© 2011 Leighann Lord
I was recently asked to lend my emcee-hosting talents to an event for a Local Community Group, cool. On a Saturday night, not so cool. For most people, Saturday is their time off. For me, it’s my time on. I work nights and weekends. In fact, Saturday is usually when I can and do make the most money. Giving up a Saturday night, is like asking a nine-to-fiver to give up a Wednesday. Which, by the way, for me is wide open.
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As a professional stand-up comedian I am often asked to volunteer my talent to various nonprofit organizations and charities. I am honored and I wish I could say “yes” to them all, but I can’t. I am extremely fortunate that I get to do what I love for a living. But that’s means, I do what I love For A Living. I can’t afford to do free shows at the expense of paying ones. I enjoy donating to good causes, but personal solvency, food, clothing and shelter are causes that are near and dear to my heart as well.
So, for as many times as I’m able to say, “yes,” to a benefit show, I also have to say, “no.” Human beings have a strong aversion to the word no. We probably don’t like it because it’s the first word we hear and the one we hear the most. Although it’s the nature of a question, people are never really prepared for a “no” and don’t deal well with getting it. Sometimes it makes us angry and resentful with the person who didn’t give us the yes we were looking for. That’s only natural. We want what we want when we want it.
Between you and me, that’s why I prefer texting and email to talking on the phone. “No” is easier to type than say, or so I thought. When I respectfully turned down the above-mentioned gig, via email, they tried to guilt me into it. I guess “no” only means “no” when you’re in a relationship.
I gotta say, attempting to make me feel like a shitty human being because I’m unable to grant a request didn’t work when I was dating. It isn’t going to work now. Besides, I’m a former Catholic. I am used to disappointing people.
And for the briefest of moments, the experience made me feel like Oprah. Oprah helps a lot of people and they adore her for it. And why wouldn’t they? She gave them a “yes.” But if you’re still waiting for your piece of the pie, then you’re probably not feeling the love. I think Wyclef Jean said it best, “If you ain’t sharin’, people ain’t carin’.”
I’m sorry The Group couldn’t graciously accept my “no.” I’m sure their economic realities rendered them oblivious to my own. I hope someday, when I achieve uber fame and independent wealth, I won’t have to say “no” to any worthy cause be it college scholarships, homeless puppies, or disillusioned liberal democrats. But I’ve learned the hard way that it’s better to say “no,” then to say “yes” and renege. And when you work for yourself, with no corporate safety net, paying gigs trump free gigs almost every time.