No techniques, just heart and presence for everyone.

In LA, I think being real and genuine on stage becomes especially important because it’s so rare to see real and genuine people in general.

All of us comics and wanna-be artists gathered here to make a name for ourselves from all over the country and the world. It took me some time to realize that LA really can be “fake” and “phony” in many ways. Even if somebody is nice to you during interactions, doesn’t mean they care about you. There’s a lot of importance LA people put on “clout”, the number of followers, how popular and well-connected you are, because everybody’s desperate to get ahead and to enlist the help of other famous people, so that they can become famous themselves. It seems like a never-ending marathon of sucking up and impressing the right people, although I guess it’s pretty similar in any other industry anywhere.

So LA’s not all artistic innovation and a haven for sensitive artists to gather and ideate together. It feels more like a cut-throat dog-eat-dog game, and the survival of the fittest. People you think are your “friends” sometimes leave you out to dry or manipulate you so that they can take advantage of your good nature.

That’s why I think a real, true soul is rare but enjoyable to watch. On stage, nothing can really be faked. I mean, yes, you can do material up there that’s been premeditated and full of exaggeration and lies, but I’ve begun to realize that the audience generally has a very discerning eye for truth, authenticity and real-ness. They instinctively feel when somebody is just scripted or being manipulative, like they want something, a reaction. And they also can feel when somebody is completely unscripted, and being genuine, attuned to what everybody’s feeling or needing. Emotion especially is hard to fake on stage because audiences usually have an antennae for picking up on emotions through your face, your body, your voice. Because of this, when I’ve leaned into real genuine feelings on stage, I was able to connect with audiences in a much more profound way and as a result, just get huge laughs in a way jokes cannot.

Because if you care about everyone in the room, and what happened in the room and in the moment, you can make everybody else care about what you are saying, what you are talking about, and what’s going on in the present moment in that room. It seems so esoteric when I try to explain it in words, but I think the ability to bring people into the moment is a gift, whether you are a comedian or a musician or a general public speaker or whomever you are. I think most of the time, we are not in the moment, even as comics. We are thinking ‘oh my god, I hope I do well’ or ‘oh my god, I hope they didn’t just notice the mistake i made in that last joke’ or ‘oh man, when is this show going to be over so I can jump to the next show?’ … But the rare comic on stage who can actually make us all care about what’s going on and value the present moment … who’s totally in the moment and can help us see the beauty and value of the present moment … I think that’s just unique energy and ability altogether even beyond getting laughter.

Hopefully in the future, we can learn to assess our own performance, not just based on the laughs you’ve gotten or how many jokes you told, but on how courageously vulnerable you were and the degree to which you leaned into your own authentic feelings and thoughts during that moment, and how honestly you were able to bring out those feelings and thoughts, and bring the room together.

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