my worst critic and the voice of a generation
Updated: May 10
Before I started doing stand up, I always thought I was my own worst critic. Thankfully, I've since found out I am not. It's actually a guy called Chris.
Welcome to the second week of my blog - before I commence discussing Chris with you, it is paramount that I address some important FAQs. As you have likely already observed, my entire brand of comedy is built around slagging off those whom I believe have wronged me in the past. I recognise that this will inevitably garner criticism and I wholeheartedly agree that it should.
I have started writing a blog for goodness sake - this is a truly disgusting thing to do. If you’ve seen 'GIRLS', you will undoubtedly be of the opinion that a white middle class twenty something by the name of Hannah who has nothing unique to say and has never held down a real job in her life should not be writing about her personal experiences. I couldn’t agree more.
I’ve spent a lot of the past week thinking about TV’s worst character and hating myself for bearing any resemblance to her. I’ve been mulling over what this says about my own character repeatedly throughout my writing process, which is as pathetically self indulgent as using phrases like “my writing process”.
I have been asking myself on repeat why I think I ought to be listened to, all while pondering my own lack of uniqueness, and I have started to feel like maybe no one has ever felt this unremarkable before. This has led me to the realisation that such a feeling might actually make me quite remarkable. Of course, this is ridiculous - every feeling has been already felt, and as the great philosopher Selena Gomez said, every beautiful thought's been already sung. Selena makes a good point, love has been explored endlessly - but has hate? Probably. Yeah, of course it has been. At this point, there is really no such thing as an original thought - I am not even the first person to point out that there is no such thing as an original thought.
Fictional Hannah is not unique and neither am I. Uniqueness is surely not even attainable in a world where both Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg exist when realistically we need neither. History is just repeating itself all around us - whatever I observe from it and however I choose to express my silly little feelings about it will have already been said and done in some capacity before me.
It will definitely have been expressed in a better way too. Definitely not on a blog. Gross. Seriously, what am I doing? What exactly am I trying to achieve here - do I actually have the audacity to expect to be the voice of a generation? God, I really am just as bad as fictional Hannah.
Consideration from you, my dear reader, that I might actually be the problem, would therefore be completely understandable and, in fact, encouraged. I welcome your skepticism and applaud your critical thinking skills. Such thought processes might lead you to believe that my choice of subject matter makes me appear pretty bitter.
“Who hurt you?” you might justifiably ask.
“Read on, I am literally spelling it out for you”, I would bitterly respond.
I have now made a commitment to write about a different person I hate every week. Most of my social media followers and one person I fancy now know I have a blog - I have made a choice that will ruin any chances of reciprocation and there is no going back. I’ve made a commitment to the bit, and commit to the bit, I will. However, it has only just dawned on me that my self-imposed task for which there is zero external demand, might have some inherent limitations.
Average life expectancy for women in the UK is 81 years. I am currently 27 years old, meaning if I’m unlucky, I have 54 more years to go. If I really commit to the bit and do one of these each week until the day I die, I have to find a total of 2808 people to hate. Just like another fictional Hannah, this time from '13 Reasons Why', my list currently sits at a mere 13. I don’t believe this amount makes me a particularly hateful person. I’m a 27 year old woman, and 13 is completely reasonable, so actually, I think you ought to grow up - it’s 2021 and it is wrong to judge people by their number.
If I write about all 13 people I currently hate (and I will) it will only just see me through the summer, and while this is reasonable, I agree that accumulating a further 2795 might make me seem a tad bitter. I realise that if one manages to have beef with nearly 3000 people throughout their life, it is probably on them. I can admit that.
In my defence, I just hadn’t previously considered the maths. For a girl with ‘accountant’ on her CV, I admit this was quite the oversight, but I need you to know how truly terrible I was at being an accountant. I am not being modest, I really cannot understate how bad I was at my job - in the 5 years I worked as an accountant between 2016 and 2018, my numerical skills did not improve at all.
Not only has maths failed me once again, but I am also realising that my decision to commit to 2808 blogs, is a ludicrous one regardless of the subject matter, given that no one knows who the fuck I am. I should be ashamed by my own hubris to expect anyone to spend their time reading my blog. Seriously, there are so many other things you can read.
What was I thinking? Did I really need to add to the existing plethora of under qualified and over confident people flooding the market right now who feel the need to have opinions on everything? Did I really have the overwhelming hubris to believe that my dumb little blog could lead to a book deal?*
*Yes, I did. That’s literally the reason I am doing this.
Someone like me shouldn’t be given a book deal unless they have done something truly remarkable with their life - only if they can truly claim they are the voice of a generation. Right now, everyone has an opinion about everything and every bookshop is already oversaturated with young women having success just because their fathers were heavily involved in the publication process. With exception and sincere apologies to Anne Frank, of course.
Why would I want to add to that? What makes me think I even deserve to? It’s absurd, and there is absolutely no chance that someone like me could be seen as someone capable of expressing a profound truth about any given topic. I am not someone capable of sharing poignant observations. How could I be? How could I possibly highlight universal truths that will resound with the masses when I am frankly unremarkable myself?
The only thing worse than writing a blog about people you hate is reading one about people you don’t know. Seriously, what is wrong with you? That being said, thank you so much for joining me here, and welcome back!
This week you will be hearing about Chris. The reason I wrote about Chris this week is because I heard from Chris this week. It’s never going to be deeper than that I’m afraid. I am literally just sharing my sad little diary entries with you.
I used to work with Chris when I was a remarkably bad accountant. Shortly after we started working together, my numeracy skills must have really blown him away, because Chris made a move. I told him I was flattered but politely rejected his offer telling him I didn’t want to date someone I worked with. A short while later, Chris asked me out. I said no. Chris later asked once more. This time I thought “fuck it. let’s be together forever” and we’re married now - because the third time really is a charm. Fortunately this is a joke, as I am not living in a piece of shit 90s rom com.
However, like every rom com lead who came before him, Chris boldly persisted while we worked together in a soulless office; soulless based on the interior design but also because so few of its employees actually had souls. Our office was located on Baker Street, and initially I thought this was extremely cool. Later, I came to the realisation that it isn't very wise to choose a company simply because you enjoy the work of a nearby fictional detective.
I actually expected to enjoy working in a soulless office. A real estate agent would have described it as 'modern' rather than 'soulless'; the interior of the building was super swanky and there were long hallways with floor to ceiling glass sliding doors. There were breath-taking views from the bathrooms on the top floor looking out over London, making them, by far, the fanciest bathrooms I have ever regularly cried in.
I had only seen offices like it on TV shows like 'Suits'. I always thought existing in such an environment would make me feel really grown up and sophisticated, and that I’d march down the hallway towards my very own Mike Ross looking and feeling like Meghan Markle in my heels. I later found out that heels are horribly uncomfortable when you are not intoxicated enough to ignore the pain, and such self medication is typically frowned upon in the workplace. I was then marching down the hall in flat shoes and later had to stop marching altogether because someone with as little job responsibility as I needn't march anywhere. Later I came to the realisation that it isn't very wise to choose a company simply because you enjoy the work of/ want to date a fictional lawyer.
Unfortunately Mike Ross didn’t work in my soulless office, nor did anyone I wanted to date, despite Chris making more offers than DFS. Any guidance counsellor worth their salt could have told me not to commence a career in hopes of living out what I had seen on TV, and could have easily clocked that I clearly wanted to be an actor who pretended to work. Luckily for me, the training I was offered at the beginning of my employment was so abysmal that I had no idea how to do my job for the entire duration of said employment, so I actually did spend a great deal of time pretending to work.
A few months into my employment, I realised it was too late to ask my manager to explain what a debit and a credit was, so instead of embarrassing myself in an attempt to rectify my severe lack of understanding, I opted to avoid responsibility altogether. Often I would go to the toilet to buy time during the day, but I quickly realised I didn't want to have a reputation as the girl who goes to the toilet all the time. I ended up spending a lot of my time in the kitchen, searching for a reason at the bottom of one of my 42 coffees of the day. Unfortunately, when you go to the kitchen as frequently as I did and you choose to consume coffee each time, you do actually end up also being the girl who goes to the toilet all the time, and then eventually to your GP.
As I often do, I really committed to the bit, and I was known at my office as the girl who drank more coffees than she could count - little did they know that it was just a distraction from the fact that I couldn’t actually count. Coffee is fine, but I shouldn't have needed to base my entire personality around a beverage at work, it wasn't Bumble. However, and unfortunately, I had created a monster, and for Secret Santa every year I would receive a coffee themed gift, and every year for Christmas, someone in my life would receive a coffee themed gift.
The reason I tell you all of this is to explain to you that no one at my office really knew me. I mean, do any of us really know each other? Yeah, probably… god, I hope I find that one day. Sorry, I’m off track now. Where was I?
When I moved to London I knew no one besides my cousin, so most friends I made initially came from work. Most of my friends therefore knew me as the coffee girl, which I must stress is not the extent of my personality. I also like tea. During this phase in my life (and at risk of sounding reprehensibly self absorbed) I kept my real self hidden. I had just spent 14 years trying to play golf professionally (more on this insanity in a later blog), and although I was desperate to be a stand up comedian for all of that time, I didn’t want to be the girl who pivoted from golf straight into stand up. I thought I should be realistic and get a real job.
I didn’t tell anyone I wanted to be a comedian, and when I actually started comedy, I told very few people in my life that I had done so. I anticipated that those around me would doubt my decision, I knew that most knew me as quiet and polite, and no one would describe me as anything like a ‘class clown’. I knew my aspirations would surprise people, and even if the surprise from others lacked any malice, I didn’t want that surprise to bleed into doubt in my own mind. This is the reason I started identifying with yet another fictional Hannah - this time Montana - as I started to live a much less glamorous double life of open mics and accounting. After all, I figured why subject yourself to just one industry where sexual harassment is rife, when you can have the best of both worlds.
There were some friends in my life who I should’ve told sooner, like one of my closest pals, who, much to my delight, did not so much as blink when I told her. She told me it made complete sense - after all, we’d spent most of our friendship quoting stand up to one another and laughing when one of our managers would tell Trevor Noah jokes at work drinks like they were his own. She was a rare breed who saw who I wanted to be before I even did. Her support was always a big part of where my (arguably very little) confidence came from.
Since then, despite the opening joke of this post, comedy has actually been really helpful for my confidence, because for the first time in my life I am doing something I love that I am also good at. When I was an accountant, I hated it and was bad at it, and when I was a golfer, I was good at it but I hated it. Starting comedy made me the happiest I had ever been, and being truly happy for the first time changed me. A different friend saw my increase in confidence - from unhealthy low levels of self hatred to baseline self respect and thought that I had let my (very minor) success go to my head. This was really upsetting to me, as I never thought I was being cocky or overconfident, I just finally didn’t hate myself. That’s not what this friend saw - she thought that I was now seeing myself as some sort of deity, which was quite frankly insane - all that happened was a positive change from incredibly low levels of self belief that I had in my life before comedy, or as I like to refer to that time period, BC.
I'll discuss this more in a later blog - but for now, let's get back to Chris. Chris was one of the people who unsurprisingly doubted me when I finally came clean about my dirty little secret - he told me that I was the least likely person to become a comedian of all the people he’s ever met. In fairness to Chris, he did also work with Trevor Noah, so it was only fair that Trevor was placed above me on the list. However, what Chris said hurt my feelings a lot, and not just because he said it, but because when he did, a lot of friends of mine at the time, including the aforementioned one, agreed with him and that made me sad.
Anyway, last week I updated my website, and mentioned this comment from Chris, quoting it in my bio. I did share my update to Instagram, but Chris isn’t on Instagram and in less than 24 hours, I received a message from him apologising for ever doubting my comedic ability. And, he added an unexpected apology for the sexual harassment, which was thoughtful of him.
Despite everything about my ~brand~, I do believe in forgiveness and I appreciated the fact that he reached out. Chris and I had a nice chat and I asked him if he was ok with me sharing what I have written about him. I accepted his apology, which devastatingly means I’m now down to 12 enemies. I’m even further away from my goalpost of 2808 than when I started this damn thing and he’s forced my hand into pathetically discussing forgiveness in week 2, which is incredibly off-brand for me. I might have to reinstate Chris as an enemy simply due to this unprecedented damage to my reputation.
It was nice to receive an apology, but it was even nicer to know that unless Chris has a google alert for his first name, he must be regularly checking in on my website. It’s wonderful to have a fan, especially one who was once my biggest critic, so welcome Chris!
Chris‘ message was the first time my bitter little jokes have resulted in an apology and I felt like writing about this, because it’s somewhat of a milestone, and because - I’ll be completely honest - not much else of note has happened this week, and I made a commitment.
It’s now my turn to apologise - and I must do so because I know this post has not been at all interesting. This blog post definitely wasn’t worth your time - someone said something pretty minor to me a few years ago and I’ve written a couple thousand words about how that made me feel - I’m sorry for doing that. But you chose to read it - and that’s on you.
You’re almost done now, and in my defence, I already told you I had nothing special to say up front. You already know I do not believe I deserve to have the audacity to think that my thoughts have value. I already know that nothing I will ever say is revolutionary. I am no different from any other normal average person. I am just like everyone else and all I am doing is writing about my boring experiences thus far on this planet each week - an extraordinarily ordinary experience, if you will - a shared experience, I guess you could say.
Holy shit... does that make me the voice of a generation?