Know Thyself

published by Eric Mill on

I have had the most exhausting and wonderful weekends. These last two, I spent 3 days on the set of Cappella, a ~15 minute mockumentary about an a cappella group. The core cast is me and 4 other people I trust as performers implicitly, Dan Gilbreath, Jake Given, Adam Ribaudo, and Sue Constantine. In these 3 days I put in 32 hours, not including travel. I don't deal well with losing huge swathes of free time, and so sometimes I had to cope by zoning out with my DS between takes. But I spent more time fooling around and having fun with these amazing people. In fact, somewhere in the middle of that fooling around we made a movie of our own, on a $0 budget.

I don't know if I've ever said this before. But, these castmates, along with several others I have had the great fortune to know in my time working in comedy at WPI and in Boston, are professional caliber artists. Not just improvisers, not just comedians, not just actors, but artists. With talent, skill, and discipline at the level of any of my heroes on the screen or stage. I truly believe this.

WPI has, for some unknown reason, produced a prodigious level of talent for the last 5 years. Even while at WPI, I had the distinct sensation that Kilroy and Guerilla Improv were above average for college groups. And coming into The Tribe, I had a gut feeling that some of the people in this organization were working at a level equivalent to any of the great people in their 30's or 40's at ImprovBoston or ImprovAsylum. It's been 3 years now of being immersed with these people, and I'm ready to conclude that I was and am correct.

To be totally honest, I almost always attach my judgment of a show or project I'm involved with to my judgment of my own performance in it. When I was in GI for my first year, I was in constant agony because I could never measure up to the people around me. 2 years later, these are the people I feel the most comfortable around, because I'm a stronger person now. I'm still not as good as my friends. But I'm closer. I achieve enough moments, even minutes, where I do do something amazing, and I can briefly feel like an equal. For better or worse, this is enough for me to put aside selfish, immature feelings like jealousy and self-promotion. I can now achieve the minimum necessary to satisfy that side of myself, and I can see that beside that I have a very genuine and grateful admiration for the privilege of being a part of such a magical group of people.

And I don't need to get any better. In fact I don't think I'll ever approach the level of talent as an improviser or actor as that I see around me. I'm not terribly natural at it, but I have enough talent in general to make up for it to some degree. But that's fine. I've been accused before a few times of needing to be better than people around me. I've thought about that, and I've always concluded that I don't need to be better than other people, I just can't be worse. I simply can't stand not feeling like an equal. And I'm more sure of that answer now than ever.


  1. Sara

    This isn't going to be a classy comment, but it's true:

    Don't sell yourself short buddy- you are one funny motherfucker.

  2. PWX

    "In fact I don't think I'll ever approach the level of talent as an improviser or actor as that I see around me."

    One thing, although I think you already know this: There will always be someone you find better than yourself. Incidently those people you think are better than you could possibly think the opposite is true, that you're better than them.

    What's important is that you take pride in what you do and recognize that you've done some good work along with the bad. You don't work to become better than someone else, you work so you can work among the people with talents you admire.

  3. Mr. Nichols

    I agree that there is a metric crapload of talent that has come out of WPI. Uhm, hello, Matt Tucker? Amanda Jean? Those two are natural talent at it's best. Someday, someday soon, it will all come together and something special will be born... just you wait.