Every standup is asked the same question.
Do people expect you to be funny all the time?
Which is probably infuriating for them, but it comes with the territory of being a comedian. If making people laugh is your profession, you’ve signed up for a series of choices and challenges, one of which is dealing with audience expectations.
Veteran performers actually have a name for it. It’s called the curse of the clown.
Seinfeld, though, in his infinite stoicism, enoughness and okayness, was asked this very question during a radio interview. But his response surprised me. Jerry said:
What do I know about what people expect? And what do I care what people expect? Their expectations are their problem.
We should all strive to reach that level of security in self. We should all be sensible enough not to take responsibly for other people’s feelings. Because regardless of our profession, it’s not our job to make the people around us happy, nor is it our fault if people around us are unhappy. That’s their business.
If you want practice accepting the reality of other people’s judgment, consider these exercises.
If people think you’re lying, try to live with their suspicion.
If people criticize something you’ve done, see if you can respect their opinion of your work.
If people are disappointed in you, allow them to experience that feeling without taking responsibility for it.
If people are triggered by something you said, trust that they have the emotional wherewithal to cope with those feelings.
Each of these moments is an exercise in sitting with other people’s discomfort. Trusting that you’re not a horrible person just because you’ve failed to meet their expectations.
And once you get the hang of it, you’ll experience a sense of a liberation you never thought possible.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
If you’re not funny all the time, is the world really going to fall apart?
* * * *
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.
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