#2. How to Be Alright With Failing
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That said, it's just a given that some ideas are going to be massive failures. I've written a lot of articles for Cracked and even more still for a lot of other sites. I'd be lying if I said I was happy with all of them. To give you some recent examples, I'm not particularly fond of this article about shitty parking lot behaviors, and this thing about insane music videos that pre-date MTV was a pretty lazy effort, even if that Andy Kim video is one of the greatest pieces of unintentional comedy ever. Everything else I've ever done on the Internet is pretty great, though, and that makes those two failures sting a little bit less.
I'm not nearly as well-armed in my fight against the depression that comes with failing at stand-up. It's traditionally referred to as bombing, and it happens to every comic. It's just obviously not the kind of thing that a person whose reputation relies on him being consistently funny likes to advertise. I don't think anyone's expecting consistency from me, though, so I'll totally show you video of me being terrible at telling jokes. It's right here:
Sorry, looks like I embedded video of me being really good at jokes there on accident. That was my most recent set from the comedy show I co-host that you should totally come see sometime. You can tell me I wasn't funny in that video all you want, but I won't believe you. I feel good about that set, and none of you can stop me. I'm open to criticism about this performance, though:
That's me being bad at jokes at an otherwise wonderful show called "What's Up, Tiger Lily?" that you should also go to sometime if you're in town. At least I feel like I had a bad set there. I've done that show twice, and I felt like I did kind of awful both times. I hate that, and I hope I can go back someday and do better, but it happens. Sometimes you just fail to be as funny as you know you can be. It's happened to me a bunch and it will happen a lot more in the future and it never feels great. But it's going to happen, and it's up to you to figure out how to deal with it.
If you're curious, the way I deal with it could best be described as "terribly." Let me know if that helps.
#1. How to Be Funny (When You Don't Feel Like It)
I'm sorry, I should have mentioned somewhere in the intro that I was trying to write the most depressing article about comedy that I possibly could. I guess I didn't actually know that at the time, but it feels like that's how it's shaking out so far. We've only got this last point to go, and it's certainly not going to help.
Anyway, one of the things that I struggle with personally is how to be funny when I don't really feel like being funny. I can't imagine I'm the only person who has to write comedy on a consistent basis who has run into this dilemma. Whether I'm delivering jokes in person, writing an article of my own, or editing something written by someone else, I have something to do damn near every day that requires me to come up with some funny. And you know what? I don't always feel like it.
Take the column I'm writing right now, for example (it's the same one you're reading, coincidentally). Yesterday, we had a fire drill at the Cracked office. It was a lighthearted affair that found the entire team all a-giggle about how silly it was that we had to gather in the street and be told how to exit a building in the event that a clear and present danger were to suddenly arise. Soren was responsible for shepherding us to safety. Here's a picture of him posing heroically in the orange vest that identified him as an authority figure, even if only for a day.
What's weird is that he wears it on non-fire-drill days also.
Pretty fun stuff, right? Right. Also fun, this video of me the very next morning (meaning this morning), after being roused from a dead sleep by the sound of fire alarms blaring in my apartment building.
The remorse you see on my face is the result of mistakenly thinking that this disruption was the result of some drunken jerk pulling a fire alarm. That lapse in judgment led to me standing outside my apartment for a solid hour this morning without my wallet, car keys, or anything else that you'd like to have in that situation while an actual fire burned in an apartment uncomfortably close to my own. How close? This close.
At least it's not a hazmat suit.
That's a firefighter overseeing the vacuuming of the carpet outside my door. The damage was close enough that I now get to spend a night with an industrial carpet drying rig playing a surprise show in my living room.
Play "Please Shut Up So I Can Sleep"!
And it's under those circumstances that I'm writing this column right now. If given a choice, I'd prefer to go sit at a bar and watch March Madness and feel sorry for myself because it's going to be sort of noisy when I try to sleep tonight. I promised people this article would be done, though, so it's getting done.
It's not like I haven't written an article under adverse conditions before. I came up with the idea for this article when I was basically living out of a motel room after a particularly messy end to a relationship. Or there's this article that's actually about living out of a terrible motel room after a particularly messy end to a relationship.
I didn't feel like being funny in either of those situations, but that's one of the "hazards" of the job. Sometimes you have to come up with comedy under less than ideal conditions.