I wonder if everyone feels the same hubris I do
I remember clearly standing near the side of the stage at a comedy show, while another comedian was on stage, and he was killing it. I had been on before him, and I viscerally felt the difference in the mildly amused response I had got compared to the laughs and applause breaks this guy was getting. It stung, in a way, every laugh that he got that I didn’t.
Deep down, I knew I was a good comedian, a better comedian. Better than I had performed, better than this guy. Better than anybody as far as I’m concerned.
If that’s true, then how do I reconcile the undeniable evidence before my eyes that this guy is making an audience laugh more than me?
The thing about cognitive dissonance, when you have facts that contradict your beliefs, especially a belief about what kind of person you are, is that you don’t reconcile them by choosing a more measurable, rational, or justifiable position. You take the outlook that’s more comforting, the one that defends your ego from harsh truths, no matter how much you have to twist your perception to pull that off.
Around the time that this happened where I was watching this other comedian be obviously better than me, I had been working on a book about comedy. I had this idea about how humor works in the human brain, and, it may surprise you to know, I like to over intellectualize things and theorize and inform people against their will. So I had a desire to complete this great work of scientific insight that would stun the world with how it unveiled the reality behind one of the great mysteries of human behavior.
Well… I don’t know if I was quite that delusional about what kind of reception the book would get. I think part of the problem with how I pursue ambitions is that I don’t quite know why exactly I’m doing them or how to make it work. I definitely wrote the book hoping it would become something that people might recognize and praise me for, but I’m also cynical enough to know that it was more likely the book would be ignored.
How much did my cynicism self-create a prophecy? I don’t know. All I know is that I was driven to write a book that I wanted to be something that mattered in the universe without enough of…