Comedy is something that I've thought about a lot lately. I've always enjoyed a good laugh.
Growing up in the '80s allowed a kid to feast on all manner of future comedy classics, for the decade perfected the medium in film. The '90s perfected the medium for TV. The '00s introduced tons of fresh new standup comics. The '10s, so far, are a flat rehash of the '80s. And "Ghostbusters 3" hasn't even come out yet.
For a while, I saw more live comedy than music. I blame XM Radio and their uncensored comedy station. Both on XM and on TV, there are new shows that explore the inner workings of the comedy world, a profession fraught with the sad-clown dichotomy that can only end with an annoyingly successful sitcom or death in a hotel bathtub.
But comics really give it their all onstage - just ask Patton Oswalt, who spent five minutes crafting a hilariously devastating heckle against yours truly during a show one night, completely off the cuff. (Or look it up on YouTube, and remember that I suffer from perpetual foot-in-mouth disease.)
The camaraderie between comedians is unique - I love their mutual respect between one another, and how they operate by some unwritten honor code that prohibits stealing material or getting personal in jokes about other comics. Also, I love how they call other comics by their last names. "Pryor yeah, he was the king" or "One time Dangerfield and I woke up in a Mexican jail." It makes it all sound so epic.
Comedy can come naturally to some, and awkwardly to me in particular. Whenever I say something I intend to be funny, I am met with a number of crickets making their judgmental chirping noise. Largely, I am unable to recount some awesome "guy walks into a bar" joke in a manner that would emote anything but sympathy. But I operate under some kind of sarcasm smokescreen that disallows for an accurate guess to whether something was meant to be hilarious, a topical quip, or funny in some so-bad-it's-good schadenfreude way. Sometimes, I hit the target. Other times, I quietly back away so no one gets hurt.
Conversely, I find things funny in which no one else can see one iota of humor.
For example, once at a friend's house I went to clean up a spill and reached into the cupboard under the kitchen sink. What I found was a spray bottle emblazoned with two words: Krud Kutter. This sent me into hysterical peals of laughter that sent me gasping for air on the kitchen floor, while my friends stood around me in a circle wondering if they should call an ambulance - or the men in white coats.
Seriously, someone has only to utter the words "Krud Kutter" and I giggle like a cheerleader in a nitrous oxide leak. See, I'm giggling to myself right now, at work, and now I have to explain to my co-workers that I'm not crazy.
By now, you know that I love comedy and humiliating myself, so of course trying standup comedy would be the next logical step.
And I did, one night, on a whim, at an open mic, surrounded by friends who I hoped would understand that I am some kind of social masochist and I know not what I do. What I said, you cannot know. What the reaction was, I cannot say. I didn't end up on the business end of a noose, and I got a few free drinks out of it, but I don't think comedy is for me.
As long as YouTube exists, anyway. I have to live in this town.