Peers with Titans

I make the following assumptions:

(i) Failure is good for one's character and craft.
(ii) Art is hard.
(iii) Undeniable talent yields an audience.

What motivates me? Is it adoration or the reach for something profound? I want former, but I want to want the latter.

Having friends support your band, improv show, art opening, or stand-up set does more harm than good. Maybe it's the tone of desperation when people beg their friends to attend their shows that I find so ugly, or the guilt trip they lay down on the ones that didn't attend. Either way, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. If the success of your project depends on the attendance of your friends, the empty room in front of you probably suggests deeper issues.

Playing to a friendly room is tee ball. You're going to walk out of your show thinking that you shred, reinvented the Harold, paint like Picasso, and kick knowledge like Chris Rock. You don't. To a mother, the refrigerator is an art gallery. No one gives else gives a fuck.

Failure is grueling. It's gut-wrenching and apt to put you into a tornado of self-doubt. At least, that's how I experience it. But, failure is useful; infinitely more useful than success. It keeps you hungry. It's humbling. It reminds you that you've still got room to grow. I've played to hundreds of empty rooms, watched entire audiences leave in the middle of my set, and been privately heckled off-stage. Maybe it's an indication I shouldn't be a performer, but all my future audiences should send them thank-you cards. They reminded me that I still had work to do, that the set could be tighter, my ideas more focused.

Playing to a planted audience is masturbatory and prevents growth.

I believe that quality speaks for itself and needs no marketing. At a great show, seats aren't filled with co-workers, friends, or family. They're filled with civilians. People who care about what is being made. People who fought hand-over-fist for tickets. And no great thing goes unnoticed. As much as it pains me, I believe this. The empty rooms I play for are a quiet reminder that I'm not creating something great, something that demands to be seen and talked about.

If you rule it, they will come. Cream rises to the top. Marketing helps the mediocre mingle at the top. We can be small town heroes or we can be nobodies in a room full of geniuses.

At bottom, I would rather hit into a double play in the majors than hit a stand up triple in the company softball league. I want to create art for discerning audiences. I want Thurston Moore to dig the way I play guitar. I want TJ to like how I do a two-person scene. I want Nabokov to have his mind blown by my prose. I want to be peers with titans. And, though I suspect that my talent will never put me on par with the greats, I find the reach fascinating. What I won't do is, as Susan Messing says, "Eat a meal of Ritz crackers." You'll be full, but not satisfied.


  1. Your videos are really good. I wonder how much better you have got since moving over there.
    Do you think you have made one hell of a leap to the better?

    Hey, there is no difference between you and whoever you see as great.
    They once were just as you, craving something and having the balls to go for it.

    Just don't let people throw in ideas. That you should get a "real job" settle down.. do this... do that.. blah.

    If you want it. You will get it. I have faith in you.

  2. "I believe that quality speaks for itself and needs no marketing. " I disagree with this, but it's a conversation for a long phone call/video chat.