Making Dreams Come True for Comics and Speakers since 1984
  Judy Carter's Comedy Workshops  

You can't spell "MESSAGE" without "M-E-S-S"

We've all had painful things happen to us: rotten childhoods, financial disasters, and a final episode of LOST that was a complete disappointment.

Conventional wisdom has said that we need to get over it, snap out of it, or just move on.

But it isn't always that easy. In my own life I've tried having my head shrunk, chanting some "oms", having my "energy" adjusted with Reiki, and I've explored a variety of pharmaceutical options ranging from ones that "take the edge off" to "where did two days go?"

Still, I wake up in the middle of the night fretting about something painful someone did to me years ago, or something stupid I did to someone else, or about those inexplicable bad things that just happen. It's hard to let go of the past.

But -- there was one thing I didn't try (until recently) to do with the messes of my life: appreciate them.

How do you appreciate something that hurts? When I stopped and examined my life, I found that the messes in my life were usually the turning points that lead me to the successes.

Flappers workshop
"The Message of You" Workshop coming to San Francisco Sunday, May 5, 2013.

When I taught standup comedy, I'd always get a few students who had what most people would consider wonderful lives, with no rejection, no frustrations, and no failures. They had happy families, lucrative careers, expensive cars - you name it. But for comedy purposes - their lives sucked. They just weren't that interesting - or funny - to most people, because most of us live lives of constant struggle. We don't want to hear someone else moan about how hard it is to find a reliable chauffeur. These students often experienced their very first big failure in life in trying to connect with an audience of regular people to make them laugh.

Last year I went through a depressing, debilitating mid-life crisis. (Well, given my age, I guess I should call it an "end of life" crisis.) I was sweating the big stuff and the small stuff: wondering about the meaning of my life, questioning my marriage, and feeling like I'm a bad person because I own a Prius -- but always drive the SUV instead.

All of that pondering and wondering lead to my book, "The Message of You."

I learned it's only through pain that we ever really learn anything. That's why when I give a speech, the first thing I do is make the audience aware of their pain. If you ask most people if they would be happy if their lives never changed - chances are their answer is no. What causes them pain -- is exactly the clue they need of what needs to be different.

So, last week when I shared this notion of examining our messes for meaning at a benefit for Safe House during my keynote in Palm Springs - two women shared with me that there were going through cancer treatment, and listening to me speak helped them realize the possibility of a message in what was happening to them. That realization empowered them, in that, despite their illness, they have power over finding that message, and sharing insights and experiences in a way that might help others facing the same difficulties.

So - take time to really examine your own messes; you just might find gifts of strength, renewed faith, or a message to help others. Or -- at the very least -- you may find direction in where your life needs to go next.


Angela Hoover said...

We cannot not be reminded about this enough. Thanks Judy for your poetic words. You are the entrepreneur with the over-sized heart.

Cathy L. said...

Hi Judy. Thank you for writing this. It definitely resonated with me. I echo Angela - hi Angela! - that it is so good to be reminded of this.

Mary Jane Mapes said...

Love your writing (and your Book)....your wise, insightful "truths" resonate with the heart.

My name is Lance said...

It is so weird sometimes when I read your posts because I feel like you wrote it for me. I too have trials and tribulations, but my mantra for the past year and a half has been that I am aspiring to greatness. What degree of greatness I do not know. If in the end I have only truly impacted one person I have achieved greatness.

Unknown said...

Thanks, as always Judy.
As a medical doctor, stand up comic and corporate speaker I've had stand up audiences that sometimes feel that they don't have much in common with my perceived "charmed" life as a physician. In the past year I've gone through a significant break up, burned out of medicine ( I left medical practice 2 months ago) and then suffered an injury that needed surgery (one month ago) that will take a full year of rehab to recover from. Had I not gone through all this I very likely would have stayed in my "safe" but relatively unfulfilling life. Everything that has happened has pushed me to make a serious change . I'm going to finish my book and do much more performing. Sometimes the world drags you into a new life kicking and screaming, but write that s**t down as that's where the funny is. We ALL struggle no matter who we are and it's that commonality where humor often lives.
"What's bad for your life is good for your comedy" so I should have a new hour by the end if the summer.

Gianna Miceli said...

I loved this blog. I often meet people who have nothing to say and I feel like, doesn't anything happen to them? Or is is just me but then, they're boring as you stated. I've turned around so many people by showing them how things happen FOR you and not To you. It takes practice but you can get there eventually.

Chi Chi said...

Judy, Judy,Judy, You're so right on it's scary!Love you, CHI CHI

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Judy F. said...

"The Message of You" made me stop and think and search for what was my most important unfulfilled dream. As a 2 year Lung cancer survivor, I would like help others with their efforts to survive and thrive. Also, my dream has always been to write comedy material. Still looking for a Comedy Buddy. Thanks for your funny, insightful books.

Jerry Steele said...

Judy, I read your every blog entry because they have heart every one. You don't just point me in the right direction, but you also give me a kick in the ass to get me going.

And I don't even know you!

In my high school speech classes here in Sweden, I use the method from your book The Cimedy Bible and get my students writing and testing joke premises wirhin one class period. Almost every single student gets a laugh that first time even though they're not being funny. Your book is also a great inspiration to me in my own comedic quest.

Thank you! I just got your Message book and look forward to continued writing from the heart and butt kicks.

My mess day-to-day.
My journey into stand-up comedy, succeed or fail.
About the creatve process and life-long dreams.

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