One of my pen-pals (yes, that’s plural, I have multiple pen-pals that I write to via email or by hand or sometimes via messenger pigeons or I just write poetry and put it in bottles and thrust it into the ocean hoping it might reach a soul mate) shared this quote from Bob Newhart:
“You know what’s strange, about comics? If you ask someone about their most memorable night–ask a singer about a night she remembers, she’ll talk about the time she hit all the right notes in a packed house. Or a dancer, they’ll tell you about the terrific leap they made that they’ve never been able to equal. An actor will tell you about the time he got a standing ovation. But if you ask a comic to tell you about the night they remember most, you’ll get a story about a night they died, just bombed, had the worst night of their life. That’s how most of the comics I know think.”
That’s pretty funny/alarming/accurate/sad tell of the mindset of a comic.
I mean… I am one of those people. But I’ll liken stand up to surfing when I say that the stories where there were sharks or I ate shit, almost drowned— they are better stories than the days of perfect waves.
Here’s the story of a perfect wave day:
I was in Hawaii. The water is crystal clear, colorful reef below, emerald mountains on land, slow 4-5ft rollers breaking. Clean and gentle but powerful enough faces to shred. Caught wave after wave of the best feeling.
It’s a great memory but not really a great story. And unless you’re a surfer you don’t know the feeling. Same goes for stand up. Perfect gig:
It’s a theater and I’m opening for Colin Quinn/Nick Griffin/Gary Gulman. I step out to applause. Take the mic. Every joke hits. I kill. Caught waves of laughter and it’s the best feeling.
Again, not a great story. But it is the reason we go back for more, the reason we raise our battle flags (mostly internal, not a rioter here), and drudge through shit. I’d like to think that a comics disposition as Newhart accurately observed is a symptom of being a story teller who pines to make you laugh rather than being negative at heart or trying to make ourselves a Hero.
What is the seed of a comics self deprivation? Oh man. That’s heavy one. Compile all my blogs, read between the lines and maybe you’ll figure out the mind of a mad woman, but let me save you sometime– don’t even bother.