It is through the act of consistent creation that we find our voice.
It is through the act of consistent creation that we find our voice. George Carlin said it took approximately 7 years of stage time for a new comic to find his voice. He had to keep getting up, keep getting up, keep getting up in order to find his true voice. He went through his own transformation from buttoned-up, suit wearing, clean-working comic to long-haired, t-shirt-wearing and swearing comic. Writers have to write, write, write in order to discover their voice and their perspective. Singers and songwriters are the same.
When we begin something new and desire greatness, it is natural that we ape those who came before us. We want to do the thing, and we want to do the thing well. What better way for us to begin than to take cues from those who are already good? Comics starting out do impressions or perform others’ acts. Musicians starting out do covers. Writers write in the voice of their favorite authors. We shouldn’t begrudge anyone for doing this. We should encourage them to keep going, keep creating, keep sharing. We need to keep getting stage time. People who start out performing others’ works eventually desire to create their own original work. Other artists inspire them to do what they do. They will want to make a positive, lasting contribution to the field, its participants and fans.
The desire to perform isn’t the difficulty.
The desire to perform isn’t the difficulty. The difficulty is consistently performing. The difficulty is getting up on stage regularly. The difficulty is sitting down or standing up to write each day at a specific time, for a specific duration. The difficulty is getting the band to practice consistently with meaning. The difficulty is in not phoning it in like a band on its last tour date.
Jay Leno mirrored Carlin’s earlier advice about the 7 year mark, only he said you had made it. Leno said, “If you can physically get up on stage after 7 years of doing stand-up, you’ll always make it in stand-up.” Perhaps we can safely assume Leno implied that you had also discovered your comedic voice at the same 7 year mark. Leno’s remarks further implied that you do not self-destruct in your pursuit of making it. Thus, the physicality of actually making it to the stage. But one can extrapolate that he also meant it as a metaphor. There are plenty of reasons for talking oneself out of making it to the stage.
Hart didn’t care in the best possible way.
Kevin Hart discusses these mental and physical reasons that make it difficult to get up on stage. Living in Philadelphia while coming up, he had to make the drive to New York City with a mentor, often without a car. Even when he had a car, it was still difficult. There were plenty of nights where he could have capitulated due to bad weather, car trouble, bad traffic, or mental roadblocks. Still, he and his mentor persisted and insisted and pushed through the physical and metal B.S. to make it to Manhattan in order to either watch other comics or to get the chance to perform. These trips came at great cost to his relationships at home. Few believed Hart was making any progress. Further, money was far from abundant then. But Hart didn’t care in the best possible way. He was focused, driven, relentless. He still is today despite his vast success.
He was afraid of speaking about his stuff.
Kevin is a great example of requiring a lot of stage time in order to find one’s voice. He was afraid of speaking about his stuff. Sure, he could do other things, always able to make people laugh, but he did not talk about his life, his upbringing in Philadelphia, his crazy father while he was coming up. It was too personal. He was unsure people would get it even though much of it is so crazy, as his book title reflects, you can’t make this up. He not only didn’t make it up — he lived it.
When you don’t know what to do next, that’s a great time to be on tour.
Hart exhibited the work ethic of a man driven. With his team, he circled America four times in a row, touring every comedy venue that would have them. He didn’t care how small the space, they would play it. He discusses while being out on the road has its difficulties, it also helps to clear the mind and make it goal-oriented. When you’re out on tour, you always want to be working. A day off on tour sucks for artists. Work every day.