I love making people laugh. I’ve been involved in my local improv community for a few years now because there’s nothing more exhilarating to me than causing an entire room to erupt in laughter over something I said.
I remember one particular show that I will not soon forget (as much as I’d like to). I had been struggling with my improv performances and was getting really frustrated. I wasn’t getting very many laughs, and I wanted laughs, dammit! WHY DON’T YOU PEOPLE THINK I’M FUNNY?? So I decided I had to work harder to get the laughs I wanted. I had a scenario all planned out from the sidelines. I was going to go out with a strong southern accent, make a comment about my scene partner’s odd walk, and the game would be that both our characters had ridiculous walks (or something like that… you had to be there in my head to find it funny).
I stepped out onto the stage, made eye contact with my scene partner… And before I could say anything, he said, “Sally, these pigs ain’t going to feed themselves!”
Crap. Not only did he make me a woman when I had planned to go out as a man, but now we were feeding pigs. Okay, no worries, I can make this work…
So I keep the southern accent that I had originally wanted, but now it was a woman’s voice. In panic mode, trying desperately to think up a way to make the scene funny, I started spiraling into a twister of self-sabotage. I was suddenly an overly attached girlfriend who wanted to do nothing but feed pigs with her boyfriend for the rest of her life, ate the pigs to get him to stay (don’t ask how that works, I have no idea) and tried to get him to sign a binding contract. At some point, I tried to seduce him by kissing my belly. (Don’t ask me how that works either, it doesn’t.)
Even the crickets in the audience didn’t make a peep. No one so much as coughed, much less chuckled.
It was soooooo baaaaad.
I was quite embarrassed after that and considered quitting improv altogether to avoid looking my fellow improvisers in the eye just to see the whole thing unfold again. I meditated HARD, begging my bacon to tell me what I was doing wrong. (FYI, that’s not how meditation works.) I kept admonishing myself; why couldn’t I get it right????
Well, I learned the reason later: I had been trying to control and predict the future. (Which, in improv, is comedy suicide.)
If You Can’t Hear Your Bacon, You’re Plugged With Stubbornness
Whenever we speak to our bacon in frustration and desperation, that’s all we’re going to get back: more frustration and desperation. This usually happens when we’re holding on too tight to the way we want something to turn out instead of letting go and letting be. In other words, by trying to tell our bacon what we want to hear, we’re ironically blocking out what our bacon is actually trying to say. And the message your bacon is trying to communicate is always the answer we need.
It’s like you’re ferociously plunging your toilet when all you had to do was flush. You were just too stubborn to let go of the plunger because it made you feel safe and you feared what might happen if you relinquished control.
(No, I do not have a weird relationship with my plunger, thank you very much, KAREN.)
Honesty is the Best Policy
I hate to break it to ya, but if you find yourself grappling with your bacon, trying to make it give you the answer you want, it’s probably because you’re not being honest with yourself about something. Your bacon doesn’t listen to lies; it only thrives on pure, unplungeable truth. (Yes, I am aware that I just compared truth to something you find in a toilet, so sue me.)
Don’t hold onto whatever false belief that you’re attached to. When you start to feel that desperation and anxiety rise up in your body, get quiet, breathe, identify what you’re telling yourself (writing out your stream of consciousness helps), and let it go. Stop and smell the bacon, because it’s there, and accept it as the truth. It always feels good to tell the truth once it’s out, even if it’s just acknowledging it to yourself.
For example, before I broke up with my boyfriend, I was filled to the brim with desperation. I was basically stomping on my bacon, yelling at it to tell me what to do to make me happier in my relationship. Of course, once I finally let go of my stubborn desire to fix the relationship as it was, the toilet filled to the brim with the truth: I was trying to force something to work that wasn’t meant to.
It was a painful pill to swallow of course, but the truth feels so much better than trying to contort my bacon into something that it’s not.
So what are you holding onto? What’s the truth you’re afraid of? Drop the plunger and let your bacon do its magic.
(And for those of you who are wondering, yes, I fully expect people to read the first part of this blog post’s title to the tune of “Let It Go” from Frozen. DO IT. My bacon demands it.)