The best way to watch Louis C.K. is alone.
Not his bit part in Parks & Rec or the hilarious role he played in American Hustle, but his hour-long stand-up routines.
They are hilarious.
But leave a chalky aftertaste of guilt.
He makes fun of old people.
And how they die.
He makes fun of his young daughters.
And calls one of them an assh*** for interrupting his Emmy-winning thoughts to inform him of some dog she saw.
Push past the guilt though and you see someone who is very comfortable with discomfort. No one can make those jokes without acknowledging the discomfort necessary to vocalize them. Not to mention the (dis)comfort of watching your audience wriggle in their seats after some laugh + cringe-inducing joke about genocide.
In GQ’s comedy issue, Louis expounded on discomfort.
“You’ve got to embrace discomfort. It’s the only way you can put yourself in situations where you can learn, and the only way you can keep your senses fresh once you’re there.”
With some Red Angle Clients we require one 45-second video of each participant speaking with a Spanish-speaking construction worker. They record it on-site with their smartphone and send it to us.
Yeah, we know it’s uncomfortable for many to be on-screen speaking their native language, let alone the Safety Spanish they picked up over the previous six weeks.
That’s the point.
Discomfort is the goal.
Once the video is complete, we see new people emerge, significantly more confident in what they can do.
Armed with only a few dozen words, we see nothing short of transformation for a few.
Discomfort leads to Adaptation leads to Growth.
Louis recalls how he bridged the cultural gap at his junior high school where African-American kids were bused in.
He started sitting at their lunch table, embracing the discomfort head-on.
“It was awkward and scary, but I made a lot of black friends, and that was the only way to do it. It had to be uncomfortable. It was actually racist ‘cause I was sitting down with these kids only because they were black. Sometimes discomfort is the only way through.”
That’s the best kind of racism.
Taking an interest, building relationships, bridging cultures and forcing new experiences through discomfort.
Discomfort is best shared with other people.
Given the increasing number of Hispanics on your jobsite, there’s no reason you can’t pull a Louis: just sit down with that crew of Hispanic drywallers during break… and see what happens.
Resist the urge to experience discomfort alone.
Tonight I’ll watch Louis’ latest stand-up special with my two young boys.
Ok… not really.
Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a training, consulting and eLearning firm bridging the English-Spanish language gap in the construction industry.