Give. You have expectations. At this time of year. You have a great weight of expectation regarding this idea. You have expectations wrought by Dickens and O. Henry and Bing Crosby and Clarence the angel.
I realize that in late December of every year, you yearn for stories extolling the redemptive power of giving. Many of you know me. I am a dick. I am a merciless dick all year long, excreting rant after rant into a body of work that grows darker by the day, work that occupies the narrow emotional bandwidth between peeved and pissed.
For those among you who have never seen me before:
My name is Ian Belknap, and I am an irredeemable, unrepentant dick.
For people like me, the expectation instilled by George Bailey and the Island of Misfit Toys and Red Ryder BB Guns is that I will have a stunning reversal. Where I have gritted my teeth and face-palmed my way through the first eleven and three-quarter months of the year, I am now supposed to turn on a fucking dime and my Grinch-heart is supposed to grow three times its size.
But THINK it THROUGH, guys. That would make my heart the size of a fucking pot roast. I would keel over dead. Or, at the very least, require that Christian Slater baboon-heart replacement surgery so implausibly-if-indelibly portrayed in 1993’s Untamed Heart.
But even accepting that this coronary tripling is metaphorical, it would be a bad idea because it would demonstrate a dismaying inconsistency of character. If I bend like a reed JUST because the winds of the season demand it, I am lacking a set of core principles and you would be right to dismiss me as a lightweight. A man’s got to know where he stands, and if I am a dick eleven and three-quarters months out of the year, but then pivot into maudlin and treacle-y for a week or so, it BOTH fails to honor the dickishness I’ve worked so hard to build, AND it strains credibility pretty goddamn badly.
However, while I may be a dick, I am not Mr. Potter or a Grinch or the Heat Miser. I am not Scrooge. Because look a-fucking-round you. This show. WRITE CLUB. The nation’s premiere competitive philanthropic readings series. The ass-kicking show that eats trouble and shits money. The high-velocity, whip-smart, always entertaining show that does good without being all fucking preachy about it. I may be a dick, but I am by God a dick on a mission.
Since its launch in 2010, WRITE CLUB has:
- Given away 5,000 dollars to fucking charity.
- Started chapters in Atlanta and San Francisco, which have given away another 2,500 dollars to fucking charity – and there are more fucking chapters on the way.
- Presented over 150 pieces of original fucking literature.
- Relied on over 100 fucking artists who have volunteered their fucking time and talents to appear in this fucking show.
- Produced over 30 fucking shows for an audience of over two thousand fucking people that come check out original fucking writing on a fucking weeknight.
- Helped to solidify the reputation of the Hideout as the best fucking place to come check out cool-ass fucking shows that do some fucking good in the world.
- Relied on scores of fucking people in ways big and small to help on its fucking march toward global domination.
Since launching WRITE CLUB, I personally have:
- Logged almost 300 fucking hours writing original pieces for this fucking show.
- Logged over 150 hours curating this fucking show.
- Logged over 35 hours hosting this fucking show.
- Logged 100 hours writing original pieces for other fucking shows.
- Logged over 45 hours performing in other fucking shows so that people at them will learn about fucking WRITE CLUB.
- Flown over 5,000 miles to bring this fucking show to other fucking cities.
- Logged 35 hours forming a non-fucking-profit called WRITE CLUB, Inc.
- Burned up over 50 fucking hours of other fucking people’s volunteer labor.
- Neglected my own fucking wife and children for not fewer than 500 hours to make this fucking show happen.
- Have, if you count fucking tonight, uttered not fucking fewer than 66 million fucking swear words from the WRITE CLUB fucking stage.
And have I ever asked for a fucking dime, or a word of fucking thanks? NO. You know what you can give? You can give me a fucking break.
Something’s gotta give, because the sitcoms and made-for-TV movies and claymation specials have funneled your minds into thinking that Give can only happen with the swell of fucking violins and the tearful fucking hugs and the tidy fucking lessons learned, I’m standing here as fucking proof that it can happen another fucking way. You know what you can give? You can give that shit a fucking rest, and quit giving me such a hard fucking time.
I tell what I will NOT give, with regard to the shitty fucking idea that in order to give, you need to be limp and weak and soft about: I will NOT give a shit, a fuck, or a rat’s ass. And neither should you. Cause you give that idea an inch and it’ll take a fucking mile.
You give and be awesome. You give and be mighty. You give and be as hard as if you carved out of fucking oak.
If you are as fortunate as I have been, you create a fucking show you feel fucking privileged to be a fucking part of – you give it your time and toil, your sweat and your worry, your brains and your blood, and then you give all the goddamn money away.
You give it your best fucking shot. You give it your fucking all. You give no fucking quarter, and you give them fucking hell. You give it hard, or you give the fuck up.
So merry motherfucking Christmas, you sons of bitches, because I cannot thank you enough for being a part of this fucking thing here.