Other Stories: I used to be a stand-up comic, Part III
I miss stand up.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my career as an above-average writer and making what some economists would describe as “nothing.” But there are some days where I find myself holding a tube of toothpaste up to my mouth, pretending I’m still doing stand up on stage.
If that sounds pathetic that’s because it is. I live alone in a small town in rural Oklahoma. Pretending to be on stage in front of a blank wall is about the most fun you can have that doesn’t include chain-smoking at a child’s T-Ball game or overdosing.
I still think of bits and write them down in a steno pad that was originally reserved for grocery lists and writing imaginary letters to those who have wronged me. It’s a coping mechanism I learned when I
went insane last summer was dehydrated.
Dear DMV worker
You just have ALL the answers, don’t you? Sorry, we all can’t be the smartest person in this strip mall. I apologize for not knowing ahead of time I had to accomplish 37 other useless tasks before having the NERVE to ask you for help. Forgive me for having you put down your personal iPad. In hindsight, I guess you were right to have a tone with me.
Please drop dead.
If you felt I was too harsh on the imaginary DMV worker, please let me know so I can mail you a real letter.
There’s plenty I miss about stand-up. But this isn’t a blog about stuff I like. Can you imagine how boring that would be — just weekly posts about eating shredded cheese out of the bag like a snack and flaking on social plans I made two weeks ago.
So, I’m going to discuss the one thing I don’t miss about stand-up:
People asking me to do stand-up
Right here. On the spot. In this place that isn’t a comedy club. Because that’s convenient and not at all stupid.
“You do stand-up?”
“Cool. That’s awesome, man. Can you do some right now?”
“Right now in this Bread Co. line? No.”
“Oh, why not?”
Is your brain just a wet bag of white bread? I don’t want to do stand-up here because it’s not the proper place. Stand-up comedy isn’t slam poetry. I can’t just break out a bongo drum and start rambling off whatever piece of crap I wrote in the park.
What’s the deal with gender reveal parties? Would you love your baby less if they were a boy or girl or had no knees? *bongo solo* Please squeeze the Febreeze to clear the stink of this capitalistic think and break off from me, WHITE MAN!
Of course, hell has multiple realms so if it wasn’t one person asking me in a secluded area of a setting, it was one person asking me in front of a group of people.
“Hey, what’s up guys.”
“Tim, I was just telling these guys about how you do stand-up.”
“Oh, no way. I like it a lot. Excuse me—”
“Why don’t you do a little stand-up for them.”
Nothing says, “respect”, like calling someone over from the other side of the room and requesting they make you laugh. As though I’m just sitting on the bench waiting to be called up so I can tell everyone a joke about how my dating life sucks.
When I first started doing stand-up, I somewhat welcomed the ambush. It was inconvenient, but hey, at least people were interested in my performance which is what any comedian or college improv performer would want. I was also a college improver but we can discuss that embarrassing chapter in the My Life Sucks book some other time.
The ‘Can you do some stand-up right now’ request got old fast. Like Madonna and Like a Virgin, I began to hate the very thing that people knew me for.
It would be like if someone found out you worked at CVS and then kept asking you where you kept the Sudafed every time they saw you. If you worked as a nurse, imagine going out to a party and every person there asks you when they can speak to the doctor.
If I found out someone was a carpenter, I wouldn’t respond to that by saying, “Oh, cool. Can you build me a nightstand right here and now inside this TGI Friday’s?”