I called it comedywife: the slightly anonymous musings of a Montreal scenester. The profile photo was a picture of this really cheap beer sold in Alberta called TNT and a pair of cowboy boots sitting on the cracked linoleum floor of the bull farmer’s kitchen where we visited my dad that year.
It was this time of year six years ago, the Just For Laughs festival, my first. Previous to that year I had only walked through the open-air part of the festival, back when it was on St. Denis. I always saw the festival on television, the televised comedy shows provided brief glimpses of the fun everyone was having out on St.Denis. Actually walking around in it for the first time felt really special to me. Getting my own guest pass and attending all the industry parties for the first time a few years later nearly turned my head around.
In 2007, after that first glittery experience of the Just For Laughs festival I was exhausted, hoarse, star struck, and I had at some point broken my toe. It was perfect. My first blog post was written in one long burst of hung-over emotion and run-on sentences, and arranged in Facebook status updates. (remember this was 2007, the Facebook was new and cool to most of the world back then.)
So after a frenzied, I don’t know how long because time stood still, couple of hours I posted my first ever blog post. It was 1600 words long and spanned four days of Just For Laughs madness. Days I will never forget: I met and slow danced with George Stroumboulopoulos, I shared an elevator with William Shatner, I saw an unforgettable Louis CK stand up show, I childishly hid under a table from Mike’s ex-girlfriend, it was pretty much a perfect week. The post was long, and somewhat anonymous – at the time anonymity on the Internet was still theoretically possible. – I changed Mike’s name to Hank and I only used one actual person’s name because he was famous and unlikely to ever notice my blog, except that he did!
What I meant to express was that I had been snubbed by some comedian as we were leaving the Louis CK show. What I wrote was :
“It was after the dirty, funny show that the comic snubbed me. Hank introduced me and assumed because we both came from Calgary we would have something in common. In his defense I was a wasted chatterbox but a snub is a snub.”
See how that is unclear? This part is important, because Louis CK commented on the post. I don’t think I need to mention this again but it was 2007, the Internet was different. Somehow my first ever post on a blog on blogger.com pinged a google alert and I got a talking-to:
i am not from calgary. when your friend introduced you with that being the whole point, I didn’t understand why. “She’s from calgary!” Ok. I’ve never even been to Calgary.
Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t that terrifying? It was both. I never blogged again.
Ok that’s not true, I immediately posted an explanation of the whole mix-up and then one more random summer post a few weeks later. Then I stopped blogging for six years. It wasn’t just that I had gotten a talking-to from an overwhelmingly famous comedian (Louis CK did not enjoy the world dominance that he does today in 2007, but still) it was that my writing was so unclear that it had led to me getting a talking-to from an overwhelmingly famous comedian. My confidence was basically shattered.
Then one moves on. And here we are, six years later, brand new blog, similar name, and a little help from my friends. (A lot of help from my friends.)
I don’t want anyone – especially not Louis CK, if the gods were to smile on me twice in one blog – to think that I don’t appreciate my shattered confidence. I strongly believe that there is nothing more useful to a young and arrogant artist than to be taken down a peg. In fact, I often find myself standing next to Mike when people come up to him and tell him that he once crushed their confidence, or indeed their dreams. In every single case this ended up helping the comedian in the long run and in every single case they had still not forgiven Mike for it.
Maybe they didn’t see the benefit of a good confidence smash, but I do. I don’t think I would be here, working from home on a Friday afternoon, blogging, if I hadn’t been shaken so soon.
Compliments are all well and good, but they have no substance. You can’t take a compliment and do something with it, you store it away in the bank and try not to let it go to your head. But criticism, that will make you work harder, get better, find another way. Criticism is like the gritty meat of feedback, it gives you something to chew on for a while, something to worry down to the bone. It might force you to dismantle yourself and come back stronger. It gives you something to improve.
Criticism makes us better.
So thank you Louis CK, and thanks in advance, all you trolls and commenters who will hopefully smash my confidence as I embark on my second maiden voyage into the wide wide web.