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The best part of Barbell Shrugged is that we get to spend so much time laughing with really smart, great people. We’re very fortunate. That said, I never thought we would ever do a show that was actually about comedy itself and how it can make us better in the gym.
This week we are joined by Kenny Kane, from The Kenny Kane Positivity Project podcast. This guy know’s his stuff when it comes to strength training, Crossfit and all that. He’s been an active athlete, trainer, martial artist, physical education instructor, teacher, strength coach, Run DMC fan and self-taught hip-hop professional since 1984. That’s incredible! He definitely has chops, but in all honesty, that’s the boring part of this story. The really interesting bit is that Kenny worked for many years as a professional comedian. It’s that novelty, breadth and crossover of experience that gives Kenny such a unique perspective.
Stand-up comedy is a gut check. Every comedy career gets off to a rough start. Even the naturals need countless gigs and hours of stage time to get from raw to great. This kind of mastery and skill takes years to acquire. Just like mixed martial arts, it’s not just something you just jump into, I don’t care how confident you feel about it. You have to get used to taking the punches.
Kenny learned to take risks in comedy. He moved to San Francisco and began performing wherever he could, anytime, anyplace. Laundry mats, coffee shops, in front of random homeless people, the venue hardly mattered. He wrote whenever he had the opportunity. He recorded and studied tapes of his performances, always looking for ways to improve his delivery, timing and his tone. Those are amazing habits to build.
As you would expect that diligence translates over to skill in time. Slowly but surely the amateur gig’s start to pay. The mastery begins to set in. This is not unlike the path to becoming a great coach, or a great anything for that matter. You have to do it every chance you get, not for career or pay or convenience, but because you have to do it.
If you made the right decision the effort should fuel itself, which is pretty handy. You need the repetition to build your craft. You also need to lay a few eggs on stage and fail stupendously (you might even cry in front of Jerry Seinfeld, as Kenny did once) because that’s the only way you can develop resolve and hone your chops. Before you know it you’ll be able to work the room, engage, inspire, and honestly connect with audience and client like. That’s what makes great comedy, and that’s what makes for great coaching. You cannot afford to let yourself feel discouraged. That’s common, and it’s no reason for you to hold back.
Thing’s could go one of two ways when you find your true voice. First, you could get really neurotic about the future. You might focus too much on the ideal outcome, the result, being better than, which according to Kenny is ultimately a very dark path. Regardless of what you’re working on and how good you get you cannot fixate on the outcome and goal alone. It’s not sustainable. It’s a shitty way of going about it.
Make a better decision. Remain committed to refining yourself, to learning, to grinding away and getting better every day. You have to accept that if the true masters in your field have to continually grind away and fail here and there to be great, then it’s alright if you’re less than perfect right now. The comedian must bomb. The coach must lose. The fighter has to smile when they get caught on the chin, because that’s just the way it goes.
It’s easier said than done but don’t get too low on yourself during the tough times, and don’t forget about where you came from when things are grand. But if really want the best outcome just keep one strategy in mind. Consider letting everyone have your very best, all of the time. I know it seems like a give away, but the opposite is true. Share what you have to share. Make real and authentic contact with people. And don’t worry about what you’ll do next. Just because you’ll have to come up with something new and better, you will.
For more from Kenny make sure to check out The Positivity Project, and cruise by Crossfit Los Angeles if you’re ever in town. You can also connect with him on Facebook and YouTube, where he has some great content.
Kenny, it was a pleasure. Looking forward to next time.
Best intro ever.