Can A Comedians Self-Talk Be Destroyed?

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I’ve attended Faith Alive for over 1.5 years now, and thought that I finally had a really good idea of the issues going on in my life that have stunted my growth, both personally and in comedy. At least, that’s what I thought….

Stand-up comedy is one of the few professions where some can turn negative self-talk into a positive to propel them forward, but in the end is it very healthy?

Two of the last three weeks have focused on self-talk in the Sunday message that Pastor Brent Rudoski has delivered. He is one of the best not only in the city, but dare I say in the province at what he does. Them again, when you’ve been the lead pastor for about 25 years you should have it down pat.

He’s funny, with doses of self-deprecating charm, realism, optimism, faith and encouragement in his messages. The messages aren’t “too churchy”, he just tells it like it is. It’s blunt and authentic but not to the point where it makes you feel condemned, but to encourage you instead. The first message from a couple of weeks ago you’ll find below. In less than the first ten minutes, you see all of his qualities on display that make him such an effective communicator, including the humour. Take a gander below.

I hope you watched the first bit, or the entire message.  Sure, it runs about an hour, but compared to all the things we distract ourselves with in today’s world, what’s taking an hour out of your day to be inspired or encouraged?

Self-talk for a comedian, or any performer in the arts can be far more crippling and devastating than self-talk in other professions.  Negative self-talk has probably fueled the beginning of many a stand-up career.

Sure, there are some comedians that got their start because they were just in the right place at the right time, and encouraged to try an open mic night.  Some, however, have tried stand-up because they were always the funny one and have had people fill their heads with what they can’t do because of this or that.  It can be a motivator but can be fatal as well, depending on the person.

Some of the big comedy stars who have since departed, committed suicide or got hooked on drugs, alcohol or a combination of both.  I believe, in studying comedy and comedians, this happens because on stage the comedian is loved, revered and treated like a success.  The audience shows their appreciation for what they do.  But, that feeling only lasts for about an hour or two.  Then they go back home, riding that high, that feeling of accomplishment.  But what do they go back home to?  Now, they are treated like a regular member of the family, and get yelled at for not taking out the garbage, asked to pick up the kids, etc.  They are thrust back into their home lives where they aren’t valued or celebrated for providing for their family by telling jokes.  Then again, it is hard to recreate that feeling you get after a successful show, no matter how great of a family life you have.

Comedians have committed suicide or died from hard living in recent memory more so than musicians, for example.  Comedy is the hardest art form to master and one that scares most people from trying.  While everyone can agree on a great song, not everyone can agree on what’s funny.  It is a difficult tightrope walk to navigate, with no safety net below if you crash.

As a comedian, you can have the best people around you with the best of intentions for you.  You can have more love and support than you can imagine possible.  Yet, as my relationship with Nicki can attest to, all that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans if you cannot get the destructive, negative self-talk out of your head.

The question then becomes how does a comedian get rid of it?  Well, let’s take myself as an example.

For years and years my family’s perception of me in a less than flattering light, on a weekly basis, fed that burning and towering inferno of negativity and low self-esteem 24/7.  Then, you could say that my ways kind of caught up with me and got exposed, and rightly so.  However, when they did come to light and my relationship suffered and ended as a result, it showed me the true selves of certain people in my life who I thought had my back.  These are people who I had long-term friendships with that lasted over 20 years through thick and thin.  They supported me in the beginning of my comedy career when the crowds were sparse, the laughs were few and the abuse from fellow comedians was plenty.

Then taking the Finding Freedom Through Forgiveness seminar once a year for about five years straight, finally opened my eyes to things.  Every page in that manual I saw myself in its content.  On every, single page.  I asked the pastor who created the program what he thought the biggest change he had seen in me from when I first attended the seminars.  He said the biggest change was that I was much more open and honest about who I really was, in a nutshell.  With each passing month it’s been getting better bit by bit.  Do those negative self-talk voices still exist?  Well, they aren’t entirely diminished but with each passing day it’s getting closer to being firmly eradicated from my life.

My issues that have followed my past around aren’t gone, but that’s okay.  It is a work in progress.  I may be a lot of things to a lot of people, and I’m sure that some will say some unpleasant things about me, but the one thing they can’t say anymore is that I’m fake.  I prefer to think of myself as authentic.  Authentically imperfect.

Finding a church that gets to your heart and exposes the issues within it certainly helps.  I have attended Faith Alive for over 1.5 years now.  And I’ve consistently gone, not flip flopped around to other churches.  I believe that I was lead to Faith Alive, by God, for a reason.  Having that message of encouragement and hope on a weekly basis has helped to chip away at the negative self-talk that’s built up for years.  We have a leader in Pastor Brent who truly gets excited to see others in the congregation to succeed.  Where some pastors don’t give you the time of day at all, or seem sincere in their interest about you, Pastor Brent is different.  When he tells me that he’s excited and proud to see my growth, well, that’s more than my parents ever told me in my 45+ years of living.

Now, you might be sitting there judging this whole blog piece, when you really have nothing to base your judgements on.  You know, it’s funny.  When people I talk to automatically dismiss church, they always talk about how bad it is and how manipulative it can be, and how they want no part of it.

But they never give it any thought whatsoever about how their lives would be different if going to church changed them for the better.  You’ll never know until you try…… or maybe not trying is the key so they can look better to everyone around them for having the same opinion that their family or friends have.

Like I said, I may be lots of things, but at least I’m not fake.  I crave authenticity in my relationships with others.  I don’t get it in return as much as I would like, but that is okay.  My self-talk isn’t going to suffer as a result of it.  In fact, the self-talk is trending upwards, slowly but surely, to a more optimistic, if not a positive tone.

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