I watched an episode of The Always Sunny podcast recently, and boy, was this episode jam-packed with what cringy Twitter “influencers” would call “value bombs.”
Case in point:
The gang discussed the episode of the Always Sunny show where Charlie disguised an elaborate play as a way to propose to the Waitress he’s in love with.
This episode was one of their most popular ones ever. In fact, they went on a tour where they performed the play—called The Nightman Cometh—live for fans. And they even had Lin-Manuel Miranda, the man behind the Hamilton play which caught the world by storm just a few years ago, on the pod to discuss how they wrote The Nightman Cometh.
Lots of gems to take away from this one.
But today, we’re gonna focus on one lesson in particular:
How being an absolute moron gives you a competitive advantage.
Here’s what I mean:
I’ve discussed this same phenomena before — whenever I talk about my unusual rise as a bassist. And on the podcast, Charlie Day confirmed my theories:
Charlie is a bit of a savant when it comes to playing music, especially the piano. His parents were both music teachers, and he played a bunch of instruments growing up as a kid. He’s proficient as a singer, pianist, guitarist, and harmonicist — just to name a few.
But here’s the kicker:
Charlie doesn’t know a lick about music theory.
In fact, he lacks music theory knowledge so much, he doesn’t even know what chords he’s playing — he just knows which chords sound “right” together. (I’m far from a music school nerd, but even I know, for example, the difference between an A minor chord, G7, and Db.)
When Charlie wrote the music for the play, he had to enlist help from someone who knew more about music than him — just so everyone would know the chords, time signature, and etc.
In the Always Sunny show, Charlie’s character (who is also named Charlie) is a complete moron. But his character—who has the same musical chops as the actor playing him—always jokes with the other, slightly more intelligent members of the gang that “music just makes sense to me.”
Yet, he doesn’t know a damn thing about music theory.
I dare you to search YouTube for any music Charlie plays and tell me that he doesn't know diddly about music.
But alas, tis the truth.
And in fact, it’s an advantage for Charlie.
Because when you’re not bound by theory, creativity blossoms.
In the play Charlie writes for the show, he mixes up blues with ragtime, rock and roll with jazz, and more.
Even the Lin-Manuel Mirandas—the dude who wrote Hamilton, which is the most popular play I can remember in recent history–of the world were impressed by this.
The music director who works on the Always Sunny show, the guy who reels Charlie in at times, continues to be shocked by Charlie. The music director can tell Charlie what style and which chords he’s playing, but he could never, and I mean N E V A, create the music Charlie creates out of thin air.
And yet, Charlie doesn’t know a lick of theory behind the music he’s playing. Even though I feel similar about my musicianship—I didn’t learn music theory until college, after having 50+ live shows under my belt—even I know way more than Charlie when it comes to theory.
But music just makes sense to him.
Which brings me to my point:
Yes, we’re talking about music in particular in this email, but this applies to far more than music, cully.
For example: Stephen King claims he doesn’t write any of his books, and that he’s not a good writer.
Steve Jobs didn’t read a “how to create a smartphone” book or article before launching the iPad and iPhone.
Or a counterexample: My marketing professor in college got fired from her marketing job, then went on to teach at university.
Many such cases of both the Stephen Kings of the world and the laid off marketing professors.
But here’s the lesson for you to put into your pipe and smoke on:
Many people who want to learn copywriting and improve their copywriting skills fall into the same trap music school nerds fall into:
Too much theory, not enough real, in-the-trenches practice.
There are a trillion and one different ways to feel like you’re getting better at copy:
* Reading Ca$hvertising, The Boron Letters, and The Ultimate Sales Letter (among thousands of other copywriting books)
* Handcopying ads from David Olgivy, Joe Sugerman, and Eugene Schwartz (among thousands of other direct response legends and sale letter controls)
* Buying swipe files from every marketer under the sun for “killer hooks, angles, and ideas”
* Going through every course Russell Brunson, AWAI, and Ben Settle put out (even if Ben disguises them as books nowdays)
* Using your brain to “copythink” where you think up the best USP for a brand-new brand in competitive markets
And on and on and on and on.
Now, don’t mistake me:
These copywriting practices can help you improve as a copywriter, duh. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t exist.
But nothing beats plain-old, real, raw, in-the-trenches practice.
And so it is with everything in life.
But here’s the insidious part:
The former (the books, courses, swipe files, practices, etc.) make it seem like you’re getting real practice when you aren’t. The latter is the only way to get real practice. But it’s harder and failure stings worse, which is why so many people avoid it like the plague.
To tie this back into our ongoing music analogy:
The former is reading sheet music all day, and spending hours practicing in a tiny practice room by yourself.
The latter is playing with other musicians, and making the music sound “right” through trial and error. Like I did with my bass career, and as Charlie does with his playwriting and music career.
Long story short:
You can’t “shortcut” raw experience.
Wanna fast track your brand’s growth by working with an email copywriter who has spent years upon years “in-the-trenches” perfecting his craft?
Well, good news and bad news:
I haven’t perfected it yet.
That means working with me today will be cheaper than working with me tomorrow. (I don’t raise my prices daily, but I’ve consistently raised them as I get better and deliver better results.)
Wanna see if we’re a good fit?