Hi! I'm Jake!
Today, I found an essay I wrote myself back in 2005 when Josh Blue started getting some heat in Denver. At the time, I was just a lowly open mic-er. Josh was winning some contests. Comedy Works was giving him a bunch of sets. Now, Josh is famous as hell. He won Last Comic Standing Season 4. He has a Comedy Central Presents. His new Showtime special just aired. You can go to any major city in this country & chances are he has headlined their best club. Things are going well. Congrats, Josh! As for my career? Well, I am not rich. I am not famous. But I have been a full-time comedian since 2007. That means I don't have a job. It also means I do gigs all over the country & I pay my bills- barely.
Now, I have seen a ton of other comedians from Denver, Seattle, the Twin Cities, Austin, & all the scenes I frequent who have success stories similar to Josh's. I can easily name 15 comedians I've worked with (even open mic-ed with) whose careers are now way more kick-ass than mine (in no particular order): Josh Blue, Ben Roy, Ben Kronberg, Collin Moulton, Adam Cayton Holland, John Tole, John Novosad, Ramin Nazer, Rob Gleeson, Shane Mauss, Andy Erikson, Susan Jones, Andrew Orvedahl, Billy Wayne Davis, Matt Golightly, & so on & so forth.
NOTE: These are just the first 15 comedians who came to mind. There are a bajillion other comedians who have better careers than me.
All the aforementioned comedians are funny. I wouldn't take a thing from them. Chances are, though, I was jealous of each them at some point. That was stupid of me. There is a reason each of these comedians is successful. Instead of being jealous, it is way better to find out what they are doing right (& wrong) & apply that to your strategy.
This entry is all about jealousy. Below is the original essay I wrote to myself (with a couple minor modifications).
JEALOUSY IS A WASTED EMOTION:
There's a lot of jealousy in this business. Typically that's a wasted emotion. Somebody is always doing better than you. Especially if you're me.
Lao Tzu says in the Tao Te Ching: "The Sage... does not compete. Hence no one can compete with him." Good point. We all have our own path. Don't waste breaths putting yourself down & wishing you were on somebody else's path. Putting yourself down will just unmotivate you. Wishing you were on somebody else's path is a waste of time. It's not going to happen.
If you try to compete with others, if you compare your career to somebody else's career, you will drive yourself insane. You are where you are because of ability, past efforts, ambition, & yes, luck.
You might also be where you are because that is where you need to be. Maybe your life needs to suck so you can be creative. Adversity inspires creativity. Don't get me wrong: it's way easier to get your comedy career going if you are already rich and/or your dad is some famous Hollywood guy. Rich people can skip doing one-nighters to pay their bills. They can afford to fly to random showcases. They can take a loss & still put food on their table. As Zanies booker Bert Haas will tell you, they have "f--k you money." If a booker offers them a gig for crappy money or at a crappy location, they can tell that booker "F--k you!"
But, for us middle to lower class comics with no "f--k you money," with no pull whatsoever, we have to use that frustration & jealousy to put the pen to the paper. Necessity, the threat of homelessness & starvation, forces us to either better our acts or get some lame-o shoe sales job..
GOOD JEALOUSY VERSUS BAD JEALOUSY:
First, there's the kind of jealousy that motivates you to do better. "Wow! That guy is doing well. I want to do well. I should work harder!"
Then, there's the bad kind of jealousy: "Wow! That guy's doing well! What a jerk! I can't believe he's always trying to improve! Time to dig another hole in the desert." Bad jealousy makes you badmouth your friends. Your friends then hear about this. Guess what: you aren't friends anymore! If they liked you & you spent your time getting better instead of being a jerk, they could have taken you on the road. That's not going to happen now!
THINK ABOUT IT FROM YOUR SUCCESSFUL FRIEND'S POINT OF VIEW:
Be honest: if you were in your successful friend's shoes, & you knew that your success made your friends uncomfortable, would you
- A) stop what you are doing to make you successful just so your friend feels better about their failing career
- B) stop hanging out with that mopey, jealous friend?
It's an easy answer: You'd choose B, stop hanging out with the mope- then go hang out with your fun, positive friends. Maybe even give them a leg up. Or, maybe you'd just go out & get more successful friends.
In short, don't be jealous, gang. Especially, don't be jealous of me. That would be extremely stupid.
Bye! I'm Jake!