I’m about to get really personal. Uncomfortably so. There are certain masks I put on to make sure people don’t know when I’m unhappy, but now I’m going to admit, there’s a lot of times, that I’m unhappy.
There’s the weird dynamic to performing comedy. I can’t pretend to know what it’s like for everyone else, but for me it’s a series of major ups and downs. When I’m on stage, I’m the happiest and best version of myself. I may be going over lines or improv rules in my head before I go on, but once I’m on, I have to let that go. When I do, it’s thrilling. You can tell I’m happy because I won’t quit grinning like an idiot.
I’m even thrilled for about half an hour after I walk off stage. However, after that beautiful afterglow of adrenaline wears off, the self doubt and depression set in. It’s the strangest thing and it’s hard to explain.
I go from being so happy I could cry, to over analyzing every move I made. I critique myself to a harsh level and have the hardest time getting out of a slump. Some shows this doesn’t happen. If I happen to have a particularly good show, I come out relatively unscathed. Most of the time though, I get so down after a show. Then I spend the next couple of hours trying desperately to keep up the appearance of happiness, so that I can meet people after and hang out with my team to celebrate.
I’m sure you’re wondering why I would do this to myself. If I get so depressed, why would I keep performing? Because it’s worth it.
The joy I get from performing is worth all of the feelings of depression afterwards. Also, I’m happy I critique myself. It mostly doesn’t go to a place of self loathing, but to a place where I’m constantly challenging myself to get better. Should I push to not let myself get so upset? Yes. Should I stop entirely? Not at all!
I believe in myself. I believe that I’m funny. I don’t think I’m the funniest person in any room, but I think I’m alright. What I want is to be better. I don’t want to be satisfied, because once I am, I won’t keep pushing to get better. Once I think I’m great, why should I keep trying?
I bring this all up for one purpose. To let you know that if you get depressed, or you struggle with the occasional self loathing, you’re not alone. If I had to guess, I’d guess that most of us have this problem. I’d guess, that many comedians struggle with the ups and downs of emotions. That’s kind-of part of what it means to be an artist.
However, I don’t know you. Do you struggle with this? Am I wrong? Are you always happy?