It’s easy to think that what you do doesn’t matter…especially when you get paid to tell jokes and read minds onstage. It’s tempting to trivialize it, especially when other people are doing such important work around the world.
But I think that what I do does matter…especially now. I’d argue it may matter more now than ever before. I’ve seen a shift in my audiences lately and it all started last November.
A year ago I muted the TV and stared out my apartment window in total silence. If you’ve followed me for any amount of time it should be obvious that I’m a progressive liberal atheist artist and I didn’t handle the results of the 2016 election well.
For the past 365 days I’ve woken up fearful of what I’d find on the news or read on twitter. Most days, the alerts are too many and the negative actions of this administration are too much to handle. I’ve done my best to stay informed and take action but after a while I started to grow numb to what’s happening in the world.
When terrible things happen but you can’t do anything about them, it makes you feel helpless. It seems pointless to sign petitions or protest or raise awareness when it feels as if nothing ever changes.
After the most recent mass shooting (in Texas at the time of this post) I found myself silencing my phone and ignoring updates. I couldn’t bring myself to read about it for fear of feeling the crushing weight of the world bearing down on my shoulders. When things get really bad you have to step away for a while. We aren’t programmed to handle this much sorrow.
That’s why my shows are more relevant than they’ve ever been. People need a respite from the tweets. They need relief from everyday life. It may sound cliché, but I have a chance to give people that escape. I have a chance to let them step away for a second, then get back to the real world. And giving other people an escape is my way of escaping, too.
A woman approached me after a recent show to let me know that her son had died a year ago and she was looking for a way to get out of the house around the anniversary to forget about things. Somehow she ended up at my show.
She told me she hadn’t laughed that hard in a really long time and thanked me for a fun show. Then she turned and walked away before I could say anything else.
I was flabbergasted.
It’s easy to forget that what you do matters. But it does. And we should all remember that when things are too hard to bear.
Things may seem bad at the moment but that doesn’t mean they won’t get better. They already are and it’s up to us to keep the momentum going. There’s so much you can do and it all matters, no matter how small it may seem.
Stay informed. Stay involved. Donate. Volunteer. Run for office. VOTE.
And find an escape when you need one, whatever that means for you.
Just whatever you do, don’t let yourself grow numb.