I went to a great comedy show at the Punch Line this week: John Mulaney, Joe Mande, and my Twitter buddy Emily Heller. I’ve always enjoyed live comedy, but my interest has definitely grown over the past few years thanks to my Twitter addiction and comedic aspirations. For a while, the positive response I got to my jokes (or, uh, humorous observations) gave me a fleeting interest in trying stand-up. I don’t know if you guys know this, but I’ve been drawn to the stage since my third grade debut in A Symbol of Hanukkah at Temple Emanuel Community Day School.
And there’s definitely something attractive about standing in front of an audience, but the more I think about it, the more unsure I am that it’s attractive enough to get me up there. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have aspirations of fame—as opposed to, you know, everyone else. But I’ve never really thought I was going to make a name for myself as a comedian, and at this point, even doing a little stand-up on the side isn’t on my agenda. Seeing people I admire do it only reinforces my doubts. It’s not anxiety—or it’s not just anxiety. At the end of the day, I’m a writer, not a performer.
Not that I don’t feel a little guilty: I had a pact with my friends Lisa and Charley to do an open mic. They’ve both gone for it (with gusto!) and I’m still nowhere near writing a set. I admire both of them for going through with it, and I hope they can forgive me for backing out. But I know how I would feel on stage. It’s the same way I have always felt on stage (Symbol of Hanukkah and small drama camp productions excluded): nervous, awkward, out of place. It’s the “out of place” that really gets to me. My neuroses are something I work daily to get past, and I’m confident I could suppress my shaky knees if it came to that. But I genuinely feel as though I don’t belong on stage, and that’s harder to overlook.
To be honest, I never really thought I was funny until relatively recently. (Relax, I’m not fishing for compliments. I know I am totally LOL-tastic at this point.) So isn’t it possible that while I feel like a writer now, I might feel like something else later? Maybe, but I doubt it. I’ve wanted to be a writer my entire life, save a couple years when I mostly just wanted to eat and get my diapers changed. Writing is the only thing that always makes me happy. I don’t know where I’m going to end up or what I’m going to be doing, but I’m certain it’s going to involve writing because I can’t imagine an alternative.
Of course, it’s not like writing and stand-up comedy are mutually exclusive. They’re actually pretty damn linked. But just as I believe there are born writers, I believe there are born performers. I love to make people laugh: I live for the stars and RTs I get on Twitter. (Well, not live for, because that sounds pathetic. Let’s pretend I said “appreciate.”) But perhaps that’s my venue—not Twitter, exclusively, but the written word. While I might not get the same thrill my friends get when they tell jokes on stage, I can at least feel appreciated in a (quieter) way. It’s also worth noting I can’t bomb online, though the vicious anonymous comments I get are sufficiently ego-crushing!
None of this is probably all that surprising to people who know me in real life. But since I’ve found myself lumped into some “comedians” lists on Twitter, it seemed worth addressing. I’m not a comedian, but I’m flattered by the association. I just want to write and make you laugh and, yeah, OK, make Wikipedia’s list of notable LGBT Jews. You can hold your applause.