“Part of being a performer is that failure becomes a part of your existence. Your day-to-day routine is failure with the remote possibility of success.” Samantha Bee
A recent Forbes magazine quote of the day apparently – and I think it’s an awful sentiment, but it’s worth exploring what I think she’s getting at.
If by failure she means not making it commercially, then I take the point. But one can still succeed without making millions. If she means that we must learn to learn by our mistakes (I wouldn’t call them failures) and always work to improve, then fair enough.
However, the one thing a performer can’t afford to be is a perfectionist to the point that every little slip or deficiency undermines them. When the curtain goes up, it’s showtime and you have your skills, experience and preparation. These can always be improved, and you should have the self-awareness to notice a few things that you need to work on.
But never ever walk away from a gig regarding yourself as a failure. You are as good as you can be at the time, but there’s always room for improvement. You’ll have good gigs that flop, bad gigs that are regarded as a triumph and every permutation in between. Being a performer certainly involves trials and tribulations but it shouldn’t hurt. You should have to work at your art/craft/whatever, not suffer for it.
This isn’t just hug-a-hippie jive here. I’d be the first to tell someone that if they’ve been doing it passionately for a few years and it’s tearing them up inside, there are other things to do. They might have a better chance of success and fulfilment in another walk of life. Or step back, treat it as a bit of a hobby for a while and see what happens down the line.
But I think the rather neurotic, masochistic inference in Bee’s soundbuzz is very destructive, yet weirdly it seems to be couched as a kind of aspirational epithet. So here’s my version, which I’m sure won’t ever be featured by Forbes…
“Part of being a performer is that sometimes you’ll cock things up and sometimes you’ll ace them. Your day-to-day routine is learning honestly from both.” Jason Lyon