To President Barack Obama, growing into the role of president is analogous to becoming a better comedian or athlete.
In the latest episode of comedian Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, Maron asked Obama how he’s able to “turn it on” when he gets in front of an audience despite any tragic or high stakes situation he is involved in.
Obama said it’s something that Maron can understand as someone who’s spent a career studying comedy and its best performers.
“What all those guys understand is, the more you do something and the more you practice it, at a certain point it becomes second nature,” Obama said. “And what I’ve always been impressed about when I listen to comics talk about comedy is how much of it is a craft … and they have a sense of when it works and when it doesn’t. And then the longer you do it, the better your instincts are.”
It’s the same with being president, he said.
Obama and Maron discussed how the transition from novice to expert in any field usually includes a switch from pretending to be fearless to actually becoming fearless.
The president said he thinks he’s grown into the role and would be a better candidate than he was the last time if he were to run again. “It’s sort of like an athlete,” he said. “You might slow down a little bit, you might not jump as high as you used to — but I know what I’m doing, and I’m fearless.”
In the same way that comedians can never become great unless they know what it’s like to bomb shows and deal with a disappointed or aggressive audience, Obama said he’s developed courage through his biggest failures.
“I’ve been in the barrel tumbling down Niagara Falls and I emerged, and I lived,” Obama told Maron. “And that’s such a liberating feeling. It’s one of the benefits of age. It almost compensates for the fact that I can’t play basketball anymore.”
You can listen to the full interview on iTunes or Maron’s website.
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