Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I hear ya bro'

Before I was a fat overly opinionated bastard who wrote a blog, I was a fat overly opinionated bastard who did improv comedy. But before that I was a fat overly opinionated bastard who did years of community/dinner theatre, a couple of films, and one national TV appearance. I also tried my hand at stand up comedy in the late 1980's. And I discovered early on in life, probably around when I was four or five that I was funny, that I could make people laugh.

After I figured out I was funny and could make people laugh I did it quite frequently because that's how I related to them, by making them laugh either by telling jokes, doing strange impressions, or just by commenting on the absurd and the stupid. Once I figured that being funny let me into the good graces of girls I became the class clown and my humor really took off. As high school progressed, I became known as the master jokester who was always ready with a quip or a one liner. And while I loved the attention, the adulation, the being on good terms with the pretty girls, there was a down side to it all. Because I was funny when I wanted to be, people expected me to be funny all the time, no matter what time of day, no matter if I was sick or feeling down, or whatever. The deal was I had to be 'on' all the time. And during all that time I was dealing with the usual teen angst stuff, my crazy aunt and her children and their abuse of me and my siblings, my mentally ill father and his suicide, and my sister's slow decline into delusional schizophrenia. So while I loved being funny for what it brought me, I hated it sometimes because in public anyway I always had to be 'on.'

In college it was a bit easier because I didn't have to deal with a shitty home life and to be constantly on guard against my cousins and their crazy mother. But at times the burden of being the 'funny guy' got to me so I self medicated and I smoked a lot of pot and I drank more than I should have. Eventually I learned how to compartmentalize things and I finally figured out that I didn't have to be 'on' all the time and my life got better in regards to being funny. I decided when and where to crack a joke or zing someone with a one liner and I did it not because I felt I had to but because I wanted to.

The only problem I ever had later on in regards to being 'on' all the time was when I was doing the improv comedy. Because the audience is such a big part of improv comedy, you have to rely on them for suggestions of things to make jokes or build scenes around, some audience members felt like it was fine to come up to me and the other guys in the comedy group after the show and tell us where we went wrong or what we should have said on stage. Or they'd want us to joke around more with them after we just spent and hour and a half working our asses off to make them laugh. If it was a bad show the last thing you wanted was some audience member telling you you should have said this, that, or the other thing. And if it was a great show, then you wanted to ride that good feeling as long as you could because that high you got made up for the nights when the show stank and you didn't want people harshing that buzz.

But if you didn't schmooze with them or do something zany to make them laugh, then they'd call you an asshole or a jerk and they'd go tell everybody what an ass you were. I'll freely admit that at times I'm an asshole and a jerk but if I just busted my ass to make you laugh for an hour and a half, then you should have backed the fuck off and let me enjoy my show buzz or you needed to back the fuck off and let me be me instead of the hyper charged manic onstage version of me that you just saw onstage.

I say all that in order to let you know where I'm coming from when I say that I totally understand Steve Martin's frustration with the recent incident where a bunch of people got pissed off at him for talking about art at a public interview/lecture in NYC instead of being the zany Steve Martin they expect him to be and want him to be all the time. It's as if comedians and comic actors can have no other interests or vocations other than making people laugh. Seriously, sometimes it's a pain in the ass to be the court jester all the time and we all need time to ourselves and time to pursue our interests and hobbies. This recent incident with Martin reminds me of the popular backlash against him when he followed up all his stand up comedy, his stints hosting SNL, and his film The Jerk with the pitch black depression era film Pennies From Heaven. People wanted to lynch him because he dared to make a film that wasn't funny. It was madness I tell you, madness.

My point in all this is that funny people will be funny when they want and don't expect then to be 'on' all the god damn time. Some have castigated me for not making all the posts on this blog funny or humorous, and to them I have said, "It's my blog and I post what I like. If you like it, fine. If not then don't read it." And people, for the love of gawd, Steve Martin has been making you laugh since the mid 1960's, if the guy wants to talk about art, literature, science, or about paint drying, then he's earned the right. But if you hate it when he does, then go watch All of Me or The Jerk or The Man With Two Brains or some of his SNL stuff from the 1970's and give the guy a fucking break.


PENolan said...

From what I have read, the 92nd Street Y fucked up the whole evening by not informing Steve of their bright idea to include inane questions from an email audience which completely through off his focus and timing.

Poor Steve.
Martin, I mean.

Kim Hambric said...

The world is full of selfish dolts. I haven't heard about the Steve Martin thing. I'll have to check out your link.

It's your blog. Post what you want.

K.Line said...

I couldn't believe it when I read about this. The guy's allowed to have opinions about art and culture - and even if people feel misled in their attendance, I'm sure they could have had a very interesting experience if they'd given it a chance.