
Last night a dear friend and someone whom I whole-heartedly respect affectionately berated me for not improvising and writing at the top of my intelligence. It hurt a little and it helped a lot. The truth is painful to hear, especially when it’s about something you think is your greatest asset as a writer/performer. He told me I was playing to an audience that didn’t exist, and that I play how I think this nonexistent audience wants me to play – as in, I constantly sell myself out. It hurt because, fuck, he was so correct. It hurt because I’ve fought to prove my intelligence my whole life, in a family of mathematicians and scientists where I had absolutely no skill in the area. But ever since leaving school and focussing on the things I’m good at, I’ve gotten used to people praising my intelligence more regularly because of the fields I’ve chosen (that barely involve the left-side of my brain). It hurt because for the last 6 months I’ve felt like the audience HATES me. Mostly because of my gender. It’s an irrational thought, but it’s also a judgement I’ve made watching improv shows, and a judgement on female performers I’ve heard over and over, so it’s sort of a valid fear. But it’s an excuse and I’m not blaming it on gender, because people do find me funny. And comedy isn’t and should never be gendered – because comedy at its core comes from truth, not from the basis that someone is a white male.
It’s strange, because I believe in myself SO MUCH, generally. I have an ego that battles with my massive propensity for letting my insecurities and my anxiety take over. I’m extremely conceited at times. I’m extremely self-aware and self-critical to the point of unhappiness at times, most of the time.
But this year I’m saying Fuck It.
Fuck the audience.
Fuck the negative voice inside my head.
Fuck what everyone else thinks.
Fuck the things people think they want to hear and, instead, tell them what they should be hearing.
Fuck Chuck Lorre and his shitty sitcoms that cater to dumb people through dumb stereotypes.
Fuck the people who say Lena Dunham doesn’t deserve to write an autobiography at 28 years old because of her “limited” life experience and upbringing. Accept that she’s damn good at her craft.
Fuck the people who only bring up Tina Fey when talking about women in comedy. Educate yourselves because there’s more where that came from.
I come off sounding aggressive because that’s what Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Larry David, Louis CK and Chris Rock and all the great comics must have to say to themselves over and over, I can only assume. I always thought I’d have to say it to myself if I was working at their level – but it turns out it doesn’t matter what level you’re at. You still need to say “FUCK IT, FUCK THEM” because you’re actually doing everyone a favour and producing better work.
So, this year, I’m unleashed. Intellectually – obviously.
If I say something that people don’t get, that’s no one’s fault. But they’re missing out.
“To me, if everybody likes you, there’s something wrong” – Larry David
I know I come off in the post sounding like a complete asshole douche-bag, but it’s about time I try that on for size. Because maybe it’s about time I really believed in myself a little more and fight for the things I care about. We’re all great. We should all believe in ourselves, and we should say it whenever we want – no matter how hard it is (especially publishing this on the internet. Yikes.)
Thanks for reading – and keep me in check if I start writing dumb shit I don’t believe in, cool? Hey, you’re awesome.
Ps. I’m dumb at A LOT OF STUFF. Like, 90% of basic things.