I’ve heard that expectations are pre-meditated resentments, and the fastest way to kill your career is to have any expectations about how it is supposed to turn out. Apparently, that’s a lesson I still need to learn.
When you have a certain expectation about how a show or a team or anything else is going to go, you suck all the joy out of having the experience, and instead, you get stuck in a state that there is never enough and you forgot why you are doing it in the first place. You are part of the living dead.
This has plagued me my whole life, and this is where I am right now with Improv Nerd. We have had over 260,000 downloads for the podcast since it started, and we’re closing in on having produced 100 episodes in under three years. I get e-mails from people all over the world on a weekly basis about how much they appreciate what I am doing, and I am being flown all over the country to do Improv Nerd and teach The Art of Slow Comedy workshops.
But that is not enough. I am not where I thought I should be by now. When I started Improv Nerd, I thought I would be Marc Maron by this point. Clearly, I am not. I thought doing Improv Nerd would lead me back to the radio or would get me an interview show on TV. It has not. I have clearly forgotten why I am doing this.
If you are reading this and you are like, “Wow, Jimmy is filled with self-pity,” you are right. That’s what happens when you have expectations: They turn into resentment, then into self-pity, and if you are really lucky, bitterness. I wish you would see me in a better light, but right now, I am filled with self-pity and anger. No, rage. Rage at God and the Universe for screwing me over once again! I have worked my ass off with Improv Nerd and feel like I have gotten shit for my effort. Fuck you, God! Fuck you, Universe!
It all started over the weekend when I had a really small audience for Improv Nerd at Stage 773 in Chicago as part of the Chicago Women’s Funny Festival. We had a great guest, the super talented Beth Stelling, and Stage 773 could not have been more supportive.
But almost nobody came to our show, and what made it worse was when I was leaving the theater, there was huge a crowd that needed to be roped off waiting to come in for the next show.
Ever since then, I’ve wanted to die. I am tired. I am second guessing myself. My confidence has taken a hit. All because I had this stupid expectation that after almost three years, Improv Nerd should be a hit and I should have gotten something (read: money and fame) out of doing it.
Everyone always tells you that you’re supposed to do things for the fun of it, for the joy of doing it. Don’t worry about where it’s going to lead, just enjoy the moment. I’ve even said a lot of those same things in this very blog. But let me tell you, that is a lot easier to type onto a page than it is to do in real life. In real life, I have expectations that if I put effort into something, I’m going to be rewarded immediately (read: more money and more fame).
The good news is at least I’m talking about this with my friends, in therapy and with you right now, so hopefully my resentments can be lifted.
The one thing I love about the accomplished guests I’ve had on Improv Nerd is when they talk honestly and openly about the times they wanted to quit and something happened that changed their mind and they not only persevered, but they became even more successful. This always makes their story even sweeter and their success more attainable. Here’s hoping that, like my guests, I can find a happy ending, because having these expectations is not only killing my career, it’s killing me.
Only a few days left to get the Early Bird Special for Jimmy’s next Fundamentals of Improv class, starting June 28! Register before June 16 to sign up for $249. Or sign up for his one-day intensive on July 6!