Everybody is prone to experiencing failure, no matter what their social status is. That being said, even celebrities can experience failure, and in many cases, it is what shapes them into the human beings we see on TV all the time. It is the same case with Jim Carrey, who also had to face failure before he could become the comedian we all love today.
Is it a shock that Jim Carrey himself went through hardship? It wouldn’t be a surprise, given the crazy facial expressions and wild personality we are used to seeing him portray in his movie characters. But as you’re about to find out, Jim Carrey had to start from the bottom of the ladder to be where he is today.
Jim Carrey’s Past
The famous actor from Dumb and Dumber and The Mask would have never thought that he’d become a comedic sensation in the future. When he was a child, he had to live in the least pleasant conditions. His mother wasn’t able to work, due to mental illness. Meanwhile, his father was an artist, but although he could’ve been a great comedian, he didn’t think it was possible for him, so he gave up. He got a safe, regular job as an accountant instead.
Therefore, Carrey’s father was the only one able to provide money for the family, and it was a financial struggle since he had a wife and four children to take care of. He ended up losing his job when Jim Carrey was only 12 years old. As a result, they had to live in a car. According to Carrey, “It was a traumatic kick in the guts.”
His First Comic Stand-Up Was a Disaster
Like things weren’t bad enough already, Carrey’s first comedic moment was a total failure. Basically, Carrey always wanted to become a performer and knew he was made for that. His teachers even agreed to let him have a stand-up moment after class so that he can pay attention to the rest of the lesson.
But then he went to a real stand-up gig, where things didn’t go too well. He had his dad help him write his material, and he attended a real gig at Yuk Yuk’s in Toronto, while he was still in his fresh teenage years. Nevertheless, it didn’t end up well, because he was booed off stage afterward.
Not to mention that he was also dressed up in a polyester suit, so he could look similar to the Dead Martin Roast people. While he was halfway through the comedy act, a Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack started playing, which said “Crucify him” several times in a row. Afterward, Mark Breslin, the man who gave Jim Carrey his first gig, took the microphone backstage and said: “Totally boring, totally boring.”
He Worked as a Janitor
Since his family was struggling, he had to do something to support them. This is why in 1978, he quit school and worked as a janitor. And although he failed his first gig, he wasn’t discouraged. He maintained his humor and was rather determined to go this route no matter what.
He Finally Had His First (Successful) Gig
As mentioned, Carrey was very much determined to still try becoming a comedian. So, he went back to Yuk Yuk’s, where he used his own material this time. The second time he didn’t get booed off the stage. In fact, people actually seemed to like it. He managed to land his first touring gig afterward, as he was asked to open up the act for Rodney Dangerfield.
First L.A. Residence and Losing The Tonight Show
Getting his first L.A. residence wasn’t as luxurious as you’d think. His residence was actually a closet. There was even a moment on the show when two comics found a residence in a closet, which was inspired by Carrey’s experience.
He declared during the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour that he met someone who said they had a room. But it turned out to be a closet instead, so he had to live there for about a year.
Later on, he was invited to The Tonight Show, which was a very big thing back in the day. If you were invited there, you knew you were successful. Carrey made it, except that he had to do a set at a local comedy club, so he had lost the Tonight Show gig. But he still managed to be there 6 months later, as he had to promote a television show.
Carrey’s Speech on Failure
Back in 2014, Jim Carrey had a speech at the Maharishi University of Management. There are videos all over the Internet of this speech, and it’s a truly inspirational one. He went on to talk about fear, failure, and actively pursuing your dreams. He encouraged everyone to risk being noticed for doing the things they love, rather than go on a path created out of fear.
He used the story of his father as an example, as his father could’ve been a comedian, but he chose a normal career so he could support his family.
“My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that was possible for him. So, he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant and when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job and our family had to do whatever we could to survive.” Jim said in his speech.
He also told the public about how much he’s learned from his father, out of which one lesson stands out the most. The lesson was that “you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
What Can We Learn from Carrey?
As we’re concluding Jim Carrey’s story of failure and growth, it’s important to look at the situation and figure out what we can learn from it.
First of all, we can learn that a bad financial situation doesn’t stop you from doing what you love. If you really want to pursue a dream, you will go for it despite the hardship, in hopes that it will pay off one day.
We can also learn that one failure doesn’t define us. Failure is possible at any moment, but it’s important how we keep going afterward. In addition, we can also learn that the first failure may lead to greater things later on.
Another lesson that we can learn from Jim Carrey comes from his famous quote about how you can fail at what you don’t want. If you don’t pursue your dreams simply out of fear of failing, you should know that it’s possible to fail even at what you don’t want to do. So, it’s better to try your luck and see if going for your dreams is paying off. If you work hard enough for it and never give up, you should be able to do it.
In the end, we can agree that celebrities are still people who also experienced bad things in the past, just like anyone else. Jim Carrey is a great example of someone who started from very low and was able to reach the top and become a famous, successful person. Just like Carrey, it’s important to always keep trying to reach your life goals, so you can not only be happy but also show others that everything is possible.