As you may or may not know, my favourite comedian of all time is Jerry Seinfeld. I love the show, and I really enjoy his stand up. Being my favourite comic, I'm always on the look out for any little tidbits of wisdom or advice he offers up for aspiring comedians. One thing he's said in the past that I really took to heart after I started getting on stage myself is:
"Writer's block doesn't actually exist. It's just an excuse for people that don't want to do their work."
That statement has really hit home with me over the past couple months or so. I'm in the midst of the worst joke "drought" I've experienced since I started stand up. I've had lots of nights where I've taken a new bit on stage and it hasn't worked. But it feels like over the past 6 or 8 weeks, other than a few small tags and tweaks to my pre-existing material, nothing I'm writing is working. I've been desperately trying to get a new premise work on stage, and it just doesn't seem to be taking. And I don't mean a singular new premise. I mean pretty well every new idea I've come up with lately. Throwing everything I can against the wall, and just praying SOMETHING sticks. Unfortunately, it all seems to be ending up sliding down the wall and landing at my feet.
And it isn't the bombing that's getting to me. Telling jokes to silence isn't fun, but I know it's part of the learning curve. It's the idea that night after night, I'm sitting down at my notebook, and filling page after page with garbage. I don't fish, but I can imagine this is how it would feel to sit in your boat casting hour after hour, and going home with nothing but a sunburn and a cooler full of empties.
Going back to the Seinfeld quote, I truly feel like I'm experiencing writer's block. But I love the way he has it worded. He calls joke writing, "work". And it is. I could totally chalk it up to writer's block, walk away for a while and just tell my old jokes. But the only way I'm going to break out of this slump is to keep doing the work. Write, re-write, test. And when I fall, I have to get up again and keep trying. A bad writing session that you get nothing out of is INFINITELY more productive than simply blaming "writer's block" and not trying at all.
In my short career, I've been quite vocal in stating that the thing that irritates me most is when comics waste stage time. They go up there and tell the same old jokes over and over again. Don't get me wrong, it's incredibly important to tell jokes over and over, but you should be tweaking. Tightening. Polishing. Add a tag, remove a line. Workshopping doesn't irritate anyone. But to go up there and read the same script over and over again isn't helping you at all. It's like bench pressing the same amount of weight. You'll never get any stronger.
The point of this blog was to vent about the writing slump I've been in this Summer. I did that. I'll get out of it. Fuck writer's block.
Or I can always do crowd work.