Before publishing this blog, I ran it by my wife.
She read dutifully and came to the conclusion: “If you post this, people are going to think you’re an a-hole.”
One month ago, La La Land was all but assured an Oscar for Best Picture; it had frontrunner buzz like nobody’s business.
Lately, however, something has shifted. The more people talk about the movie, the more they say they like it, but they don’t love it.
“Donald Drumpf does not represent the America I know.”
It’s a quote I’ve been hearing (and seeing) a lot. In conversations, on social media; people are stunned that someone who ran a campaign based on racism could capture the presidency. It makes me wonder what America they’re speaking of.
Money isn’t everything.
I’ve heard it a million times over the course of my life, and a few weeks ago my proverbial camel’s back finally snapped. I was listening to a podcast where an empire-building entrepreneur was doling out sage advice on being successful.
I had Speech class in 10th grade.
Throughout the course of a semester, students had to prepare and perform a series of standard lectures. Styles included (but were not limited to) informative, narrative, and persuasive. I have no clue how I ended up on the topic of my persuasive speech, euthanasia, but I do know that I chose it; topics were not assigned.
I was unfamiliar with the practice. Hell, in 10th grade I was entirely ignorant of the word “euthanasia,” much less it’s meaning. But the more I read, the more intriguing I found the subject. The idea people could be in control of their own medical decisions, especially one that would end their life? Fascinating.
When I moved to Los Angeles, I met a comedian named Mike.
He was a nice and funny fellow, and told me a story about his first experience with Hollywood.
“I got cast in a movie,” he began, naming a big-budget sports comedy I had seen and enjoyed. “I was the ‘bad guy,’ so to speak. Every time the hero’s team played mine, he and I would get into it. I told everyone. My friends, family, strangers… It was my big break. Then the movie came out and I had been cut from every scene. It was so embarrassing…”
I have two friends who have never met one another.
Jake lives in New York City, and Brad lives in Los Angeles. Both are stand-up comedians.
Within a week of one another, each said the exact same thing. Responding to my question—“How are things going?”—the reaction was bitter from one, laughingly resigned from the other.
“No one scouts open microphones looking for talent anymore. All that matters is how many Twitter or Instagram followers you have.”
As a comedian, I have a rare job. I stand on stage under a spotlight, and hold a microphone that amplifies my words.
It is, in some sorts, a position of power.
Not actual power, like that of a sitting president or drug lord, more… bartender power. A customer can yell at a waiter all day long, but a bartender will cut them off and kick them out.
I was in Minnesota when it happened.
I don’t remember the joke I told, I just remember the response. In a sold out room of 200, 199 people laughed and applauded. When the din receded, however, one lone woman shouted out her disapproval: “That wasn’t funny!”
I rolled my eyes. You can’t please everyone, and since the joke had landed extremely well I wasn’t too concerned by a single naysayer. Unfortunately, she was not to be ignored and yelled out a second time: “You’re not funny!”
Now I had to address the situation, and asked: “So everyone in here that’s laughing is wrong?”
That caused her to yell again, and from there I was off and running.