Alicia standup comedy

Performing a draft of my new standup comedy show

I was recently talking with a friend and student (sometimes they overlap), about her one woman show. She really, really wanted it to be good. Amazing. To take it to the next level.

The thing is, her show is already funny and poignant and personal. Ironically, there's a kind of perfectionism we exhibit when telling our imperfect life story. I too find myself wanting my show to be really good or really funny in a way that can actually get in the way of getting the work out there. So I came up with some suggestions.
Oh, and she just put her solo show up in a festival and was voted "Best of the Fest". Not bad, ay?
Is it my art any good? Nope, it’s not.
  1. When you find yourself asking, “Is my art (writing, performance, comedy, music, etc.) good?”, consider that this question may be irrelevant. Moot!
  2. Sometimes, what we mean when we say "good", is we are saying that we want it to be professional. Professional is important. If it’s a show, you write it with clarity and structure, you memorize, you rehearse, you connect with the audience.
  3. Past that, “good” can be a hamster wheel waiting to happen. “Is this face good?” “No, try making the nose smaller.” “Is this face good?” “No, trying making the nose bigger.” “I liked it smaller.” "Oy!" Good–or great–can become an unreachable concept. Good is really about pleasing other people. Not you. So there’s no center to hold on to.
  4. Whomever you talk to is going to have their own concept of what “good” is. When you come from a place of asking for feedback to make it good or great, you — you are asking them to enhance “you" somehow. 
  5. Instead, decide from the beginning that this is already good.
  6. Decide that real art comes from you listening to yourself.
  7. Your art is a precious infant, just coming into the world. Care for it protectively at first, with infinite compassion.
  8. First pretend–and then trust–that this precious new being you are creating is already good enough (or funny or beautiful or unique enough).
  9. Ask yourself, "What would I create if good were not the criteria by which to judge my baby"?
  10. Get really clear about the IMPACT and the MESSAGE you want to bring into the world. What do you want people to LEAVE with? Have *that* be the thing you hold on to, instead of good.
  11. Ask yourself, "Did my work succeed with my goal? Did it do what I wanted it to do for the audience? For me?"
  12. Then, go to a few people you trust with your baby, and ask them if it succeeded in achieving YOUR goal. Take their responses with a grain of salt. Set up a a CONTEXT for receiving notes from others, not just a random free-for-all, after a show or exhibition.
  13. Celebrate showing up for yourself. Relax. Rest. Iterate.


Alicia Dattner

Comedian and Creatrix Alicia Dattner is an internationally-acclaimed, award-winning performer who loves to help others use the power of humor to transform their lives and write a new unfolding story for the world.


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *