The comedian's job is to make everything funny. But when does the work of life imitating art (and vice versa) get in the way of just being a normal person?
I was recently on a date (as all interesting twenty something's who live in a major city are) and half way through numerous awkward silences and a few too many over enthusiastic responses to simple agreements I realized something: That this date was not going well. Now most people in this situation would do a few things including flop sweat, babble like a incoherent idiot, and make a ill advised joke (something about being a serial killer or my favorite topic as a Jew, Hitler!) desperately trying to pump any kind of life into this dying corpse of a Tinder night out. And don't get me wrong, I did all those things. In that order. But the difference is I enjoyed doing them. I wouldn't say I'm a masochist who gets off by inflicting pain on himself, but I'm pretty close. You see I'm a comedian. I do standup, improv, and write. And I know all too well what it's like to bomb before groups of skinny jeaned hipsters all the way from the un-airconditioned sweat boxes of North Hollywood to the great rolling coffee shops of Los Feliz.
At first the bomb is scary. It's deathly silent. It's unforgivingly judgmental. It can swallow ego's whole and leave you with nothing but painful questions such as "Do I have enough talent to really do this?" or "Should I just move back to Florida and get a real job like my sister? My parents are so proud of her." But after about seven years of sacrificing yourself to the bomb you basically become Jeremy Renner in the Hurt Locker. The bomb no longer effects you. In fact, in a delightful twist of irony, you begin to enjoy the bomb almost as much as you enjoy the laugh. Things are going bad, you might as well make them worse. It'll make for a great war story later. Surviving the bomb, and further more, exacerbating it, is like a badge of honor for the comedian. It's a sign that you've fought through empty rooms, badly lit stages, and uncomfortable jokes that sounded way funnier in your bathroom mirror and lived to tell the tale. It's a sign that you've grown. And when you've done it long enough you start to inadvertently look to earn that badge in your everyday life, cause in the words of the very great and very funny John Mulaney, "Adult life is already so goddamn weird..."
Now the reason I tell you all of this is because while I was at home, mentally comparing my many awards of embarrassment, I decided to do some late night lurking through my dates social media (we all do it, you're not better then me!). A few clicks and swipes later I found myself searching through the archives of her blog. A blog that she writes from this very website. A blog packed with well written and witty posts, the contents being mortifying dates of old. Where condoms got stuck in vaginas (her vagina to be exact) and a tongue was attempted to be shoved down a mouth during the least awkward moment of 12 Years A Slave (of course, we all know what the least awkward moment of slavery was). Now I knew this girl was a comedian, she probably mentioned it after I laughed way too hard at something that wasn't a joke, but I didn't know she was that kind of comedian. The kind of comedian who divulges their most revealing and embarrassing experiences in a humorous way in order to, I dunno, find some form of self-therapy while entertaining and empathizing with audiences through the common bond of shared laughter! Thats my thing! I had gotten half way through the condom in vagina story (she gets it out, don't worry) when I realized something horrifying. I was about to be this girl's next bombing blog post. She had puled a third act Shamalynian twistaroony on me! For I had foolshily thought she was my material. I was in fact... HER MATERIAL!
This couldn't be. I was the comedian! The uber self aware commentator of social mishaps large and small. If anyone was gunna make fun of me it was me goddammit! Those laughs, that badge, that bomb, were mine. So I began writing this blog post, desperately racing against the clock and that one friend she probably sends her writing to for grammar checks, in order to prove I had gained more social knowledge and experince from this awful date. I would show her, and more importantly myself, that the joke was simultaneously on and not on me!
But what if there was no joke to be had here? What if me and this girl both just had a normal not so great human interaction that didn't need to be recorded in the annals of online comedy. Part of me wonders had I not had my mind set on turning that date into a solid ten for the Comedy Store would've made it feel more real. At what point should life stop imitating your art and your art stop imitating your life? Right now my twenty something career driven brain is telling me that everything I do and experience is material. It has to be because I'm hoping it'll pay my rent one day. But at what point do I stop purposely taking the piss out of every little interaction I have in order to receive what could be a mild chuckle in return. I think it's an artist job to be as open, honest, and critical with themselves as they can be because it may inspire and motivate someone to do the same. Or it may have an even greater impact. My favorite comedians and writers made me feel proud to be a weirdo, nerd, geek, and every other name those creative seventh grade bullies could come up with. I hope to become influential enough to empower some outcast kid the same way *cue inspirational music*. There are times though when I feel like my quest for the laugh, the bomb, and honesty get in the way of me being honest with others.
So I guess what I'm asking is: What's the deal with first dates?