Sure, it's easy to ditch a crappy open mic or poorly-attended show, after all, who cares if you do well or not? But even if it goes horribly, there's something that can be learned from that. Merlin Mann, dubbed by many as a "productivity guru", recently wrote about his experience sucking as a photographer:
I think finding your own comfort with the process (whatever that process ends up being) might just be the whole game here — being willing to put in your time, learn the craft, and never lose the courageousness to be caught in the middle of making something you care about, even when it might be shit and you might look like an idiot fumbling to make it. What’s the worst thing that could happen?Although he's talking about taking a good picture, the thought can be easily applied to comedy. Like it or not, anything worth have takes work and even when you bomb, you can learn something.
Well, you could quit, because it’s too hard to make stuff you aren’t already great at. You could convert all that pointless effort and practice back into MySpace updates and the production of funny cat pictures. No, it’s not technically the worst thing that could happen, but it’s a damned common pathway for fear to molder back into an emotional impulse to put on jammies and watch Judge Judy.
I’m not doing anything special here, and I don’t claim to have a magic formula for creativity, let alone for getting a half-decent photo of a rubber shoe. All I know is that sticking with things that don’t arrive with instant mastery does have its own reward, even if you’re the only one who ever collects it. Because the more you push through the barriers for these little avocations, the easier it becomes to remember you always have everything you need to just keep banging until you’re satisfied with any work that’s thrown at you.
Consider Louis CK's recent experiences starting a month-long tour of the UK. He talks about bombing his first show in Dublin (yeah, we can't believe Louis CK bombs anymore) and what he got out of it:
Moreover, I don't want any pity when I bomb. To me, bombing is a pure positive. Because it's a rare experience and it's a great education. Every great show, when you kill, is pretty much like any other great show. But every time you bomb, it is completely unique. I've never bombed the same way twice. And they stay with you, the bad sets, like Lyme disease or herpes. So I thank the people of Dublin for that.
And then the next night after a great set:
I'm glad for both sets. Actually, I learned something the first crowd. They were no geniuses, but the expereince still made me look at the material I've been doing on stage and it forced me to ask myself what of any of it is bullshit. Am I doing anything that I don't really believe in, just to get laughs?[Hat tip to Lifehacker]