I think for me, the most interesting thing about taking this stand-up comedy class, besides the process of learning how to write spoken humor that will actually make people laugh, has been all of the personality “buttons” that this experience has pushed in me.
And so, being who I am, I decided that it wasn’t enough that I had to-in just 6 weeks-learn how to get up in front of 281 people and deliver a 4-minute, funny, stand-up comedy routine. I decided that this would also be The Perfect Time to take apart various pieces of my psyche, mess around with them for a while, and then attempt to put all the pieces of my mind back together again. Because really-who wouldn‘t?
(Important Side Note: It is for this very reason that both my husband and my coach deserve either A Very Large Medal, or A Very Large, Extremely Potent Alcoholic Beverage. Or possibly both.)
The first night of class was very interesting, because we all went from being A Big Fish In A Small Pond and The Funniest Person In The Room, to being one of 16 other people who were all just as funny as we were, if not more so.
This was very unnerving, because it meant that all the little “tricks” we used to navigate ourselves through social situations no longer worked. Everyone there could see right through them, because we all do the same kinds of things–nothing was funny or original anymore.
Cutesy, girly head tilt with hair toss, perfectly timed smart-ass comments, being the first to make fun of something goofy that happened-all gone. And so we were all left to wonder, “Well what the f*&% do I do now?!” With everything that used to make us remarkable and unique now rendered powerless, how could we possibly stand out?
It was very interesting to watch what happened next, because we all then went to our “default” personality settings, the ways we use to cope with an unfamiliar or stressful situation.
Some people got really quiet and just hung back, watching everything around them to see what would happen. That’s not surprising, because one thing that makes us so good as comedians and artists is that we do observe life. We notice things that most people don’t, and what we see inspires us to react to life in some kind of creative way.
I myself went into “care taking” mode, making sure that everyone got all their paperwork filled out correctly and had someone who would cheer loudly for them no matter what they did.
And interestingly, some people fell back on the method of making themselves feel better by excluding and disparaging someone else. In this case it turned out to be the 11 boys against the 6 girls, leading me to later describe the class to a friend as having “wa-a-a-y too much penis.”
No matter what we did, I think that on some level we all knew that the masks were on and the defenses were up. And on that note, we were dismissed for the week with the assignment to write our very first joke.
(To be continued)