The first thing performers forget is to enjoy the process.
To stay in the moment and be fully present and actually feel the experience of the show as it’s happening. After all, there’s so many moving parts to manage, so many things that can go wrong, so many expectations vying for our attention, who has time to look around and breathe the air and absorb the joy of what’s happening right now?
The ego has work to do. Step out of the way.
It’s like that article about the guy at the barbeque who’s on the cusp of having fun when he suddenly remembers every single one of his responsibilities. He’s seconds away from coming to the razor’s edge of experiencing genuine joy, when he’s suddenly crushed by the full weight of his tasks, allowing his brain become consumed with racing thoughts.
I once played a concert with my father, when a woman from the audience made a comment that I’ll never forget. She said the music was great, but what she really loved watching were the expressions on our faces while we played it.
That’s what all audiences secretly want. To watch someone genuinely enjoying themselves. It’s an elixir. It spellbinds people. They witness you doing your thing and chasing the joy and losing yourself in the moment and they think to themselves, wow, I wish I was that happy.
Rollo’s book on identity pointed this out decades ago. His research found that joy, rather than happiness, was the goal of life. For joy, he said, is the emotion that accompanies our fulfilling of our nature as human beings.
And so, next time you’re privileged enough to put on a show, remember that job number one is to enjoy yourself. Because deep down, that’s what people are paying to see.
Pryor was right. Set yourself on fire and people will come to watch you burn.
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That Guy with the Nametag
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