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 wonder what was on the menu when some genius came up with the cliche, “you are what you eat.” What does that even mean? You certainly can’t take that literally! If you could, I would be known as “Delicious!”
I know what I’m supposed to do to eat well, I just don’t want to. I go through phases of eating right, but I come back to eating the same stuff all the time. Monday through Thursday, I’m diligent about what I eat. Well, not Wednesday nights. That’s when I run with Team in Training and we go out for dinner and beer. I could eat right – the menu includes salads, right? Nope, I go for the mushroom and swiss burger every damn time! And bring me your darkest beer! If I want to drink water, I’ll get a Bud Light! OK, so it’s back on track for Thursday. Friday rolls around and I can eat well until dinner. If we aren’t buying a pizza, I’m making one. The one I make is actually very healthy for you and tastes amazing (that’s what she said – really she did, you can ask her)! But you can’t have pizza without washing it down with a beer, can you? Saturday rolls around, I go for a long run, and then it’s party time! Everyone needs a day off, and this one is mine.
The funny thing is, even when I try to eat well, there is always someone who thinks the way I’m eating is unhealthy. They’re probably right, but I don’t want to hear it! When I go out to dinner with a group of people, the skinny people order from a different menu. They always seem to get the healthiest item on the menu! Have they gone over to the dark side and converted to “whole foods?” Or, do they go home and have pizza and beer when we’re not looking? I’ve looked at the healthy weight guidelines for my height and I could be 20 pounds lighter and still be considered healthy. That’s just not going to happen! I’ve been gaining and losing the same 10 pounds for three years now. It’s the party weight that just won’t go away!
The only time I went on an extensive, life changing, “diet,” was the 18 month period while I lost 70 pounds using Weight Watchers. I counted every “point” and tracked them religiously, which is a good analogy because Weight Watchers is a cult! I’m not dismissing them, in fact I would encourage anyone wanting to lose weight to join them. They know their stuff! But going to a meeting is like going to church. Every Saturday morning at 8:00 AM, even with a hangover, which happened quite often, I was at the meeting worshiping at the altar of WW. The meeting leader was more of a motivational speaker, so it was like going to a motivational seminar every week. He told his story so often that I could get up there and recite it! But he was able to help people see that they really could eat what they want, but only if they did it the right way – with portion control. Telling food addicts that they can have a little food without eating it all is like telling an alcoholic that they can have a shot of liquor without drinking the whole bottle!
I think it boils down to my relationship with food. I’ve been a big fan of food from the beginning. Food will always be there for you. Sometimes it waits too long for me to love it back by eating it that it spoils the relationship by turning green. Then I have to dump it and get a fresh new food. You should never keep a food past its expiration date thinking that it will get better with time. Sometimes I eat something that I know is going to give me trouble in the morning, but I eat it anyway. Who can resist such a hot tamale? I often wonder if food gets jealous of other food. Does the lettuce in the salad bowl look at the steak on my plate and think, “he likes steak more than he likes me!” You both have so much to offer, can’t I love you both? Some foods just don’t belong with other foods. They just don’t get along! And why is it that “cheating” on your diet feels so good? Ice cream always looks at me and says, “come on, big boy, you know you want to eat me!” So I give in even though I know that the steak and salad I just ate are going to find out I cheated on them with ice cream.
I guess if I am what I eat, then I’d have to say I’m pretty happy. I eat happy foods and drink happy drinks. I run a lot so I can stay close to a normal weight. I actually practice portion control too! I have one piece of advice for you to follow – nothing good will ever come from a Taco Bell drive-thru after midnight. You don’t want to wake up to that person you took home from the bar at closing time, and you don’t want to wake up to a Taco Bell hangover! Finally, if we are what we eat, then most men are pussies and most women are dicks!
Many times in my life, I’ve been presented with challenges that would kill a normal person. By kill, I mean make them freak out and obsess about what is happening to them. I have been guilty of this, but it’s usually the petty, small stuff that sets me off (traffic lights turning red just as I’m approaching makes me curse the light’s very existence, for example). The big stuff has no visible effect on me.
If you were to watch me react when I got the phone call telling me Dad died, you would have thought it was a call telling me you made meatloaf for dinner. Even though his death was expected, it was still an unwelcome phone call in the middle of my work day. I took the news, internalized it, and went back to work. I didn’t know what else to do at that moment. I told my supervisor at the end of the day about the phone call and he was shocked that I didn’t just pack up and leave for the next few days.
I have had other moments in life that challenged me. I’ve had to endure IRS agents, a head-on collision while driving a Mazda Miata, the death of both parents, divorce (especially challenging was telling my kids), losing a job, and on and on.
I need time to process “lemon giving” moments in life. I am a problem solver, so I need time to analyze, evaluate, and solve the problem. I used to live with a woman who freaked out constantly because I wasn’t solving my problems on her timetable. When I’m faced with something I just can’t solve, I put it aside and keep living my life as normally as possible. As I go about my day distracting myself from the problem at hand, you may wonder why I’m not freaking out constantly. I freak out internally and find something to do that helps take my mind off of the problem. By doing this, I always come up with a way to solve the problem. The solution is never apparent during the freak out stage. It always comes to me during a calm moment.
While I do go about my problem solving in a very internal and personal way, I rely on family and friends to help me – if only to distract me. When I’m with someone and we’re enduring the same stress (bad service at a restaurant, waiting in line endlessly, watching the Reds lose again), I love it when the other person freaks out for me! I get to laugh and make fun of the stress when the other person complains! Let’s face it – if they didn’t freak out, I’d have to do it for them!
On my FAQ post, the responses were mainly about my smile. I thought I’d try and share with you some of the most memorable encounters I’ve had with people due to my smile.
As a kid, it was a non-issue for my friends and family. It was just how I smiled. It was a part of me that made me unique. I had a few negative experiences, one of which comes readily to mind. It was easy to find people to play a baseball game in the Presbyterian Church field. It wasn’t really a baseball diamond – we just made it that way. One day, after months and months of my ignoring this kid who kept calling me “crooked lip,” I cracked and called him by his middle name. He threw down his glove and came toward me ready to kick my ass. I stood my ground and said, “You’ve been calling me “crooked lip” for a long time and I didn’t do anything about it. This is the first time I called you by the name your parents gave you and you want to fight me? That’s pathetic!” He backed down, walked back to his position and never talked to me again.
When I was younger, my mom sent us to the Fraser’s house while she was at the hospital delivering babies (I think it was Carl but it could have been Mark & Martie). All I know is that I was standing up in the rope swing hanging from the Fraser’s tree. My brother, Doug came out and decided to spin me around. I guess when I yelled “STOP” he heard “SPIN FASTER!” I couldn’t hold on and I flew face first onto the sidewalk. To make a long story short, I broke my nose and I lost about 5 baby teeth. The rushed me to the hospital and I ended up needing surgery to put my face back together. The first thing I found out about after I got out of the hospital was that Mr. & Mrs. Fraser wanted to make sure my smile wasn’t ruined! I thought that was really weird at the time, but now it’s a fond memory.
While in boot camp in the Army, I met people from all across the country. This was my first experience meeting a large group of new people who I thought must have seen my smile as an oddity. No one said anything or asked about it until one day, with a big grin on his face, a fellow soldier gave me a nickname. He said, “I’m going to call you Turnip.” When I asked why, he said, “Because your lip turns up when you smile!” I laughed hard at that one!
Since then, there have been random strangers asking me about it. As I age, people have started asking me when I had my stroke. I just tell them I was born with it and that’s the end of the conversation. One time recently, I was sitting at a bar. Next to me was a guy with a hearing aid who seemed roughly my age. We started talking and it turns out that he was an artilleryman for the Army and we both served at Fort Benning,Georgia. He couldn’t stop thanking me for my service to the country. I assumed his hearing aids were the result of blowing shit up. Out of the blue, he said “what happened to your face, did you have some kind of a heart attack?” After briefly considering laughing and correcting him that he meant to ask about my stroke, I just told him about the forceps.
It’s really a non-issue for me. If nothing else, it’s a conversation starter. It hasn’t stopped me from landing a job, making friends, or having children. Actually, that reminds me. There were a few times while holding a toddler (mine or a niece or nephew), that they would inevitably try to mimic my smile. It made me laugh every time!
Everyone has something that makes them unique. Lucky for me, mine also makes me awesome!