WAY BEYOND COMEDY
Quite often people come up to me and say, Steve (because that’s my name), what’s one of the main characteristics that separates a comedian from everyone else? I simply respond, that it’s the way a comedian looks at life. A comedian views life and all of its obstacles, absurdities, tragedies, mistakes, incomprehensibility’s, and embarrassing moments from a humorous perspective. When comedians look at life this way, they’re not negating the seriousness of the subject matter, they’re just looking at life from a different perspective – it’s a healthier perspective – it’s the humor perspective.
Let me share with you how I discovered the power of my Humor Being, which was one of the key factors that motivated me to leave stand-up comedy and move on to the speaking forum.
Following a comedy performance I would feel this surge of positive energy flow through my body. This energy surge gave me the confidence that I could achieve and accomplish anything I set my mind to do. Sometimes I would go back to my hotel room and write in my journal or write new material. It seemed that my creative juices flowed from me, into the pen, and onto the paper. Other times I would go out with a group of people, have wonderful conversations, laugh and have fun. The point is, whatever I did I was totally void of all negative thoughts. My problems – whatever they were at the time – somehow seemed manageable. I was living in the moment and enjoying every minute of it.
Initially I thought the reason for these power surges was because I was feeding my ego. You know, standing ovations, signing autographs, and people wanting to be around me. Although all of these things made me feel good, I knew there had to be more to it than that. Then one night after a comedy performance it hit me. It was at a time in my life when I was at an all-time low. I was either in or very close to a state of depression. All of the old fears and limiting beliefs that I thought I had conquered were back, haunting me again. It took everything I had to muster up enough energy and courage to step onto the stage that night. I remember thinking how ironic life is. There I was, ready to make a sold-out crowd of over five hundred people laugh, when what I really wanted to do was tell them how much life sucked. Much to my surprise, I was able to do both.
In spite of my problems – in fact it was because of my problems – I had one of the most spectacular performances of my career. I was on stage for more than two hours and the crowd wanted more. When I finally stepped off the stage the euphoria hit me with more intensity than ever before. I remember saying to myself, “This is way beyond comedy.” I actually felt invincible. I felt a presence in me that radiated confidence and hope. I was in a complete state of love – and it was because I had allowed my Humor Being to take me there.
It was then that I discovered the real reason I got the power surge of positive energy. When I’m up on stage, I am in a totally different state of mind. I’m in a place where my problems and the world’s problems are viewed in a different light.
That night I did more than my usual act. I let my Humor Being loose and allowed my higher self to take control. I talked about my world and how it was falling apart. I even talked about some painful experiences from my past. I literally laughed off my frustrations, pain, negative labels, and inner most fears. I vented my anger in a constructive way and the crowd loved it. It was like therapy, with a two major differences, I had fun and I didn’t have to pay for it.
A few days after my performance, I began to reflect on what had transpired on stage that night. Without my knowledge the owner of the club had recorded my entire performance. When I viewed the tape, I was amazed at what I heard. It felt strange to listen to myself ramble on about my personal history in such a way. I was never afraid to speak my mind, but if I didn’t know any better I would have thought I was possessed or that someone had injected me with some kind of serum that made me reveal parts of myself that were never touched before. I now know it was really my Humor Being exposing my fears for what they were. Through laughter I was able to understand that my negative labels and the fears that belonged to them didn’t have to formulate my reality if I didn’t want them to.
I also came to understand that the reason the people in the audience enjoyed themselves so much was because they were laughing at extensions of themselves. My stories and the humor behind them helped these people view their own personal problems from a healthier perspective. In other words, our Humor Beings were connected. We were feeding off of each other.
That’s what humor does. It makes us realize that we are all the same in God’s eyes. We have the same fears, pains, and heartaches. We just have different stories to tell. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, or how much money you make. It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, male or female, rich or poor, conservative or liberal, or homosexual or heterosexual. We all make mistakes. We all have our successes and failures. We all have good times and bad times. Humor just has a way of ironing out the wrinkles. Humor helps us embrace who we really are and gives us enough peace to live with it.
The next time you’re being entertained by a comedian, listen to the underlying statement that is so often hidden within the laughter. Many comedians are venting their phobias and innermost fears. Some talk about the pain and hassles of divorce and their inability to stay in relationships. Many discuss their addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, and sex. Others find levity in their physical or mental handicaps. Some even describe the abuse they had to endure while growing up. As I said at the beginning of this story, they are not negating the seriousness of the subject matter. They are choosing to view their pain from a healthier perspective.