When You Point a Finger…..By Cory Kahaney

I woke up this morning, and my first thoughts were about the heated discussion we had last night with our teenage son over a less than stellar report card. I was angry. I screamed. I accused him of squandering his time on Madden or watching YouTube videos when he could have been studying. When he blamed his learning, disability I attacked him for not advocating for himself and for not using all the resources we, and his school provide. Then his dad yelled at me for yelling. It was a lovely evening.

When I got out of bed and began straightening the apartment, a number of wadded up tissues were still on the table where last night’s tribunal had taken place. Tangible proof of my son’s tears in case I had any intention of letting myself off the hook. As I swept them into the garbage, I looked down at my hands and remembered these words: “when you point a finger at someone else, there are always three fingers pointing back at you.”

That proverb may not resonate if you saw it on a poster outside a tone deaf college advisors office or in a Wells Fargo breakroom, but when I first heard it, it was a revelation. It gave me something to do when I felt trapped by someone else’s behavior or actions or lack thereof. Instead of focusing on their shortcomings of which, I have zero control, I could focus on mine, and here’s the fun part, they are usually the same.

Wasn’t I just telling my shrink or rather confessing to inordinate amounts of time spent binge watching tv shows, playing candy crush or words with friends when I could be writing? Why am  I not working on a new TV stand up TV set when it’s been more than a year since my last? And that new TedX talk, do I really think it’s magically going to go viral? Will I really die if I ask people to do me a favor and share it on their social media?

Here are some of my son’s excuses…I am not getting anything lower than a B, no one else has my problem, I do ask for help but I am embarrassed to go back and ask for more help, it doesn’t matter how much I prepare – I suck at tests, I did hand everything in on time even though it says I didn’t, my friends don’t need to study and they get a 100 on everything, it’s not fair.

Now compare it to my excuses…I make a living as a comic and people still book me, I am getting older and there are less opportunities for women my age, if people wanted to help me, they would’ve helped me already, I am not thin enough, I am too Jewish, my boobs sag, some people just have the ‘it factor’ and clearly I don’t, (and to put a nihilistic cherry on top) it’s almost over anyway.

Don’t worry about me, I am in therapy and don’t worry about my very normal B+ or more likely by-the-end-of-the-year-if-we-keep-riding him A-, 10th grade son. Tonight when I see I him I will cop to my projection and try and listen to his very valid frustrations. If I fail miserably, we also have an appointment with his school advisor. As for me, I am going to ask three people to post my TedX talk. That may sound like the bare minimum, but it’s three more than I have done so far, and it’s also the number of fingers pointed at me to do better. Oh, and if this was at all helpful or entertaining, here’s a link to my TedX talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWogYYpLSRw&t=40s


Cory Kahaney has appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and The Late Show with David Letterman. Other television appearances include CONAN, This Week at the Comedy Cellar, The View and The Late, Late Show.  She was a grand finalist NBC’s Last Comic Standing and a semifinalist on Americas got Talent. She has also had her own comedy specials on Comedy Central and HBO. Cory wrote and starred in the off-Broadway hit “The J.A.P. Show” which chronicles the history of women in standup. She co-hosted the nationally syndicated “Radio Rita’s” for Greenstone Media, a company founded by Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda. Awards include ‘Best comedian in NYC’ by Backstage Magazine and ‘Best female comedian’ by the Manhattan Association of Cabarets. Visit www.CoryKahaney.com.







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  1. One Response to “When You Point a Finger…..By Cory Kahaney”

  2. Shared your TED Talk on social media.
    (You could have just asked.)

    By Adam Oliensis on Nov 1, 2019