My heart was beating so strongly in my chest that I could feel it reverberate through my entire upper body.
I was waiting to go on stage for my first open mic. As the host called my name, I turned my full attention to my breath to try and calm my body down. Anything to try and remember my brief set…and not throw up on my shoes.
This first open mic was an exploration of standup comedy that began for me in the second half of 2022. It started as an experiment in something new that felt exciting, scary, and just for play.
I survived that first open mic and even got some laughs. What helped me most that first night was some advice my comedy instructor gave in the first class:
Every joke starts as a draft, and no joke is ever finished.
I had always assumed great comics just got on stage and were funny. I did not imagine they started with a blank page and mediocre ideas. I thought funny was funny.
Over the past few months, I have spent time with various professional comics.
I have witnessed the brilliance of this approach first-hand.
Great comics write the first draft of a joke quickly, then try it out and see if anybody laughs. If nobody laughs, they often throw the joke away. If there are some laughs, they take the joke home and keep iterating.
What they do not do is sweat the need to get the joke right on the first try.
The freedom to jump on stage and try out a new idea without being attached to getting laughs (to the outcome) has become my favorite part of standup comedy.
As a founder and CEO, I felt an excruciating need to ‘get it right.’ I often felt more like I was trying to ‘get the right answer’ than ‘trying out an idea.’
I would have done well to study the way of the comic first before trying to make my way as an entrepreneur.
Perhaps you can benefit in your journey this year from the permission great comics give themselves:
- Consider your first pass a draft
- Try it out
- Play with iterations
- Consider things ‘never done just in various forms of improvement
Where might this permission assist your founder or leadership journey today?
Finally, I will leave you with a beautiful additional tidbit my comedy instructor gave us:
If I tell a joke and nobody laughs, all that means is I thought something was really funny and you didn’t. And that in itself is pretty funny.
Let yourself play. Let yourself bomb. Let yourself enjoy the humor of you finding something brilliant, insightful, or funny even when no one else does.
Invite yourself to experiment with the way of the comic.
And if your inner critic rages as you get that draft out there, don’t worry; you’re in good company.
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With love from LA,