Professional Jealousy

Posted on 13 December 2013

Many people seek out comedy as a place where they get to be number one on a stage. They get to do all the talking, they get all the spotlight, everyone has to watch and listen to them for the length of a set. Sounds pretty sweet.

Remember, everyone has to start by having a venue give them time at the mic. You will have to talk to either the pub or venue manager. Everyone has to watch what others are doing, as we grow in our own confidence and style. Everyone has to form creative alliances to get a leg up. You have to be social. If you wish to make it on TV or in the movies, you will have to be even more social.

Being social will cause you upon occasion to hit that brick wall known as personal insecurities. Be reassured that no one is exempt from this experience. Even when we have our egos firmly in hand, we all experience pressures from family, friends, and society to succeed or get a “real” job. So, it becomes hard to watch a compatriot succeed, when we are fearful at whether or not we will find our own success.

My first day and first class at university was a Shakespeare course with Professor Dr William Dunlop. Half way through the hour a young woman burst into the room saying, “So sorry, I’m an actor and I’ve just come from a film shoot.” The class collectively rolled their eyes. She sat in the empty seat next to me. I did feel jealous. I also thought to myself, why not make friends, then I’m one step closer to knowing about all the cool things this woman is up to. So, I introduced myself to the lovely Stephanie Shine.

I don’t think she ever saw me as her best friend, but she was my best friend at university. I was learning to be a playwright and she was already on her way to being a respected Shakespearean actor and later artistic director for the Seattle Shakespeare Company. I learned so much from her and felt so encouraged in my own path. This is what can happen when you are able to overcome the insecurity and jealousy even a crack.

I have lived similar versions of this story with a number of other friends. They all ended up being sources of knowledge, assistance, encouragement, and love. Some of them have felt the same about me in return.

Before my show Pop Mashup: Happy Birthday Doctor! opened, I went to a show about Dr Who put on by The Impro Box. I loved it. The improvisers were vibrant, funny, and superb storytellers. Afterwards I shook the hand of one of the actors. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the thought, will my show measure up to this? I remember how flat my voice felt to me when I tried to say something nice. It was misery, because I didn’t want to feel so conflicted.

The answer I found was to go ahead and live with all the feelings. It’s good that I want to do well. It’s also good that I care enough to want to wish someone well. It’s understandable that I feel nervous, I’m human. So, now I make more of an effort to be friends and thereby surmount the negative side of jealousy. We can all be cool people together.

There’s an old hippie saying you are probably familiar with, “Make love, not war.” In the creative fields the saying should be, “Make friends, not rivals.”

Peace and kindness,


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