Good morning, world!
At the time of this writing it is a little after 9:30am in New York City. I have just woken up to greet the day, I have coffee brewing, and I have just been rejected from a comedy festival.
This year will be my 3rd year of living in NYC, and my 4th year of doing comedy. In reality, it might be my 2nd or even 1st year of actively trying to pursue comedy as a career. Over the past 12-18 months I’ve started taking my writing seriously, attempting to write monologue style jokes, an episodic web series, sketches, and even a pilot for a television show idea. All of these are constant works-in-progress and at this time they are more of a learning experience than anything else.
In addition to taking on these self-assigned writing projects, I’ve also vowed that 2014 would be the year I try to get out of my bubble in New York and attempt to get into comedy festivals in other parts of the country. In order to succeed as a stand up you need to get out of your comfort zone and find out if you can be funny anywhere. Of course no comedian is loved by everyone but if your joke works in most places then you know you have a joke that is undeniable.
So hello, 2014, this is the year! My year! Let’s get out and show ‘em what we’ve got to offer! Application sent? Check! Fee paid? Check! Eagerly awaiting a response? CHECK!
Rejection email? …check…
At the time of this writing it is now just after 10:00am in New York City, and I have been aimlessly typing away for 30 minutes while drinking coffee, avoiding the real point of this post. I did not get into the comedy festival.
It hurts to know that I was not good enough to get into this particular festival. Maybe my resume wasn’t impressive enough, or my 5 minute video wasn’t funny enough. Whatever the reason, the person or persons in charge of picking comedians for their festival decided that I wasn’t up to snuff. And you know what? They’re probably right. Honestly, if my video was AMAZING they’d have to take me. Obviously it just wasn’t as good as others that were submitted, and it probably just wasn’t a great representation of who I am and what I do on stage.
2 years ago this probably would have destroyed me. My ego was much more fragile then. Today, at 4 years in and (more importantly) after 3 years in the cut throat city of New York, I’m almost too comfortable with rejection. It’s just such a constant part of my life that I’ve learned to let it roll off of me…usually. Of course I have days where I desperately need a set to go well for some invented reason that my depressed brain has come up with, which usually sets me up for failure before I even start. More often though, when a set doesn’t go well I can maturely take it home and analyze it and figure out how I can do better next time. At the end of the day, that’s the job of the comedian. Every comedian needs to write and re-write a joke many, many times before it gets to a level where it’s undeniably good. The late, great Patrice O’Neal and the simply great Bill Cosby might be the only two guys who can just go up and talk and be hilarious.
Last year I applied for 2 festivals at the Laughing Devil Comedy Club in Queens, NY. I did horribly in the Laughing Devil Comedy Festival, but I made the semi-finals in the Devil Cup. Bombing in the first festival taught me that I need to write tighter, shorter jokes to punch up my longer pieces. Making the semi-finals in the second gave me the reassurance I needed that I’m not totally wasting my time pursuing comedy.
At the time of this writing it is now just before 10:30am in New York City and I have gone through several emotions since getting the rejection email for a comedy festival. At first I was upset, then I looked at the situation from their point of view. It’s not that I’m not good, it’s that other people were better. I may be just as good as the people who did get in, but they were able to prove it. They had a better tape of a better set and were able to sell themselves more effectively.
So I have 2 choices now. Wallow in self pity, or work on my jokes and get better for next year. The choice is obvious, it’s time to get to work. Rejection and Success really aren’t any different if you think of them both as different lessons in the same class. The best comedians that I know don’t beat themselves up for the bad sets, and they don’t get arrogant after the good sets. They treat every set like a learning experience. The good sets teach you how to write, and the bad sets teach you how to re-write.
At the time of this writing it is now just after 10:30am in New York City, and I have just been rejected from a comedy festival. I feel ready to start writing new jokes and re-writing the old ones. Rejection isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This is the most motivated I have felt in the last month. Thank you, Rejection.
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“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” ~ Steve Martin
“They have this comedy convention is Las Vegas…and they have the agents, and they have the managers, and they have the talent scouts from the shows, and they have these seminars, and they have these discussion groups. I would like to be in charge of that thing. I would get rid of all of those people, I’d bring all of the comedians into a big room, and I’d just have a huge banner come down that says, “Just Work.” And then I’d send everybody home.” ~ Jerry Seinfeld (from Jerry Seinfeld on Comedy)