Every year there is some new way for people to help identify with people who are suffering and/or raise awareness (ugggh) for some plight. Over the last couple of years I remember reading about people intentionally living on a dollar a day budget for food, New Jersey Senator-Elect Cory Booker eating on a food stamp budget and Kim Kardashian marrying a guy for three months who was only making $10 million a year before she got out of the financial dumpster and started dating Kanye West. In other words people in the western world are always finding ways to identify with those less fortunate than themselves. Well, this week a friend of mine inadvertently had a very profound experience identifying with the frustrations of a talented, but largely unrecognized comedian… me.
On Monday I launched my video of the month. It was a parody of the Bill de Blasio ad for NYC Mayor that completely shifted the Democratic primary race. It is not a national ad, but it was omnipresent in NYC and brought de Blasio from 4th in the Democratic field to the overwhelming winner of the Democratic primary. So I made a parody of it. If you missed it here it is (it is only 50 seconds):
I never expected the video to go viral, though with a few weeks until the NYC Mayoral election I do expect views to sort of trickle in. I also figured it would give me a head start on an impression of a soon-to-be national figure. And the video is a really well shot parody if I do say so myself (kudos to video maker Dana). But years of producing content has calloused my soul, despite my constant protestations on this site, to disappointing results when it comes to comedy. However, my good friend, who for years has been a political junkie, as well as sometimes political volunteer, was convinced that the video would be a hit. And he even went beyond his usually passive support for my comedic endeavors to look up over 50 Twitter handles for political operatives and reporters within the New York City area for me to send the video to. At the end of the first day, the video was around 300 views and the text I received from my friend said it all:
“I can’t believe it hasn’t blown up. Now I sort of understand your frustrations.”
I will put this statement into the same bin of exaggerated and misplaced sympathy as “I know losing someone is tough, my dog died last year,” but it was still nice to have a friend experience a little bit of the personal disappointment first hand. Of course if my friend took his feelings of one day and then multiplied it by about 1600 then he would have a full appreciation of being a creator of solid, but largely unrecognized content for the last 5 years. But there is the point. People who read this blog and listen to my podcast generally think I am a miserable pessimist (you come for the negativity, but stay for the truth-telling and gallows’ humor). But the fact remains to persevere in comedy, especially in its modern format, one requires a core that is either wildly optimistic or sadomasochistic and delusional. People like to say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So I am either at my core an optimist or insane.
I guess I would advise people to do like my friend and imagine yourself in the shoes of a hustling comedian. You will either appreciate the work and see the optimism it takes to carry on or.. you can go insane with us. Either way it makes comedians look better.
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