I will never make it really big in this business due to my total ineptitude at networking. Other comics and actors are great at getting into a situation where they are surrounded by important industry people and throwing themselves headlong into self-promotion and schmoozing, but I have been useless at it my entire life. When I was in the Oxford Revue in 1988 we went to a big industry party, where I had the opportunity to introduce myself to people who might help my career, but I was overwhelmed by the whole thing and spent most of my time hiding in the toilet, full of fear and self-loathing and more importantly loathing for everyone else in the room. Things havent changed too much in the intervening two decades.
Its not just with business, I am just quite shy and intimidated by social occasions where I dont know people. This shyness can make me stand-offish and solitary. I dont think this makes me very different from the vast majority of human beings, but there are a select few who are outgoing and garrulous and can make conversation seemingly without awkwardness or self-consciousness. Sometimes if I am full to the brim with alcohol I can overcome the shyness part of the equation, but given my state of inebriation I will usually say or do something that would have a detrimental effect on my employment or social status. I walked into the thronging Hyatt Hotel bar tonight after an unexceptional and tired seven minute gig (Seven minutes? What am I supposed to achieve in seven minutes?) and was filled with the same nausea, revulsion and desire to flee as I had felt in 1988. Had I cared about my career prospects I would have tried to get over this and launch myself into conversations with the shouting, self-important, high-powered executives around me, but what would I say? How would I find my way into those conversations, even if I wanted to be in them? And how would I know who was worth speaking to? Because one of my ultimate networking weaknesses is that I am terrible at remembering who important people are or what they do or what their names are. Back home I have bumped into executives who I have had meetings with and who have commissioned work and I have often totally forgotten who they are. It is hard to suck up to people if you have no idea who they are. And executives are a vain bunch and like for you to be in awe of them and scared of them and most importantly know who they are, especially if they have given you a few thousand pounds for a script that you have not yet delivered.
I think somewhere inside of me I still cling to the idea that people should get on based on ability and talent and that in a fair world people would judge your work and make decisions based on that, rather than your ability to be in the right places, making the right faces, saying the right things, but I am, of course, living in a dream world. Why pluck a wall-flower when you are in the middle of a field filled with ostentatious floral arrangements? Especially when the flowers around you are jumping up at you, so you dont even have to bend down to pick them. Why push through the forest of flowers tangling round your feet to get to the edge to find yourself a weed on the periphery, who doesnt even know who you are and who seems to resent you anyway?
This is all much more a fault with me than with anyone else and is complicated by the fact that although I probably wouldnt want to do most of the jobs that would be offered to me by the people at Montreal, I would also like to be asked. And if I was asked I might suddenly find I did want to do the jobs after all. Id be an excellent English butler in Joey, why cant they see that?
But luckily due to my introverted nature (you know on all those times I am not dancing round and showing off on stage in front of hundreds of strangers I am that kind of introvert)and my total inadequacy at networking it will never become an issue.