“Jeremiah was a bullfrog! Was a good friend of mine!” – a genius.
Can I call this a humor column yet? Whenever someone asks me about it (this has happened twice), I want to say, “I write humor, nyah!” but I’m afraid they’ll stab me in the eye with a copy of the New Yorker. Or vomit. Ah well. Living is the worst part about life. Also, genocide, rape and death. Also, socks with holes in ‘em.
So I like comedy. I laugh at my own jokes: What did the entomologist’s mother say when her son’s Drosophila melanogaster was depressed? “Your fly is down.” Hilarious. Important. Italics.
I did stand-up comedy for the first time last Saturday. Here’s the story. It’s a tearjerker so get your Kleenex™ (“Kleenex: Ah. Now that’s good wipin’.”).
Sunday (one week before the show)
I lay face down on my floor and thought about failing and depression and loneliness. Then I wondered who played the Inspector in Young Frankenstein … Kenneth Mars! I thought about failing again.
In a fit of sweaty determination, I resolved to write something every day, revolutionize comedy, subvert the medium, invent a medium, look up the definition of “medium,” call my Mommy. And stuff!
I did nothing.
Finally, I wrote:
“Hey! If phenomena is the plural of phenomenon, is cinema the plural of cinnamon?” I got heckled by my Waluigi doll. I sighed, tried to cry and put my pants back on.
I’ve always wanted to do comedy — if you don’t count the 19 years I wanted to be a baseball player, photographer, journalist, politician, therapist, psychiatrist, actor, judge, prosecutor, priest or happy.
I stopped writing at 2:00 a.m., stared into the mirror for two hours, went to bed at 4:00.
I woke at 8:00, sleep-deprived, nauseous, like floating in a block of lead. (Honestly, does anyone even edit this shit?)
I stood on my (cool, red) couch, held my microphone (the TV remote) to my lips and practiced my opening:
“Wow. Hey guys. Wow.”
I didn’t sleep that night.
I did things, did things, did things.
I ate a bagel, wondered what a push-up would feel like and ate another bagel.
I walked home at 2:00 a.m., hands stuffed in pockets, breath materializing in front of me, floating off into dead nothingness just like Grandpa!
Sorry. Life is a snowball effect. Socks with holes in ‘em.
“What’s funny?” I asked God. “What’s the formula for funny? Also: The hell, Man?”
On the way home, a big, drunk fella pointed at me and yelled something. I removed my headphones.
He: “I masturbate to you at night!”
I think about him a lot.
You’re bombing tomorrow, monkey! You’re bombing tomorrow! (And you have a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday. Don’t forget.)
I felt like vomiting. Or running. But then, not running because running sucks.
At 2:30 a.m., I smoked weed for the first time.
(Sorry, Mom, Dad, and dead grandparents. Editor says I can’t devote whole, big paragraph to explanation of life choices, so I’ll just say this: How’s the dog?)
That night, in bed, I didn’t think about my set. (Or you … Sharon.)
Saturday (Show Night)
The night was cold and wet, like refrigerated ham or a dead body in an aboveground pool or my hands, always. I paced up and down the street, muttering my set and little affirmations:
“You’re taller than most. You’re taller than most. You have neat hair. Your sense of humor totally distracts from your psychological problems, handsome.”
At 9:20 p.m., in a Kerrytown backyard, I took the stage. Tree branches hung over the stands, tickling the microphones, wishing me, “OK luck.” Trees can be such dicks sometimes.
My heart beat hard, fast, to a rhythm. It felt like, “Jeremiah was a bullfrog!”
One hundred and fifty people stared at me. They were all cold, all standing, all better than me in their own oh-so-special ways.
“Was a good friend of mine!”
“Hey guys,” I said, peeing a little.
I felt their eyes, their blinks, the spots in their brains that light up when something’s funny. A little voice in my head shouted something racist, but I couldn’t hear it over the deafening nothing. I had to turn my head to see everyone. They didn’t have to turn their heads to see me.
I held in a fart.
You are a bullfrog, Alex … No. You are The bullfrog.
I said the most honest thing I could think of:
“I’m a 21 year-old, white, tall, straight, Catholic college guy. And I tell it like it is … That’s right. I’m everyone’s favorite kind of person.”
A moment. A blank, inescapable moment. Then. Then. Then. Those 150 somebodies laughed. And I – I went on. Into that irreversible, unachievable It.
And It was good.
If you think Alex is funny, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He needs every sliver of validation you can give him.