Comedy is not Pretty

March 28, 2017

The title of this post is borrowed from the title of Steve Martin’s comedy album released in 1980. It’s a fitting title for this collection of words. I have always loved comedy and comics. The first recollection I have of comedy is seeing Tom Dreesen on the Mike Douglas show. Yes, I know that is a long time ago! He did a bit about drugs and said that someone described a particular drug as being great: “It’s just like being hit in the head with a shovel”! After that, I was always looking for comics and comedy albums. Living in Lakeville, IN with no driver’s license meant I wasn’t going to get to the clubs to see comedy live. I remember getting Steve Martin’s album “Let’s Get Small”. I listened to it nearly every day for a year. His non sequitur style was perfect for a weird 13-year-old. I then branched out to George Carlin and Bill Cosby. They both had different points of view and they both made me laugh.

I started wondering how comics could write and deliver the great stuff they put out. I also wanted to know if I could do it. Naturally, I became the class clown. Now, that is a difficult thing to do when you’re an extreme introvert. I enjoyed making my classmates & friends laugh but I always broke out into flop sweat before getting started on my schtick. I dreamed of being a comic but their was no opportunity when I was young as their were no comedy clubs within 2 hours of where I lived. So, life went on. I went to work, married a great woman, and had two wonderful children. I forgot about the itch to be a comic. I enjoyed comics but the urge to be one was just not important to me.

Fast forward to the age of 52. My workplace asked me to provide comic entertainment for our annual company party. My first response was “NO”. I really had no desire to try standup at my age. I talked to my wife about it and she said “You’ve always wanted to do that so, why not”? I ended up saying yes, fought through the worst case of panic I ever had, and actually did a decent job.

The problem was, I was hooked. I started looking for open mics and actually did them! Now, I’m not saying my sets are good but I think I’ve managed a 6 out of 10 at least a couple times. I really enjoy the rush of nerves I get before going up. It’s like major dread but in a good way if there is such a thing. I disappoint myself quite often as the stuff I write on paper seems a lot more funny than the stuff that comes out of my mouth. What I’m trying to say is that my delivery stinks. Stage fright and general nerves tends to eliminate things like timing and pausing for effect. The great thing is that I’m not trying to get famous or even be a working comic. This is more of a hobby for me. A hobby that brings back the same flop sweat I got back in school.

Open mics also allow me to meet new people. Comics who are really trying to make a career out of comedy. The surprising thing is they are actually nice to me. I’m awe-struck that most of these comics are holding down full-time jobs, doing open mics, and driving all over Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan just to get some stage time. They are truly perfecting their craft while I am playing in the sandbox whenever I feel like it. I’m impressed with the work ethic and the fact that they actually take time to talk to me.

Maybe my foray into comedy is a foolish endeavor as my aspirations are not very high. It’s certainly not pretty when I do my 5 minutes on stage but I’m thankful for the people I’ve met and the flop sweat I’ve shed.

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