Appreciating Creative Mediums Through Failure: 11 Ways to Express and Develop All of Your Bad Comedic Ideas

by Dead Ends Entertainmenton July 25, 2018

by Sam Kuban

Failure breeds appreciation, whether it’s for the art form itself or for the person creating it. From that appreciation comes an understanding and a well-formed opinion, which is exactly what you need in order to win an argument against someone who loves shows like Young Sheldon or songs like “Picture” by Kid Rock. But here’s the issue: People are afraid to fail, even though they shouldn’t be. Even worse, people are afraid to try.


Almost every creative person will, at some point on the journey to failure, make an off-handed comment regarding the rest of the community’s disrespect for “the scene.”  I know I’ve done it, and you’ve probably done it too, asshole. However, to truly support the scene, and to offer a respectable opinion on those who are ass-deep in it, they must also get involved with the creation. Why? Because creation yields understanding. So be sure to make an effort to support the other scenes in your community before you hit them in the gut with a subtweet for their lack of support for yours. You’re helping yourself in the long run. I promise.


Appreciation for these creatives in your community grows substantially when you attempt to do what they do. And let me tell you, your respect for them skyrockets when you totally fucking bomb. I know this because I’ve failed more times than I can count, and I’ve learned something pretty interesting each time. So since the stack of rejection letters on my desk is almost touching the ceiling, and since I’m not worried about them anymore, I’d like to showcase how I’ve attempted to “support the scenes” by voraciously trying to succeed in these various mediums.


I should note that almost all of my attempts at success through these mediums have been comedy-focused. However, In many instances, my approach at the creation was more comedic than the finished product. So for the sake of your career and community appreciation, here are a few mediums all comedians and creatives should dig into, probably fail at, and ultimately learn from and laugh about

 

    1.) Writing Children’s Books

      The best children’s book authors write for multiple audiences. Their work appeals not only to the sons-of-bitches who “should have been in bed an hour ago,” but to the poor, exhausted parents who read them aloud in hopes that they’ll maybe get “some goddamn peace and quiet for once.” Most people can’t accomplish this feat, because let’s face it, it’s extremely difficult to make a mom and a six-year-old laugh at the same thing for different reasons. That’s why diction is extremely important. Shel Silverstein was a master at it, and he was one of the only authors who, with the same sentence, could teach a child a lesson about not stealing candy and a grown up about sexual consent. It’s a balancing act, and most people end up falling.



      Why You Might Fail:

      -You can’t find a way to refrain from using the word “fuck.”

      -You are too embarrassed to attempt the necessary accompanying illustrations.


      Things You Learn to Appreciate:

      - Multiple demographic appeal

      -The bravery and confidence of artists who specialize in “shitty” drawings

       

      2.) Short Films / Comedy Sketches

      One of the most important parts about comedy and creativity in general is learning how to work within your budget. That definitely comes into play when attempting to make short films and comedy sketches. On paper, you can make a gigantic monster smash one-hundred buildings and three-hundred expensive vehicles every ten seconds. But if you’re wanting people to actually see it happen on the screen, you sort of have to be Michael Bay, because if you aren’t, there’s no way you’re getting that kind of budget. So learning how to create heavy and dramatic scenes without the help of actual napalm and expensive special effects is something that you’ll have to learn how to do if you want to be taken seriously...or you could just ask your psycho uncle for napalm. He’ll probably let you have some.


      Why You Might Fail:

      -You can’t handle waiting six hours for a thirty minute video to render

      -You seriously just need to have monsters smashing buildings and vehicles every ten seconds


      Things You Learn to Appreciate:

      - Writing for a budget

      - The patience involved the video editing process


      3.) Trying Stand-Up Comedy

      With stand-up, your jokes don’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) be appealing to everyone. A lot of the comedians who shy away from their potentially offensive material say that they do so for the sake of the audience. But in reality, they typically do it to save their own ass. But man, sometimes your ass needs to feel hurt, and sometimes they don’t have the right to be offended. For example, people don’t walk into Target and say, “Hey, not every single pair of pants fits me correctly. Fuck you, Target.” They try some on, say that they don’t fit, and they move on. Some jokes, like pants, won't fit.


      Why You Might Fail:

      -You can’t deal with stage fright

      -You’re a people pleaser


      Things You Learn to Appreciate:

      - Comedic timing and punchline delivery

      - The commitment others have to the medium even when half the audience is bored and/or offended

       

      4.) Starting a Podcast

      Everyone despises the sound of their own voice upon hearing it. However, digging into podcasting can help you come to terms with your nasally tone and your horrendous laugh, especially if you’re the one editing it. You might not (and probably shouldn’t) love it. But after a while, hearing yourself talk won’t make you puke or contemplate taking a vow of silence any longer. You also might get a good sense of how frequently you interrupt people, and how you should probably try to stop doing that, because it’s really fucking annoying. You‘ll most likely feel the need to move on to the next desired medium upon discovering that Soundcloud and iTunes are the deserts of the internet.


      Why You Might Fail:

      -You expect others to click on a link to Soundcloud

      -You hate the episodic approach to comedy

      -You can’t fit interviews into your 2-job schedule


      Things You Learn to Appreciate:

      -Taking turns at attempting comedy

      -The real sound of your voice

       

      5.) Marketing / Social Media

      While talent is important, promoting your work is even more crucial. I know what you’re thinking. “Fuck you, Dude.” Yeah, okay, whatever. I realize it’s “not about the money,” but if you’re truly passionate about what you’re doing, then it eventually will be about that. That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your style. It just means that you have to devote more time to creative and effective marketing campaigns for the niche you need to target in order to be able to afford rent.  It doesn’t have to be dull, and you don’t have to jump down everyone’s throat like a desperate car salesman. But you still need to be able to get the point across to the potential consumer that the punch line isn’t the end of their experience. You have to give them a reason to click. It’s difficult, but doable. Fuck it, tell them you’ll send them a nude if you have to. Don’t you want to keep doing what you’re doing?


      Why You Might Fail:

      -You're not passionate enough about your creation

      -You’ll get fired from your job if they see the kind of things you’d need to post


      Things you learn to appreciate:

      -Shareable content

      -Comedy as a selling tool




      6.) Photography

      Photography, much like videography, pornography, and other visual forms of creativity, really forces the creator to understand space. This is a great mindset to be able to create in, and it can really help writers understand how to develop comedy that isn’t strictly dialogue-based. Once you understand how the placement of different elements in-frame dictates how other elements react to it, it helps eliminate the over-writing and lack of organic scene building that you got penalized for in your high school creative writing courses.


      Why You Might Fail:

      -You don’t give a shit about framing details, and you really don’t want to start.

      -You just want to take some fuckin’ selfies, bro.


      What You Might Learn to Appreciate:

      -Visual comedy and prop / element placement

      -Tightened written material for the screen



      7.) Live Music

      Performance art is a multi-taskers game. Knowing how to create two pieces of art that blend seamlessly is a fantastic learning experience. And even though you probably think you’re “too old to start now” and would rather drink yourself into a coma, there’s a pretty big reason why you should take the leap and do it anyway. It helps you understand how the tone of music owns the atmosphere, and it provides comedians with an easily recognizable creative template to totally destroy. For example, the Flight of the Conchords did this with a rap song about hurt feelings, and Wheeler Walker Jr., while a little more aggressive, did this successfully with a country-bluegrass song about sucking massive amounts of dick. Once you understand how the musical style works, as they did, you can create lyrics that either reflect it or absolutely don’t.  But unfortunately, you have to be able to learn how to play at least a few chords on guitar before even your best friends will be willing to watch you try it out on an open mic night...so that kind of blows.


      Why You Might Fail:

      -You don’t want to spend the time it takes to become a musician

      -You can’t sing


      What You Might Learn to Appreciate:

      -How music controls a scene

      -How music controls a stage

      -How music controls the whole fucking world



      8.) Acting

      Typically, when comedians and creatives write lines for actors, there’s a specific tone and gesture we see them using with delivery. But when you’re the one delivering someone else’s comedic material, the tables are turned. Now it’s your job to make it as funny as possible, and it’s your job to take direction. This change in perspective helps bring about a more cooperative approach at scriptwriting. You learn that you can still have a tight script without an arrogant “this is how it has to be or else I’m fucking done with this shit” attitude. However, the amount of acting gigs available is still largely dependent on your location, which is unfortunate. So while you can always try to scrap a few friends together to film the sketch you wrote about Bigfoot, it’s harder to land an acting gig with a professional director who isn’t afraid to tell you that the last take was “a fucking train wreck.” I know that sounds like something you probably don’t want. But it’s probably something you need, which is much more important.


      Why You Might Fail:

      -You can’t stand doing thirty takes of the same line

      -You have a horrible memory


      What You Might Learn to Appreciate:

      -The director’s approach

      -The craft of acting as a comedic additive, not just a vehicle


      9.) Animation

      If you choose to start experimenting with your comedy in animation, try diving headfirst into the goddamn exhausting world of stop-motion. Aside from getting enjoyment from creating fucked-up characters out of clay and homemade armatures, you learn to appreciate the tedium of the artform and the humanity in the inanimate. You also realize the fundamental reason why people enjoy watching animations in the first place.  Everyone wants to see something inhuman, with human qualities, endure something unbelievable but relatable. However, the time it takes to create a scene is extremely intimidating and typically a deal breaker for comedians and creatives, unless you’re part of a team of masochists who love subjecting themselves to the torture of spending 12 hours making a half-man half-dog character do a fucking backflip or whatever.


      Why You Might Fail:

      -You’d rather just see a real human perform

      -You have a limited amount of patience


      What You Might Learn to Appreciate:

      -Character gestures in relation to the script

      -The time it takes to create even a short animation


      10.) Blogging

      Blogging is a great platform for long-game comedy. Since there are absolutely no rules on length, it’s totally up to you to decide when to toss in the humorous wordplay that will keep viewers reading your post about your one night stand instead of finishing up the report that’s due on their boss’s desk in an hour. Comedy blogs don’t necessarily have to have punch lines, but there should probably be a clear attempt at constant humor. Writing long-game comedy really helps develop your interest in word choice. Also, the fact that your posts are time stamped forces you to continually create them so that people still think you’re relevant. An unfortunate truth is that it’s much easier for a consumer to click away from a website than to get up and walk out of a comedy club in front of everyone, which is why you might just say “fuck it” and bail.



      Why You Might Fail:

      • You can’t build a website
      • You don’t post consistently
      • You can’t hear people laughing at your jokes through a computer screen, so the satisfaction isn’t as rich

      What You Might Learn to Appreciate:

      • The craft of humorous clickbait
      • Long form / Anecdotal comedy



      11.) Apparel

      Why not wear your art? Bringing comedy into the fashion world is something that many online retailers have had success with, and you should think about trying it out as well. While people might have a problem with putting on nice clothes and paying $10 to hear your shitty jokes in some weird-ass club, they’re probably going to have less of a problem paying $10 for a shirt while sitting in their sweatpants on their couch. It promotes an understanding of observational comedy and gives you a better idea of how your jokes could work in situations outside of your own. Also, it’s just a great way to pay off the credit debt that currently has you by the balls.



      Why You Might Fail:

      • The idea of paying a monthly fee for an ecommerce solution makes you squirm
      • You don’t like clothes, and you don’t understand why we have to wear any, because it’s 2018, and who gives a fuck?

      What You Might Learn to Appreciate:

      • Comedy via graphic design
      • Overseas manufacturing (maybe?)


      So. Here’s What I’m Trying to Say:


      Appreciation for the creative medium plants the comedic seed. And as a creative person, it’s your job to make that seed grow into something beautiful..or disgusting. Whatever you want, man. I don’t give a fuck. Regardless, being okay with failure helps you realize how many doors are actually open, and that it’s okay if everyone sees you trip and bust your ass on your way through them. Because chances are, the others aren’t even going to get up off the couch. And guess what. It’s okay if they don’t, because a world without comedy would still be hilarious.




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