There’s a quote from David Bowie I stumbled across the other day:
“If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not in the right area. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”
This got me thinking about the past year and how crazy it has been both personally and professionally.
2017 currently goes down as the toughest year I have had emotionally for a multitude of reasons (many of them my own doing), and I spent a great deal of the year trying to reach the feeling of being comfortable again.
While some of the choices I made may not have been the smartest, those choices took me out of my comfort zone and I have come to realize that getting out of my comfort zone helped me grow a great deal, but especially as a comic and producer.
Then it hit me: I never want to get “comfortable” again.
You slow down your growth by getting comfortable
Getting comfortable sounds great, but it’s not all it’s hyped up to be.
Every job I have had where I got comfortable ended up feeling like a major waste because the comfort and security ended up driving me crazy. Sure, I gained skills prior to that point, but once I got comfortable I knew I wasn’t growing anymore.
Comfort for me usually equals boring and mundane. Maybe it’s just a thing with artistic minds?
The most notable experience where discomfort forced me to grow was the summer of 2017. I had to develop a thirty minute set to perform in Levelland, TX for a charity event at the Wallace Theater.
In a matter of three months, I went from having really only ten minutes of polished material to a half hour that ended up doing better than I ever could have expected.
Leading up to the Levelland performance, I was really terrified about the possibility of not doing well. The thought that ran through my head every day was “what the Hell did I get myself into?”
However, two months prior, I really forced myself to embrace the discomfort and worked harder than I ever have creatively to create that set.
I was comfortable just writing at a frequency I was used to and then having a fundraiser presented to me really shook things up.
Even with the topics I choose to write about, I have found the best material comes from the the uncomfortable topics that we usually don’t like discussing. Especially in my first two years of comedy, I just talked about easy stuff. It wasn’t until year three where I really went deeper and made light of personal things I felt were uncomfortable. Since doing that I have become braver with what I talk about as opposed to keeping it superficial.
It just goes to show, staying in the same groove even for creative people can be unhelpful and having a challenge thrown at you can do much to make you grow and become better.
Being comfortable can inhibit your opportunities
For comics it is imperative that you get out there and do other things because doing other things opens up your opportunity stream.
It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be a successful stand-up comic just by solely working on your stand-up. Look at people like Kevin Hart, Amy Schumer, and Chris D’Elia. Each of these stand-up comedians is doing things beyond stand-up like writing, producing, etc. They either had to create something to gain or continue their success.
There are so many talented comedians I meet every day at shows and open mics, but the problem is they are comfortable just doing stand-up.
I used to be that person who was comfortable just doing stand-up and really had no plans to produce like I do now for Comedians on the Loose. It wasn’t until I was presented with the idea by Sonja Savanovic to produce a show through our instructor, Jim Mendrinos, at Gotham Comedy Club that it really started to come to be seen as a possibility.
Of course we were uncomfortable starting off in production and it was a bit of a risk to start off at a major club with no experience. We could have played it safe and started with a bar show, but for some reason we didn’t believe in that route.
Had we not experienced the discomfort of starting production and setting the bar as high as we did, COTL may not be where it is today. We wouldn’t have grown into the savage business mindsets we have now, and we wouldn’t have had the opportunity for visibility to have people actually want to work with our production.
Taking risks and feeling the discomfort is essential for comics. Maybe those risks are in your personal stand-up or creating your own project.
Whatever the risk may be, do it and embrace the discomfort regardless of the outcome because there’s always something to learn.
What are your thoughts on getting comfortable? Comment below and tell us your thoughts!