The house lights come on. I slip out from backstage and see a handful of friends sitting in the audience. My face is flush and my hands are still trembling. It was a mediocre show. Nothing more. Not embarrassing, but not memorable either. My friends are dead silent as they hug me. Afterward, we go to a restaurant for milk shakes and things to put hot sauce on.
My friends will never say I had a good show when I didn't. There are two philosophies regarding a friendship roles. They are the (i) unconditional positive regard and (ii) unconditional honesty models respectively. While (i) is more popular, I contend that it is ultimately more harmful. Had my friends showered me with compliments and praise, I would have been under the impression I did not bomb tonight... which I did. When you lie to me, you make my victories and defeats taste the same.
I need my friends to be a barometer of truth. I need them. When they withhold their praise and affection it means I still have work to do. They are the ones I want to make laugh. I need to fail. I need to hear the sound of a room not laughing, to walk through a crowd after a show and not hear a single "good show." The sting reminds me that there's something at stake, that I'm not perfect and that improv is a delicate art.
Honesty is a nick now while dishonesty is a laceration later. Most people are so afraid of awkwardness that they will lie to your face to avoid it. We don't get to choose our family and most are riddled with cowards. Too often we're trapped. Blood drags them through our lives, but not our friends. Friends are a kickball dream team. They are picked for character, style, and consistent record of selflessness, not because of a last name. I choose the ones who will be honest with me.
Thank you, Friends, for your support and bravery. Thank you for keeping me honest. You make me reach for something better. You remind me when I'm less than my best. That's real support.
Now let's eat some tacos together and talk about stuff.