On a local level, the entire stand-up industry operates through social media, which means it only takes me about 3 minutes of scrolling through any given timeline before I feel like a failure. I click past image after image of people I know getting spots I didn’t or worse, spots I did once, but haven’t been invited back for in a while (did I do something wrong? Are they mad at me?). I often wonder if any other business besides entertainment is this mutated version of a workplace and a social life where your professional success almost entirely hinges on your social life. Social media shows you who is hanging out with who and within a few weeks, also serves as a record of who is booking who. It’s how you find out about open spots, promote your shows and in general, it’s the one place you keep evidence to show everyone else that you’re a comedian. For a long time I convinced myself that it was important to keep track of it but now I’m starting to see how all the keeping up and comparing are bringing me down.
It’s kind of like that feeling you get when you go out to eat and once the food comes, you realize what your friend ordered looks way better than what you got. It’s like, sure, this is what I wanted but now that I see what they’re eating, I wish I had something else. Sometimes it feels like you are at the same restaurant but somehow they’re getting an All-You-Can-Eat buffet while you’re stuck eating a side salad. Right now, the meal I’m eating looks really great on the menu: I’m getting booked on great shows, I’m running my own rooms, I’m making money directing and teaching comedy- I’m practically an entree, baby! I’m eating well and I should be happy but I’m not because it feels like I’m eating alone.
I’m pretty independent but moving to a new city to do something as simultaneously social and anti-social as comedy has left me feeling needy. After two years of living here, I still feel like I’m orbiting the scene instead of being pulled into it because I have met a ton of people but don’t feel like I’ve gotten to really know anyone. It’s a lonely feeling. Friends are the leafy greens and high fiber that you need to thrive but I feel like my soul is eating fast food every day. It feels lethargic and cranky and even though I know it’s bad for me, I’m still gorging myself on junk food like Facebook likes and spots on shows. My social diet is made up of tiny sugar rushes that make me feel accepted followed by huge crashes when I see someone who seems like they’re better off. Without the filter of friend’s voices to build me up, I’m constantly comparing my success to others and cutting it down until it doesn’t feel like an achievement anymore. It makes me feel very stupid because I’m over here starving for validation from my peers but if I would just accept it from myself I could feel so full right now. But it’s hard to validate yourself. It’s much easier to listen to the meanest part of who you are, that total dick that lives in the back of your brain and feeds you Big Macs, promising that your new diet starts tomorrow.