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.