Spoken-Word Poet Rudy Francisco Performs His Poem “Complainers”


-Whenever I find
myself complaining about the small things, I say to myself — The following are
all true stories. May 26, 2003,
Aron Ralston was hiking. A boulder fell
on his right hand. He waited four days,
then he amputated his own arm with a pocketknife. On New Year’s Eve, a woman was
bungee jumping in Zimbabwe. The cord broke.
She then fell into a river and had swim back to land
in crocodile-infested waters with a broken collarbone. Claire Champlin
was smashed in the face by a five-pound watermelon
being propelled by a slingshot. Matthew Brobst was hit
by a javelin. David Striegl was punched
in the mouth by a kangaroo. The most amazing part
of these stories is when asked about the experience,
I heard they all said, “I guess things
could’ve been worse.” So go ahead. Tell me that
you’re having a bad day. Tell me about the traffic.
Tell me about your boss. Tell me about the job
you’ve been trying to quit for the past four years. Tell me the morning is a
townhouse burning to the ground. Tell me the snooze button
is a fire extinguisher. Tell me the alarm clock stole
the keys to your smile, drove it into 7:00 A.M., and the crash totaled
your happiness. Tell me. Tell me! Tell me, how blessed are we to have tragedies so small it can fit on
the tips of our tongues? When Evan lost his legs,
he was speechless. When my cousin was assaulted,
she didn’t speak for 48 hours. When my uncle was murdered,
we had to find a search party to find my father’s voice. Most people have no idea
that tragedy and silence often have
the exact same address. So when your day is
a museum of disappointments hanging from events that were
outside of your control, when you find yourself
flailing in an ocean of “Why is
this happening to me,” when it feels like
your guardian angel put in his two-week notice
two months ago and just decided not to tell you,
when it feels like God is a babysitter
that’s always on the phone, when you get punched in the
esophagus by a fistful of life, remember that every year,
two million people die of dehydration
so it doesn’t matter if the glass is half full
or half empty, there’s water in the cup! Sometimes you just gotta
drink it and stop complaining. You see —
You see, muscle — muscle is created by
repeatedly lifting things that have been designed
to weigh us down. So when your shoulders
feel heavy, you gotta stand up straight,
you gotta lift your chin, you gotta call it exercise. Remember that life
is a gym membership with a really complicated
cancellation policy. Remember that you will survive. Remember things could be worse. Remember we are never given
anything that we can’t handle. When the world crumbles
around you, sometimes you gotta look at the wreckage
and then build a new one out of all the pieces
that are still here. Remember that
you are still here. The human heart,
it beats approximately 4,000 times per hour. And each pulsin’
and each throbbin’ and each palpitation
is a trophy engraved with the words.
“You are still alive.” [ Cheers and applause ] You — You are still alive. We are still alive. Let’s act like it. [ Cheers and applause ] -Rudy Francisco, everybody! [ Cheers and applause ] His new book “Helium”
is in stores now. We’ll be right back. Pretty good, you got
a standing ovation, buddy.

100 thoughts on “Spoken-Word Poet Rudy Francisco Performs His Poem “Complainers”

  1. I'm so proud of him. I've been reading and listening to his poems for about 2 or 3 years. I am so happy for him.

  2. To see poetry on national television, to see one of the greatest art forms get some of the spotlight, to see one of my favorite poets kill it on stage…its amazing. It truly touches my heart.

  3. I read this in his book and I cried lol well I cried throughout the whole book but this one was the one

  4. IM SO PROUD OF MY BOY RUDY !!!!! NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES I LISTEN TO THIS POEM, I AM MOVED TO TEARS EACH TIME

  5. I remember when I preformed a piece at my high school poetry slam and I got to meet Rudy Francisco, I was so happy that he was there. I am so happy to see him here, he is truly inspiring. A real hero.

  6. IM SOO PROUD OF YOU RUDY FRANCISCO!!! You made it to the tonight showww!! This is my favourite!!!!! <3

  7. sooo immensely proud of rudy!!! one of my favorite poets, it's amazing he's getting the exposure he's always deserved!! congrats to you rudy!

  8. Hello the tonight show, i apologize for my english… but i know that you are broadcast in France on Canal + and that they subtitle the show… please can you repost that video with that subtitle? in advance thank you

  9. "I guess things could have been worse " (Define complain: to express grief, pain, or discontent; to make a formal accusation or charge ..) The solo hiker (2003) – that was made into a movie, 127 Hours in 2010 acted by James Franco?

  10. Seeing Rudy get this kind of recognition warms my heart.
    He is an absolutely remarkable poet and deserves every cheer, every clap, every tear his words bring to understanding eyes.

  11. I've been following Rudy since a spoken word event in DC back in 2012 had the amazing opportunity to meet him briefly with my good friend Qui who opened my eyes to the world of spoken word. So excited for Rudy and his accomplishments since then! Actually have my own copy of 'helium' and even the written version of the spoken passion gives me chills that resemble the tremble and excitement in the voice of the performance of Rudy. My favorite of Rudy's will always be My Honest Poem. Spoke to me in 2012 and continues to check me going forward. Keep doing you Rudy, it's the truth.

  12. YESSSSSSSS RUDYYYY Ahhh I feel like a prouf mom 😂 also low key feel entitled bc I was obsessed with this poem a year ago 😎

  13. So glad I caught this Brother’s performance on Fallon. I’m keeping the words in my heart and mind as I share the message with others. Well said, young man.

  14. how am I just finding out he was on Fallon?? I'm so happy for him he really deserves it, Rudy is always so amazing, seriously he leaves me breathless and teary eyed every time

  15. if it is hot, it means the sun is still shining, and the world is still spinning, so we are still alive, and that is a beautiful thing

  16. Just finished his book and couldn’t stop underlining every sentence of complainers. Then I stumbled upon this video, especially the glass of water part made me realize what a privileged kind of complainer I am.

  17. So is he really saying that we all go through the same events in the same way? That whenever we're sad, we just have to think of the poor kids in Africa and feel better knowing that it could be worse? Just getting out of bed can be difficult for people who are depressed; something that makes someone ecstatic could make someone else deeply frustrated. There is no proven correlation between levels of happiness and situations in our lives. If there's a stigma around people who are rich being sad, why do we say so often that money doesn't buy you happiness?

  18. i had the pleasure of listening to rudy at toronto poetry slam. i pray he comes back again so my ears can hear his words. he is simply a geniuis<3

  19. suffering is not a competition. there is not a single person who is the least fortunate and the most unhappy and is the only one allowed to complain

  20. I AM SO PROUD OF HIM OMG!!! i started listening to his spoken word on button poetry 3 years ago and i have his book. i’m so proud wow

  21. Well I wake up in the morning
    At 11:47
    And I can't believe I have to face
    The horror of another fucking day

    And the magnificent magnitude
    Of my morning erection
    Merely mocks me like the sun
    In its optimistic greeting of the day

    Managing to manifest
    A modicum of motivation
    I meander to the kitchen
    Make a mission out of mixing Nescafé

    But the milk is going off
    And coffee by itself is bitter
    And there's ants all through the sugar
    And the supermarket's miles-a-fucking-way

    My life is pretty sad
    But I know that I should be glad
    At least I'm not a starving Ethiope
    Or a policeman in Baghdad

    At 11:53
    I instigate the day's ablutions
    In the hope my constitution
    Can be altered by some action on the bowl

    But the total non-existence
    Of colonic animation
    Seems to me the perfect metaphor
    For the utter constipation of my soul

    By 11:59
    I have decided that my life
    Would be Immediately improved
    By a carefully written list of short-term goals

    But by 12:05 my list consists of
    One dot: put some pants on
    Two dot: go to the shop
    Buy some prunes and Panadol

    My life is pretty shit
    But I know I shouldn't whinge about it
    I could be a Palestinian
    Driving buses on the Gaza Strip

    Yeah, how bad can it be?
    Some people have it worse than me
    I could be a Ipswich prostitute
    Or Gary Glitter's family

    I have no right to cry
    Some people have it worse than I
    I could be a thalidomide kid
    With something in my eye

    At 12:30 I realise
    I'm feeling so dejected
    That I've totally neglected
    The beginning of the Jerry Springer show

    So I settle on the sofa
    Try to focus an iota
    Of my motor neurons on the
    Brilliant insights for which Jerry is known

    And although on any other day
    A show entitled 'Midgets Midget Midgets!'
    Would excite me like a virgin
    At her year eleven ball

    Today those little jelly-wresting
    Fellows fail to free me of my
    Misery, instead they simply
    Serve to make me feel three foot tall

    But how bad can it be?
    Some people have it worse than me
    I could be a junior lifesaver
    On a Banda Aceh beach

    Or a woman in the Taliban
    Or a Jew in the Ku Klux Klan
    Or the architect of the World Trade Centre
    Or a morturist in Mianyang

    I could have my identity mistaken
    As a bomber in an underground station
    I could be a peace-loving speech writer
    In George W's administration

    Yeah I know that I don't have the right
    To be unhappy with my life
    I could be Hitler's mother
    Or Shane Warne's wife

    And you know that I shouldn't be bitching
    I could be in a worse position
    I could be a 3-nippled naturopath
    In the days of the Spanish inquisition

    I know I have no right to cry
    Some people have it much much worse than I
    I could have a serious nut allergy
    And be shipwrecked on an island
    With a crate of Snickers bars
    A jar of Nutella and a fresh baked pecan pie
    Some people have it worse than I

    ©Tim Minchin

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