Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Trying Too Hard! Too Much! Overkill!

Ever felt a trifle nervous on a new job? Told yourself, "Just act normal"? Or worse: "Be funny"?

If so, you must read: "I Am So Funny". "My brief and wondrous career at The Daily Show," Lauren Weedman writes, "consisted of making jokes about the Amish and trying to get Jon Stewart to love me."

Jon Stewart didn't come to love her.

I've become quite a devotee of The Daily Show during the recent campaign. Resolved to write for them or Saturday Night Live in one of my upcoming lifetimes. Weedman, though, did it exactly the way I fear I'd do it: by being so overwrought that she was alarming. But the trip was worth the story, at least if you're the reader and not her.

It's an excerpt from her book A Woman Trapped in a Woman's Body: Tales from a Life of Cringe.

It's killer funny. And a cautionary tale about trying way too hard.

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Debra W said...

Hi Peggy,

My best advice is that if we are "trying", then we are trying too hard. If we allow people to enjoy us for who we are, then there is no confusion when we relax and the "real us" shines through.

You are likable and quite charming just the way you are. Be proud and if it's not enough for someone then tough on them!


K.B. said...

Aargh. Painful indeed, if only because most of us do in fact remember wanting sooooo badly to be liked, loved, wanted, or at least to be acknowledged, and trying far too hard to be any of those things.

At least she's getting the funny out of it!

Peggy Payne said...

Debbie, I love the idea that trying is trying too hard. My shrink husband is always discouraging use of the word "trying" by his clients. It's in a slightly different context, but still similar. His attitude is simply do or don't do.

K.B., did you see the movie Summer of '42. There's a moment in there that for me sums up these kinds of moments. The 15 year old boy helping the gorgeous woman move something heavy says, "this could cause a hernia." Then later suffers agonies berating himself saying, "I HAD to say hernia."

I always think of that when I feel I've said the wrong thing.

K.B. said...

I used to teach dancing -- "can't" wasn't allowed in the studio. The dancers could say "I'm having some problems with this" or "I'm finding this difficult", but "I can't do this" was NOT allowed. The rationale was that telling ourselves that we can't do something meant that we were giving ourselves permission not to do it.

It's amazing how much effect those sorts of things have on us, really.

On the other thing, I've been traveling for over a year now, and if I had a dollar for every time I've opened my mouth and unwittingly said something "wrong" in any of the cultures I've been around, I'd be rich. (You start recognizing the little signs when you've done that sort of thing pretty quickly...) I think I'm actually starting to form a thicker skin on my cringe reflex...

Peggy Payne said...

I remember licking an envelope once in India. Which is simply not done there. One man never did get over it.

Peggy Payne said...

K.B., what kind of dancing?

K.B. said...

Ummm, Irish stepdancing. :) Probably second only to ballet for un-natural dance form.

K.B. said...

I don't think I'd have ever thought about that one either, but I can see where it makes sense.

We're just back from the neighborhood curry shop. A woman at the takeaway counter actually asked them if they did a beef curry. The two guys behind the counter blinked in disbelief, but one finally recovered enough to suggest lamb. But she wanted beef. Finally the guy had to tell her that most Indians don't EAT beef. At all.

You never know whether to laugh or cry...

Peggy Payne said...

I'd love to have a neighborhood curry shop, but with no hot spice. Which is probably as weird as ordering beef curry.