Paddy In Poland |5| Swamped in Self-Doubt

Y’know, it doesn’t matter how well you think you’re doing, or how well others think and say you’re doing, all that’s ever mattered to me was what my harshest critic thought.

No, this isn’t some introspective look at how I’m my own harshest critic. I’m not and, to be totally honest, anyone that says that is bullshitting you. We dismiss ourselves for our little digressions all the time. I’m off chocolate but sure I’ll have that muffin at lunch, fuck it, I’ve 4 weeks until I’ve to fit into that wedding dress. I hit that BMW’s wing mirror when I was reversing and I didn’t stay around, fuck ‘em, he can afford a BMW, he can afford a new wing mirror. I buried the goldfish in the backyard and told the young fella it swam to fish heaven, coz that’s a fuckin’ minefield I’m not ready to go into with him yet. We do it all the time.

I’m pitching a TV pilot at the moment and it’s going exactly as I expected it would. You blast off a million emails and give your phone bill a wretched fright ringing landlines in Ireland, the North and Britain and what do you get… a constant stream of rejection. And it’s not rejection because the show is bad. The feedback is mighty. Way, way better than I expected. It’s Ireland. Y’know Ireland, that place where you gotta know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy who’s owed a favour from a guy he once met at some conference thing about some yoke. That’s how it is, but I’m determined to find a way.

No, my harshest critics are the people who I think don’t like me. It’s their opinions that matter to me. I have a hard time with people who I think don’t like me for some reason. I always give people a chance. I’ve never met a soul and not liked them instantly; the whole idea is alien for me. I need five minutes to make up my mind, at least. Sometimes five years. One of my good friends here told me once that if I got talking to Hitler himself I’d find something good in him. That’s just how I am. I expect to find and to see the goodness in people and I try my damnedest to return it. But sometimes the little arsehole living in my brain gets loose and that motherfucker drags me down into the pits of Beelzebub’s murky lair.

[pullquote]Maybe they don’t like Wexicans? Can’t be that, everyone likes Wexford people.[/pullquote]Why do they matter? Well it’s easy. I need to win them over. The simple idea that someone has something in for me really irks me. What have I done? Do they recognize me from somewhere? Was I a dick to them years ago? Maybe they don’t like Wexicans? Can’t be that, everyone likes Wexford people. Full-on paranoia settles in, gets comfortable and vomits all over my brittle ego.

And that’s a massive problem I need to contend with. My podcast is doing so much better than I ever thought it would’ve. There’s a huge appetite out there for comedy at the moment. Sure Jaysus, look to the right of this page, there’s five HeadStuff comedy podcasts there, actually they have even more on their network but y’know what I mean. If you’re going to work in the public eye then you’ve got to get used to criticism. But how?

This is the part where I’m supposed to have an answer. I don’t. I honestly don’t know. I know I’m not the best writer in the world, but writing, like singing, is a muscle that must be used to get better. I’ll improve, I’m rusty after a few years off but I’ve got things to say and I’m narcissistic enough to think that I’d like other people to hear them and discuss them with them. The same goes for the podcast and the TV show. I know what I have is good and my challenge isn’t getting comedy fans to like what I’m doing, that’s easy. It’s obvious that comedy fans like comedy. So, I decided to take a different approach.

I’m not a comedian, I never have been and I never will be. Probably. Well, I don’t harbour any thoughts on trying it as a career. Praise Jaysus says you. I’d have no problem getting up in front of a crowd though, that’s not it. No, I took on comedy and stand-up comedians because I wanted to get to know what makes them tick. Y’know, get to know the person behind the onstage persona. Ignorantly, I thought I’d find a whole bucket-load of things that they all have in common, I’m almost eighty episodes in now and what I’ve discovered is that no two comedians are alike. Sure, there’s a couple of famous-ish Irish comedians that are known for stealing jokes but that’s not the same thing. And I’ve not interviewed them either… yet.

There are, however, two things though that every single comedian I’ve interviewed has shared. Determination and the need to give a crowd a good night. The second one I think is quite noble. You don’t really hear bands or famous song writers saying they want to give the crowd a good time. Imagine John Lennon saying that, or Jimmy Page. OK, sure some of the crap, unoriginal rubbish that pollutes the airways like Ed Sheeran and Adele do say things like that, but that’s because deep down they know how unoriginal they are and they’ve somehow landed on their feet stealing a living. And I don’t begrudge them, I wish I could do the same. Doesn’t mean I’ll listen to their muck though.

[pullquote]I think it’s great that comedians take on this responsibility to try and give the public a good time.[/pullquote]Anyway, could you imagine ‘serious’ music types saying that? No way, they’re all about the art of music. Pfft, sanctimonious crap isn’t it, as if there’s truly art to pop music. But the same goes for art. Artists don’t go out of their way to please their audience, they insist that they’re always ‘trying to challenge’ their audience. So, with comedians I think it’s great that they take on this responsibility to try and give the public a good time.

The other thing is determination. I’m constantly struck by how a comedian will tell me that after they’ve had a set that bombed and they’ve really and truly died on their arse that they want to get back up on stage, the following night if possible, and right that wrong. I think that’s amazing. I’d be off cowering under the stairs with a bottle of Powers and a Smiths album.

So, I’m going to follow the line of the comedians. It’s only taken me until now, fucking nearly 36 years of age to realise I’ve been looking at things wrong. Stay determined, keep at it, even in the face of adversity, or what you think is rejection, have confidence in your work. Success can actually be just one phone call away so what’s the point in giving up now? You’re so close you can almost feel it.

So fuck the little monster screaming you’re shit and not worth a fuck and you’re ugly and nobody likes you. He’s just a miserable cunt looking for company. And he can look for it somewhere else.

This week on The Comedy Cast I speak to English political satirist Tiernan Douieb on Monday 22nd and on Thursday 25th I turn the tables on Personality Bingo’s Tom Moran. On my YouTube channel, I’ve got video versions of the podcasts and Trailer Trash and The Weekly Viral are out every Wednesday and Friday too.


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