People say you learn more from the failures than the successes. Well, since I am writing this from the airport in San Francisco instead of a cozy hotel room, I can tell you that that is partially true. You CAN learn from your failures and your defeats. Even if it is something as simple as “The world is not a pretty place”, you will learn something.
The past two weeks I have been competing in the San Francisco International Comedy Competition. I did not advance to the finals. Unlike most shows you do, at the end of the competition you are given a graph that charts how you scored. That can help you if you want to know why you didn’t advance. I got to see how I scored in the categories in which they were judging. This is an easy example. Sometimes you have to dig deeper to find meaning in why you failed.
Say you are doing a show and you bombed. You may think it is easier to look outward to find the cause of the disappointment, but 99% of the time it is within where the problems lie. Did you not sell your material? Did you curse like a sailor and the show was in a retirement home? Did you start off wrong and couldn’t right the ship? These are things you can think about the next time things don’t go as planned. Since these are things you can change they are also the easiest.
What did I learn from the competition? I learned that I may not be the best at short format sets. I learned that I need to work on my material (who doesn’t), and I learned that I can hang around, but there are just intangibles that the audience (or in this case the judges) don’t see in me. Now I can try to fix the first two things. I can write stuff to help in shorter sets, I can rewrite stuff, but the intangible part is something I can only change through stuff like appearance where I can give the perception that I have traits that I may not posses.
The biggest lesson I think every comic can take from failing is that this is life, and life is hard. Sometimes things don’t go your way no matter how badly you want them too. The best way to correct this is to get back up and keep moving forward. I know it is easy to say, but for me, sometimes very hard to do.