There is a comedian in New York, roughly my age, who I think is one of the best joke writers in town. I think we’d get along, and have tried to be his friend, for (and I’m being honest) 90% non-career reasons. Do I think he’ll be a huge success one day, and maybe throw me an opportunity or two? Sure. Maybe. But that stuff can’t be counted on. He just seems fun: a good hang, quick as hell, and generally my kind of person. But this guy is so career-focused, it’s off-putting. I can’t help him, so he has no real time for me. Not in a mean way, just in a “Oh hi! Oh bye!” kind of way.
My emotional response to this is weird. I can’t hold his behavior against him. It’s not his job to make me feel good about me. I want people like that to validate me as a person, but they’ve decided they don’t really have time for those kind of connections. He’s perfectly within his rights to do so. And I should just get over it. Part of me feels sorry for him. But I’m also jealous of what his dysfunctional, careerist mono-focus has helped him “get”.
It’s so bizarre to watch. He is very good at “the game”, and also very talented. And that is what’s so unnerving: you can’t tell where success from talent/hard work ends, and success from schmoozing/marketing starts. Then I ask myself: at the end of the day, does it even matter? Did it ever matter? How many of your great entertainment idols are really *that* great? Maybe they were just “good enough” talent-wise, but lucky enough to be born with the gift of networking? Does every creative field have a Patrice O’Neal: a cranky genius so many miles ahead of the competition, but too self-destructive to play the game?