Doing stand-up comedy is relatively new for me. For the most part, it has been an extremely fun experience. After all, who wouldn’t like to hang out with other funny people, suck down adult beverages and get paid to tell fart jokes? And while the process of writing and performing jokes for other people’s entertainment is fun, it also leads to some of the most annoying and awkward encounters with people.
Once people find out that I do stand-up comedy, it is like they assume it is totally fine to no longer use the logic part of their brain when interacting with me. It is an interesting phenomena that probably warrants a few monetary grants to study and ultimately, treat this disease which I have labeled, “Comeditardism.”
But until said study becomes a real thing, I will share some preventive measures with everyone. Remember, I share this because I care. Sharing is caring, and I care very much to never have to deal with the next five questions/comments/remarks again. You are welcome, and I thank you, in advance.
5: “You are a comedian? Make me laugh/Tell me a joke.”
No. No, I will not. Unless I happen to be onstage at the very moment you ask this question/make this statement, I will not do this. This is a job. Albeit a fun job, it is still a job. Which means I get paid to make people laugh.
So unless you are willing to pay me to tell you jokes or funny stories, it isn’t going to happen. At least not on your schedule. Now, if I happen to be in a conversation with you and I say something that makes you laugh, congratulations. But I am not a trained monkey, free to dance at your leisure.
To put it into perspective, let’s just assume you are a janitor, or perhaps you work in retail (either way, you put up with a lot of shit). And while you are out at a restaurant, or drinking coffee at Starbucks, I happen to figure out your profession. Would it be okay with you for me to ask you show me how you clean a urinal or fold a shirt?
The answer is no. Only a maniac would answer that in the affirmative. A maniac or a twat. And you aren’t a maniac or a twat, are you? I didn’t think so.
4: “Have you heard of/My favorite comedian is…”
Unless the end of that question/statement is me, then I don’t fucking care. I really don’t. My profession is to stand in front of everyone and make them instantly happy. To say that I, or any comedian, doesn’t have issues with insecurity and self-esteem, is a lie. We are tremendously fucked up people who live and die on whether some anonymous person enjoyed the last thing we just said. It is not healthy, and even less fun (unless, of course, you laugh).
We don’t need, or appreciate, you letting us know that you happen to find someone else, funnier than us. Good for you for liking a comedian. Now go away. Go far, far away and never mention that name or person to me again. I do not wish to engage further in conversation with you. In fact, the next person to encroach this topic with me, will find out who my favorite person to discuss comedy with is (hint: it isn’t you).
And asking if I have heard of some other unknown comedian is the comic equivalent of that music hipster douche we all hate. Quit testing me to see how large my underground comedian network is. Chances are, I have heard of the person in question. Even if I haven’t, I will say that I have and discreetly Google them later so that I won’t feel guilty about not knowing someone who does the same thing I do. That is a lot of stress and pressure that you are putting on me. Why do that to me? Why?!?!
3: “What is your act about?”
I don’t know how to answer this. I really don’t. Typically, when I get hit with this question, it is followed up with extremely long moments of silence and uneasy squirming. Once done, I simply just make some shit up for my entertainment because I want you to experience the same awkward silence and squeamishness too.
“My act is about Nazi sympathizing chickens that have entered into a sexual relationship with Jewish goats and the hilariousness of their encounters as they discover that they both are having an affair with a Canadian cow.”
Perhaps instead, you should just come to the show and find out for yourself if you are intrigued enough to ask. And as a warning, if you tell me you are coming to a show, PLEASE show up. At the very least, send a stunt double in your place. You telling me that you are coming, and then not showing up, is a great way to get me fired from that club. I can get fired all by myself, thank you. I do not need your help.
2: “What time do you go on?”
The level of stupidity of this question astounds me. Every time I get asked this, I question your parents’ decision to not practice safe sex. It is printed ON THE GOD DAMNED TICKET! And if you don’t have a ticket, then it is okay to ask me what time the show starts, but under no circumstances, should you follow that up with “but what time do you go on?” The answer is “FuckYou:45 P.M.”
“But we just want to know so we don’t miss your performance.” Then show up on time for the event and you won’t have to worry about that. Trust me, we are comedians. We never start early and we rarely start on time. It is a minor miracle that we were even able to put on pants, let alone put together an entire show. Don’t ask us to pinpoint EXACTLY when we are going on stage. That is impossible. You would have better luck trying to get Bill O’Reilly to say something nice about Barack Obama than that.
The whole premise of the question itself is fucked, if you think about it. Would you buy tickets to see a movie and then ask what time Brad Pitt makes an appearance? Would it be acceptable to show up to your stupid kid’s recital only when it is your kid’s turn to dance badly and shout the song instead of sing it? Of course not. You show up at the beginning of the event and suffer through the crappy parts like A NORMAL PERSON would.
1: “Feel free to use that”
Oh can I? Can I feel free to use your lame joke that you just told? Listen, I know that you are trying to help, and I appreciate the sentiment, but I will not be using whatever it is you are allowing me to use. Quite frankly, it probably isn’t that funny or even mildly entertaining, so while I appreciate your generosity, feel free to not let me use that. I have my own jokes, and my own stories that I have already spent too much time thinking about and crafting (and probably cutting, changing and editing at the last minute) to have to worry about carving out time for your shitty quips.
And if I say I will use it, I am lying. Flat out, 100% lying. I do this to make you leave me alone, and for the added bonus of seeing you disappointed when I don’t use it during my set later. These are the things that bring me pleasure. Like I said, comedians are fucked up. So spare yourself and your feelings, and don’t offer me your material. Most likely it won’t be funny and I will look like and asshole who can’t write or tell funny jokes. I don’t want that as a performer, you don’t want that as a patron and they don’t want that as a club/promoter. In other words, much like the Chicago Cubs, no one wants any part of being around that much failure.
Besides, if I am going to take anyone’s material, it will probably be from that unknown comic you quizzed me about earlier, that no one has else has ever heard of. Thanks for that tip, by the way.