The Portly Stand-Up
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
This is another in a continuing series of Portly Parables.
It's true -- I was once a stand-up comedienne.
I'm even in a book about women stand-ups (find me if you can!).
I was Teh Funny.
Stand-up is a very weird gig. You go out on a stage, alone, for the singular purpose of making a bunch of people that you usually don't know -- laugh -- either at you, or with you.
In my experience (and with Joni's eminently sage musical validation) -- laughter is a form of release that is next-door-neighbor/cousin/twin/soul-mate to crying.
My humor was mostly socio-political. I liked the way that humor let me get close to the bone with people -- by making a joke about something like lesbian serial-monogamy, I actually got "humorless" lesbians to chuckle (or at least stir in their chairs a bit).
You see -- I was a not just a stand-up comedienne -- I was an out lesbian stand-up comedienne. My mother pointed out to me at the time that this might not be the most lucrative career choice. I now direct her attention to Ellen and Rosie, and almost wish that I'd stuck with it. Almost. In truth, other things occurred in my life that I would have missed if I were still standing up in that way instead of the way I stand up now.
Here are the things that I liked about doing stand-up:
- People laughed.
- I got to talk about very important, and sometimes, sensitive, issues in a way that people actually enjoyed.
- It required a certain quality of presence and spontaneity that I utterly relished, and new material was always getting created via people who thought they were "heckling" me.
- I attained a marginal level of "famousness", in which people on the street would greet me as if they knew me -- which, in a way, they did, because they had heard me talk about my personal life in very revealing ways -- but I didn't know them at all, and I was often uncertain, when they greeted me in very familiar ways, whether they were someone I actually knew. Awkward.
- I found out that the minute the "powers-that-be" begin to recognize and appreciate your work for its originality, freshness and "edge", they generally want to hire you and then tell you how you "should" be doing your work -- which usually involves removing all hints and traces of originality, freshness, and "edge".
- Traveling constantly did not really serve the "homebody" that was swiftly emerging in me during my late thirties/early forties.
- I'm hard to daunt/embarrass.
- I'm good with a crowd.
- I recognize that humor is a very good tool for examining issues that might otherwise be too painful to look at.
- I don't take myself too seriously.
- I recognize "hecklers" (aka trolls/asshats) as opportunities for entertainment and education rather than the disastrous, soul-crumbling, humiliating challenges that they would like to think they are.
- I laugh a lot.
Posted byPortlyDyke at 11:54 PM