Inspiration is a wonderful thing. I’m not the most touchy-feely guy on the planet (surprised?) but I do look for things to inspire me to do better. I particularly like finding something that is aimed at a particular target group that is definitely not me but it still resonates with me. When someone is able to cross boundaries like that, it leads me to think they may be onto something.
I found this sort of inspiration recently when catching up with a blog I read semi-regularly – Joel on Software. Joel Spolsky runs a software development company and his primary audience is software developers but his writing is frequently applicable to a wider audience. It isn’t a huge surprise that the piece that gave me my inspiration was Joel talking about his own inspiration for the future.
He was quoting Kathy Sierra’s advice to help your users be awesome. Joel translated this into nerd-speak as: “We help $TYPE_OF_PERSON be awesome at $THING”. In his world, that becomes making software developers be awesome at making software. I’m not involved in a software development company but I am involved in a very interesting project and I realised this motto was directly applicable to our plans.
Some very clever and experienced (not to mention downright sexy) people I know are about to launch a major initiative for comedians in Melbourne and I am helping (mainly with the online component and video production). When I read the Joel On Software post I instantly realised his aims for software development were our aims for comedy. We will help comedian be awesome at doing comedy.
The others running this project have very long history in the Australian comedy industry as working comics as well as directing comedians and running venues. I’m more of an enthusiastic amateur which is why they are running things and I am helping. So if you’re a working comedian in Melbourne (or even an aspiring comedian) you might want to stay tuned. And sorry if you’re somewhere else but this will be relevant to Melbourne only. The type of intensive work we’re talking about doesn’t work over long distance, it has to be face to face.
One of the big reasons for this project is that the comedy “industry” in Australia sucks. It sucks balls. Not good balls. Nasty, sweaty dog’s balls. Even in Melbourne, which fancies itself as being arty and cultural, it’s a constant struggle for comedians. There’s the Comedy Festival and the Fringe Festival but unless you’re already an established star it’s pretty much impossible to make a living from them. The rest of the year there are only one to three venues that actually pay performers. In other words: it’s shit.
Seriously, my meagre earnings from the YouTube partnership put me ahead of (conservatively) 90% of people who consider themselves working comics in Melbourne. So a big part of making life awesome for comics will be to open up more opportunities to actually make a living from performing. But the backbone will be creating an environment that gives comedians both the training and the opportunity to be awesome.
There are far too many people who are creative, talented and working damn hard but still not getting anywhere or being rewarded as they deserve. And I’m one of them, dammit! This is what’s so exciting about this project – it’s about taking control and actually creating our own success. 2010 is going to be a big year for comedy in Melbourne and for me personally. I’ll be posting more updates as the plans become reality. Like all things to do with comedy, it’s all about the timing.