There was a time when I used to be funny in front of strangers.
I had the egotistical notion that I could stand in the front of a darkened room on a slightly elevated platform and talk to people who paid an entrance fee to be in that room.
I’d talk into a microphone and say things I thought were funny and assumed the people consuming watered-down vodka sodas and soggy fries would similarly find them funny.
I would talk, largely uninterrupted, for anywhere from five to thirty minutes and then I’d stop talking and get off the elevated platform and wait to do it all again.
I used to do stand-up comedy.
Sometimes, when it went well, people would laugh.
Sometimes, when it went in the opposite direction, there would be no noise. No one booed. It’s not like there has to be an opposing noise to a laugh… that for every laugh there’s a contrarian boo or hiss. No, the silence of a room after a failed joke is enough to remind you exactly how good it feels to make people laugh.
Most people haven’t done stand-up for a number of reasons. One, they’re not funny. But two, and most importantly, they’re not insane egomaniacs. To do what I did, you have to be a little bit of both.
That said, you don’t need to be a fucking stand-up comic to make people laugh. In fact, it was this realization that allowed me to feel better about giving it up.
Oh, yes. I can just make the people around me laugh. And no one is exploiting my sense of humor for their own personal financial gain? Get out! I can just make someone laugh… or not make them laugh… and we both go on with our lives?
Unless you’re a soulless robot of a human being, at some point in your life you’ve made other people laugh*. But, I’m not talking about a chuckle, a forced HA that someone gives out of pity or that a subordinate gives you in a meeting. I’m talking about that actual laugh-out-loud feeling you can’t control. That guttural bellow, perhaps accompanied by tears, that can’t be stopped no matter how hard you try.
The only thing better than laughing that way, in my experience, is making someone else laugh that way.
Polar Opposite of this Feeling?: Not that I would know or that this is a specific story in any way… but I’d imagine the opposite of this feeling is doing a show in the back of a bar in Bloomfield, NJ to a crowd of 6 people, three of which are other “comics” and two of which are the friends that drove you.
*I haven’t done a footnote in a while, but I think this warranted one. We all know that this type of person definitely exists. Perhaps there’s some sort of personality disorder at play? I think of these people like computers that have been dropped and still work in a general sense but there’s something off–the CD drive is busted, the internal speakers are off, something. But yeah, these people are real and they’re unbearable. You don’t need to be a god damn court jester, just smile every so often for fuck’s sake. Even if it’s just to imitate the rest of us humans.