Saturday, May 23, 2009

What I forgot about

I'm sleepy and I should be in bed. Asleep. Typing (and thinking) feels strange, like someone else is doing it (and I should not be). But I had some thoughts spinning around in my overtired brain and I figured that instead of laying in bed not sleeping (or on the couch, to be precise) that I'd write them down. Where was I? I better go read that last sentence to see if it makes sense. Hold on.

Actually, it was the sentence before that. No, the one better that one. Uh oh.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but my secret fantasy "job" is to be a stand-up comedian. The thing is, I'm not funny. I have been told this repeatedly throughout my life by my father, so it must be true. I was also told that I'm so ugly that "you should make sure you have an interesting personality or you'll never have a boyfriend."

The way some comics tell it, these types of miserable childhood messages practically insure a career in comedy. Y'know, "my parents didn't treat me right, the other kids made fun of me. . .I gotta be loved by strangers. . ."

The thing of it is, I once, by pure accident, did a stand-up gig in New York City. I didn't mean to. I went to an open mike night at a club that was open mike for anything. No music, but there were writers, comedians, performance artists, and poets. I had been doing a lot of writing and I had no idea if it was any good or not, so I thought I'd read something I liked to some people I didn't know (just in case it was horrible, so I wouldn't be too humiliated).

At this open mike, you put your name in a hat, and the MC pulled out the strips of paper and then wrote up the set list, so you hadn't any idea when you were going on. It was a surprise. It could be a good fit, or not. The worst thing for me was waiting, 'cause I have terrible stage fright. I wound up being in the second set of the night, and I was on after a funny comedian, which was horrible. The audience was still laughing when I got up there, and I was going to read a somewhat serious short story. I had 8 minutes, which is an eternity on stage when you're terrified (and you don't have a guitar in front of you, which I was used to).

This guy had made some jokes (which I don't remember) about all the ads for penis enhancements in the newspaper. I don't know what newspaper he read. Oh right, he probably made the whole thing up. Anyhow, for some reason he left the stage with hundreds of little pieces of paper with ads for these services on the stage, and there I was, shaking, holding three pages of somewhat serious writing in my hands. I'd never even spoken into a microphone before except to say "check check is this thing on?" So, I'm freaking out completely.

I think I'm going to throw up, seriously, so I tell the audience that and they start laughing, so I continue talking about how upset I am about being there while they continue to laugh. Hey - this is fun! But, I'm still wanting to read my piece. I want them to stop laughing. I pick up one of those little ads off the stage and make a joke which is impossible to describe without using my hands, so you're not going to hear or see it, but it KILLED (as they say in the biz). Man, this was feeling so good. But, no, I want to read my story! What a dilemma. I started yelling at the audience that I'm not a comedian and they've got to stop laughing. You really can't go wrong when it gets to this point, so they continue laughing. . .blah blah blah. . .I read the piece. What a weird juxtaposition.

Anyway, afterwards all these performance artists ask me where they can see me perform, and someone asks me if I'm published, and I'm so freaked out I have to take a four hour walk while I calm down and drive my one companion crazy while I keep asking "did I really do that good?" over and over again.

Then I get home and don't write a thing again for years.

But, ever since then I've always wanted to be a stand-up comedian, even though the whole thing made me sick.

Now, getting back to my father, I never told him I did this 'cause I know what he's going to say. It's, "You? You're not funny!" But hearing him tell the same joke for 40-odd years sort of got to me, and so,I made the mistake of telling him that I did this gig right before we go to a big party together. Oy. We're sitting at a table with about two dozen people, and he starts telling a joke. Then, he gets to the punch line and stops. He says, "Wait. I'm gonna let my daughter finish this joke. I hear she's a comedian." I think he rolled his eyes or poked the person next to him in the side. It was pure sadism. Thanks, Dad. I don't know jokes. Okay, I know two, but that one wasn't one of them. So, of course, I look like an idiot (or maybe he did, hopefully).

Ooh, I feel guilty about that last line.

Every once in a while I think about trying to do stand up comedy, but I can't do it here in Maine. The truth of the matter is that all my humor is totally New Yawk and ethnic. My Jewish roots show in my humor, and they're all the stereotypes, too. Yiddish accents, guilt, the holocaust, Hitler, Hitler and more Hitler, self-loathing, hypochondria, Christmas in Brooklyn. . .nothing about monster trucks and deer hunting accidents, for sure. So, up here in Maine, it wouldn't go over very well. You've got to be famous, like Seinfeld, to get over with that kind of thing up here in northern New England.

I keep could writing, but this will end abruptly. "What I forgot" is just the fact that many of my blog entries used to be as disorganized as this one when I first started blogging, and some people enjoyed them. Fragments of memories. Nonsense. Tenses scrambled. I should be in bed. So, good night (or good morning or afternoon).

Photo note: Gilbert Gottfried doing his infamous Aristrocrats routine. I was trying to find a painting and said "screw it." Hey, I've never uttered a foul word on this blog before! It figures. If you've never heard the Aristocrats routine, it's about as filthy as anything in the history of of comedy (except for some of the other Aristrocrats routines).


jmcleod76 said...

" ... monster trucks and deer hunting accidents ..." Now that's funny! Don't forget snowmobiling and ice fishing. Ayuh!

Melissa and I rented the movie The Aristocrats back when it first came out. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. Wow ... Watching Bob Saget drop that many F-bombs was amazing, though. But I've appreciated Bob Saget ever since he played a recovering crack addict in "Half Baked," when he laughs at Dave Chappelle for saying he is addicted to weed, and asks if he's ever sucked cock for weed. Priceless! They couldn't have found a better person to deliver that line.

BitterGrace said...

Great post. I've always liked the way you meander in your writing. And I'd pay to come here you do stand-up anytime.

I never saw The Aristocrats. Just hearing the concept was sort of enough for me. Sometimes I love the idea of outrageousness more than the thing itself.

Julie H. Rose said...

So, I'm concluding that I ought to continue writing when I too sleepy to be awake. . .

When I was writing this, I was too sleepy to remember Bob Saget's name. Seeing HIM do the filthiest routine was quite the shocker. Gottfried and him "won", hands down.

And thanks, Maria.