Delusion, Entitlement, Belief and Taking the Time To Get Good

Oh heavens. Several of the comments on my past coupla posts are inspiring me so ridiculously much, I could possibly start another blog stemming from each of them respectively. Which, naturally, is exactly what the internet needs. More blogs. And emails. Oh yeah, and possibly trolls.

I particularly love the stuff on ‘taking the time to get good.’ I’ve been mulling this over a lot this past week. In doing so, I remembered a moment way back in the early days of my career (you know, those really early times when you’ve had enough of a taste of success to make you completely and utterly deluded about your impending meteoric rise), having a post-gig chat with a much more experienced comedian. He proceeded to give me some of the best compliments of my life about my potential, and then said: “You do know comedy involves a ten year apprenticeship, don’t you?”

I didn’t.

And I didn’t believe him.

I kinda nodded and smiled, but thought secretly to myself “Yeah, maybe for some, but not THIS little pile of brilliance!”

Dear Lord, I was full of myself.

Now don’t get me wrong. To even bother pursuing a career as an artist, I think you have to have some degree of delusion. It comes down to that whole ‘Champions Lie’ idea (that I first encountered on a Nike ad, no less), that is to say, it’s all so very impossible, that you have to lie to yourself, to tell yourself that you can do it, even when the reality is that you quite possibly can’t, to even have a HOPE of getting there!

What I’m saying is, you kinda need to be full of yourself. You need that confidence. You need to, as Eddie Izzard put it in his doco, BELIEVE.

What you don’t need is to feel entitled.

Which is what I think I was back then.

However what I’ve realised since is that:

a)     there is a long apprenticeship period to this thang; and

b)    that is okay; and

c)     the shit I was flogging before really wasn’t nearly as good as it needs to be. Not even close.

That was another part of the Eddie Izzard doco that struck a chord with me – when he was talking about how early on in his career he was parading about as though the material he had was brilliant, when, in his own words “it really wasn’t.”

I’m currently working on my show for the Adelaide Cabaret Fringe Festival (well, re-working it, to be accurate) and I have never felt so motivated to work hard. To make sure the delivery is there, for sure, but more than anything, to work on the material.

Anyhoo, I wanted to share a couple of bits that regular reader and friend of mine Mona posted on here recently, just in case you’re not a comments looker.  They’re too good not to share on here; they spoke to me loud and clear and I hope they might speak to you too…thank you Mona!!!

1. Ira Glass (host of “This American Life”, one of my fave podcasts) on how freaking long it can take to get good; and

2. John Wells (creator of ER and The West Wing) on what he would say to himself back in his uni days:

 “I wish I’d known how long it was going to take. You come out and you sort of assume it’s going to be a couple-of-years process and you don’t really start making any headway until you’ve written about a foot and a half of material, measured up off the floor. That’s when you really start to think of yourself as a writer in the way you look at the world. It’s a craft that takes a tremendous amount of time.

“I wish I had more of a sense that it was much more like learning to play a musical instrument. After four or five years you start not to embarrass yourself. It takes 10 years before you can even begin to call yourself proficient. (…) It looks deceptively easy from the outside. If you look at the lowest common denominator you think “I can do that.” The craft that’s necessary – the time it takes to have enough trial and error to keep going with it — that takes a very long time to develop.”

A flipping men.

*Image courtesy of gfpeck

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2 Comments

  1. kath
    May 8, 2011
    Reply

    I am learning to love the process….LEARNING….

  2. Mona
    May 9, 2011
    Reply

    Love this post… getting good does take time!

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