Naked & Afraid

12 04 2016

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I should only look so good in my state of nakedness and fear.

There is nothing more vulnerable than putting “it” out there in the world. And by “it”, I am talking about that thing that you have been keeping to yourself and have finally given up on trying to hide from the universe for whatever reason.

Maybe you can’t live with yourself refraining from telling that person how you really feel. Maybe it’s been 3 years of working on the same damn manuscript and you can’t bear to look at it one single, solitary second longer. Perhaps you’ve practiced that solo over and over again, or that pitch you have wanted to try out but were afraid would fail miserably in front of the coach or the audience.

For whatever reason, you have decided the price of living in fear is far worse than the price of any potential embarrassment and you have put “It” out there.

This is what I refer to as my “naked and afraid” moment, or moments. It starts when you’re in junior high school and your chubby, pimply and less-than-macho self cannot resist from asking out that girl to the dance even though every guy likes her. Sure, the advanced math part of you knows the odds but damn those hormones. It just grows and gets worse and worse from there.

For us creative, angst-ridden types, it can be pure torture. Though, as I write and talk to more people, I am convinced that it is in all of us. Many of us are just better at maintaining clearer lines between our inner and outer voices.

I have given presentations on such exciting topics as market share growth and competitive market analyses in front of people who could single handedly decide my career trajectory and have felt way less vulnerability than sending a 100 page script I wrote to a few friends “in the biz” to get their feedback.

Why? Simple. It matters to me. It matters a lot; more than it should. I don’t envy those poor souls who received it and consider their friendship with me too good to actually provide me with the truth, though that is what I need the most.

Here is what I say to them and to you, should you ever be on the receiving end of one of those “can you let me know what you think” requests – be honest. Apologize in advance for the criticism if you have to. Be kind but be honest. As much as it may kill us (slowly) to realize that our biggest fears may be true – that we suck, it’s a bad script, she’s not into you, etc. etc. etc. – it’s only going to be worst later on.

I finished my first full-length screenplay in April of 2015. I sat on it until early this year to even start to make any revisions. After the 5th or 6th time, I just had to let it go into the universe. It was doing no good, just sitting there on my computer any longer. I know it’s not perfect. Hell, it may not even be good. Even worst, it might be the hokiest, cliché, boring piece of shit that anyone has ever read. I’m not totally sure yet because I haven’t received any feedback from those I sent it to (hint, hint).

In seriousness though, I want them and you future reviewers out there to know that it’s ok. You can start of your feedback email with something like “I commend you on working toward your dream” or “I am so happy your day job seems to be working out for you.” We get it. In the meantime, some constructive feedback might actually turn that stinker into something of real value one day. You know the story – piece of crap athlete turns it around after reading coach makes link between learning style and his pitching. Something like that anyway.

Here’s some things for you hesitant “friend/reviewers” to keep in mind:

  1. We had to do it. We had to write, sing, draw, ask her out, and try to build that deck on our own. We just couldn’t NOT do it. It wasn’t in our blood.
  2. We know that we are all amateurs in this game and yes, we really, really, really want to do something great with “it” but chances are slim and we aren’t go to die from rejection or the truth. (I don’t think.)
  3. We feel bad for asking you. We spent hours – ok, months, with a draft email in our Draft Email box waiting to go out to you asking for this one favor. I made a bid on an entire house that I am not 100% sure I am eligible to buy in a ridiculously less amount of time than it took me to craft that email, by the way.
  4. We understand you are not an expert. We get that these are opinions. But for whatever reason, we need to hear what you think. In my case, I need to hear from people who write, who may have a female point of view (for the protagonist in this one particular script) or have a cultural knowledge that is woven through my script. Or maybe, I just need a friend to read it and say “wow – that was not what I expected.” I am not sure.
  5. If reviewing something is a burden or you just flat don’t want to, just be a mensch and say so. It’s totally fine. I Facebook messaged a comedian I know (peripherally) whose writing I admire. This dude has been on Comedy Central, Inside Amy Schumer etc. etc. – you get the picture. I was on a few shows with him (as I reminded him in my message) and am sure he has no clue who I am. I asked him if he would consider reading my script, fully expecting that he wouldn’t want to or be able to. Sure enough, I was right. But he messaged me back the same day, told me he was super busy and was totally cool about the whole thing. I hated asking him. Hated with a capital “H”. I did it though because how the hell does anyone accomplish anything without the help of others (besides Donald Trump, that is)? I am much more grateful that this guy just said no politely than tried to pacify me. That would only lead to him having to blow me off in the future or refer to me as “some dude who I told I’d review his thing” which is never good.

So, here is my lesson for anyone who is naked and afraid. Go with it. We are all naked and afraid. That Rico Suave looking dude with the French cut fit shirt, George Hamilton smile, perfect hair and huge 401K account? Yup. He’s way naked and afraid. Of what you might ask? Exactly! That’s how naked and afraid he really is. He’s still wearing his costume.

Go out there and show your cajones (figuratively, please) and your vulnerability (that one you can try literally) and it will feel nauseating, anxiety provoking and even a little liberating.

Until next time,

Marc





On Philly’s Funniest (and other Contests)

13 07 2015
A contest? Why not? My insecurity was just starting to diminish anyway!

A contest? Why not? My insecurity was just starting to diminish anyway!

I have a confession to make. When it comes to the Philadelphia comedy scene, I’m a voyeur. I’m the dude peeking from behind his Facebook curtain and watching the scene unfold in front of my eyes, often seemingly lead up to that indicator of the oncoming summer solstice – the one only a frustrated comic could understand. No, it’s not the changing of the clocks, it’s the naming of Phillies Funniest.

I have ever done two comedy contests in my life. One was in NYC. In NY, it was me and two other guys, one of which has become a very good friend and writing partner. The other was in Philly a few years ago as part of March madness. It was horrible (for me) other than getting to see Tommy Pope kill it as the headliner, as he often does.
I realized that contests bring out the worst feelings of inadequacy and insecurity in me. It’s me waiting in line to get picked last for baseball or buckling under pressure while playing the theme to “St. Elmo’s Fire” at the talent show.

I know not all contests are created equally and the level of talent for Philly’s Funniest is authentic and genuinely gauged and governed by a discipline that may not exist with many other contests. I deflected early anxieties around contests (be they visible or invisible like the dreaded SATs) by convincing myself that by putting myself in situations that were merit-based, my natural talents would be recognized and eventually, rewarded.

The truth is that the world really runs in parallel paths. In a balanced way, (though not always 50/50), those with talent will rise and often be put in a battle or contest against those who also deserve to be there. Perhaps next year, I will convince myself that I at least have earned the right to try.

Comedy is a master and I am her slave,
Marc





My name is Marc and I’m here to make you uncomfortable

27 04 2015

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Disclaimer – this entire post may be a subconsious decision to post a picture of one of my favorite actors, Christopher Walken.

My comedy ‘career’ has really felt more real this past year than ever; not in a way that I think I have “made it” or am even close but in a way where I don’t feel like I don’t belong in the room anymore. I have spent a lot of time writing and listening to people I trust – other comics who have told me to take risks and be true to who I am and what I am going through.

It was only this past November that I even started talking about divorce in my routine. This is incredibly uncomfortable – for me and the audience. Every time I bring it up, I can feel the energy in the room stiffen up (or maybe that is just me). I have spoken about being awkward, a fat kid, struggling with Judaism, parenting, my height, my looks and even a couple of embarrassing health issues but talking about going through a divorce has been a whole different ball game.

For all the apparent acceptance of different types of relationships in this country and even divorce, it still feels, at least to me, like a difficult thing to introduce into a comedy routine. Once I do, I have some jokes, most at my expense, that explain what it feels like to be in this weird place in my life and I am able to get laughs. Getting there, though, is so painful.

It has been interesting for me because there are two schools of thought that seem to keep surfacing about comedy. The first is that when you have an audience, you have an obligation to entertain and make them laugh. That’s the metric by which you are judged and deemed worthy or not. On the other hand, there is the school of thought that says it is ok and even more responsible to be true to who you are and if the audience is uncomfortable and does not laugh, then you are doing exactly what you should be doing as an artist – pushing the envelope.

I am not interested in pushing the envelope in a “Miley Cyrus twerking” type of way but I do subscribe to the school of thought that mixes both of those two together – entertain with respect but do not cheapen out the art form by going for hacky laughs and not really showing them who you are.

For me, I am still going through it and when any type of “tragedy” occurs, the general rule of thumb is to not talk about it until it is well over. However, selfishly, it has been a great coping mechanism for me – to come out and admit that I am going through a divorce and not hide from it and to also try to find the humor in an otherwise unfortunate circumstance.

I have a ton of insecurities and probably always will. The difference this time is that I really do care more about what I think about myself than what others think of me. That sound very noble but when you’re actually in it, it can get really uncomfortable.

Until next time,

Marc

Thanks for reading my blog – I really appreciate it. Please sign-up for more posts and follow me on “the Twitter” @MarcKaye1 or email me at marckaye91@gmail.com. Marc








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