What Are You Afraid Of? What I Learned From The Blues Bros. and 50-Cent
I have been producing comedy shows in random nightclubs, taverns, and neighborhood bars since 2003.
I was originally inspired by the movie The Blues Brothers, where they go anywhere and everywhere for gigs. They roll into a random roadhouse, Bob’s Country Bunker, claiming to be the booked band for the night. And sure enough, they were put on stage to entertain a crowd of drunken hillbillies.
Performing behind chicken wire, with beer bottles thrown at the them, didn’t throw them off at all. They played their standard list. Until the stage lights went off because the crowd’s booing was out of control. So what did Jake and Elwood do? They made the necessary adjustments and won the crowd over. And they weren’t even the band that was booked that night.
Back in the day, when I was really hungry for stage time, just to get gigs in front of drinking crowds, I would randomly show up at bars and taverns claiming to be booked that night. It didn’t always work. But sometimes, I was just convincing enough, they let me roll in with my portable guitar amp and microphone and start talking my shit.
That’s how I got my stage time. Crazy shit like that.
I had no fear.
Some of my best adventures in life have come from my crazy, offbeat stand-up gigs. Like competing in a demolition derby and skydiving.
I never could have imagined how things turned out. You can’t have any fear. You can’t be afraid to go out there and do your shit.
You might not make much (if any) money at it. At least, not right away. Resist the urge to create the perfect plan for the long term. Some planning and preparation is good and necessary for success. But when you are just getting started, the idea is to just get started!
Don’t contemplate the what-if’s. Get out there and do it and you’ll discover the what-if’s. If you wait to have the perfect plan, you’ll just be trick-fucking yourself, because you can’t possibly think of all the mishaps or opportunities that may or may not happen.
There’s a quote I hear a lot thrown around…
FEAR is False Evil Appearing Real.
That is actually more true than you may realize. Many people are anxious and scared of shit they are just imagining in their heads. It’s not even reality. A lot of times, when you’re in a “scary situation” you just deal with it. And the anxious feelings are necessary handle the adversity in front of you.
But if you have worry or trepidation about starting a new venture, just go for it. Those are probably signs that it is the path you should follow to accomplish your goals. You only improve by being pushed slightly outside your comfort zone.
If I waited for somebody to give me permission or tell me it was a good idea to roll into random bars (without even being booked!) to do comedy, it never would have happened! I’d probably be bagging groceries or stocking shelves right now at 41 years old.
I just had no fear of making an ass of myself. I didn’t give a fuck.
Sure, I would get nervous in the moment. That kind of pressure helped me rise to the occasion and bring out my best. I think that’s what it takes to make real progress, having your back up against the wall in a fight or flight situation.
Some people have a hard time progressing because they tend to get too much encouragement and validation. Too much positive reinforcement from others around them. It becomes almost addictive to the point where any criticism, mistakes, setbacks, and challenges are dismissed. Someone else gets the blame and no real learning or improvement happens.
In my experience, if a lot of people tell you it’s a good idea, it’s probably not that great of an idea. What works the best is usually the stuff that I’m discouraged from trying. Sometimes the thing to pursue is what most people say can’t be done.
If you want to accomplish a goal, sometimes having too many cheerleaders prevents risk-taking. Sometimes, it takes a bold move and getting the snot knocked of you, learning from the School of Hard Knocks, exposing your weaknesses is what it takes to break barriers. This is how you become a bad-ass at whatever it is you do.
Fear is stifling. Comedians can not afford to be stifled. You have to be able to speak openly and honestly from the heart. You can’t be afraid to share.
I try to put up 2 or 3 videos a week showing what it’s really like to be a traveling bar comic on the road. Sometime I look an asshole, douche-bag. Whatever. I just put it out there. Can’t be afraid. It’s important to acknowledge the fear. Ask yourself, “Is what I’m afraid of a legitimate consequence or not?”
In The 50th Law by Robert Greene and the rapper, 50-Cent, it talks about not being afraid to be yourself. Fear will keep you in a constant state of analysis, which only results in paralysis. It will set your progress back by years. Just go for it right now. Be willing to make mistakes. Be willing to fail. Be willing look like an ass-clown. I do all the time.