A few months ago, Boyfriend mocked me by closing his eyes, making his best “Yeah, I’m grooving to jazz” face, and rocking back and forth in his chair; he said I looked like I was in church, feeling the power of the Lord. We weren’t listening to jazz nor in God’s house though, we were at a literary event at the Hideout. The host talked about his job and the professional world in general, around the themes of find ways to do what you love for a living, that it’s more important to be fulfilled than to be rich or prestigious, and various other anti-cubicle sentiments. I know I was in agreement with him at the time; I didn’t realize I was Stevie Wonder at the time. Whatever. Boyfriend was probably just upset that I was going to cheat on him a few days later, at a very swanky downtown venue.
Last night at the gym, not only was I Stevie Wonder, I was hormonally-unstable pregnant lady; I laughed one minute, cried the next, praised Jesus/Allah/Michael Jordan, made love to the TV screen with my eyes, held my hand over my palpitating heart, and felt at peace, understood, and saved, all while elliptical trainer’ing [and then stationary biking, I couldn’t leave without seeing the end]. And it was all because of Other Boyfriend [the one I cheated on Boyfriend with].
Ricky Gervais, fresh off hosting the Golden Globes and the ensuing controversy about whether he was too mean, was on CNN’s Piers Morgan show. First of all, he’s British. So that means he could call me a chunky, ignorant bitch and I’d say, “Thank you. More, please.” Second of all, he’s completely right. About everything [I’m not referencing the Globes, I hate award shows so didn’t watch; but whatever he spewed, spot on I’m sure. Here, I’m referring to his CNN interview]. During which I Stevie Wondered the hell out of him.
I read Chris Brogan, Chris Guillebeau, Tim Ferris. They’ve all got great philosophies about being an entrepreneur and doing what you love and life priorities and time management. I nod, highlight, and copy and paste. I watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. I chuckle, forward, and “So true!” But Ricky, man. He’s just the perfect combination of wit, philosophy, honesty, and everyday-ness.
In the CNN interview, he said, “I do this for me, really… My strategy is to make me laugh. If there’s anyone in the world like me, that’s a bonus. I’m very Darwinist about this. You do your own thing, and then you see if you survive. And I wouldn’t have it any other way, because if you start second-guessing and you’re trying to find people that are like you, or change it to make certain people like you, you’re finished.”
This reminds me of a George Bernard Shaw quote: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
I realized that my professional life has become very Gervais/Darwin/Shaw-ist, and it’s the best! I find something that I want to do, like badly dance a hip-hop routine on stage, play board games in my living room, help inner-city kids, and hang out in coffeehouses, and turn that something into rent money [though I definitely need to take an Appropriate Pricing class; the amount of time I spend on these projects is in no way appropriately compensated]. I feel so lucky that my nutty ideas are not only fun, amazing experiences for myself, and not only have they allowed me to remain happily self-employed going on six years now, but that they also bring personal growth, laughter, and new relationships to a large group of others.
Participants in Fear Experiment, my latest venture, recently shared the following sentiments:
- “8:30-10:30 on Thurs [Fear Experiment time] = one of my favorite parts of the week.”
- “It’s awesome to have an instant new circle of friends in the city!”
- “So damn excited and having a blast.”
- “A challenging, yet enticing experience that is making me face my fears head on.”
To think that I had some part in bringing such feelings to others is utterly gratifying.
Ricky reflected, “If you start trying to be cool and sexy, you’ve lost it…there was a Roman emperor, apparently, who used to walk the streets…and he hired someone to whisper in his ear, ‘You’re just a man, you’re just a man.'” Of course it’d be great to be cool and sexy. But I don’t want to force it. I’m about comfort, no make-up, crystal-light, cheeseburger and fries, low-key, low-maintenance; I dress up by wearing flip-flops with sequins or making my hair part on the side rather than the middle. I just want to do the things I enjoy doing, and hope cool and sexy comes with them. I constantly remind myself, “I’m just a man.” Well, you know what I mean.
“[The Ricky Gervais Show is] another passion project. Everything I’ve ever done has been a labor of love. The Flanimals box that is now being made into a movie, I used to make my nephew laugh, you know? ‘The Office,’ I used to work in an office and people watch. ‘Extras,’ I was just thrown into this new life, and I made notes and poked fun at it. And this was me in a room with Karl Pilkington and Stephen Merchant, just chatting. As a comedian, what you try and do is be as funny on stage or on telly or in a film as you are in a pub with people you know and trust and drink with.”
He takes his life experiences and interests, and turns them into projects. Bill-paying, laughter-inducing, universally-loved projects. That’s wonderful.
“I enjoy the hard work. That’s what I enjoy. I enjoy this. I wake up and it’s a privilege that I can have an idea. Nothing gives me an adrenaline rush like an idea. What a privilege that I can have an idea and start working on that…And Bob Dylan said, ‘A man can consider himself a success if he wakes up in the morning, goes to bed at night, and in between, did exactly what he wanted.'”
Exactly. I work hard. Really hard. I spent last Friday night, all day Saturday, and all day Sunday working. But it wasn’t work. I loved it. I had to make myself take breaks to eat. I bypassed a party because I wanted to Photoshop and Dreamweaver. Absolutely it’s a privilege that people want to join me in my adventures; without them, the adventures wouldn’t be anything. And absolutely it’s a privilege and an adrenaline rush that I can have an idea, like gather together random strangers who suck at improv for two months of improv class and then perform a show, and a week later, have twenty people signed-up and paid for the experience. And two weeks later, have the Park West booked for the show.
Ricky also made comments on religion and being an atheist , he and his girlfriend of twenty-five years choosing not to marry or have kids, spirituality, and the secrets to a successful romantic relationship, that I won’t go into now, but that I totally Stevie Wondered. I actually printed out the transcript from the show. What the heck am I going to do with twelve pages of a TV show transcript?!? It just seemed the right thing to do.
I haven’t cried in public since the Starbucks incident. It was weird then, it was weird last night. But Ricky SPOKE to me on so many levels. So there I was, sweating on a stationary bike, with tearing eyes and a snotty nose. It felt so good, like someone engulfing me in a huge bear-hug, to hear someone say exactly what I think. With a British accent no less.
This has nothing to do with any of the above. But it made me laugh. And laughter is a great way to start a Friday. And I’ve got to put this transcript to use somehow.
MORGAN: Last year, “TIME” magazine listed you under the “100 Most Influential People” as an artist.
GERVAIS: I couldn’t keep a straight face.
MORGAN: When you see lists like that, you must laugh, don’t you?
GERVAIS: Oh, I love it. I love it. I complained. I said, “Why is Nelson Mandela above me?” I said, “He did nothing for 25 years.”