If there was an award for podcast intros, Comedian Duncan Trussell‘s The Duncan Trussell Family Hour podcast would win hands down. The intros tend to get fast forwarded through, because they are so often advertorial and boring.
He is discussing the need to go out and do what you love, and to do it for yourself, no matter what the supposed experts say. It’s great advice for all creative people to keep in mind, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been at it for decades:
If you’re a comedian, or an actor, or somebody who just loves making stuff and getting it in front of people, and you’re waiting to do that until somebody who’s a representative for an industry that is in the midst of a really tumultuous series of changes tells you that you’re going to be the next star, then you’re fucking yourself.
Don’t do it! You don’t need to be knighted by anyone. Those days are gone!
It used to be that you’d have to perform for Mitzi (Shore), the owner of the club. I used to work for her. I drove her around. I was the talent coordinator. And I remember what it was like: she’d sit in the back, a comedian would get onstage, and if she liked you, she’d make you a paid regular and you’d get to work out at the club.
Anyway, you can look it up, Louis C.K. is on Letterman and he’s talking about how he’d been doing stand up for twenty years, and he got onstage, had barely said anything when the light turned on, indicating that he should get off the stage. He thought there was a mistake, and then looked at the back of the room and Mitzi is like waving for him to get offstage.
Now, this is Louis C.K. who is now one of the top comedians in the country. Regardless of what you may think of him – I love him, I think he’s hilarious – he’s one of the top fucking comedians right now. And if he’d allowed himself to believe that Mitzi Shore, or anybody else on planet earth, knew whether or not he could be successful, then there would be no Louis C.K.
If the moment Mitzi waved him away, if he had allowed that to be a poison dart that stuck in his brain, and he allowed himself to think, Shit, man, all this struggle to be a comedian was useless because this woman who is theoretically created so many great comics, or has been part of their development, doesn’t like me, then we would have no, there would be no great comedy from Louis C.K. He would have skulked off somewhere.
And any time you found yourself sitting at the bottom of a pyramid looking up at someone hoping they let you live, as opposed to sentence you to death, then you have really gotten yourself into a shitty situation. Because you’re waiting for a monkey descendant to give you permission to be an artist.
You might not be the next Louis C.K., but who knows, maybe you are. There’s only one thing that’s certain, and that is that if you don’t try, if you let the people who don’t like you dictate your behavior, you’ll never find out.
And seeing as there’s little chance of ever being truly happy if you never went after what you really wanted, there’s little reason not to try. The trick is to let the fear of not trying, the fear of the “What if?” be bigger than the fear of failure. Or of not being liked.
And for the non-artists, the audience members, you have a part to play as well. Remember that sentences like “That’s not good art,” or “That’s not funny,” are always improved by the addition of “…to me.”
The world is full of stories of individuals who were rejected time and time again, until they finally made it and became household names, whose work means something to millions of people. One can’t help but wonder how many brilliant creatives we don’t know because they let the critics become a “poison dart” in their brain.
Don’t let that be you.
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