As I sit here in my pajamas -- utterly dejected by the schedule, the rejection and the up-and-down emotions that have come with this first week of the Fringe -- there are several people back home all thinking roughly the same thing about me even being here: "I'm impressed by that guy taking a risk like that."
I hate this. I don't hate people's well wishes and I'm glad they've found a reason to be impressed/proud of me. Lord knows it's taken years for them to bestow it upon me. But, I do hate the amount of pressure thoughts like these put on other people. I also dislike the idea that I've done something courageous by just taking the risk. In my eyes if there's no reward that comes with the risk then I haven't done anything courageous. I've done something stupid and costly to my personal finances, my personal emotions and my personal relationships. If nothing comes out of doing the Fringe besides a couple of good stories then the fact that I went will be chalked up to the idiocy of youth at best and the misfortunes of an underachiever at worst.
Risks, though they seem brave to an outsider, are devastating to those who take them and fail. I take more risks than a lot of people I know and yet somehow it all doesn't work out for me. I don't know where it all went wrong. When I was young people would say, "Oh, he has so much potential!" This was my death knell. Even in my naive state of ignorant bliss and never-ending cans of root beer I knew that I never wanted to be that guy who grew up with potential and lost it somewhere along the way. But, losing it I appear to be doing.
The most blatant example of my losing battle with misfortune appears to be our show at the Fringe. Though we received a glowing review from the Fringe's toughest comedy critic, no one in our audiences seems to want to agree. Day after day we go down into our crap venue -- a mirth extinguisher if there ever was one as it's a goth/rock bar with elements of torture on the walls -- and we do our show for small crowds that really don't want to be there even before the show begins. In the off chance we do get someone down there who wants to be there and who doesn't get turned off by the skeletons, faux melted candles, and the guy at the bar who looks like Newman from Seinfeld they stifle their laughter. They stifle their own laughter! We see them holding it back, covering their mouths, and desperately attempting to not let anyone know that they are experiencing any sort of levity or joy. At most we get a faint chuckle and a guy who leaves the show red-faced and exhausted because he held in the laughs. This is more hurtful and scarring than not laughing. At least with not laughing we can fool ourselves into thinking that people just don't get us. But, to stifle your laughter? That smacks of disrespect. And that is the most disheartening thing of all.
But, there are two weeks left. Shit... there's two weeks left. I need a sandwich.
Follow Michael Blomquist on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@mikeification