Many years ago, my uncle, Glen pointed out an odd habit that Jerry Lewis had.
Jerry Lewis, who passed away on August 20, 2017, was an American comedian, actor, singer, humanitarian, director, screenwriter, producer, headliner, and author. He was known for his slapstick humor in film, television, stage, and radio and was nicknamed the “King of Comedy.”
Occasionally in his act, but mostly when being interviewed about serious topics like the meaning of life, he would talk about himself in the third person.
My uncle thought it was very strange and it left him feeling uneasy. I can understand why.
Jerry Lewis (as himself): “Jerry doesn’t like doing that. Jerry prefers it this way… If Jerry weren’t crazy, he might use the first person and say the word I like everyone else.”
OK, Jerry didn’t say that last part, but it would have been funny if he had.
In honor of the comedic genius, and due to the fact that I need a test subject for this next trick, I would like to introduce you to specimen 1A who will be speaking in the third-person:
Jesse Stoddard, male, 175 pounds when watching his diet and not eating too many Cheez-Its during America’s Got Talent…
…Which eventually devolves into watching ridiculously written teenage lust serial shows on the WB network late into the evening with more Cheez-Its or perhaps ice cream. Yet, Jesse digresses.
You might think that I am going to attempt to draw more connections between Jesse and Jerry Lewis.
I can see how you would draw that conclusion. Jesse has all the makings of a Jerry Lewis level celebrity, except he lacks just a few minor qualities. Like talent.
And Lewis was also funny.
Jesse is a friendly guy who most people think is quite nice. Jesse is forty years old, has a wife, two kids ages 10 and 8, and a fluffy alien rodent that resembles a small dog. He lives in a cute little house in small-town America with a white picket fence on a street that you’d think would have a name like “Fluffy Clover Meadow Lane.”
Alas, the cross street is named after single-digit letters and numbers, but other than that he is fitting nicely into a neat little stereotypical archetype thus far.
Jesse thinks he is Chris Pratt.
Fact: Christopher Michael Pratt is of similar age to Jesse, and Pratt’s father remodeled houses. So did Jesse’s.
Fact: Pratt was a homeless bum in Maui. Jesse was a homeless couch surfer in the University District of Seattle because he could never afford the flight over.
Fact: Pratt was a daytime stripper. Jesse performed in the musical Hair, which is an excuse for old hippies to watch twenty-year-olds strip.
Fact: Pratt’s career in performing started in 2000 when he was discovered while waiting tables. Jesse was discovered dancing naked on tables.
Fact: Chris Pratt has a net worth of $40 million dollars. He is rich and famous. When he gives a speech at an Our Generation MTV awards ceremony, he can speak plainly about his beliefs, use a little mild humor, pepper in some common sense, and get 1.9 million views on YouTube in a matter of days, while signing another endorsement contract.
Jesse accumulated 2.2 million dollars of debt at 30 years old. He is not rich, and no one really knows what he does for a living if anything. When he speaks, it is at an open mic in front of eight people who are questioning his sanity.
How could this possibly be?
And by that, I mean to ask how in the world could Jesse not be Chris Pratt?!
(I am not inferring Jesse thinks he is actually someone else, because that would imply that he has indeed gone bat guano crazy.)
The answer is simple. It is because Chris Pratt is a lucky bastard.
And Jesse is as lucky as a rabbit caught in a trap having to gnaw off its own foot.
OK, I admit this is at best an oversimplification and at worst the ravings of a jaded and bitter burn out.
The truth is, Chris Pratt is an awesome dude who works hard and deserves everything he got… Yadda yadda yadda.
…And let’s face it, Jesse didn’t exactly stay focused on one thing. He did a lot of things. A crazy lot of things that aren’t even related to each other.
Maybe Jesse is like Benjamin Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin was a postmaster, scientist, inventor, author, printer, politician, statesman, diplomat, and civil activist. He is the only founding father who is a signatory of all four of the major documents of the founding of the United States.
Jesse’s parents both worked at the postal service, and his mother was indeed a postmaster. But they both made Jesse go postal at a young age, and so having already attained the outcome, he never saw a need to work there.
Jesse did try inventing something once. It was an adaptable armrest for your mouse arm that could be attached to any chair for superior ergonomics. He sent all of his life savings to one of those TV inventor infomercials and received a CAD drawing of his idea and a nice certificate.
He was able to burn the CAD drawing to keep the fire lit during the winter, thereby saving his tribe from the inevitable hypothermia and cannibalism.
Jesse has business interests in several ventures, and once managed an aerial acrobatics group, landing them a huge gig at Microsoft so that drunk computer nerds could drool all over scantily clad women dangling their limbs from hoops swinging up against Chihuly glass art in a suggestively rhythmic fashion.
No one “discovers” Jesse. In fact, one time he accidentally almost allowed someone to discover him when he got a “call back” audition to the Mama Mia National Tour.
But he refused to go. Because Jesse is determined to discover himself.
See, part of the problem is that he will never be Jerry Lewis, Chris Pratt or even Benjamin Franklin for that matter because he is simply Jesse. He has his own unique ability.
We each have things we are adequately skilled at that might be similar to other folks, yet at the same time, there are things that are actually true talents and gifts that make us dissimilar and set us apart; raw natural talent and gifts that make us special and needed as part of a team and as part of the necessary source for developing essential skills.
Like being good at Trivial Pursuit.
I am deathly afraid of playing trivial pursuit for fear of looking like an idiot.
It’s hard to look smart when you can’t answer basic questions about your own generation’s music. I can’t tell you the year Nirvana came out because I was too busy playing Final Fantasy on the Nintendo Entertainment System.
It is my contention that if Jesse simply focused more on his unique talents and gifts, he might finally find his way. At least, that is part of the puzzle—he also needs to see where that intersects with his passion and fascination, as well as the market demand.
It is yet to be determined how much money playing old 1980’s NES games pays on the open market.
(Sure, Contra was easy enough to beat with the cheat code, but I don’t think anyone ever beat Castlevania.)
You might say that Jerry Lewis, Chris Pratt, and Benjamin Franklin all have something in common; they found their true talent and gifts and focused on creating things with those strengths until they made their own luck and were discovered by a hungry market that just happened to want those specific things at those special times.
That’s pretty hard to do unless you first figure out what your true talents and gifts are.
…Unless your gift is surfing the Internet, which in that case you are really crushing it, dude!
My advice to Jesse, and to you all, is to do a little research to find out exactly what your true talents and gifts really are. I am using the Kolbe profile test, which analyzes your conative thinking (how you strive and problem solve), as well as the StrengthFinder’s test and others that I pay money to (much to my wife’s chagrin).
You could also just ask the people around you what they think your unique abilities and special qualities are, and they will gladly tell you just to get you off their case. If you are lucky, some will even give you some backhanded compliments to not-so-subtly suggest what you need to work on and to suggest your quest is pointless. “Why are you questioning everything? You think too much. Just stop talking and conform to the Matrix like the rest of us,” they will insist.
The clues are there if you choose to look for them, although many of us are blind to what is right in front of us unless people outside of our bat guano mind hit us over the head with it.
Once you see them, you can hone those special talents and “giftings” and add more of them back into your life.
…while eating Cheez-Its and watching America’s Got Talent.