Kevin Kelly speaks on how evolution wants and tends toward complexity and specialization. I believe the evidence is there to support this idea in almost any life, art form or social construct. The longer something is around, the more complex and specialized it becomes – makes sense. But, that does not mean that over time you have to be more and more special to be a part of it. Although, according to many of us, myself included many times, you would think this is the case. There is a huge difference between specialized and exclusive and many of us are choosing to ignore this fact.
For many years, I held tightly to the idea that you were not a stand up comedian or even a “comedian” in general if you did not earn that title. I’ve been heard to say, “Every idiot with internet access is calling themselves a comedian now.” It bothered me deeply and created a volcano of bubbling anger ready to burst at any moment. This anger was very present, always at the surface until one day I asked myself, “Why am I so mad?” The answer quickly became clear and I did not like it. It was not that these self-proclaimed comedians were disrespecting the sacred craft of stand up or trying to pilfer the world’s resources of which I meagerly survived upon. It was something much more sinister – my damn ego and my inability to understand that I do not make the rules for the things I love and do.
I was of the mindset that if you did not do things the right way or to be more specific – if you did not do things the way I did them, then you were a fraud. This stems from insecurity and fear of having done things the wrong way or even worse, not well enough to succeed at the thing I love. It is a harrowing proposition to face the reality of such a dark narrative of our life – to know that despite our best efforts we could not have or do the thing we desperately wanted the most. I think I still face that today, but luckily I no longer have to drag down others with me into that fear.
I believe this analogy of stand up comedy translates well to the current state of our world, at least in the west. I always thought if you did not do the road, travel the country telling jokes, become a headliner that survived solely on joke money, then you were not a real stand up comedian. That is a very specific and exclusive point of view. Some may argue that I was not wrong, but I have chosen to change my mind and I will tell you why.
We all dream and have hopes, whether or not we share them with people publicly is usually dependent on what combination of insecurities and expressive desires we have. I shutter at the thought of someone telling me to give up my dream. Can you imagine someone saying that to you? Maybe someone already has. Even worse, I hope that I am never the person to tell someone else to give up their dream. But, yet that is what people are doing when they say others do not belong in stand up comedy because they have not earned their spot. Sound familiar? It should because that is what is happening in our country right now. Stand up comedy, just like America is exclusive idea to many people. And when people who buy into this exclusivity think others are cheating their way into it or are not doing it the right way, that makes them angry because they believe if they had to earn it, everyone else does, too. This is that same idea of defining the rules and laws of the things we love. And not only that, but when we choose to identify as a thing we do it becomes who we are and we feel we represent “it.” This choice to believe in the exclusivity of something has poisoned us. This poison of exclusivity has created a rift in the fundamental truth of our connectedness to one another that are all just so damn scared of dying – on stage or in life.
We have a President that is telling people to give up their dream and it breaks my heart. I truly believe that as human beings, we are all ready for the next phase of our existence. We all get to make the choice: do we operate from love or fear? When we love people we let them in – into our hearts, our homes or our homeland. We become vulnerable when we let people in, sure. But, I’d rather face the consequences of living a life based in love than to be safely secure in a bubble of fear never having experienced the thrill and the excitement of loving. We all inherently know this is the truth of how we should live, but fear keeps us all, myself included from truly embracing it in all aspects of our lives.
To the Youtube star selling out comedy clubs, I say welcome to our home. To the immigrant from another country, I say welcome to our home. Ultimately, we are all the same and the idea that any of us get to decide who belongs where is total absurdity. It is time for us to shift to the inclusive idea of love and move away from the exclusive idea of fear. And if we all fail, let us fail together. But, at least we know in our final moments that we truly tried and there’s nothing else that could possibly matter more than that. Embracing all things and people not only makes for a better way of existing, it makes for better comedy, too.
Dream on Dreamers…