Months ago, my wife Lydia was listening to an interview with Jason Bateman. One question caught her ear: “Would you let your children get into acting?”
Lydia stopped what she was doing and paid full attention to the words exiting Jason’s mouth.
I wouldn’t, only because it is a profession that you can’t really help yourself in. In most professions, if you stay at the office an extra four hours every day, you’re gonna impress the boss, you’re gonna get that promotion, you’re gonna get that raise, you’re gonna at least have job security. But with acting, if you’re really ambitious and you have a good work ethic, and are really good at your job, it might not really matter.
My wife got lost in thought a moment, and in a very unfortunate parallel related those words to comedy, and my career. There is something odd—some might say “unfair”—about the artistic world, where how good you are matters much less than how lucky you are.
Which brings me to something semi-related. I cannot remember where I read this, but someone once asked a member of the Dukakis presidential campaign, “When did you realize it was over?”
The answer was a surprise: “When they announced we lost.”
The Dukakis team didn’t admit defeat one month, one week, or one day out from the election. Even though the world at large knew Bush Sr. was a lock, the Dukakis people lived in such a bubble, they used faith to carry them to the bitter end. That isn’t unique to the Dukakis campaign; Mitt Romney was so convinced he was going to win, he didn’t have a concession speech written. Hillary Clinton was all but assured victory.
Yet, they were each upended.
Delusion isn’t isolated to politics; every season of American Idol began with confident teens declaring, “I am the next American Idol!” They said it full of belief, even though at the end of it all there was but one Highlander standing in victory.
Which makes me ask:
At what point are you supposed to become self-aware enough to understand “it’s” not happening? Is there a stage when hope becomes fantasy, with everyone but you knowing you’re on a hamster wheel and not a path?
Stand-up comedy is a struggle; any artistic pursuit is. It beats you up daily, and there is a huge chasm between the joy of the stage and the struggle of the business.
I know, I know: Negativity breeds negativity; no one likes a whiner; the power of positive thinking; and all that jazz… I have to admit that sometimes, I feel like Crash Davis.
- It doesn’t matter if I’m delusional.
- Life is about being Rocky Balboa in the first movie, holding your ground to the bitter end and winning the moral victory while losing the fight.
- It’s enough to know that if you try to be everything to everyone, you won’t be anything to anyone.
- These are thoughts I try to convince myself are truths.
Maybe trying to prove Jason Bateman wrong will be my Sisyphean task.
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