He Who Doesn’t Learn From History………Is Bound To Be An Idiot

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I know that over the course of at least 135 posts over 2.5 years there are bound to be the occasional topic that I maybe talk about a bit too much.  If I discuss it on a regular basis it’s only because it will hopefully give you, the reader some insight towards my progression as a comedian with the maturation and understanding of these important topics.  

So, having bored you to sleep by now it’s time to talk about this topic once again, that only came to my mind when I saw part of an interview that Larry King did with one of the most successful comedians today, and he’s Canadian.  




Yes, the topic of failure has come up again.  The majority of successful comedians I have read or watched interviews from say that failure is something that should be embraced and used as a purposeful learning tool.  It sort of makes sense because regardless of what you apply failure to in life, whether it be athletics, stock markets, gambling, climbing up the corporate ladder at your job, think about this premise for a moment.  If all you do is have success all the time, where everything you touch seems to turn into proverbial gold, then how do you learn?  How do you grow?  Sure you can practice a lot but it’s the tough times, the failures that shape as and help to guide us forward.  

Russell Peters brought up a good point that when you fail in comedy, it’s usually because of the comic.  I can tell you from experience that’s the truth.  That is the way it was with me in my first 1.5 years on the comedy stage.  Once I got with my comedy coach I then learned about the anatomy of a joke and how to properly structure it so you can get the laughs.  It’s like Louis C.K. once said when he mentioned that comedians can predict the future because you are the only one who knows what you are going to say next.  

When things aren’t going your way as a comedian on stage, it’s your job to win them back as quickly as you can.  Russell made a good point when he suggested that you should acknowledge that you are “bombing” (I always hated that word, I’d rather use failing, sucking, etc.)  It doesn’t help in most cases to be antagonistic and to pick on individual members of the audience to win them back, you have to stick to your material and maybe improvise a little, with some candid honesty thrown in, and you can win an audience back.

But believe me, I certainly know what it’s like to fail at comedy.  Most of my sets early on, week after week were nothing but failures.  I went through my material in the early days at a robotic-like pace, not really understanding timing at all.  Then again, it didn’t help that the jokes weren’t crafted properly to generate laughs either.  

I just took a look on YouTube and there are approximately 4,430,000 videos when you search under the word “failure”.  Many people look at failure as an opportunity to shame you into correcting your mistakes quicker, but it usually has the opposite effect.  Failure is so prevalent in our society today that everybody likes to knock another person down because it makes them feel better.  I have been thrown under the bus enough times to know that when I sit back and think about it, the ones who jump on you the most are the ones who don’t often feel good about themselves to being with, in other words it’s the classic definition of a bully.

I am happy to say that my sets lately do not resemble what I did at the start of my comedy journey, before the comedy coaching.  That isn’t to say I’m setting the world on fire by any means.  I am getting laughs now.  They may not be big laughs, they may not be consistent yet, but at least I am getting the laughs instead of the silence I was so used to early on.

A comedian not getting the laughs has so many variables in play that for every comic it’s different.  In Russell Peters case, it wasn’t because he was bad, but because he was put at the end of the show with a dozen other comics and after all that comedy there does come a time where the audience gets tired and you lose them, not because you are bad but because things drag on way too long and you start to lose the audience.  So just because a comedian fails on stage, don’t automatically assume that it’s because they have crappy material.  It could be the way the joke is structured, maybe it’s offensive or maybe the timing was wrong thereby not triggering the laughs

It takes bully to kick you to the ground and beat you down when you don’t get the laughs without knowing why it happened.

It takes a real man/mentor/professional/friend to save judgment until they have had a chance to analyze the situation and come to a conclusion based on fact, as to why you aren’t funny.  The latter certainly makes failing easier to take and learn from.

Be blessed!

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