#171 – Making Strangers Laugh

This can apply to a number of situations—witty banter with a cashier, that quippy comment to your fellow subway rider (both of which, I must humbly say, I’m quite good at)—but what I’m specifically referring to is stand-up comedy.

Now, you may be wondering, how can making a room full of strangers be this low on the list? Well, for one, it’s not that low. It made the fucking list and it’s a good deal under 200. Second, to me, making your friends laugh is a much better feeling. Not that that’s a hint to a latter, top 50 feeling or anything…

I used to do stand-up pretty regularly for about three years. I’ve since stopped to write books no one gives a shit about, but in any event, I’ll never forget the feeling of making a room of strangers (admittedly, some were friends) laugh. It’s the unknown, the lack of context that makes it so satisfying. I say that because—and pardon the arrogance here—the ability to simply make someone laugh isn’t the amazing part. I know, every time I go on stage, that I can do that. I even know that a lot of the material I’m using has been and will be funny. But, what creates the great feeling for me, is making this particular group of strangers laugh. I don’t know anything about them, I don’t know how old they are (will they get this reference?) or where they’re from or where they’re going.

So, while I’m not shotgun-to-the-chest stunned each and every time I make a group of people laugh, it never stops feeling great. It’s a wave of adrenaline that, honestly, is unlike many others.

Polar Opposite of this Feeling?: Being the guy that continually gets up on stage, despite having no discernible talent and no record, whatsoever, of making anyone laugh. Good for you, pal, for keeping at it. But, jeez, that ain’t easy.

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