For the last months, I have been performing a set where two men share a moment of connection. We asked the audience when was the last time they had a deep conversation with another man and, inspired by that, we open ourselves on stage. We call it Two Manly Men.
I want to explore in this post why do we think this is so important, and what does it mean to us. You can check some of our shows.
We need more examples of men being vulnerable. I have always known that, and I have been fighting that battle on my own. After reading Daring Greatly and The time has come, I felt inspired enough to use our art to set an example.
In the States (via APA), 9% of men have daily feelings of depression or anxiety, and 75% of suicide cases are men. These numbers are daunting, but when I read it gets bigger when I read personal experiences like this piece about the silent suffering of men as always having to look capable.
I see this reality in my daily life. Sharing my struggles with other men can often feel uncomfortable, or showing the people I love that I can’t do something. And I am a very lucky person, raised in a loving and supportive family. I can’t even imagine how it must be for other men.
Therefore we felt it was time to use our stage time to show examples and portrait actual manly men.
I am Gino, an IT professional on my late twenties originally from Spain. I was very lucky and grew up with a stay-at-home dad, and my parents learned tons from raising my older two siblings. My family is emotionally available and they foster that I kept in touch with my feelings, having open conversations often,
I went through many phases (and read many books), till I realise how much I value vulnerability and connection. I learned from my partners and the nuances of living with someone; and found my own definition of masculinity from my few male friends.
I feel comfortable being open and available, and I quickly learned how impactful I can have when having an open conversation with others. It takes understanding, curiosity and not judging to make everyone feel comfortable and relieved; but it is such an empowering moment feeling trusted and welcomed.
And this is what I aim to achieve on this format. To show an open, honest and raw conversation between two men.
Why did we start 2MM
Apart from the entertainment provided by two close friends having a nice conversation within an improv set, there are two main goals we are aiming for.
Serve as an example in breaking the taboo. We show how uncomfortable it feels to show your struggle, and how we usually try to dismiss it. You can see us understanding each other, while trying to downplay our feelings in playful ways so it feels a bit less awkward. And you will see the relief of knowing that someone sees and loves you.
Kickstart a conversation. We want to raise awareness of this situation, so people feel intrigued and talk about it. As well as show acceptance towards it. We want to open a channel where you can realise that you’re not alone. People are amazing showing support to each other if you give them the chance!
How it feels to perform 2MM
For me, even if this is not my funniest set, it is the one I look forward the most. Sharing stage time with someone this close to my heart also makes it extremely easy and comfortable.
We have explored many of our fears during these sets, and it feels quite cathartic and therapeutic. We have talked about heart breaks, our vision on fatherhood or some of our identity issues; and we always get to know something more about each other.
It also teaches us how to build tension without the need of a release for comical purposes. And it feels real, heartfelt and raw. Like just an open conversation, but with dozens of lucky people who will be passively part of it.
The reaction from he audience
This is the only show where most of the audience waits for us to tell us how they made them feel, and really go the extra mile to praise us.
Even on our weaker sets, many people want to take time to express how impactful the show was and that they stand behind it.
It warms our heart seeing we are making a change.
What can you do?
We couldn’t care less about rights and IP, if you want to do something similar in your community: PLEASE, DO. We need more people creating examples and starting conversations.
If you want to contact us with questions or inquiries, firstname.lastname@example.org is open. We are also amid creating social pages for our trope.
How can you use your platform to help people? What are you doing that is impacting your community? I am sure you are already working on some small or large initiatives, and I would love to hear from them.