Last year I read Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sund and Be Your Own Person. I have never watched a Shonda Rhimes show so I wasn’t too familiar with who she is or her work. I know many people that do watch her shows and they are usually addicted.
In her book, she decides to say yes to every opportunity that comes her way, after being challenged by her sister. The book really has me rethinking how I do things. So many times I do things a certain way because they worked (or didn’t) and I never reevaluate. I just keep doing it that way.
I probably do it because it’s comfortable and familiar. I don’t have to think about it. I just go with what I know. It’s not necessarily bad to do it this way. But it definitely does provide much of a challenge because I’m usually just doing it this way to play it safe. Larry David said, “I don’t like to be out of my comfort zone, which is about a half inch wide.” I’m definitely guilty of this: 1) having a small comfort zone and 2) not liking being outside of my comfort zone.
For instance, I did comedy once on a St. Patrick’s Day about five years ago. It was a shit show. Why? For starters, people want to get drunk on St. Patrick’s Day. And drunk people don’t always make the best audience. Sure, comics joke that they more you drink the funnier I am. But St. Patrick’s Day tends to go beyond having a few drinks socially during a comedy show.
Second, it was a restaurant where kids were eating dinner with their families. I don’t know any comic that loves when kids show up to a show that they’ve been told is an 18+ show. It makes you rethink every joke.
Next, the show was part comedy part rock meaning that in addition to comedians performing, there were bands that would play. In my experience, bands and comedy don’t mix. People that are there for a band are there because music moves them. It takes them to a special place. People that are there to see comedy want to laugh. Also, this old dude from one of the bands kept hitting on me. First he was at least 20 years older than me. Second, he was gross. I get that his band is popular locally but it still doesn’t mean that I want to sleep with you. And I definitely don’t want you to keep trying to put your arm around me.
I chalked this St. Patty’s Day show up as a learning experience and vowed I wouldn’t do comedy on March 17 again.
A few months back I received an email from a guy I’d done a show with last year. He said he had a show with my name written all over it. I thought, what the heck. Time to get back on the St. Pat’s horse. Or Irish Wolfhound, which is almost an horse. So I told him I’d do it. He said he’d be in contact with more details.
The next time I heard from him, he sent me the flyer for the show. I was surprised to find that I was the headliner. Whaaat?! Usually I’d freak out. I’ve headlined events before but I don’t think of myself as a headliner. They’ve always been events where I did 20 minutes of time or less. But a headliner is usually 45-60 minutes. I like being the feature because I can leave when I want. I like being the emcee because I control the show.
Instead, I embraced the opportunity to headline. It’s a huge honor and I wanted to treat it as such. When I contacted the organizer, I found out that I didn’t need to do more than 20. This was great news because my past experience was that people were super drunk on St. Patrick’s Day. Holding their attention for even five minutes can be a challenge when they’re main goal is just to get wasted.
I wouldn’t say I’m experiencing a resounding Year of Yes. It’s more like a Year of Umm, OK. Internally, I have hesitation because I’m used to being guarded and protecting myself. But I’m open to trying new things. Especially if they can change my past misconceptions.
The St. Patrick’s Day show was so fun. It was at this adorable restaurant called the Staghead. Unfortunately, Carter and I were still full from our post St. Patrick’s Day eats at Blue Door Pub so we didn’t eat at the Staghead. But everyone raves about the food. We’ll definitely make another trip down there just for the food. Oh, and the owner Danielle is a sweetheart. The audience wasn’t wasted. They were just out for a fun night.
The show was fun. The crowd was awesome. I’m so glad I took a chance. Sometimes I get it in my head, that if something didn’t work out it’s a sign I should avoid that thing going forward. Sometimes I need to undo those preconceived notions. This was one of those times when the latter was the better option.
The other comics invited us out for a bar crawl but I declined because that’s not really my scene. But then we ran into a woman from Special Olympics Minnesota that Carter works with on the Polar Plunge. We ended up going out with her and her husband to a couple bars. It was so much fun. I’d love to share more details but I also want to respect that the locals like to keep these gems “local”. But it’s safe to say that Red Wing is an awesome town with tons of cool spots.
If you’d like to read Year of Yes you can get it on Amazon*. As of this post, you can get it for less than $9! How sweet is that?! It would make a great Mother’s Day gift or graduation gift. It’s definitely a book that I need to read once a year. It’s a great reminder that I should not only seize opportunities but also get out there and create them.
How do you embrace a year of yes?!
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