As you may or may not know, my team Soulmates has been winning the iO West Cagematch for 11 weeks now. I haven’t mentioned it too much because I try to keep the plugging to a reasonable amount and, more importantly, I’m not sure I’ve had much to say on the matter that would mean anything at all to anyone other than myself.
But it’s after midnight on Halloween and I’m having one of those moments.
Growing up and generally being a young asshole, I never really understood humility from successful people. “You do something great, then you are rewarded for the thing you earned,” I thought with all the naive indignity of a young man who had never been successful in anything.
Going into the iO West Cagematch, I thought winning would probably be the last thing my already huge ego needed. Thankfully, I was wrong about that. It did the opposite to my ego, actually. After Soulmates won a few Cagematches, especially those ones where the vast majority of the crowd are total strangers, I unexpectedly felt that humility the younger version of me had so derided.
And this is why: you have no control over your success. Naively, you think you do. You put in the work onstage, and offstage you promote as best you can. But in actuality you have so little control.
I’ve felt this as the votes are being tallied, this realization that it’s totally out of my hands. I can’t make the audience like me. I can’t make people come to my shows. I pour myself onstage and hope for the best… So when the best happens, I am grateful. And humbled.
It’s not mine to take. It’s theirs to give. And for that, I am humbled each time a friend or stranger shows up to support a show of mine, or throws a compliment my way. Improv means so much to me. Every validation that I might actually be doing something right is a wonderful gift that I do not take for granted, even for a second.
This is what I’ve learned from doing competitive improv.