There is heartbreak at every level of this life.
I’m grateful that I’ve found my life’s calling. My calling is “funny”. My purpose on earth is to make people laugh as often as possible, in as many different and interesting ways, until I die. That’s it. I’m lucky. Most people don’t find their calling. And my calling is mostly benign for other people. Some people have a bad calling: “kill all the prostitutes in the Tri-state area who resemble my mother” would be one. I’m thankful I avoided that.
It’s pointless to pretend that the meaning of my life is altruistic. I’m not doing it to “bring laughter to the people”. I’m doing it entirely for me. It’s as selfish as anything else. I want to be seen. And heard. And validated as a smart, compelling person that everybody likes. My desperation to be liked is a problem. That is the realization I am currently dealing with. My whole life is a quest to NOT be hated. And my brain has discovered that you cannot make a person laugh AND be hated by them simultaneously. They can hate you before they laugh. They can resume hating you afterwards. But while they’re laughing, you cannot be hated. So I chase that moment of laughter. It’s about relief. It’s about reprieve from doubt that I’m likeable.
Where does the heartbreak come in?
It’s never enough. You chase bigger and better laughs. You chase them from (what your ape brain considers) bigger and better groups of people. You want everyone to love you. And yet the bigger the crowd, the more you’re exposed to the reality that some people still don’t care for you. The guy in the third row, two seats from the aisle? He wasn’t laughing. Maybe he hates you. Now that’s a problem. And truthfully? Most people have no idea who you are. Most people aren’t at this performance, or any performance of yours. My brain interprets their non-awareness of me as a kind of contempt. Like the world is ignoring me. I don’t think that’s uncommon. A lot of performers take lack of notoriety extremely personally. So you set out to win everybody over. Most successful performers you meet (and I do not consider myself in that club) seem strangely haunted. They are haunted by the idea that they have not won over enough people to feel existentially safe.
And THAT is heartbreaking.
For me, that’s the truth behind the stereotype of the “sad clown”. The clown is not sad because he believes the world to be tragic and fallen. He’s sad because the laugh he’s chasing is always slightly bigger than the one he is getting.