|LIFE AS A LOSER #36: "DEF AND DUMB COMEDY JAM."|
|By Will Leitch|
Before we get started this week: My mother, upon reading my recent drinking column, requested I tell readers of this column - both of them, ho ho - that I was just kidding when I said I drank that much. So, readers, for my mother’s sake, I feel obliged to confess that everything you have read in this column has been a lie. In truth, I am a 6-foot-2 Polynesian woman with a cleft chin, a tattoo of a pit bull on my left bicep and a scar above my right nipple that looks suspiciously like the geographical representation of Poughkeepsie. My mother and I apologize for any prior confusion.
Went to a comedy club a couple of days ago. Typically I don’t really like comedy clubs because I don’t enjoy feeling pressured to laugh. I don’t respect the setup, punch line, pause for applause, rinse, lather, repeat format of standup routines. I think Kurt Cobain called it “Verse Chorus Verse.”
I was with my friend Clare, who had a friend performing (honestly, I think three-quarters of the audience were friends of someone on stage). The friend was funny enough, I guess, certainly energetic and perky, but like everyone else there, she was just another comic. Poop joke here, pithy observation on contemporary culture there, an aren’t-men-and-women-so-doggoned-different thrown in for good measure. Comment on the couple in the front row, boy, isn’t it crazy here in New York, that Elian, hoo boy, that was something, wasn’t it? And that Bill Clinton, what a character that guy is.
Rinse, lather, repeat. Verse, chorus, verse.
Nevertheless, I went, not only because I hadn’t seen Clare for a while, but because, well, I’m considering giving standup a try.
I did some improv in college. Not much, though. It was mainly two nights of me going, “Um, um, uh, fart, poop, dung, yeah, yeah” after being handed a Hula-Hoop as my prop. My experience is pretty much kaput right there. It might be better if, say, I were actually kind of funny, or had something worthwhile and enriching to say, or had a voice that needed to be heard. But you’ve been reading this column; you know that’s not the case.
So why? It’s just, well, the job seems so easy. Look at the idiots you see doing standup professionally; it seems like you’re considered intelligent and urbane if you don’t have a prop and don’t wear a funny hat. The formula, as it appears: Look at something everybody notices, make the most obvious observation with no spin whatsoever, then curse. Lots. And be really loud.
There’s an open mike night coming up, one of those two-drink-minimum, eight-drink-required evenings where people try out their so-called material. I’d like to run some of it by you, now. Let me know what you think:
Hey, everyone, how is everybody out there? Everybody having a good night? Drinking some beer? Yeah! Everybody here from New York? Yeah, fucking New York, man, gotta love this town. Anybody from out of town? Where are you from, ma’am? The woman will be sitting next to a man who appears to be her boyfriend. I will make a crack about his shirt, like “Hey, nice shirt!” and people will laugh. Insert name of town is a nice place, but you’re in New York now! Fuck, man.
So, have you been watching this Elian business? Man, it’s all over the fucking TV, man, I’m so sick of it. Fuck, man.
Hey, and how about that Jennifer Lopez? Man, that lady’s boobs are all over the place, and that ass, boy, it sure is big! And Puff Daddy, her boyfriend, right, what’s with that guy? I mean, can you imagine those two having sex? He’d have, like, a gun and shit! And man, whaddya think their kids would look like? Really fucking weird, I bet!
At this point, I’ll find some other guy in the audience, and I’ll ask him if he’s single. I’ll have to prepare for either answer. If he says “Yes,” I’ll say What’s wrong, couldn’t get a date tonight? Maybe it’s that stupid shirt! and if he says “No,” I’ll say You’re married? What, are you some kind of an idiot?! It will appear to the audience that I’m trying to get some kind of banter going, but, in fact, I’m subtly moving to the next topic of my routine. This is called a segueway, and trust me, it works.
Boy, men and women, they’re never going to get along. I mean, they’re different, you know? We guys, you see, we just want to watch the game, you know, maybe drink a few beers, yeah, right. But women don’t understand that, you see, they’re all like (here I will use a falsetto voice to do an impersonation of what a woman sounds like) “I want to go shopping! I want to go out on a date! Buy me flowers!” I mean, screw that, right guys?
Plus, ladies, you should listen to this, we guys like sex too much. I mean, we really like sex. We’re always thinking about sex. I’ll be talking to my girlfriend, and I’ll be like, “Hey, let’s have sex,” right? And she’ll be all (again, the falsetto) “I don’t want to have sex.” See what I’m talking about? (Pause for more laughter.)
Anybody paying attention to the elections? That George W. Bush, man, he’s like totally an idiot! He’s so dumb! And, man, he’s like always snorting coke and shit. I mean, didja ever think he’s only running because of his dad? Come on! Al Gore, whew, man, he’s like, so stiff. He’s like (I will develop a robot-like voice here), “I am Al Gore. I am running for President. Vote for me. Beep. Beep.” And don’t get me started on that Dan Quayle guy!
At this point in the program, they’ll be hooked, so I’ll be able to go into the experimental autobiographical stuff.
So I’m talking to my mom the other day. She says that I don’t call her enough. I’m like, mom, I’m not 15 anymore, you know. You know? Moms are like that though. They’re all worried about us and stuff. When I was a kid, she was all, “Put your coat on, Will.” I mean, whether I was fuckin’ cold or not, this woman said this to me. But they’re moms, you know; they worry.
One time, I was taking this huge dump at work (I recognize that there is no particular transition here, but I think the laughter may work as a bridge) and some guy walked past the bathroom and heard me fart. I was like, oh, man, what am I going to do?
And then my big finish.
Have you seen this Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Man, everybody watches that show, man. And the questions ... I mean, they’re so easy! And Regis is so irritating! I just want to go up to him and grab him by his neck and just shake him! I’d be like, “Hey, Regis, you’re pissing me off, I’m going to beat the crap out of you! What do you think of that?” And he’ll be all scared and say, “No, man, don’t kill me.”
And I’ll look right at him and say, “Is that your final answer, Regis? (Pause for huge, sustained laugh) Because you better show me the money.”
Thank you, everyone, you’ve been a great audience!
My sitcom deal and spot on Letterman await.