Do you watch the HBO show Girls? If you do, you probably already know where I’m going with this. If you don’t, I’ll give you a quick recap of a recent cringe-worthy, awkward, highly-uncomfortable-but-ultimately-kind-of-funny scene – one that we can all learn a valuable (though admittedly basic) lesson from.
Marnie (played by Alison Williams) has been writing songs – or lyrics at least – with her guitar-playing friend Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach).
The songs are deeply personal, gentle in their execution (acoustic guitar, two-part harmonies), and ideal for an audience that plans to hang on her every sappy word. Because those audiences exist when you’ve never played a gig before, right?
To Marnie and Desi’s credit, they choose a “Jazz Brunch” at a local fine-ish dining establishment to unveil their duo proper. Seems like it’d be a great place for some delicate acoustic music, right? Nah.
Early into their set, during a song dedicated to – and written for – a friend in attendance, the crowd gets unruly: kids start running, parents start chasing, brunchers get a little loose-lipped after one too many mimosas. The vibe of the room shifts from mildly interested to distracted to full-on hostile when a kid covers his ears and asks “Why won’t she stop singing?”
At this point Marnie breaks down and forgets her lyrics. Desi stops to try and console her but just ends up snapping at the audience as Marnie leaves the stage, crying, lamenting that “People aren’t even paying attention, they’re not even listening.” Breakdown alert!
Outside, we see Marnie in tears, and when her friend Elijah arrives, ostensibly to comfort her, she begins defending the significance of her art between sobs:
And then Elijah gives Marnie some of the best, expletive-filled advice a young, idealistic musician (especially one trying to make it in New York City) could get:
He continues: “The crying, the shaking – you gotta give it a f***ing rest. If you wanna do this, you gotta thicken your skin, OK? You should have stopped giving a f*** when you got on that stage!”
He then goes on to explain that Judy Garland and Lady Gaga share a non-caring attitude that, despite what every detractor told them on their way up, got them exactly where they wanted to be. This is what Marnie is missing.
Marnie got taught a hard lesson that a lot of us have learned while starting from the bottom: you’re going to play some tough rooms, and if you don’t find a way to handle it, shrug it off, or work even harder because of it, you’re not going to last very long. Marnie’s example is obviously a little extreme so it’ll make for some good comedy, but we’re willing to bet some of you have played rooms like this.
Tell us your stories of terrible crowds, or offer your advice for someone like Marnie in the comments!
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