KMCC : Finding Your Own Audience: Modern Muses Meet Sitcoms
Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching Stories
Finding Your Own Audience: Modern Day Muses Meet Sitcoms
By Jill Badonsky
Muse: the Spirit of Inspiration
In Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching we believe that inspiration can be found everywhere. When you're a creative person, you find inspiration wherever you are. The modern day Muse, Aha-phrodite teaches us to pay attention in all the myriad forms to obscure places where we might not expect creative inspiration to reside. Like in sitcoms.
And the Modern Day Muse, Audacity teaches us that not everyone is our audience, and that's not only okay, it's affirming. She says, "If everyone likes what I do, I haven't gone far enough." Not to mention that to try to please everyone homogenizes our efforts and often results in the not-too-insignificant, the same-ol'-same-ol', and the yawn-maker. I think you know what I mean.
Watching sit-coms can be a waste of time; however, rare quality sitcoms, aside from demonstrating clever writing and brilliant acting, can contain little antidotes of creative understanding.
Both Aha-phrodite's "paying attention" and Audacity's "believe in having your own audience" come to play in today's column where we pay attention and two Emmy award-winning sit-coms and episodes that address the principles above.
In the Christmas episode of The Office, Season 7, the character Pam has created a homemade Christmas present, for her husband, Jim. And she's proud of it. Ever have that feeling about something you made and just wanted to show it to everyone?
Here's what Pam says about the gift:
"I've been working forever on Jim's present. He always gives me the best Christmas gifts. He'll take a memory or a private joke and he'll create something totally unique. I love them. So this year, I made him something. A comic book. It stars Jimmy Halpert, a mild mannered paper salesman who, while riding his bike through the forest, is bitten by a radioactive bear. It's really good."
Feeling pride that her work is wonderful, Pam starts showing the handmade comic book to fellow employees before presenting it to Jim. She shows it to Ryan and says, "So cool, right?"
Ryan replies with this critique:
"There's no connection between the origin story and the quest. We need to know who Jimmy Halpert was before he was bitten by the bear otherwise it's the bear's quest."
Pam: "I sorta meant, it's cute right? and wondered if it needed page numbers or to be laminated."
Ryan: "Did you come here for help or me to tell you how great it is?
"It's also a little derivative of a serial called Bear Man. did you look that up?"
Shot down, Pam quickly leaves. She shows the comic book to Phyllis and has this exchange:
Phyllis: "So you went homemade this year? Money problems, is that what this is about? Oh dear I don't think we can help you out."
Pam: "No, no Jim had a great year actually. I just wanted to get your opinion."
Phyllis: "Are you good at homemade?"
Pam: "Look at this!" Showing Phyllis the comic book.
Phyllis opens the book just a little with a totally disgusted look on her face, and says nothing.
Pam looks discouraged.
By the time Pam presents the gift to Jim, she's apologetic. She says, "Oh um it's just I didn't have enough time, so that's just a placeholder."
Jim's response as he looks at the comic book is, "Oh... my... God, this is awesome, that's my bike, that's my desk, ... and that is my daughter."
The scene cuts to Jim's talking to the camera. He says, "I mean ," and that's ALL he says. You see Jim beginning to tear-up because he's so moved and he can't say another thing. See that response here.
Jim is Pam's audience.
Have you ever shown some creative brainchild of yours to someone and felt totally derailed because they didn't like it, even when YOU liked it? What did you do? Believe in your idea anyway or believe in them and hide your work away or abandon it completely? We all have an audience. Believing this is creative relief, freedom and inspiration. Beginning with knowing and trusting that if YOU like something you've done, there is a whole bunch of people that will like it too, is a great first step.
Same lesson came from my new favorite show, Modern Family. The character, Phil, is Keynote Speaker at the regional realtor's convention.
Phil Dunphy: "Tonight I'm giving the keynote address at the SCARB."
Claire Dunphy: "The South California Annual Realtors Banquet."
Phil Dunphy: "I think they know what it is."
His wife Claire isn't "getting" any of his jokes. She's not laughing with her eyes, only her mouth, as she says and comically demonstrates.
She fears Phil is going to make a complete fool of himself. She makes a deal with her brother, Mitchell to come over to give Phil blatant feedback about his lack of humor in exchange for her giving honest feedback to Cameron, Mitchell's partner, that he really shouldn't wear tight biking shorts (and he REALLY shouldn't).
Claire ruthlessly carries out her mission, but Mitchell chickens out. So at the convention, Claire steals Phil's notes right before he goes on and tells him just to be his warm self without the jokes. Well, you can't keep Phil Dunphy down. He only flounders in front of the crowd for a second, but then starts pulling corny jokes about members of the audience out of his memory. The crowd is wild with laughter. Claire is shocked but moves to an expression of pride in her husband. The crowd was Phil's audience.
Sometimes we find our audience at home, and sometimes we find it amongst our tribe at work or in our creative circles. The important thing is to FIND your tribe. We need to practice having the audacity to not worry about what anyone thinks, but that's not easy. In the meantime, finding people who "get" us is like adding rocket fuel to our process. •
© 2011 Jill Badonsky. All rights reserved.
Jill Badonsky is a creativity coaching pioneer, inspirational humorist, artist, and founder of Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching™. Her latest book is The Muse is IN: An Owner’s Manual to Your Creativity. More »