Steve Martin Got This Exactly Right

Have you ever seen Jerry Seinfeld’s Netflix show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee? It’s a fascinating show because you can see comedians dissect their shows, comedy, and talk about life.

I love comedy and I do enjoy the show. I’m not really a huge car fan and I’ll admit I don’t agree with every point of view presented on the show but it is interesting to hear them.

One of the things I heard from an episode with Steve Martin was very interesting to me. It was this exchange between Steve and Seinfeld.

Seinfeld: “I think the thing that’s most amazing about you, is the bits that you did are sitting on this mountain of confidence.”

Steve: “When I first started out, I decided to fake confidence. Because I thought it was important that they sensed I believed. If I was the slightest bit nervous about something, they could smell it, and then they would become judges.”

Seinfeld’s response is the best because he says:

“But even to fake it. It’s no different from having real confidence.”

I really couldn’t agree more. The next two months we’re talking about confidence in 252. Specifically how true confidence comes from trust in God. I’ve written before how I struggle with confidence. But when to comes to presenting, confidence can be a killer on stage for a performer. Whenever I’m working with someone new on stage I try to encourage them and remind them that I picked them for a reason. When you have a presenter that doesn’t confidently fill the position they’re in, it comes across in the room as if something is wrong.

Someone missed a line.

A prop isn’t working.

Sound or tech missed a cue.

This person is new.

All of that and more go through the audience’s mind when they are watching a person without confidence. Inversely, I’ve seen new people miss lines and have malfunctioning props, that own their time on stage and it comes across like it was all supposed to happen.

This doesn’t mean that you’re looking for arrogant actors (cause that’s a director’s worse nightmare). In fact, it means the opposite. I like to replace confidence with trust. Confident actors can absolutely be humble. They trust the script, they trust the director, they trust the audience and they trust their performance. Humble yet confident actors take direction but also aren’t worried about coming across as silly, over the top, or corny, they own their role 110%, regardless of how it might make them look.

Photo by Lui Peng on Unsplash

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