Everything I Know About Comedy, I Learned From Survivor

Everything I Know About Comedy, I Learned From Survivor

Have you ever been madly in love for all the wrong reasons? 

I often hear ex-spouses saying something along the lines of "I didn't love them, I loved the idea of them". 

After 13 years of performing on the road I can say with confidence that I loved the idea of stand up comedy. I resonated with the identity. It was the closest thing I could find to being a Lost Boy from Peter Pan. 

What I didn't realize was that my love for comedy was actually a much deeper love for education

Stand up comedy provided an instant-feedback environment. I could try a new idea, get live feedback and apply changes at the next mic. Bombing helped me develop a calloused spirit.

I was learning how to own my mistakes and fail forward. 

I was learning how to communicate with others through stories and jokes.

I was learning how to be in my voice. 

And then I discovered Survivor. 

Sociology in a bottle. An ultimate class in human behaviour. The #1 curiosity that drew me to stand up in the first place. Why do people do the things they do? Why don't humans treat each other better? 

The game is so electrically charged because of its zero-sum parameters and high stakes. People act differently in zero-sum situations then they would in a positive-sum situation. When the only way to win is at the cost of someone else; humans will do some gnarly things to win the game. 

Lucky for us, life is not a zero-sum game.

But it does have zero-sum players. 

People who win at the expense of other people. 

That makes it pretty shitty for the positive-sum players who don't think the same way.

Now, apply this to the world of Canadian stand up comedy. It's a game full of positive-sum players but controlled by a powerful minority of zero-sum thinkers.

How does that change? 

Years ago I had the privilege of seeing Arlene Dickinson speak at Archangel Summit in Toronto. She was speaking about win/win business during the time of Trump tariffs.

It resonated with me because I was struggling with shaping my own mind. What kind of thinker am I? For a while there, I can honestly say zero sum. The industry has its way making you fight for crumbs. I regret that period in my life but learned a lot from it. 

It was this shift from zero-sum thinking to positive-sum thinking that transformed me from a comedian who only cared about his own career to a business owner who wants to use comedy as a learning-vehicle for training & education. I'm taking everything I learned from my past 3 years at Shopify and applying it to this business.

It has become my personal mission to elevate Canadian comedians to global audiences. 

So far this business has been difficult to build and full of suffering but it's become my favourite game to play.

That's how I know it's real love. 

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