There’s a pivotal scene in the movie Big where Tom Hanks’s character Josh – a 12-year-old boy magically changed into an adult man – completely derails a toy pitch meeting. A seasoned executive shows off his idea for a toy, nearly everyone accepts it, until this manchild raises his hand and says, “I don’t get it.” This results in the idea getting shot down and a promotion for Josh.

I think of this often, not just because I relate to being a manchild. I often have this same reaction to other comics. Call it jealousy if you like, but I’m just as likely, if not more so, to react this way to someone’s attempt at success than their actual success.

To be clear, I am very aware that humor is subjective. That said, I don’t need to find someone funny to understand why they’re successful. In fact, I’ve had direct conversations with two separate comics when I said, “Your comedy isn’t for me and that’s okay, because it’s not meant for me.” To one of them, I said this after watching three minutes of one episode before deciding his entire TV series wasn’t for me. And I wonder why I don’t have friends.

I think, “I don’t get it,” most often as a gut reaction to clips comics post on social media. I love seeing the devolution of the comedy hour into the “half-hour comedy hour” into the 30-second TikTok clip. We’ll be seeing five-second clips soon. Anyway, since no one wants to “burn” “quality” material by exposing it online, it’s more popular for comics to post crowd work. The problem, however, is that when we talk to someone in the crowd, we don’t have to be especially funny or clever. We just need to be fast. Done right, we show the crowd how confident we are, how skilled, and they know this is an organic moment crafted for them and them alone.

In a video clip, days later? Not nearly as meaningful. We add subtitles to clips since it’s very common for people to watch them with the sound off, so the crowd may have laughed hysterically at your unfunny but quick, I hesitate to call it a joke, but no one will hear that reaction, they’ll just see the transcript. Which leads me to wonder why it was posted at all. Which also discourages me from posting clips myself, because I don’t want people to react to me the same way.

There are times when I’m in a club, not laughing at the comic onstage, but the crowd is pissing themselves. That comic’s success is not a mystery to me. There are times when I’m not laughing, the crowd isn’t laughing, and it makes sense that the comic never gets past the open mic level. There are times, though, when I’m not laughing, the crowd isn’t laughing, and the comic is in high demand throughout the country. That I don’t get, because it must involve a level of social skills and likeability – at least off stage – that I’ll never attain.

I don’t get that comics can be successful while also openly and shamelessly stealing from other comics. Well, that’s not completely true, I do get that audiences neither know nor particularly care where the jokes come from. You know what, I take it back, I do get why they get away with it. It’s because comics, rather than openly confronting and shunning them, just talk shit in the clubs and make vague, passive-aggressive comments in blogs. Ahem. (To be fair, I stumble into more than enough beefs without actively seeking drama.)

I guess it’s okay that I don’t always get it, because what is life without a little mystery? Now I feel like rewatching Big, haven’t seen it in years. There’s a tendency for Hollywood to make female remakes of old movies, but I think Big is pretty safe from that. Unless you think people will think it’s just as romantic to see a woman with the mind of a 12-old-year girl have sex with a grown man. As Carlin said, “Let’s not have a double standard. One standard will do just fine.”