Do you know how accomplished I am?

After interviewing Jon Favreau recently for an episode of Improv Nerd in a swanky hotel suite off Michigan Avenue in Chicago, I crawled back into my therapist’s office in pain and said, “He could not have been happier to see me, he gave a great interview, he even gave me a souvenir from the movie, The Jungle Book, and yet I left feeling ‘less than.’”

My therapist, who is not one to let me wallow in my self-pity, said, “Can’t you see you are as accomplished in what you do?”

“No, I can’t,” I said.

He pushed me: “In your teaching improv? In your interviewing?”

“No, I can’t,” I said again, as if he did not hear me the first time.

This is what I really believed. I have been torturing myself this way for years. I always feel this way because I compare everyone else’s accomplishments to mine, which is a game I never seem to win.

But after that conversation, something seems to have shifted.

Last week I was in LA pitching Improv Nerd as a TV show. I also lined up some interviews for some upcoming episodes of the podcast. I was fortunate to get to record the episodes out of the state-of-the-art studios at Starburns Industries, where FeralAudio.com records some of their podcasts. Dustin Marshall was there to produce, and I had set up four interviews with people I had worked with in Chicago.

Usually, when I measure myself up against people I started out with in improv in Chicago who have gone on to do work in LA, my internal scale shows them as being more successful than I am. They have far more TV and film credits and more money than I do, two of the many things I use to judge myself against others.

But for whatever reason, this time, those measuring sticks weren’t working. For the first time, I didn’t feel less than. It’s been part of my schtick for years to feel like a loser, but for whatever reason, this time, I actually felt accomplished. (Don’t tell my therapist).

I actually was feeling a sense of pride as my first guest arrived at the studio. I felt like, “Look at what I have been able to do with this tiny podcast out of Chicago!” I was in a Los Angles recording studio, inviting my successful friends that I started out with in Chicago in to be interviewed by one of the best interviewers in the business: me. As accomplished as they are in TV and film, I finally realized that I am accomplished in interviewing.

What’s even more amazing is that feeling lasted the entire week. Each time a new guest came into the studio and they put on their headphones and we turned on the microphone, they got to experience my incredible talent as an interviewer. That last part is not easy to write, but I am not changing a word, no matter how uncomfortable I feel later.

13 replies
  1. Phillip
    Phillip says:

    Jimmy, this post makes me happy – I’m delighted for you and hope that this positivity stays with you, and can be a source of strength for you in your upcoming projects. All best wishes.

    Reply
  2. CRAIG M KLUGMAN
    CRAIG M KLUGMAN says:

    You are very accomplished. Your career is different than theirs, so what? Different is not worse. Look at all the people you have taught and inspired… The great things they do in the world are because if you. Those successes are yours as well. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

    Reply
  3. Pam D.
    Pam D. says:

    Fantastic, Jimmy. You’ve come a long way! I know that feeling of comparing myself so well. It can really torpedo my self-esteem and consequently my work. You are a great role model!

    Reply
  4. Louis
    Louis says:

    Jimmy,
    You are a very accomplished and talented ma. Because you go through some of the stuff I do though I want to say this. If you did nothing but what you are already doing you would be accomplish and successful. The idea that it is the “next” thing you do that is going to fill you up. leads to inevitable disappointment. It means you will never be able to give yourself enough credit for what you have already accomplished. I am not saying stop striving. But you also need to take some time to smell the roses and reflect on how much you have already accomplished.. Please know this something I try to convince myself of all the time . Not always successfully. So when I see others going through similar things I try to help because it helps me too.

    Reply
  5. Sam
    Sam says:

    Jimmy – I’ve never met you or worked with you and even I can tell how accomplished you are! And I’m a full-on nobody in the improv world (and the Canadian improv world at that…)

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all be comfortable in our own lives?

    I credit you as a true inspiration though. I often feel like I’m too old and too late for improv success. But I take great solace that someone as ACCOMPLISHED as you has the same anxieties as me.

    Reply
  6. Nick Connell
    Nick Connell says:

    Well done Jimmy
    I honestly believe that in Chicago, a city blessed with MANY very talented improve teachers, you are one of the very best.
    And the scale of the talent and the quality of the interviewing on your podcast speakers for itself; world class

    Reply
    • Nick Connell
      Nick Connell says:

      Sorry – damned auto correct – “improv” not “improve”
      & “speaks” not “speakers”
      DOH!

      Reply

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