basilwhite (basilwhite) wrote,

Why I Quit Comedy

Someone who gave me many of my first comedy gigs asked me why I quit comedy. Answering his question helped me clarify my understanding, so I'm sharing my response here.

Why I Quit Comedy

In May 2007 I was working on the road, mostly featuring, some headlining, and I hated it. I held my performances to the standard of only telling jokes that made me laugh. What made me laugh had decreasing commonality with what made road audiences laugh.

Audiences didn't like me, I didn't like them, and they laughed at other comics whose material did not make me laugh. What made me laugh changed, and I failed to create material that made both me and the audience laugh. My primary motivation to continue performing was my fear of feeling like a failure for quitting.

Then the 2007 Walter Reed scandal sent me to working unscheduled overtime at nights and weekends, so I couldn't guarantee that I could honor bookings. After a few months of not performing, I realized how grateful I felt for the liberation from driving several hours for the privilege of failing to make people laugh, so I formally retired from comedy.

Now I record music, and cook, and I get to choose the people I entertain. I cook the food I wanna eat and make the music I wanna hear. I miss the urgency as a comedian to develop new material every day, so I work to maintain that daily creative work ethic through my music, free of concern about whether it'll sell at the Allentown Ramada.

If the music project develops into gigs, I hope to apply my performance work ethic I learned in comedy to the music. If it doesn't, I'll express my creativity some other way, but I intend to create work that gives me what I want as a customer. I'll try to make it accessible to others, but that's Job 2.

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