Don’t be fooled by the title too much. It’s not so much a “plunge” as it is a “dipping of toes into the cold pool like a bitch” into Stand-up comedy. I’ve been thinking about this for a very long time and now I’ve put it out there to my public . . . and by “public” I mean the 6 of you that I beg to read this. If anyone else comes by, then I am humbled and deeply grateful that my reach has gone any further.
When I first started this blog (Holy Shit!) 6 years ago, I briefly enjoyed a regular readership of several thousand people a month. Over time and multiple ridiculous circumstances and my own laziness, repeated forays into depression and several unsuccessful location changes in an attempt to improve my situation, Opticynicism fell apart and now it’s just the struggling ramblings you see before you now.
I’ve learned so many things over the last few years and most of them have been about myself. I like to think of this blog as my therapy. It’s my place to vent, scream and just release all the bullshit in my head so I don’t have to carry it around, and it really, really has worked, but as I laid out in the previous post, it’s time to move onward and upward.
It’s no secret that I love to make people laugh. Nothing, not one single thing, brings me more satisfaction than making someone else laugh. It’s an art I’ve worked on my entire life and a skill that has helped me survive things that no one should have to endure. Unfortunately, it hasn’t saved me from everything, but there is a pill I take twice a day that does the rest.
I lovingly refer to that pill as the “one I take so that my father stays alive”. (Potential stage line . . . for those of you paying attention)
Some of my favorite and funniest moments come from my interactions with my brother and with my friends that I regularly play games with on one of the game systems. The laughs come spontaneously and we seem to surround ourselves with friends that have a quick wit and some amazing one-liners have come from it. Anybody who enjoyed the show Mystery Science Theater 3000 would absolutely piss themselves sitting down to an episode of Swamp People with my brother and I, or an episode of anything for that matter. A well timed, yet inappropriate “Choot ’em!” is invaluable.
The interactions with my friends online have resulted in many, many nights of crying with laughter at the stupidest shit ever, but damn, does it make you feel like nothing is wrong in the world. Even text conversations have become the thing of legend. My buddy Tom in Vermont is the king of one-liners, and they don’t happen very often, but when they do, they are of epic proportion.
Me: How did the estimate go with the plumber this morning? How far up your ass did he go?
Tom: He’s my dentist now.
Four words. That’s all it took. It was probably 5 years ago and just a passing conversation and the boy spit out four words and I’m still laughing my balls off 5 years later.
Here is where things get a little tense for me. . .
I like to tell a story. A lot of the time, they are actual life experiences and many of those experiences are unpleasant, if not downright shitty. In the telling of those stories, I make them funny in order to make them easier for ME to deal with. Some of the most unpleasant experiences in my life involve my father. The funny thing about that is that the MOST popular posts I have ever written on this blog, and were in fact responsible for my readership going into the thousands at the time, were the stories I told about my father. The trick was, they weren’t “stories”. They were shit that actually happened, but in telling it, I made it more comfortable for me and the result was . . . well, funny.
It’s now something I do every day. It’s a habit and I don’t even consciously do it anymore. It puts people off quite frequently and I’ve become accustomed to the weird looks I often get. I am 100% certain it has cost me more than one job.
On the upside, it works in my favor more than it doesn’t.
At the VA hospital while setting up a supply closet early in the process, I once had 6 nurses trap me in the closet and they were all telling me all the shit they wanted me to stock the closet with, some of them talking at the same time and it got crazy in there for a minute and I just stood there, silent and something on my face made them all just stop talking and look at me. I said, “I had this dream . . . but it wasn’t this aggressive and some of you had hats.”
There was silence . . . then hysterical laughter and I had the best relationship with every one of them after that.
It’s the spontaneous shit that works for me. I once made Diet Coke come out of Liz’s nose because of my interpretation of what the dog would sound like if she had looked up at us from the couch and said “Go fuck yourself”.
And then Liz says to me after my last post, “Just go up there and ad-lib”.
So there is three to five minutes of me on stage with a microphone demonstrating uncomfortable silence.
As much as I appreciate her confidence in my ability, the reality just won’t allow that to happen. I have, as I said, three to five minutes to make an impression and while I believe in my ability to be funny, to stand on stage, nervous, self-conscious and just a tad out of my element, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to just stand there and shit funny.
So before I start to get the “so where is the video” questions, I wanted to start this multi-part post to let you know what I’m doing to work toward this goal and that I’m not just talking out of my ass.
I’ve been listening to comedians of all sorts while I’ve been driving for the last year or more. I’ve listened to the podcasts that some of them do, good or bad. (Highly recommend Marc Maron’s podcast WTF if you haven’t heard it) I have scoured the internet for tips, tricks, advice and experiences with starting out and open mic nights, etc from comedians old and young. There are styles I like and styles I don’t, and at the same time, I want to have my own style and my own rhythm. I love Bill Burr’s stage work, but his podcast is a rambling mess of “I’m doing this ’cause all the other guys are”. Jim Gaffigan is hilarious to a point, but the “voice” gets real old, real fast. Tom Segura . . . love the guy and can’t find a thing I don’t like about his act and the same goes for Kyle Kinane. I think if I had someone to aspire to, it would be those two.
At the end of the day, I don’t want to be the “new insert-fading-comedian-here”. I want to be me. An individual that should an interview ever ensue, I could make a list of influences . . . with my father being number 1.
I don’t want to stroke his ego, so I’ll wait til he’s dead to proclaim that one. He wouldn’t get the joke.
So here is the plunge. There is a plan, of sorts. I have a thousand ideas. I have a thousand stories. I have a thousand funny things to say.
I have no idea how to narrow that down to three to five minutes. THAT is what I’m working on.
So far, my plan for an opening line is . . . “Let me start by saying that I am not (pause) young.”
My only planned response for a heckler is:
To: “You suck!”
Me: “I’d like to thank my dad for coming out tonight!”
I welcome your opinions, and for Christs’ sake, send ’em.
I’m gonna do this . . . *breathe* . . . it’s gonna happen.
I used to stand on stage in front of hundreds and not give a single shit. In high school, I stood on stage and SANG in front of hundreds . . .several nights in a row, and I had no problem.
Now I’ve grown up and learned what a shitty, judgmental, easily offended, sensitive society we live in and for some stupid fucking reason, that bothers me.
But at the same time, I give zero fucks and I’m gonna do it.
Anyone with a couple Xanax to spare, I’ll be happy to give you my address.
In the meantime, I’ll sit here and see if Marc Maron and Bill Burr respond to my emails.
Venues I am currently exploring . . . .