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Reflections On My Underperforming Comedy Special

Last night, I showed up to the Dunkin awards in a t-shirt and jeans, extremely high on weed edibles. This wasn’t some contrived display of “anti” behavior; I wasn’t dressing down for the sake of seeming apart, or above, the sponsored awards show. Quite simply, I had a brain lapse. My brain didn’t register the outfit requirements. I read one line in a string of emails from our sales team that said “dress to impress!” That was it, and I didn’t take it to heart. Maybe that’s arrogance, maybe it’s just carelessness. It certainly wasn’t a protest, or a holier-than-thy-awards-show act of rebellion. I dropped the ball.

Today, I had a come-to-Jesus conversation with Dave. Pretty rough, to be honest. He reiterated what he said last night—that I was able to dress up for my comedy special, but not for a company event; that I seem to be here to progress my own agenda, and I don’t put the company first. And he reminded me that my comedy special left the company in the red financially. I will try to address all of that.

Regarding my special: I’m extremely grateful that Barstool gave me that opportunity. It was a dream come true, a reach goal that I didn’t expect to achieve for another decade at least. But I also can’t believe how much money they spent on it. The company lost money betting on me, and it makes me fucking sick to my stomach. I didn’t think I deserved it then, and I certainly don’t think I deserve it now that I’ve seen the numbers. Quite simply, I feel I do not possess a mastery of standup comedy that warrants a special. I am not that good. I never thought I was that good. I do my best, and I love doing it, but if not for Barstool, I wouldn’t be a headliner, and I certainly wouldn’t have a special.

Still, I would never have turned it down. Is it my job to tell someone that offers me a special, “hey guys, sorry, but I don’t deserve it”? What comedian in his/her right mind would ever turn down that opportunity? You can’t expect me, or anyone in my position, to be that self-denying. I thought I could deliver. I did my best. The problem is, I haven’t built enough in my time here to entice people to spend money on my comedy. I’m not Big Cat. I’m not Dave. I sit on the shoulders of giants as a mid-level employee at this company. I’ve said this before: if Barstool were a publicly-traded company and I were fired/quit tomorrow, the stock wouldn’t budge. I don’t move the needle. I know exactly where I stand. I am replaceable.

So what can I do? Put my nose down and get back to writing. That used to be a strength of mine. For the first 24 months that I worked here, I thought my job was on the line every single day that I came to work, and my writing reflected that. At some point, I got comfortable. And then too comfortable, which is when you start to take your position for granted.

That’s entitlement. I’m pretty embarrassed, frankly. Despite my brand and my background, I hate entitlement and it nauseates me to think it has affected my drive, purpose, and professional calibration. I only deserve that which I  produce. My work here is my reward; labor ipse voluptas. I won’t take it for granted again.

And so, to Dave, Dunkin Donuts, to those who watched/signed up for my special: I apologize. I am grateful for the wakeup call. I will not need another.

Buckle up.

-Francis