I woke up in a horrible mood this morning. I don’t know how it happened. All I remember was becoming conscious, and my first thought of the day was, “I suck. I’m a shitty comic. I’m not funny. My jokes aren’t funny. Nobody likes me. I can feel it emanating from them every time I’m onstage. I can feel their hate. Just ripping into my psyche like a freshly sharpened scythe of scorn. Everyone wants me to quit. Maybe I will quit. Fuck it. I’m no good. Why should I keep wasting everyone else’s time with my bullshit? I’d be doing THEM a favor. Goddamnit. I hate myself…What time is it?”
I certainly have a healthy sense of self-doubt—as do most performers and artists—but this was something deeper. In that span of what was probably only thirty seconds, I completely dismantled my entire sense of creative self-worth. It is true that you are oftentimes your own worst critic. Plus, I’m kind of irritable right after I wake up, so it was a double-whammy for me.
But don’t you ever have those mornings (even if you’re not actively engaged in some kind of creative outlet, like stand-up comedy or writing)? Those mornings where you just wake up and go, “Ah, fuck…do I have to do this again?” and the day just becomes another adversary, like God is challenging you: “LET’S SEE YOU MAKE IT THROUGH THIS DAY, MWAHAHAHAHA!” And then you feel like now you have to work extra hard just to get back to some kind of psychological equilibrium, otherwise it just rolls on over to the next day and it just keeps building and building while you keep trying to chip away at the black cloud of internal anxiety in order to maintain some sense of sanity, which causes you to end up walking around with some big, dumb, fake grin on your face that you force yourself to put on so that people don’t think anything is wrong, because you’re so emotionally fragile for practically no given reason that at any time you are roughly six seconds away from crying, all the while trying to do everything in your power to have a productive day regardless so that you go to sleep feeling like you did SOMETHING besides wallowing in your own misery.
And THEN you get out of bed to start your day. You ever have those mornings?
I don’t mean to paint a bleak portrait—I find it more funny and amusing than anything else. The idea that you can totally self-annihilate your day before it even fucking begins: that is hilarious to me. Obviously, you sometimes have to step back and look at it in retrospect before you see the humor in it, but it’s there, in all its despondent glory. It can be depressing comedy, but it’s still comedy (and in some ways, a more powerful form).
A great example of depressing comedy is the FML website, which has become one of my favorite websites over the last little while. FML, which stands for Fuck My Life, is a website chronicling true stories from around the world based around often horrific, embarrassing, heartbreaking, and all-around sad events that happen in people’s lives every day. All of them are structured to fit a particular formula (“Today, I [insert story]”), with all of the entries ending with the FML acronym. These stories can be depressing to the point of inducing tears, but they can also be side-splittingly funny. In some cases, they can be BOTH. And depending on how sensitive you are or how your sense of humor is wired, you may react differently to each blurb.
This kind of depressing comedy is very powerful to me, because the people who post these stories display amazing amounts of courage (though, granted, they are submitted anonymously) to essentially gut themselves and let everything spill out over their tales of life gone wrong; of getting fucked by life. All for the sake of a hearty belly-laugh. There’s a beauty in it that I find painfully appealing (pun intent coincidental, but effective anyway).
It provides a release; a catharsis that isn’t common in a lot of what passes for entertainment. And I love that about it. It’s something I’ve been trying to explore within my own comedy, with varying amounts of both success and failure. I know I’m not alone in having such feelings like what I was enduring at the beginning of this post, and I want to take these inherently negative experiences and turn them into something worth laughing at, because for other people who have had those thoughts: that’s their release–to know that they are also not alone.
Who knows—before reading this, they could have had one of those mornings.
Until next time,