Friday, March 28, 2008

Responsibility for Unintended Consequences

Are we responsible for that pain which our actions have caused, but which we did not intend to create?

So last night I go to do my stand-up bit and the audience was filled with friends and relatives. People from every part of my life, TheWife and LilBro as well as everyone from cousins to uncles to my grandparents, high school friends like Gwydion and YKW, college friends, co-workers like Confused, Maybe Not, former students like Jeff Maynes, Aurora Goes to Washington, JenB, and friends I have met through the blog like WayOverYonderInTheMinorKey. It was wonderful seeing so many people who were willing to come out on a work night, pay a cover charge and two drink minimum to help me celebrate my 40th birthday with the promise of an evening of comedy. they were there because I invited them.

And then...

It was an open mic competition where anyone could participate. There ended up being twenty three amateur "comedians." I was fourth from the end. Of the twenty three, maybe five actually had material. Of those five, maybe three were mildly funny. These poor people sat through almost three hours of the most painful non-comedy out of nothing but commitment to me. They knew they couldn't leave because they came to support a friend, but staying was simply painful.

I was the root cause of that pain. But, I thought these were going to be much funnier people. I didn't think there were going to be quite so many. I feel incredibly thankful on the one hand that these wonderful people in my life were there for me on this occasion, but I also feel bad that I put them through something no upstanding Comedist would wish on anyone.

So, are we responsible for the pain we unintentionally cause?