Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Bit of Humor from the Ennyman Archives

"Sometimes it's good to dare yourself to do the unthinkable. And rather than stand in front of an audience with no clothes on, I decided to have a go at stand-up comedy." 
~Evan Davis

I was sorting through folders in my backup drive and found one that collected scraps of material from my year of living dangerously... as a stand up comedian. (Actually, seven months) No, not a professional comedian, just the open mic type of thing at the Dubh Linn Irish Pub in downtown Duluth. Plus a gig in Tampa. The Evan Davis quote up above captures part of my motivation for having done such a thing.

Theoretically, this is all delivered deadpan, which is actually a skill in itself:

I used to do this show as a ventriloquist, but my dummy would never talk into the mic.

I then decided to do my ventriloquist routine with an eggplant but we had two problems.

First, he said he didn’t like other people putting words in his mouth. I said, "You don’t even have a mouth." He said, "That’s the second problem."

Actually there’s a third problem. I don’t know how to throw my voice. At least that’s what the grapefruit told me. But I‘m working on it. I ain’t a quitter.

I've been raising eggplants out on our hobby farm and now have a small herd. Sometimes we have problems because they go bad. How bad? Somewhere between stealing pencils and murder. Most of them just lie.

The next bit was about food shopping. I noticed as I read it this weekend for the first time in over five years that it was not funny. Hopefully I never tried to deliver it. 

The third sketch had to do with Boogers. The material was original, but you really can't go there because Dave Barry owns that bit of humor turf.

The fourth bit began with the Darwin Awards as a lead in to the time I jumped out of a moving car. The material is not really that funny, which I learned when I tried to deliver it one evening.

After a couple more weak passages about mathematicians and a strained paragraph about drugs and alcohol, I found this nugget:

I had a boss once who told me “Stop and smell the roses.” 
I said, "What if they’re American Beauties?"

I thought this observation about postmodernism to be fairly accurate:

Here are the basic tenets of Postmodernism as a philosophy: Certainty is bad. Confidence is wrong. Progress is a myth. History is not going anywhere....  Kind of like my comedy career.

* * * *

A lot of comedy, especially the late night television scene, is news driven. What's "newsworthy" is just so ripe for witty comic interpretation.

Here’s a news item I just read… There's more violent crime in Cleveland than all of England. And more murders in a typical large U.S. city than in France, Germany and Belgium combined.

What’s astonishing is that we're able to achieve these amazing results with 2.5 million of our criminal behind bars. I began thinking there has to be a lesson here.

Maybe we need to realize that our jails aren't jails, but are actually schools.

Personally, I thought this one had a nice surprise ending:

Remember the market crash of 1929 and all those Wall Street brokers who jumped out their windows? Guess what? There was really only one who did that. But it must have made an impression because people are still talking about it. 

Little known trivia fact: When he hit the pavement, it was the birth of modern abstract expressionism.

I dunno... I wrote fifty pages of this stuff. It was fun waking in the middle of the night and scribbling out notes or recording things on my digital recorder. For the most part the gags worked best in my imagination. That single bright stagelight and an audience changes everything.

For what it's worth, Dubh Linn still has the open mic thing going. If you've got the gumption, go stick your head in the door and see what you think.

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