The only way I can work is if everything is a joke

Nelly lyrics from "Hot In Herre"

You know what would be really funny?

If I changed the lyrics to “California” by Phantom Planet and sang it horribly over the PA to over 2000 people for my high school student council campaign, just to see if we would win (we did)

If I had my own DJ night at my university’s bar, just to see if anyone would come (they did)

If I bought and fixed up this bike and sold it for 3 times what I bought it for, just to see if anyone would buy it (they did)

If I made a landing page for a fake startup company just to see if anyone would sign up (they did)

So this weekend I cold called a restaurant about getting feedback for Shift SMS.  And the only way that I could actually do it was to do it as a joke – with my friend Benji watching on Google Hangout.  More on that later.

If you know me in real life, I’m a really big standup comedy fan.  I love that shit.  I think at the core of standup is risk, or more specifically, the risk that you’re going to bomb.  To be rejected because you’re so bad that you’ve actually caused a visceral reaction in another person’s body that they want you to know that you’re a failure by boo-ing the shit out of you.  And that factor is probably the main reason that standup is interesting to watch, and why it’s on my bucket list of something to do before I die.

But you know what I imagine happens 99% of the time?  Nothing.

People not really laughing, and then politely clapping at the end of your set, giving you the show of respect that you’re supposed to give to every single person that has ever stepped on a stage, ever.  They didn’t even hate you enough to boo you off the stage.  They didn’t really feel anything enough to do anything.  And that’s what I discovered also happens in life as well.  The worst case scenario almost NEVER happens.  The semi-okay/subpar scenario happens all the time.  Most of our lives is composed of people politely clapping and not really giving a shit.

So why do I look at everything as a joke?  In my heart of hearts, I’m scared to be taken seriously.  I’m crippled by fear on an hourly basis.  It’s fucking scary shit to really put yourself out there in a vulnerable position.  And that’s where the joke part comes in.  If I can frame it to myself that everything actually is kind of a joke in the end, it removes myself from the blame and the judgement.  If it fails, I just tell everyone it was a joke all along.  People will probably react with polite clapping.  I can handle polite clapping.

So what would you do if you knew everyone was going to politely clap?  Would you take more risks with your work or your art?  Would you be saying or doing what you really thought instead of self-censoring yourself because you thought they would boo your effort?  What would you do if you knew that people were not going to give a shit anyway?

So I cold called a restaurant yesterday.  I was inspired by this amazing video from Gary V (internet marketing superstar) and basically followed the exact same script.

I picked a great restaurant that I know is “hip and with it” aka probably can use a computer and I called them during the day when they were closed.  Someone picked up.  I gave him the 60 second pitch about Shift SMS, he expressed some interest and he gave me the contact of who to talk to in a very polite manner.  Then the phone call ended.  Then I screamed, jumped into my bed for joy, slammed my closet door and shouted “YEET”, and then proceeded to talk to Benji again over Google Hangout, who witnessed the entire thing.

Is this a win?  I don’t know.  But everyone seems to be clapping politely.




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