Give Yourself Credit for Showing Up

Comedy, acting, and improv can be a hard business. There are so many disappointments and so much rejection that we often forget to give ourselves credit for even showing up. I know I do.

I cannot tell you how many times I have been out with a group of friends and someone will have a piece of good new to share like, “I had an audition for a TV show,” and I will start clapping for them in the middle of some crowded breakfast restaurant. They’ll glare at me for a couple of seconds and then snap back, “Don’t clap. I didn’t get the part!”

Like most things, I used to take that personally, but now it just makes me sad because it’s how I think, too. If we don’t get the results that we wanted, then there’s no need to celebrate. God forbid we give ourselves credit for just getting the audition in the first place. We all know that’s not good enough. Deep down we hate ourselves, and if we are not perfect then we don’t even deserve to live. (Ok, maybe a little dramatic, but it’s honestly how I think sometimes.)

The good news is I am changing. Let’s blame it on me becoming a father, but I am starting to see my own progress. I am becoming gentler on myself thanks to my daughter. In fact, since we had Betsy, I am starting to like myself even more. I kiss her chubby little cheeks and say I love her 100 times a day, and that stuff seems to be rubbing off on me. It has disrupted the negative messages in my head.

The other day, I had a big audition for NBC’s Chicago Med. It was five scenes, which for a Chicago actor is like getting three-picture deal. I showed up. It was not one of my best auditions, but it wasn’t terrible. As of the writing of this blog, I have not gotten a call back and today, that doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. Usually I am pile of nerves before, during and after an audition. In this case, I wasn’t. I was unusually calm. Typically after an audition I am filled with shame and despair and beat myself up on the ride home until I go to bed that night. I am not going to lie; even this time, I had tinges of shame, which I fought off like a winter cold, and the negative messages seemed to evaporate like snowflakes landing on the warm cement. (How is that that last sentence of writing? Pretty impressive, huh?)

But here is the best part: Even though it was just an ok audition by my “high standards,” I actually felt proud of myself for showing up and happy that I got to perform. I felt so good, it was equivalent to going to three hours of group therapy. I was on new kind of performance high, the kind that usually only come from a killer show or when I actually land a TV or film part. Not this time. The good feeling came from just showing up and doing the best I could on that day. Some would say that is acceptance. Some would call this serenity. I don’t care what you call it, I liked the feeling. And for me, this is progress, huge progress, and I believe it will lead to more opportunities and an overall better life for me, my new family and even for my friends who get annoyed when I clap at their good news.

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5 replies
  1. Laura Ann Parry
    Laura Ann Parry says:

    Good for you! Both on getting the audition and your growth. I always feel honored to be asked to audition… whatever it is. It’s someone’s project and they think I can help them make it great! So, I try the best I can on any given day (some days are much suckier than others). I remember completely and with fluidity all the lines AFTER the audition. I beat myself up a little when I feel I wasn’t that great. Then I remember a flubbed word here or there isn’t going to make or break it — It’s whether they can see me in the role. It warms my heart that someone else is willing to admit they’re nervous before, during and after. Thanks for that!

  2. Joe Mack
    Joe Mack says:

    “I kiss her chubby little checks and tell her I love her a hundred times a day.” I’m going to keep that image with me all day.

  3. Ed Wilks
    Ed Wilks says:

    When I changed my definition of an audition, it made a world of difference. When I act, it’s a gift I’m giving to another human, one of my species. When they see me act, they’re receiving the gift. An audition is no different. I gift wrap it nicely, hand it over with love, and leave, knowing I gave freely. It just so happens that director has some decisions to make and may take my gift and add it to the gift he wants to give an audience. If that happens, amazing. If not, I gave an excellent 10 minute gift that I feel good about. When I give freely from the heart, the fear takes a back row balcony seat. Shame walks out the side exit. All that’s left is the giver and the receiver.

  4. Ali Meier
    Ali Meier says:

    Thank you for sharing, Jimmy. I completely agree. Just getting an audition is a victory in this business. Looking at the ratio of auditions to booking the job can helps me take the sting of rejection out of the equation.


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