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Don't Shit Where You Eat! ™

Digging a Foxhole

Comedy Posted on Tue, April 23, 2024 08:40:55

I like to think I’m a very good host. I also like to say I’m a very good host, since others don’t say it enough about me, the fuckers. Sure, I’m not the most traditional host in the world as I largely eschew crowd work, and don’t worry, I’m not going to delve into topic of crowd work yet again. Let’s just say that I recognize my own strengths and weaknesses and I can add more value to a night by not asking someone their name and what they do and is the person next to them their partner or relative or both because that happens in the north of Sweden, wocka wocka.

Also, Swedes don’t want to be spoken to, in clubs and otherwise. A crowd of 100 of them, 99 will not like being made part of the show. The only thing worse is the one who does, but more on that later.

I have a new full-time job with a varying schedule and I can’t tell which shift suits me the best. I can start very early and end very early, which theoretically is best, except I’m not a morning person and I’m so wiped after, I can’t do much. The middle shift gets me more sleep in the morning, which is great, but I get home after dinner, which means the whole day is shot, so that shift is the worst. I feel best during the late shifts, starting late afternoon and ending at midnight, or beyond. I can sleep late, even get to the gym before, and I’m a night person. The only drawback is that I can’t do standup those nights. Oh, or see my family.

I’m currently in the midst of a run of late shifts and, my two nights off from work being Saturdays, I host game shows during those days and host Maffia Comedy at night. Which means two weeks of very late nights with no breaks. And I’m closing in on my fiftieth birthday.

Granted, hosting game shows and a comedy club should be more fun than work. Especially considering that, not only can I drink while working at a comedy club, it’s practically encouraged. My day (and often night) job sometimes involves driving, so drinking is discouraged. Still, last Saturday, I would not have minded the night off, despite having missed Maffia the night before. I don’t want to take it for granted, however. Many would love to perform there and can’t (and some of them are super pissed about it, God bless them). And so it was that I went and hoped to have a good time.

By the way, just thought I’d throw this in here, although it doesn’t suit my topic. Consider it a “kids these days, amirite?” aside. I recently met a rookie I thought has potential and I sent him a message, encouraging him to come by Maffia sometime. I think he could start with a solid five minutes and grow from there. His response was a little too enthusiastic so I clarified that he should come meet the owner, maybe have a clip prepared. He said, cool, he’d thought I was offering him a gig but he’d come by sometime. He hasn’t yet. Kids.

I guess while I’m off-topic anyway, I might as well address the question I’m often asked, as to how to get booked at Maffia. The same way you would get booked anywhere. Go to the club, even if you’re not already booked. Introduce yourself to the owner. Be polite. Don’t pretend to be God’s gift to comedy, that your stage time is a favor to the club. Have a clip ready. Think to yourself, “This clip will either get me booked or prevent me from getting booked for a decade or more,” so make sure the quality of the clip is more likely to do the former. When you do get booked, show up early and do your absolute best. And if you end up eating shit, don’t wonder why you don’t get booked again, like it’s one of the grand mysteries of the universe. But if you can’t tell the difference between a great gig and eating shit, I really can’t help you. Aside complete.

Speaking of knowing when I eat shit, back to last Saturday night. Taking the stage to start the show, I noticed a lovely young woman in the front row, gingerly sipping from a shot glass. This will be a fun night, I thought, mistakenly. I got as far as, “Hi, I’m Ryan, I’m from the US,” before being interrupted by a “woooo, make America great again!” that was slurred by another drunk woman in the middle of the room. “Oh, hello, my drunk blonde friend, what’s your name?” Look at me, doing crowd work ten seconds into a show!

“Maxine and I’m jussht kidding.”
“So… don’t make America great again?”
“Uh, yeah, but change your president first.”
“We’re about to, back to Trump.”

It got a laugh from the crowd but a blank stare from Maxine. I also noticed that the woman in the front row whom I’d seen sipping a shot was so blasted her eyes were completely glazed over. As were her companions to either side of her. We were now one minute into a two-hour show.

To be fair, my opening set went alright, as did the first half of the show, but the crowd was drunker than usual. I blamed the weather as we were still getting snow in mid-April (jokes aside, even I think this is ridiculous). I’d decided not to do very much material to start the second half, figuring a short set would end the night and get me home sooner, but when the owner wanted the break over, many people had not yet returned from the bar. I didn’t want the headliner going on while people were still walking in, so I ended up doing a longer set than I’d intended.

Which the crowd didn’t like very much. I think we were feeding on each other’s negative vibes by that point. The right move for a host in that situation would be to switch to crowd work or, at the very least, very crowd-friending material. I was annoyed, though, so I instead yelled at them about Swedish pizza. Even as I launched into the bit, I was thinking that this is a routine I haven’t done in literally years, that it involves a callback to another bit I wouldn’t do, and it hinges on the crowd liking me. They didn’t like me, so it went as well as you can expect.

My grandfather liked to joke about his first night in action during D-Day, “I dug a foxhole so deep they wanted to charge me with desertion.” Here I was, digging a hole of my own. I think it was just an instinct to lash out. Oh, you’re not having a good time? Fuck you, neither am I. However, being the professional and good host that I am, I got them back on my side and happy before the headliner went up.

By roasting a guy in the front row that had been roasted all evening. Because I am a good host who knows low-hanging fruit when he sees it.

I’m also good at my real job. A few nights ago, I kept the office open until 2 AM to help a customer, and he posted a lovely review online. “Employee waited us [sic] until 2 AM. Was super gentle [!] and professional. Employee Name Rajan!”

Stranger Than Fiction

Comedy Posted on Mon, April 15, 2024 03:59:12

I went camping on a small island with some friends last summer and we enjoyed s’mores, as you do.  I really like s’mores, but this was only the fourth time in my life I’d had s’mores.  All four experiences with s’mores would only be positive for me, although I am aware that it’s not uncommon for people to have bad experiences with s’mores.  And while I’m a fan of s’mores, the Swedish authorities are not fans of s’mores, which is why I keep writing s’mores instead of what it’s actually called.

By the way, ever hear that Beatles song, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”?  Great song.  Underrated band.  But I digress.

After taking I mean eating s’mores, I sat on a rock at the edge of the island and stared at the sky.  It was mostly clear that day, except for one large cloud, roughly square in shape, and as I watched it became a screen against which shapes and colors were projected.  Gradually, the clouds morphed into two Celestial Beings, one of whom communicated one word to me, telepathically:


I knew what it meant.  All the negative aspects of my life, all my vices, all my bad habits, everything I’d fought against in order to be a good person, I was told to embrace those things about me.  Stop fighting.  I felt this enormous weight lift from my shoulders as I realized, it’s okay to be selfish.  It’s okay to think of no one but myself.  Hot on the heels of this revelation, however, came another: I wasn’t talking to just any angel, I was talking to the perfect angel.  I’ve heard people say that s’mores lead to conversations with God, yet here I was, talking to Lucifer.

You just want me to be that way because it would put me on a road to You, I told Him.  He chuckled and put His hands up.  <Hey, you got Me.>  One might think the Devil would be furious at being rebuked, but why should He care to be denied my soul?  I’m certain there’s no shortage in that department.

I’ve thought about this experience many times over the past year, but especially in the last few months.  Noticing that my reactions to posts on social media were, more often than not, “Fuck them AND their mother,” lead to me realizing a break would do me some good.  The idea of succumbing to the darker sides of my personality becoming more tempting, it’s better to just focus on work.  (A moron accused me recently of sitting on the couch all day on Twitter, of all things.  I wish!  I have three goddamn jobs.  To be fair, I do spend a lot of time on my couch, regardless.)

So what does this hilarious post have to do with a standup comedy blog?  I’m getting to that.  Jeez.  In the movie Stranger Than Fiction, Will Ferrell’s character realizes that he can hear a narrator, that he’s become the main character in someone else’s story.  Not knowing what to do about it, he’s given some advice- do nothing.  Literally.  Just sit on the couch and wait for the plot to happen to him.  Indeed, he doesn’t have to wait long before a wrecking ball smashes into his apartment.

I feel like that’s where I am now, pre-wrecking ball.  That if I just keep my head down and plug away at my jobs, suddenly I’ll be inundated by gig offers and podcast invites.  Except I know that’s not how this works.  Nor should it.  In theory, my phone should be ringing off the hook!  (Remember when phones had hooks?)  I mean, I’m a brilliant comic with twelve years and eight countries of experience, ran about sixty comedy clubs, people should be falling over themselves to hand me offers!  Except I’m just as brilliant and deserving as any other rookie, with zero ambition and social skills so poor I couldn’t mingle my way out of a wet paper bag.

So my social media fast continues.  Spring is springing, I have a full-time job and for the first time in so long I can’t remember, I don’t have Imposter Syndrome.  Maybe in Autumn, by then securely employed, I’ll be more into grinding for gigs and chasing the dragon.  Although by then I expect the thirty thousand clubs currently active in Stockholm will have been whittled back down to three.

I’ve Fallen

Comedy Posted on Tue, April 09, 2024 03:13:41

Standup and booze- among other substances, legal or otherwise- go together like chocolate and peanut butter, yet I haven’t seen that many stage mishaps. I know two comics who threw up in the middle of their sets, but fortunately I wasn’t present during those nights. I’ve heard a stage groan under the weight of a Swedish comic you’d be forgiven for thinking is American, but the stage didn’t collapse.

I was once asked to help a wheelchair-bound Swedish comic up three steps to a stage and I was glad to help. Except I misjudged my foot placement on the way up and his chair crushed my leg, fixing us both in place until other people ran over to help us both. He never asked me for help again. Or offered me any gigs. I suspect there’s an ironic joke to be made about my leg being crushed by a wheelchair but I can’t find it.

The stage at Maffia Comedy is a platform about a foot or 200 or 2000 or 2 cm (I don’t understand the Metric system) off the ground. I’m usually there two nights a week and I’m usually hosting, which means I step on and off that stage much more often than anyone. I figured it was only a matter of time before I tripped.

A few weeks ago, a comic had concluded his set and, since I was hosting, I retook the stage to introduce the next act. We shook hands, badly, as he stepped off and I stepped on. Even before covid, I was terrible at judging how to shake hands with someone. I’d go in with a regular handshake, they’d offer a cool one, or the other way around. Nowadays there are even more variables. It’s common I offer a fist bump, they have their hand extended for a regular handshake, so they close into a fist, except now I’ve opened my hand and end up grabbing their fist.

This time, at least, we’d both gone in for a regular handshake, but didn’t connect very well. I was thinking that it felt like shaking a wet noodle and not about my foot being kinda but not really on the stage. As I put all my weight on the leg to step up, my foot slipped off and I went, shin-first, into the edge of the metal stage. As my momentum kept me moving forward, time slowed to a crawl and I heard the crowd gasp as I found nothing to break my fall.

I’m not sure how exactly it happened, but I ended up flat on my back behind the stage. I paused for a heartbeat and chuckled to myself. I knew I’d fall one day. I climbed up on stage- I want to say the comic helped me up, but I honestly don’t remember- and the whole crowd was leaning forward with genuine concern on their faces. It was actually pretty sweet of them. Feeling like George Bailey’s drunk uncle in It’s a Wonderful Life, I announced, “It’s okay, I’m all-right.” (By the way, I should mention I’d had one beer. I can’t blame booze, just my own clumsiness.)

I limped to the back of the room after introducing the next act. My leg would be sore for a few days more and, since there’s a spot on my shin that’s still tender to the touch, I’m pretty sure I cracked the damn thing. The concern for a fellow human being I got from the crowd gave me a warm feeling. I was also reminded of a difference between crowds and comics when, as I reached the other comics at the back of the room, one of them called me Joe Biden.

The Many Saints of Stockholm

Comedy Posted on Mon, April 01, 2024 07:59:42

April Fools’ seems an appropriate day to resume blogging.

I’ve heard that, “May you live in interesting times,” is a curse. Well, this year is interesting so far. Sadly, I’ve neither the ambition nor the talent to live on standup alone, so I needed an actual job. A few real opportunities came and went last December but in January, as my unemployment benefits were dwindling to a close, I was offered a full-time job close to home, to start in February. Great!

Except, one night near the end of January, I went to bed and the room spun around me. Felt drunk, but wasn’t drunk, believe it or not. Felt weird enough to wonder, as I fell asleep, if I’d wake up again. But not so weird it kept me from passing the hell out as usual. Next morning, I sat up and nearly fell over, I was so dizzy. Stumbled into the bathroom, feeling like I was on a boat, and promptly vomited.

Now, I’m closing in on 50, and I learned long ago that weird shit can and will happen to me. And why bother going to a doctor when Google is available? I quickly diagnosed myself. Seems there’s a condition where calcium crystals can loosen in your inner ear, throwing off your balance, and the only treatment is time and literally shaking your head, hoping to knock the crystals back into place. In other words, I needed to fix my head the way I’d fix a TV set back in the Eighties- by slapping the shit out of it. Seeing as I have a hole in my right ear where there shouldn’t be one, this seemed a likely culprit.

I’m assuming I was right, since I am feeling much better, but it didn’t make my first few weeks of work that fun. It’s been a long time since I’ve worked full-time, not to mention needing to get up at 5 AM, so it would’ve been rough already even without the inexplicable dizziness.

With all this going on, it made it that much more surreal when my phone rang at work and I got the news that someone I was once close to had died.

I have a lot of feelings on the matter, feelings I won’t be sharing. I don’t see a need to be public with grief, although I don’t begrudge others for doing that. In the weeks that followed, I saw others acting well, others not so much. It’s somehow appropriate and makes me chuckle that her death was a catalyst for starting yet another beef with yet another comic, one that I wasn’t looking for. In death, as in life, she could cause drama. She would’ve liked that. I’ll pray for the guy.

I will say that the aftermath was fairly predictable. The social media posts that Anthony Jeselnik rightly labeled, “Don’t forget about me!” The messages I got from others, expressing their condolences and then immediately asking how she died. Some people- probably more than I know- just outright assuming how she died.

There is one thing I liked seeing. All of us are complex. We have our good sides, we have our bad. We hope the good outweighs the bad. She was certainly no exception. In death, though, most only see her for the good. Not just that, but there are people who didn’t know her well that remember a lofty version of her that never actually existed. I like that. Why remember her as anything less?

Anyway. I’ve been all over the place these past few months. I also decided to go on a social media fast, since I found myself falling into old habits. Scrolling through page after page, despite not caring about anything I was looking at. Getting jealous, annoyed, even thinking dark thoughts about people I once considered friends. I don’t like being that way, so I’m staying off except to keep this blog going and to put out the last few episodes of my podcast I have in the can. Although I need to re-edit the episode I’d meant to put out most recently, as it featured a very funny clip about comics dying.

I couldn’t help but smile when, three days without signing in, Facebook sent me an email to let me know someone I don’t care about had posted something I don’t care about. I’m expecting them to send someone to knock on my door to give me updates. Or maybe a John Cusack move where they park outside my apartment and hold up a jukebox.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
– John Donne

Shut Up and Tell Dick Jokes, Revisited

Comedy Posted on Sun, February 04, 2024 17:46:09

Lisa Kudrow, on Black Mirror as a parody of a right-wing pundit, said something along the lines of, “Conservative voices are being silenced! It’s like I said on Joe Rogan, on Jordan Peterson, twice on Tucker Carlsson, and in my best-selling book ‘Conservatives are Being Silenced!’ And I’ll keep saying it, because conservative voices are being silenced!”

Here is a common rookie move, one I’ve made myself- comic tells a joke, someone in the crowd has an unusually strong reaction, typically negative. In future sets, comic tells that joke, then the story of what happened that one time they told it. I once saw a comic get a strong reaction to a joke, then, at another club while telling the story of what happened that other time they told it, someone reacted strongly to his story. I then saw him, a month later, tell the joke, then the story of what happened when he told the joke, then the story of what happened the time he told the story of what happened when he told the joke.

Anyway, I was reminded of this while watching Dave Chappelle’s latest special.

Good Lord, I am so tired of hearing comics complain they’re not allowed to say anything while saying anything they want. Don’t get me wrong, I do not believe in limits to speech, but I also believe in consequences. Gilbert Gottfried lost his job as a duck because he made insensitive jokes about the tsunami in Japan. Let me repeat that- he lost his job as a fucking duck. Bummer. I’m sure it took a short-term financial toll. In the long-term, he got to die a titan of the comedy industry.

I love John Cleese but I don’t love hearing him in interview after interview, oh waahh everyone is so sensitive these days and you can’t say anything anymore. Except he is. I’m reminded of a phrase I heard shouted on Monty Python many, many times: “Get on with it!”

I’d have more patience if these iconoclasts, these rebels, would have something profound to say in the face of relentless censorship. They don’t. I’ve seen Chappelle and Jimmy Carr and several others do, instead, the following- “Oooh, I’ll get canceled for this, but here it comes! [insert joke a rookie with two weeks’ experience could write] Uh oh, I was kicking down, now I’m canceled, wink wink!”

It’s just so fucking boring. I don’t think Chappelle returns to this well, over and over, because he’s lazy or following the path of least resistance. I don’t even think he’s pandering to his base. I think he’s obsessing over a not unsubstantial amount of people reacting poorly to his jokes. Like a rookie recounting the story, he can’t let it go. I expect better. I don’t know why I keep watching his specials; maybe it’s me being self-destructive, purposely watching something I know will annoy me, or maybe it’s out of hope he’ll pull himself out of this creative nosedive.

Podcasting for a Dummy

Comedy Posted on Mon, January 29, 2024 06:28:35

We live during a time that it seems everyone and their mother has a podcast. For years, that motivated me to start one of my own. After all, if many of my peers were doing it, why shouldn’t I? At the same time, it equally discouraged me from doing the same. After all, if everyone else is doing it, why should I?

The urge persisted, but it wasn’t until the pandemic that I finally did something about it. I was surprised by how little I missed performing and thought about all the comics I’d seen quit over the years and not understanding why. I could interview them and maybe that would help me understand my own relationship with standup.

To make it happen, though, I had a few hurdles to overcome. One was as I mentioned above, why bother putting out a podcast that no one will listen to? Well, some people will, but that’s not the important part. I’d be doing it for me. In that sense, maintaining this blog helped motivate the pod, because I write this for me and whomever else cares to read it.

The biggest obstacle, however, was getting off the couch. Well, that’s not entirely fair, as I was at the gym five to seven days a week. The gym is a five-minute walk from my apartment, though, and the thought of going further than that was exhausting. Literally and figuratively. Getting ahead of myself here, but I once recorded two episodes in Stockholm in one day and I could barely function afterward. Whatever the opposite of cabin fever is, I got it from the pandemic, and doing a podcast and, later, working part-time as game show host, helped get me out of it.

Throughout my life, there were instances when I had a great idea to do something and then never acted on it. “It’s better to regret something you have done, than something you haven’t done,” as they say. I don’t like looking back and thinking what if and I didn’t want to add this podcast idea to that list, so I was finally motivated to shit or get off the pot, to use that lovely saying.

Naturally, it helped that I would be interviewing friends, or at least people I’d known for over a decade. I also intentionally planned it as a limited series so I wouldn’t have to do a new one every week or feel bad about it running out of juice. It was fun to learn how to do it, from recording to posting, and I had great support in making all the graphics come out the way I liked (shout-out to David T. Weaver). I never cared that it’s incredibly amateur. No need for studios or top-notch equipment, I can record and film wherever with a laptop and one microphone! When you do something mostly for yourself, quality doesn’t need to be a priority. Again, see this blog.

I enjoyed doing it and figured I could eventually do a second season with a new theme, I’d just need to wait until I had a good idea for one. Only took two years but I finally had the idea to talk to rookies who made their debuts during the pandemic. Well, the real motivation was realizing I was paying a host every month to keep my podcast online, and figuring I’d better put out something new or just get rid of the damned thing. Shit or get off the pot, again.

There was only one obstacle this time, but it was a doozy. As I’ve mentioned ad nauseum, I’m not the most social guy around, and during the first season I’d had the luxury of talking to people I’d known for a long time. This time, I’d be interviewing people I barely knew at all, if at all. I knew from personal experience, though, that everyone likes to be invited to a podcast and that all comics love to talk about themselves. I wouldn’t need to talk so much myself and holy shit is that a good thing; rewatching them now, it’s shocking, even to me, how badly I mumble, how quickly I speak when I’m nervous or not paying attention.

I thought I’d record a few episodes before I started releasing them, but I got a little too complacent with that. Now, in January 2024, I edited the first few episodes I recorded and listened as we discussed our Summer 2023 plans. Okay, can’t blame covid for making me lazy, but in my defense, my PS5 won’t play itself. At least the second season is finally underway.

After the finale, I’ll keep the podcast up until I get an idea for a third season. Hopefully the muse will take less time to inspire. Until then, may spite and selfishness motivate you as much as they motive me.

An Irish Exit

Comedy Posted on Mon, January 22, 2024 03:01:34

I looked forward to this year’s Winter party at my job. We have two company parties a year, they’re always fun, and I always leave earlier than everyone else as I have a long commute home with few travel options. This time, I got a hotel room in the city so that I wouldn’t have to bail out early. Usually, the party is in December, but for some reason was in January this time. In the middle of my annual Dry January. I figured I’d earned an exception and enjoyed a few beers during the day.

I had a great time… until I didn’t. After one taco at dinner, I began feeling nauseous. I didn’t want to leave, but it was hard to concentrate on anything. Despite being in a public venue, I seriously considered pulling the trigger – puking on purpose – except the few bathroom stalls were barely large enough to fit a toilet. I did my best to push on anyway, managing a game of Dutch Curling, but when ping-pong was next on the agenda I knew it was time to leave. Fortunately, my hotel room was a ten-minute walk away, where I promptly and violently threw up and then fell asleep.

Naturally, when I left the party, I didn’t say goodbye to anyone. This, apparently, is my way of leaving every event these days. An Irish Exit.

This method of bailing on a party has many names. I’d always known it as a French Exit, but my kid says it’s Irish Exit, and who am I to argue with young people. Besides, she says it’s more appropriate as I’m Irish. Okay, not biologically but I identify as Irish and how dare you question my truth.

(Sigh. The whole “I identify as…” bit is hack and I hereby vow to not use it again.)

I wouldn’t say I was particularly social prior to covid, but I was quite the butterfly compared to my current status. At parties, there’s usually two guys in a corner, locked in conversation, too busy trying to save the world than have fun with everyone else. I was always one of those guys. At mingles – shudder – I never worked the room, I’d stand in one place and talk to whomever came near. Instead of social butterfly, a social Venus Fly Trap. I was rarely last man standing, but never in a hurry to leave.

These days, I’m below the radar and prefer to stay there. You know how Norm would walk into Cheers, say, “Hello, everybody,” and the whole bar would go, “Norm!”? I’m about as far from that as one could be. This isn’t a pity party or me beating myself up, it just is how it is. I like me. But I’m not Mr. Charisma, I don’t take up space, I’m not larger than life. Which is odd to Swedes as they expect that of me as an American.

Instead of lighting up a room, I’m much more likely to scare the shit out of someone when they turn around and find me standing there, as if I’d appeared from nowhere. If social ninjitsu was a thing, I’d be a third-degree black belt. At parties and even standup clubs, I have fun until I don’t, which is usually a sudden vibe, and then I just want to leave as quickly and as quietly as possible. I feel invisible to others so I make myself more so, making it self-fulfilling. Not standing out has led to many missed opportunities, social and otherwise.

All that said, I do feel like I’m in a better place than I was even a year ago, and that things will continue to improve. I told another comic recently that I still feel like I’m coming back into the world. Going into exile and then the pandemic hitting, there was a long period of time when just going anywhere other than the gym was physically and mentally exhausting. My motivation may be low but at least it exists, which is saying something.

I Don’t Get It

Comedy Posted on Sun, January 14, 2024 07:45:56

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.”

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