mad in pursuit journal

DISPATCHED FROM THE CROSSROADS, AT THE intersection OF laughter and hard work

Hearing the Muse

Jon Stewart Stephen ColbertInspiration... obsession. I should have a special section for the work habits of passionate people. I know it isn't true, but I still have that immature tendency to think that successful people just woke up one day that way — or (George W aside) had it handed to them on a silver platter.

In this week's Rolling Stone, Maureen Dowd interviews Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert as "America's Anchors."

STEWART: People always seem to view comedy as an affliction as opposed to an ability. I think it is a wiring issue. I remember the first time I got up onstage to do comedy. I sucked. There was something about it where I went, "Oh, right, this rhythm feels like how my brain works, and I think I will get good at this if I work hard." But I don't view it as an affliction.

COLBERT: I had a similar feeling. I started as a straight actor. I'd go onstage and I'd think, "Wow, this is the only thing I want to work really hard at. I will rehearse fifty times on a single scene, I don't care, I'll do it again. I took that as evidence that I would be a fool not to follow what was clearly the wise thing for me to do.

I like it that Jon Stewart could see past "sucking" when he started as a stand-up comedian. He knew he had the ability if he persisted.

I like Colbert's recognition of a talent and a passion and his willingness to give himself over to it.

Two guys with a calling. Two guys who could recognize their gifts and had the persistence to tackle that miserable learning curve.

(Aside: what is a "calling"? Who exactly does the calling? Or what? Or is it, as Stewart says, just "wiring." What is it when you know you're "supposed to" do something in life? What gives you that insight? Topic for another day...)


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