Sunday, December 27, 2015

Against the Pursuit of Guru

I could summarize my adult life as the pursuit of guru status on a variety of topics (blogging, economics, education, improv, business, fatherhood, etc). Instead I feel like that I've become a jack of all trades, GURU of none. Maybe that's not so bad. Here's a clip from a podcast interview with well known improv guru, Armando Diaz on the topic of guru-ness (~54:30):
I just don't like the idea of gurus anyway. I think every amazing person, teacher, or artist is totally fallible and to me when you hear about those things some people get let down. And then suddenly now I don't believe anything that person says.
Reminded me of so many celebrity controversies. They often fail in very public ways, but that doesn't inherently discredit any positives they stood for.
We're all super weak people and I think if you specialize in something, there's something terribly wrong with you. This is the one thing you embrace so much to the exclusion of developing as a full human being. So when I hear that someone is a guru I know that this is going to be a real damaged person and that's okay with me.
It's kind of like drug addicts. Whether as a cause or result, even when sober there is a lot of catch up to do in life. Anything that consumes your life is a loss in what you don't do. There is no such thing as a free lunch. And Armando said, that's okay. Guru isn't bad, it just has a cost.

Starting this week, the Alchemy Comedy Theater will be adding a 5th and 6th weekly show on Thursday nights. That and our total performer list reaching about 70 in the Spring (I feel my life has already stretched Dunbar's Number) will require the theater to run even more without my personal direction in all matters. Which is good.

As I discussed in a podcast I did recently, I grew up in an ensemble. I teach ensemble. I want my business (and maybe someday my classroom) to use those same principles.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Fame as a Mental Illness

My long involvement with the improv comedy world has given me a glimpse into the culture of those who desire to be famous. Outside of the production of local shows, it's not something that has really appealed to me. Here's a convincing pop science explanation from the Cracked Podcast:

Monday, June 22, 2015

Why There's Less Conservatives in Comedy (and More in Radio)

First, why talk radio appeals to conservatives:
liberals and conservatives seemed to have different aesthetic tastes. Conservatives seemed to prefer stories with clear-cut endings. Liberals, on the other hand, had more tolerance for a story like public radio’s Serial, which ends with some uncertainty and ambiguity. 
As Young noticed, this is a kind of ambiguity that liberals tend to find more satisfying and culturally familiar than conservatives do. In fact, a study out of Ohio State University found that a surprising number of conservatives who were shown Colbert clips were oblivious to the fact that he was joking. In contrast, conservative talk radio humor tends to rely less on irony than straightforward indignation and hyperbole.
Conservatives often like to shoot straight and explain how things are. Which helps explain why liberals are drawn to comedy and satire:
the genre has always been aimed at taking down the powerful, from the Revolutionary War through Vietnam and 9/11. “Conservatism supports institutions and satire aims to knock these institutions down a peg,”
Conservatives want to "conserve", often skeptical of change. This makes them more loyal to traditional institutions. These, by there nature of being the "establishment", are open to attacks to keep their power in check. The whole article is insightful and I highly recommend it.