Curb Your Self-Deprecation
What do I think of the HBO comedy “Curb Your Enthusiasm”? In the words of writer/star Larry David, it’s “pretty, pretty, pretty … pretty good.” I’ve been watching tons of this show lately. If you haven’t seen it, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is like a no-holds-barred “Seinfeld,” (another show which David actually co-created.)
Larry David the character may be a dweeb lacking in confidence, but real-life Larry David is anything but. He’s self-deprecating sure, but he knows he’s talented. If you were worth $800 million and had co-created one of the most famous sitcoms in TV history, you’d have plenty to brag about. Real-life Larry David uses self-deprecating humor, but for just that: humor.
Self-deprecation is fine in small doses. The ability to laugh at oneself is a sign of confidence, let alone a good sense of humor. When self-deprecation becomes a way of life, however, there’s a problem. You can only hear some guy talk himself down before you start questioning his confidence. There’s a difference between telling a joke and calling attention to one’s deficiencies on a regular basis.
Attention guys with the “woe is me” shtick: you’re not doing yourself any favors. I know a few guys who walk around with this whole “I’m a lovable loser” front. Somewhere along the line, the Seth Rogen archetype became desirable. The thing is, as with David, Rogen is a successful guy who uses his humor to make dough. Along with David and Rogen, folks like Rodney Dangerfield and Conan O’Brien made a living off of self-deprecating humor. Self-loathing is good for comics, but it’s not the best thing for the average guy who doesn’t want to look like a whiny loser.
I know a few Larry David’s who could stand to be a little bit more like Shooter McGavin from “Happy Gilmore” (cocky, just not as idiotic.) Funny, intelligent people who make jokes of themselves so much really do damage to their image and self-confidence. Being too self-aware can lead you to overanalyze everything and start questioning your right to be confident. You don’t have to start strutting around like an arrogant asshole, but it doesn’t hurt to be sure of oneself.
The next time you go to rip on yourself and/or one of your inadequacies, stop and consider the message you’re sending to others and, more importantly, yourself. If you tell yourself something enough times, it can start to become true in your mind. Talk about how little game you have or how horrible of a dancer you are and you only make yourself that much smaller. This isn’t a TV show. You might get laughs, but rather than raking in millions of dollars, you’ll do enough damage to your psyche to require thousands of dollars in therapy bills.
Unless you’re the host of a late night talk show or make a living doing Woody Allen impersonations, keep the self-loathing to yourself. It will only bring you that much closer to actual loserdom. Practice moderation in self-mockery.
About John Brhel John Brhel is a freelance writer from upstate New York that enjoys picking apart life's idiosyncrasies and listening to Huey Lewis & the News.