Over the weekend I took the unusual step of admitting that I wasn’t entirely happy with the Birmingham show on my tour. Unusual by the standards of most comics, that is – pretty much standard for me on this blog. In keeping with my optimism crusade, I’ve done less and less and this type of thing as I’ve gone on, because I’m trying to be ever more upbeat about shows that don’t seem to go as well. But I still tend to be quite honest about the ups and downs of my career. Many acts, and more pertinently many acts’ agents, would think it unwise to do this, because I might look bad to people who don’t know me that well – look more amateurish than people with slicker, more impersonal blogs.
I was fortunate enough to get quite a lot of nice comments from people at the Birmingham show, which were and are very much appreciated. Today, however, there was a pretty unpleasant one from a punter who didn’t enjoy himself at all. He made some pretty stinging remarks about my preparation levels and professionalism. Although I did think the crowd reaction was a bit lukewarm, and would always be the first to look at what I might have done wrong, I definitely have never been guilty of under-preparing for any show I’ve done in my career. (I do faff about on stage and lurch from one subject to another, but that’s a stylistic thing, really, and most people who come to see me expect it.)
It’s a good example of the fact that if you leave yourself open to criticism by questioning yourself, people will tend to jump into the hole you’ve created and, well, basically piss up the side of it. If a hole has a side. You see what I mean. If you start the ball of self-criticism rolling, someone will give you a kicking bigger than the one you originally thought was warranted. I don’t think I need to keep stacking up the metaphors.
Anyhow – I’m going to consider once more whether I’m doing the right thing by giving running reports on my career like this. I tend to really value the unusually intimate relationship between me and my fans, and those fans far outnumber critics on this site (thankfully, what with it being my site). But even a little bit of public criticism can damage you in the public eye. And much as I may underestimate myself sometimes, I don’t like other people doing it.
Of course, I could have just not published his comment, and nobody would ever have known about it. So perhaps I needn’t change the blog. Just change who’s allowed to write on it. But that seems a bit cowardly. Hmm. Maybe free speech should only be free if you like me? It worked pretty well for Stalin.