On creativity and madness.
“Hail the return of the king!”
Welcome back, Taylor. It was an honor to sit in the sold-out crowd and watch your show. It was hilarious. .
I think you hit the nail on the head— but isn’t that what comedy is? And also writing? You’ve connected the dots in a way that we all recognize as true, but didn’t see until now. There is that moment of epiphany- the involuntary yelp. And I think it requires a unique combination of insanity to see it and also rationality to communicate it to others.
The main difference, I think, is that comedy utilizes the basic skill of conversation and acting that we all have, and turns it up a notch. If you’re lucky, you can reach a crowd of dozens. Unless you’re a star.
But writing utilizes a much more refined skillset. You’ve got to string together words in such a way that they stand on their own, without inflection, gesticulation, timing, etc. But you also get to take your time with it, and can write entire volumes to communicate your insights. The result, then, is that you touch hundreds, or millions, in a much more impactful way.
There are some bits from comedians that I remember and use as mental models or references. But certain books have become embedded in my person. Infinite Jest is just one long joke (literally ha ha), but the insights it has communicated to me are unforgettable. I won’t shut up about it. I’ve been infected.
My personal opinion of why you didn’t make the cut is not that you didn’t let yourself go enough, but rather that your abilities lie elsewhere. There are a lot of class clowns out there that can be zany and eccentric. They are irregular. But can they sharpen their insanity to a point where they can do something useful with it? Can they make a wedge or a lever to genuinely move people? To make someone laugh is one thing, but to change their trajectory is another. Only you can do that, and your ideas and your writing are your tools.
But you’re right, existential courage takes practice. You survived that ordeal. On to the next one
Very encouraging words, references, and lived experience. :) I didn’t connect till now that our modern-day comedians are the same as the Fools mentioned in Shakespeare. Thank you for “smiling at death” for the rest of us.
Great piece, Taylor. And welcome back! You've been missed. "Give up who you think you want to become and have faith that whatever you need to express will transform you into someone you never dreamed of." -- wow, this is so precious and well articulated. Sorry it didn't work out for you. But trains pass all the time. You'll catch the next one. :)
This was a total delight Taylor. Not surprised at all by the co-existence of your philosophical inquiries and the flesh and blood vaudeville one. You've sparked a lot of ideas and reflections. Howard Gardner developed the theory of multiple intelligences. High humor IQ (HIQ?) didn't make it onto his list of 8 forms of intelligence, but if you look at the list, they are implicated in the act of setting foot in front of a live audience, especially one that you're expected to make laugh. I have thrown myself to those wolves thousands of times, and it's always a harrowing event, but that form of risk, surfing the edge of social rejection and surviving it, is highly addictive substance as you've inferred. I've spent thousands of nights in barren and soulless hotel rooms, and to maintain sanity have decorated those interiors with nothing more than the conviction that making people laugh is a holy cause. In any case, your HIQ is clearly exceptional and that has surprising ways of translating onto many stages of life, not just those with footlights. I have no doubt you'll be wowing audiences in one form or another for a long time.
Excellent work, Taylor. Thanks for being so open and honest about ego pursuit and what it can do for/to you. I’m both inspired and more aware of the truth.