I’ve been doing stand-up comedy once a month for the past 5 months. It’s something I always wanted to try, and now I’m doing it! I don’t want to do it for any reason other than as a creative outlet. Now that I’ve done it a few times, the challenge isn’t getting up there in front of a crowd and forgetting my routine. The challenge is finding enough material to keep it fresh and new every time I go up there! I get only five minutes, so I don’t need a lot of material. Still, it takes discipline and a deadline to keep me writing and revising my routine. That might explain why I don’t update this blog on a regular basis – no deadline!
A friend asked me recently which comics influenced me or were my favorites. I told him I grew up listening to Bill Cosby and George Carlin when I was a kid. I also listened to Steve Martin, and Richard Pryor as a teen. I watched every episode of the early days of Saturday Night Live and as many episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus as I could find. Later, my taste for comedy added Mitch Hedberg, Stephen Wright, Jim Gaffigan, and lately, Louis C.K. My taste in TV shows gravitates to the weird/abnormal comedies, like Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Archer, Frisky Dingo, and Robot Chicken. Apparently, I like cartoon humor. When I was a kid, I sat in front of the TV every Saturday morning watching Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Road Runner, Tom & Jerry, Hong Kong Phooey, and Fat Albert.
The first thing I do every morning, after I grab a cup of coffee, is to go online looking for something that makes me laugh. I share most of it on Facebook, but not everyone likes it. I think there are things that are funny in general, and things that are funny to small groups who have something in common, and things that are funny to just me. My only rule before posting something is that it has to make me really laugh!
Which brings me to my central question – What is your sense of humor? Do you have a sense of humor? Of course you do! Everyone has a sense of what is funny to them. Knowing that not everything will be funny to everyone makes it easier to try being funny. When I didn’t have enough material to have a fresh five minutes, I repeated a portion of my previous routine. The first time I did it, I got some hearty laughter. The second time was just mild chuckling. The only difference was the audience. As long as the humor can’t be mistaken for bullying (mean spirited comedy), then someone somewhere will find it funny. You might be a horrible joke teller, but you can tell a true story that will make people laugh. I’m sure something funny has happened to you recently!
Laughter really is the best medicine. Research has shown that regular laughter can help improve your immune system and help you live longer. I never get sick. Next time you have a sick day, break out the funny! Better yet, look for the funny in your everyday life and don’t get sick in the first place. Humor is everywhere – you just have to know how to see it when it’s happening. If all else fails, you can laugh about it later.
I’m calling 2012 my year of living dangerously. I took the plunge and got re-married in June after being divorced for 15 years. I took an even bigger plunge when I jumped out of an airplane for the first time in my life. I survived both scares and the result has been completely opening me up to just about any experience I can find. I am playing with life now and having the best time I can remember! It all started with marrying a woman who gets me and wants me to be happy. It accelerated when I jumped out of the plane. There’s something about an experience that could bring about my death that made me come alive!
I went with three friends. We used a Groupon to get a discount for tandem skydiving. In hindsight, that may not have been the best place to use a coupon! We were in trouble if they decided to cut expenses to give us the discount! Would we be jumping out of the plane because they ran out of gas? Would the four of us have to use one parachute? Would my tandem partner be just another Groupon customer? How exactly was this a good idea? I spent the time we waited by watching the parachute packers do their thing. They seemed to know what they were doing, so I left them alone. I spent the rest of the waiting time going to the port-a-potty to relieve my nervous bladder.
Finally, it was my turn to go. The plane we were in was just big enough for two of us and our tandem jumpers, so we couldn’t all go at the same time. The friend I went up with had already done this, so I felt a little better going up with her. I tried to ignore the fact that she seemed as nervous as I felt! They put an altimeter on our wrists so we could see how high we were climbing. They told us we would jump at about 10,000 feet. All they way up, I kept looking at the altimeter like I was a doctor getting ready to call time of death. I felt every little movement of the plane as it hit even the tiniest turbulence as we climbed. My friend told me later that my tandem partner was using this time for a cat nap! Damn Groupon!
When we hit 9,000 feet, my tandem partner made me sit on his lap so he could clip me onto his harness. I then sat between his legs awaiting further instructions. At 9,500 feet, he opened the door we were about to exit. My heartbeat was pounding and I was about to hyperventilate. Hearing him breathing harder didn’t help! He had already told me what to do when the door opened, but actually doing it took some effort. The only thing that kept me moving forward was the thought of humiliation if I stopped! I turned toward the door and let my legs out the door. He told me to tuck my feet under the plane. All I could think of at that point was, “I hope my shoes don’t fall off!”
With him firmly clipped to me, all it took to exit the plane was for him to scoot his ass on the floor of the plane. At one point, I was dangling outside the plane until the final push sent us falling. We did a somersault and then got into flying position. At that point, my nerves turned to exhilaration! I had to force my mouth closed because there was so much wind my cheeks were flapping! The noise of the wind was incredible. The view was unforgettable! After about 30 seconds, my dude pulled the string and opened the parachute. He had me take the steering controls and taught me how to use them. We then took a spin, circling high above the earth. I don’t like spinning, but that was pretty cool.
He taught me how to slow our decent so we would have a soft landing. I didn’t believe it, but we landed as if we were sitting down onto a couch. It was much softer than I expected. I then waited a few seconds for my friend to land, which gave me a good perspective of what I just did. They packed the equipment into a pickup truck and had us jump into the bed of the truck. I wondered about the safety of riding in the bed of a pickup, but I let it go. When we got back to the starting point, my two other friends were there for high fives all around.
My first thought was, that was an awesome experience, but I’m not sure I want to do it again. I will most likely do it again next summer because I like doing things with my friends and peer pressure will force me! The longer term impact of jumping out of a perfectly good airplane was how it opened me up to doing things that scare me or challenge me. I’ve been running marathons because of the challenge, but they’re no longer scary. I’ve done karaoke both drunk and sober, so that’s not scary. I believe the next step in conquering the scary challenge is doing stand-up comedy which is something I’ve always said I wanted to do. I never did it due to the fear. Spoiler alert – I’ve done it and it was awesome!
Do what you fear the most and find out for yourself that you can survive and maybe thrive from the experience. I know it works for me!
- Top 10 Survivors Of Skydiving Accidents (toptenz.net)
- Wounded Warrior double amputee fulfills dream with tandem skydive (charlotte.news14.com)
- Local woman skydives for 90th birthday (utsandiego.com)
Show of hands – who here has gone on a date with someone they met online? That’s what I thought, I’m not alone! Ten years ago, I met many women through my Wednesday night karaoke routine. Every Wednesday night (and some Mondays/Fridays/Saturdays), I would close the karaoke bar. My confidence was through the roof during this phase of my life! I mastered the art of meeting people, not just women, and striking up a conversation as if we had known each other for years. I still count a few of those people as my friends even though I don’t get out much anymore. But I learned that chicks dig a guy who can sing and who approaches them with confidence while making them laugh at the same time. I learned much about the art of conversation because I met so many people each week.
I tell you all this so you can understand how unbelievably horrible my date from hell came to be. In the Spring of 2011, I became single again. It took me until the fall to begin looking around at all the dating sites available online. I created a dating profile on a couple of sites and sent out a few messages. Two things surprised me. One, the women who sent me messages were absolutely not my type! I’ve read that people psychologically choose people who they see as being roughly as attractive as they feel they are. If that’s the case, then I must be extremely overweight and horribly ugly! That was the type of woman responding to me! The messages I would send out to the hot women went unanswered, so I assume they were at their computer saying, “what the fuck is this guy thinking?” The second thing that surprised me was, the profiles people put up were not exactly accurate! Shocker! After having a phone conversation, and after one meeting for coffee, most of the people I met just ended up boring me. I couldn’t make a connection with anyone!
And then, the date from hell entered my world. I will call her “Lucifer” because I can’t remember her name. We agreed to meet at a bar/restaurant about half way between our homes. I arrived slightly early as I always do, and I sat at the bar with a view of the door. She came in and we had the normal chit-chat for about one minute. She then said, “I’m hungry, can we order some food?” Well, I really wasn’t planning on spending that much time with her as I had already made up my mind in that first minute that she wasn’t someone I’m interested in. So I responded politely with, “I hear the chicken wings are good here.” I’m such a wimp! She said, “I think I want some chicken fingers.” Awesome! Maybe we can bond over chicken!
Then things got weird. As we waited for the chicken, she wouldn’t speak unless I asked her a direct question. Once the question was answered, she clammed up again. There was no, “I was born and raised on a turnip farm, and you?” It was just, “I grew up on a turnip farm.” Silence. Awkward pause. ”So, a turnip farm, huh? That must have been interesting.” ”Yeah it was.” Silence. Awkward pause. When the chicken arrived, we had that to talk about, so it was all good. ”So, how are your chicken fingers?” ”They’re good.” Silence. Awkward pause. Om nom nom nom. Then her cell phone rang. She couldn’t find it in her purse before it stopped ringing, but the call was from her son. She sat there staring at her phone for a few minutes obsessing over why he would be calling her. ”Maybe he’ll call back. I’m sure he’ll call back if it’s important. Did he leave a voicemail?” ”No. I don’t know why he called.” Silence. Awkward pause. ”I wonder why he called me.” ”I’m sure he’ll call back.”
At this point, I was wishing someone would call me and tell me my apartment was on fire and I was the only person on earth who was going to be able to save the puppies in all the other apartments. I finally just gave up and said, “Why don’t you just call him back?” ”Oh, do you mind? I really want to find out why he called.” ”Please, go call him. I’m good here.” So she reaches into her purse and pulls out her pack of cigarettes. I’ve dated people who smoked and I lived with a woman who smoked, but this go-around, I was making smoking a deal breaker! ”I thought your profile said you didn’t smoke.” ”Oh no, I smoke all the time – way too much.” Stunned silence on my part as I watched her take her smokes and her phone out to the designated area outside the bar. Roughly 10 minutes later, she comes back in and, without explanation, says “I think I have to go, is that okay?” ”Oh sure, that’s fine.” I was celebrating in my head that this night was mercifully going to end! ”Well it was nice meeting you, thanks for dinner.” And we’re back to stunned silence. ”You’re welcome.” No awkward pause this time – she was out the door! I sat there and started laughing. I’m sure the bartender thought I was crazy, but I was just so happy she was gone! I paid my tab and went home to see if there were any puppies who needed to be saved.
I now had a great story to tell people. One of the people I told was the next person I met online. This one was someone I thought was too hot to respond, but she did. After a week of e-mails and a two hour long phone call, we went on a date. We met at the bar next door to Go Bananas. I sat at the bar with a view to the door. She came in and she was even prettier in person than the one picture she posted online. We chatted for a few minutes, and then we went over to the comedy club. She sat down and picked up the limited food menu they had and said, “I think I want some chicken fingers.” If she could have kept a straight face, I would have believed her. I saw just a hint of a smile as she waited for my response and then it hit me – I told her that story among the many things we talked about on our week of e-mails and two-hour phone call and she remembered it and used it against me! I’m going to marry that woman! No, really, I am! This woman is Alana, and the only way I can get her to read my blog is if I mention her! I put her at the end, so now she has been forced to read a story she’s already heard. It took me a while, but now we’re even for the chicken finger joke!
I got married when I was twenty years old. Everyone said we were too young to know what we were doing. They were probably right, but we were married for 15 years, had three wonderful boys, and currently have a good ex-spouse relationship. She took the plunge relatively quickly and remarried a few years after our divorce. I spent the next 15 years being either single or in relationships that weren’t going to lead to marriage. I wasn’t about to get married again. Not that being married was horrible, but I wasn’t ready to commit over that 15 year period.
As I dated, I found that there were three types of first dates:
- The date that can’t end quickly enough. I had these types of dates quite often! I went on dates with women who wouldn’t talk and who wouldn’t stop talking. I went on dates with women who claimed to be casual smokers but smoked a pack an hour. I went on dates that were supposed to be just a quick drink but ended up with them ordering food that they assumed I would pay for! I even went on a blind date because a mutual friend thought we’d hit if off. During the date, I began to question if my friend really knew me at all because this person was not my type at all. This is the kind of dating that leads to hilarious stories in the future.
- The date that leads to more dates. These types of dates gave me some hope that I might be able to meet someone normal after all. They were a good enough first date to warrant another. So you go out again and learn more about each other that you can’t learn during the first date “interview.” It might lead to more dates as you haven’t found anything causing you to turn and run as far away as possible – yet. Eventually, something happens that makes you reevaluate this person and decide it’s best to walk away. This is the kind of dating that makes you hopeful in the beginning, but you know in the back of your mind that it’s not really what you’re looking for.
- The date where you find “the one.” This is the date that is so obviously different from all the others that you go home alone wishing you didn’t have to. This is the date that tells you your life has just changed irreversibly because you just met your future. This is the type of date that made me want to ask Alana to marry me. Not on that date, mind you, but cautious optimism became outright giddiness. This is the kind of date you get to have once, if you’re lucky.
On our first date, Alana made a very subtle, straight-faced, joke about one of the stories in Date Type #1 that I told her about over the phone. You had to be there, but let me assure you she caught me off guard. The date was at Go Bananas, which is a great first date place to go. You get to spend some time talking while waiting for the comedians, then you get to see what makes them laugh. I already knew I could make her laugh because we talked for hours on the phone before we even went on the date. She loved my sense of humor and I loved making her laugh. A comedy club was the only natural choice for our date. After the club, we went next door to the bar. She spent the majority of that time flipping me off and saying “fuck you!” I knew I had either met my match or met the female version of me. This date took place in late November.
I’m 50 years old – she’s 36. I’m a Reagan Republican – she’s a Clinton Democrat. I’m an early bird – she’s a night owl. I’m a recovering Catholic – she’s Jewish. I could list all the ways we’re different but none of that matters. Over the next few months, we became inseparable. We started out by spending just the weekend together. Little by little, it became Friday through Sunday then Thursday through Monday. Then, it became odd to be at my apartment alone for even one night. I loved being alone in that apartment when I leased it in May 2010. I couldn’t wait for the lease to end in 2011. We became “roommates” for good on June 1st.
To be continued . . .