The Man Behind the Mirror
Comedians…we appear remarkably similar to people.
“What are you comedians really like?” I’m often asked. It’s a deceptively complicated question.
1. Comedians like to question basic assumptions.
(Shouldn’t we be saying ‘I COULDN’T care less?’ instead of ‘I COULD care less?’)
2. Onstage, comedians like to tell uncomfortable truths.
(I’ll tell you why I didn’t think you 2 were together. Because you seem into my flirting and he seems 90”)
Many people praise comedians because their challenge muscle has stayed intact; that we sound like 6-year-olds. And you’d be right! Though unlike 6-year-olds…
A. We’re done with school, and
B. When we say something awkward…it’s usually on purpose.
A comedian’s spouse will tell you truthfully that our ‘unwillingness to compromise’ is really our inability to…grow the hell up! So if you like ‘babysitting’…marry a stand-up!
Care to dig a little deeper?
3. In a comedy club, a comedian gets to ‘worship at the comedy alter’ where the ONLY sacred thing is the joke; not family, not community, not tradition. The country’s going to hell? Allow him to make it seem worse. You got a speeding ticket, clocked at 90? Good, he says! Not maliciously. But because…
4. Arrogance is a comedian’s natural enemy. Sitting up front at a comedy show because you think your choices can't be mocked, is like spreading meat on yourself and walking through an animal preserve. “6-year old wonder machine?” Maybe not.
After 35 years of knowing a ton of gifted comedy minds, here’s my take on this elusive answer:
Imagine a person with above average intelligence, above average creativity and above average language facility. But ALL they’re interested in is getting laughs; pursuing the chuckle in lieu of the big house; focusing on laughs, not so much on responsibilities.
A comedian is frankly, an addict. But their drug is your laughter. Comedy is playfully great when it ferrets out our human foibles (silly things we ALL do). But its highest gear is reserved for the reminder that we’re just ridiculous carbon life-forms clinging to a planet that’s spinning at a thousand MPH!
Once at a Hollywood party, a girlfriend and I were chatting with a comedy writer. After being asked, I told him I’m a stand-up comedian. He said, reflexively: “Oh…that’s a dark pool”.
My gal laughed out loud…and laughed hard. In “stand-up” we call that, the laughter of recognition.