Why do comedy?

Not sure how to edit this post to make it easier to read, so here’s a link to a slightly better formatted version: http://ymlp.com/zq8P8g.
Some of you might remember that I’ve been trying to come up with comedy goals for myself. I think the last one was to post a video (or something) every week. If you paid attention, you noticed that I started kind of strong, with three new videos in May, and then disappeared into the ether again.
I’ve always tried to have as my main goal, to just become the best comedian I can be. But lately I’ve been thinking more about things like: building an online audience, posting regular updates, booking more shows, and making more money. None of these are bad ideas, except when they interfere with that first goal. Anyway . . .
Every now and then I read a book that changes how I think.
This week I started reading “Why Greatness Cannot Be Planned: The Myth of the Objective,” by Kenneth Stanley and Joel Lehman. These two argue that the path to achieving huge ambitions cannot be planned out, with measurable goals along the way. This is because the progress towards big things almost always requires (what they call) a “search for novelty.”
This was a huge “Aha! Moment” for me, and I realized I’ve been doing this as a comedian for a while. People have told me repeatedly that I NEED to be doing this thing or that thing as a comedian. I NEED to be on Facebook. I NEED to be playing more clubs. I NEED to live in L.A. or NYC. I NEED to do more jokes and less crowd work. I NEED to grow an online following, but I also NEED to keep my best material off of Youtube. And instead of doing what I NEED to do, I’ve usually just tried to improve as a comedian, to have fun and get better, and to keep it interesting–“the search for novelty.”
But these goals that I’ve been making recently for myself, they’ve been in the hopes of getting a bigger, more “passionate” online “following.” And now I’m officially abandoning that.
Instead, I will hope to update my site when I’m ready to update it. And I hope to post a video when I have one I really want to share.
And instead of all those objectives and measurements and goals, this is a story that illustrates what I want to focus on . . .
A few years ago, my wife Geri and I took a cruise to Alaska. Each night we had dinner in the main cafeteria. But after a few days, we decided to have dinner in the slightly fancy dining room, where we would be randomly seated with other cruise people. One night we were sitting with a group of 7 or 8 people, and I remember there was a father and daughter at the table, and I thought they seemed like they had a cloud hanging over them. As we all told our stories about why we chose this cruise, the father explained that their wife/mother had passed away the year before. The Alaskan cruise had been her dream, so they were here to honor and remember her. After a little while, the conversation moved on to other things. I remember at some point that I was being really witty and making everyone laugh. Geri says that I’m always proud of myself in those moments, but that night it was more special. I remember that by the end of dinner, the father and daughter were smiling and laughing. Their cloud had lifted. That image has stuck with me for years.
From now on, that is all I want to do as a comedian. That thing, where people laugh a hearty laugh, and then they smile a genuine smile, and then their clouds lift.
So despite everything I’ve read in all the other books about “improving your online metrics,” from now on there will be no schedule for videos, postings, or newsletters.
If you’ve read this far, thanks. It really means something to me, or maybe it doesn’t, since I have no way of knowing whether you did. But it WOULD mean something to me. Thanks.

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