Sunday, February 5, 2012

My Comedy Fu is Strong

The power of laughter is like an aphrodisiac, a mighty rush of adrenaline coursing through your veins, titillating you t orgasmic heights beyond comprehension.

At least that's what I think it should be.

Idealized comedy, making you laugh till you wet yourself.

Back in 2006, I attended a comedy class taught by professional standup comedians who taught us the necessities of performing comedy. The secret tricks of the trade involved preparation, practice and executing material. Timing. Writing jokes.

Punching things up so they're funny.

Good comedians aren't born, they're made with rigorous trial and error.

Face your demons by getting up on that stage and belting out an airtight set of pure comic bliss for five minutes and you're golden.

I stumbled, fell, got back up, dragged myself reluctantly back, driven by a need to do this. I secretly crave to craft a funny set, to bathe in laughter and applause.

Some nights I die.

Some nights I kill.

However stellar or shitty my set is for a particular gig, I haul my fat ass back into the spotlight.

My personal life three years ago was an utter trainwreck. I'd been slogging through a hellish divorce, had a stressful job which demanded attention and entered a series of unhealthy relationships.

I was a sad, battered monkey.

After a historic meltdown on stage, I regrouped, soldiered through life and things got better. My outlook improved. I began studying the greats by watching comedy specials and listening to comedy albums.

I began thinking like a comic; recording the bizarre shit that comes to me on my digital recorder or just tweeting it on Twitter. I go to live comedy shows and see how the professionals work the crowds.

My goal is to perform on a semi-regular basis, to keep my material fresh and funny and to make strangers forget their problems by laughing at mine.

Not in an evil, schadenfreude way, but one where the audience is thinking, "I'm glad I'm not that guy! Boy, I dodged a bullet there, didn't I, honey! At least I'm not him!"

I never would have persisted with comedy is it wasn't for my friend, Big Rick, a comedian whose persistence, heart and loyalty should be noted. One of my first gigs was at a bowling alley (yeah, go on and smirk). I couldn't connect with the audience or articulate anything because I was as nervous as an 11-year old boy in a shower room with Jerry Sandusky. After I got off stage, i went to sulk somewhere private, and Big Rick found me. He told me I was funny, and the audience were douchebags.

From that moment on, we've performed together on radio, on stage and online.

I'm not failing because he's got my back and I'd like to think I have his.

Comedians, no matter their level - expert or amateur - have to help each other.

We've got to see each other through this bizarre journey of laughter and pathos, joy and tears.

So many comics are battling their own private demons in silence, far away from the approbation of the audience.

They die alone in hotel rooms, alone in dark places, tormented by their own private hells.

I hate reading about comedians submitting to drugs and alcohol and burning out suddenly. We've got to support each other. We've got to muddle through somehow.

Comedy is pressure. It's stress. It's scribbling jokes like a madman and laughing hysterically to yourself in public. It's taking a tragedy and putting a sick twist on it, not to shock, but to make the tragedy more bearable. On stage, you're vulnerable, naked and alone, in front of the slavering wolves who want to devour your flesh.

The only way to stop this is to make those hungry wolves laugh their asses off.

Maybe those drawn to standup comedy are deranged misfits searching for their perfect set, thirsting for public approval.

We want to grab the part of your brains where humor is processed and stimulate the shit out of it.

We want - no - we need you to laugh.

We're botched and damaged and this is how we deal.

No comments: