The Joy of Failure

Many thanks to today’s Guest Blogger – comic Danny Rouhier!

Danny Rouhier is the host of Overtime weeknights from 7-11 on 106.7 The Fan in Washington, DC. His highly acclaimed show has landed him spots on Comcast Sportsnet, features in the Washington Post, and the regular slot hosting the station’s Redskins post game show with Lavar Arrington. As a comic, Danny has traveled all over North America performing at clubs, colleges, and festivals. Combined with his incredible gift of impersonations and character imitation, Danny uses a lightening quick wit with a charming self-deprecating style. His unique voice resonated with Washington Redskins fans and the weekly videos he produced about the struggles of the team have garnered over 200,000 views to date.

Danny has performed with industry giants like Jim Gaffigan, Kevin Nealon, Bill Burr, Dave Attell, Jim Norton, Todd Barry, Daniel Tosh, Bob Saget, Reggie Watts, Adam Ferrara, and more. In addition to many of the best clubs in the US and Canada, he has performed at numerous festivals including the Bumbershoot, DC, Boston, and Detroit Comedy Festivals. Danny has also been featured on numerous TV programs including: ‘The A-List’ on Animal Planet, ‘TV’s 25 Biggest Blunders’, and ‘The History of Sex on TV’. He was also the studio comic for the Tyra Banks Show which means he performed in front of over 300 judgmental women per day.

Check out his website  and follow him on twitter – @funnydanny.

 The Joy of Failure

I’m typing this is I watch one of Chris Rock’s HBO specials. He has the crowd eating out of his hand. Through his hour special, he takes the audience on a winding road. He is like a conductor of a symphony calling on applause and laughter almost at will. He has the audience applauding at their own faults and even at assertions like the federal government hates rap music so much, they’ve prevented law enforcement from finding Tupac Shakur’s killer. They love everything he does. At this point, he could take out the phone book and read it with comments and get a standing ovation. That’s the end game. That’s the pinnacle. That’s the perfection point.

Standup comedy is hard. The great ones make it look easy but it was hard for them too. For every sold out theater show where a famous comic kills for a crowd who paid to see him, there’s a million shows at bars where they don’t turn off the tv, shows in cafeterias, or shows in conference rooms. The process can be frustrating, humbling, and terrifying. To really be a standup comic, you have to face a litany of fears. There’s no net. It’s YOUR material. It’s YOU up there. The audience can see you and you can feel them. If it doesn’t go well, you’ll know right away. In addition to the fear of failing in front of a group, a comic must confront his own faults and quirks and learn to share them with the crowd. You’re going to fail and you’re going to fail a lot. The most important thing you can do as you embark on this incredible experience is embrace that simple fact: You are going to fail.

I suppose it’s like anything else in life in that you need experience to get better. We all fail at first to a degree. It’s of course what you choose to do with that failure that makes you who you are. Failing in standup comedy is different. It’s live. That’s what makes it both exhilarating and scary to those from the outside. Comics know the rush they get from a joke gone well and seek that feeling every time they write a joke. But to have it go bad? That feels like dying. That’s why comics call it just that when they have a bad set. To fail onstage, in front of a crowd, is one of the top fears that human beings have. On every survey that comes out, public speaking ranks right up there with fear of heights, spiders, and things that can actually kill you.

So, where does that leave us? We know comedy is hard and we know people are afraid to fail in front of others. It also means that you are to be congratulated. It means you are willing to put yourself out there. It means that you are willing to go on an incredible ride of self-discovery, face your fears, fail, learn, grow, be humbled, seek to be more than you are, hope, not be satisfied, desire, believe, and create. Embrace the process. Understand that this will be an incredible challenge. Believe in yourself and your ability to meet challenges. It’s not a race so don’t worry about how fast you progress or don’t. Just know that this will be what you make of it.

Congratulations. I mean that more than you can know.