Bomb Like A Man

by | Jun 28, 2019 | Stories

I was at a comedy show at Lestat’s with my friend a while back, and the comedian onstage told a joke that fell flat.  Then he told a story about how he questioned whether or not to tell the joke before he went on stage but then said, “Nah.  Get up there and bomb like a man.”  Then he went up on stage, told the joke, and bombed like a man.  I admired him for it, and the story cracked me up.  Now, every time I bomb at something, I think of that and laugh.  “Get up there and bomb like a man.”

With that said, I’ve bombed a couple of times recently.  My general rule for writing is, “If it makes me laugh, it goes.”  I always think what I write is funny, but I never know how others will feel about it until I say it out loud.  Some of my stories and opinions are entirely ridiculous, but I share them anyway because that’s the only way to separate the good from the useless ones.  If you write for long enough (meaning you sift through enough dirt), occasionally, you get a gold nugget or two.  Writing for me is like mining for gold nuggets, and the only way to know whether they are gold is to say them out loud in front of people.  Sometimes that means I must get up there and bomb like a man.

Ray Dalio said somewhere that your current self should be the lovable idiot of your future (paraphrased).  His point was that you should always be evolving, and the more evolved version of you will one day look back on your current self as a lovable idiot for all the things you didn’t know.  If this is true, then I am doing a great job.  I must be evolving quickly because I can look at my past self as recently as yesterday and see an idiot.  I can look back on myself as soon as five minutes ago and see an idiot.

Bombing hurts.  It doesn’t feel good to get up there and bomb.  It’s painful to the ego and embarrassing, but it’s as much a part of the process as anything else.  Even Tony Gwynn went 0 for four sometimes.  He didn’t quit baseball.  Even Ozzie Smith booted a ball at shortstop every once in a while.  He didn’t quit baseball, either.  Going 0 for four or booting a ball in the field doesn’t mean you stop.  Not if you’re a real baseball player.  It just shows you areas where you can improve your skills.  Maybe practice hitting left-handed curve balls or picking backhands in the 5.5-hole.

The public nature of bombing is what hurts, and it’s also what sears the lessons into your memory.  Striking out in front of everyone when the team is counting on you feels like shit.  So does delivering a story or a poem that bombs.  Everyone was watching, and you didn’t come through.  But that is part of the trial by fire that every performer must go through.  Whether it’s sports, poetry readings, music, or any other live performance in front of an audience.  Every performance isn’t going to be the best, but they all show you areas where you can improve.  You learn something about yourself every time.  Even if you get your ass kicked.  Short-term wins and losses don’t determine your long-term success or failure.  Long-term success is determined by whether you keep coming back and doing your best every time.  For now, I will keep coming back because there’s still nothing else I’d rather be doing.  Until that changes, I will keep bombing like a man both live on stage and here on the internet.

However, I promise will bomb as little possible for my sake and everyone else’s.

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