I’m not a comedian. I’ve said that before, but I liked the juxtaposition of that first line and the blog title post. I’m trying to be funny, which is not the same thing as trying to be a comedian, and every time someone mistakenly identifies me as such, I feel a twinge of guilt. On the one hand, I’m flattered that anyone would think I could perform. On the other, I AM LIVING A LIE. I feel the same need to correct as I do when someone calls me handsome or interesting.
But I do choose to surround myself with comedians. (Also, writers, actors, creative types in general. For the purposes of this blog, I’m focusing on comedian-comedians.) At one point, I felt a little anxiety about that: does going to comedy show after comedy show without actually performing make me a groupie? If I’m a groupie, does that mean I have to sleep with the comics? …Can I sleep with the comics? But no, I think you can be a comedy enthusiast without performing. I also think that writing comedy (OK, my attempts at writing comedy) aligns me with people who perform comedy, even if we’re coming at it from different angles. (They’re not afraid of getting up in front of an audience. I get an eye twitch just thinking about it.)
Still, I’ve been thinking about why I prefer comedians to non-comedy types. And I’ve come up with a list of explanations.
They are neurotic. I mean, some of them are neurotic, and some of them are REALLY neurotic, and some of them are certifiable. I don’t like spending a lot of time with well balanced people. They make me feel crappy about my anxiety, and they can’t relate to my debilitating fears and insecurities. I have a hard time connecting with “normies,” particularly those of the heterosexual male variety, so I appreciate being able to bond with someone over a shared concern that we will never amount to anything, ever.
They are self-aware. I have some totally nutty friends who don’t realize they’re totally nutty. Do you know how frustrating that is? I’ve been in therapy forever (feels like forever; possibly it’s less than that), and I’m a writer, which means I spend most of my time navel-gazing. Comedians seem to do a lot of self-reflection as well, so they know when they’re being batshit (often). More to the point, they know how to turn the crazy into funny. Which brings me to my next point.
They find the humor in life. I had a dream last night that the country was falling apart. I woke up and realized that my nightmare wasn’t far from the truth. What a terrifying, shitty thought! But living in dread is no fun at all, unless you can turn it into a joke. I strive to take all the things that make me unhappy and use them to amuse others—sometimes I want to make my readers feel less alone, and sometimes I want to elicit laughter. Usually, it’s both. Finding the humor in your miserable existence and the world as a whole is an excellent coping mechanism, and it makes you more fun to be around than a straight-up whiner.
They’re conscious of the world around them. Sort of a corollary to the above: in order to joke about the U.S. falling apart, you have to know that the U.S. is falling apart. I’m not saying my comedian friends know as much about the state of the economy as my economist friends do—I don’t have economist friends—but most of them are unemployed, so yeah, I think they get it. And some know more than others, which is frankly just overachieving. What’s important is that they have some sense of what’s going on, in a way that dumber people might not.
They make me laugh. This might seem obvious, but for all the people who make me laugh, there are countless others who are boring as shit. Why wouldn’t I want to surround myself with friends who provide genuine LOLs on a daily basis? Since joining Twitter, I have laughed more loudly and regularly: Twitter is the comedy equivalent of fiber, is what I’m saying. And most of these people are funny in person, too. That is rare, and it is wonderful. Sometimes they depress me, in the way I’m sure I depress others. But I’m never bored.
They appreciate marijuana. Comedy and weed go together like an analogy that would only make sense if you were stoned. OK, not all comedians get high, but a whole lot of them do, and they do it in a way that interests me far more than stoner culture as a whole. Creative people who smoke weed are still creative when they smoke: marijuana doesn’t make you funnier, but it does make you think differently. And if you have a perceptive, witty brain, that is a genuine treat to be around.
So go follow everyone I follow on Twitter. Be friends with my friends. Develop crushes on anyone who tells jokes into a microphone. And laugh more, because as trite as that sounds, it’s seriously pretty great.