There’s an episode in the second season of Louie that’s … well, relevant to me right now.
The idea is this: Louie takes a gig working at a Trump casino. His normal act tanks, so he starts dissing both the gamblers there and throws in some shots at Trump. This gets him reminded by the manager that his contract includes a clause that says he can’t make fun of Trump, so he quits. Then he runs into Joan Rivers, who says he’s stupid for not accepting the restrictions and just sucking it up: “You don’t know when you’re lucky.”
This episode bothered me at the time, and still does. Or rather, one part of the morality of the episode bothers me.
There’s a lot of value here. You should appreciate the value of any gig, no matter how small or unappreciative they might seem. You shouldn’t needlessly aggravate the people who pay you or can help you up.
In this episode, the waters are muddied because Louie isn’t taking a principled stand in mocking Trump – he’s just desperate to not bomb, and pissed off at the situation. And yeah, he should have sucked it up publicly.
That distinction is never made, though. Maybe it’s assumed that such distinctions don’t apply to comedians, that they don’t or can’t make a principled stand or say things that make a real-world difference in their acts. (Paging Mr. Stewart and Mr. Colbert! )
The advice that the (at least semi-fictional) Joan Rivers gives only makes the distinction between whether or not it advances your career financially or not.
And that is a very limiting idea of what “success” is.1
As I’ve long pointed out, I could fairly easily get into the author-scamming business. I have the technical know-how to make it happen.
But I’m not. I even backed out of doing the publishing services business.
Those decisions aren’t making me money.
But there’s a value there that makes it worth it.
1 Caveat: It becomes more of a thorny issue when those decisions are the difference between eating or not.