I went out to a local open mike night up on the hill (Syracuse University) last week to check out one of my musician friends. I never really thought about how open mike means that anyone who has anything to say at all would be eligible, including standup. This is when I learned the saddest laugh is silence.
My friend was number 12 on the list, so I sat through 11 acts (3 of them music), and the MC. In total, to get to the part of the show I was waiting for, I had to sit through 9 stand up acts (my friend only made it through 4 before he decided to ditch). To quote someone I saw on the internet (juggler Michael Davis), a comic says funny things but a comedianwill say things funny. These guys did neither.
Now I have a sense of humor. People in my famiiy think I am very funny, as do most of my friends. The other night the band wives and I laughed and and laughed and laughed all night long! I will drop an f-bomb when germane to the story but I do not think that someone has to swear every third word just to make something funny (if you do enjoy this kind of humor, check out Drunk Mom on Facebook.)
Sharing personal stories that are embarrassing but not offensive are funny. Once, I went on a blind date where a passerby remarked on the guy’s weave. It made for a good story. It was momentarily embarrassing but did not smear or bash all men who wear toupees. I love to tell stories about my family and friends when funny things happen to us. It does not mean it is a slur about all sisters or musicians or accountants. It’s just sharing stories about myself with the world.
As for all those standup guys, they were not really acting like stand up guys. It’s as though they all were under the care of the same psychiatrist who told them the way to relate to people better would be to try standup. Maybe it would help them be happier at their job, or be appreciative about living in their parent’s basement, or help them with their game so they could get laid. Their acts were full of slurs and racist comments and they were bullies. There was gay bashing and women bashing and jokes about rape. They talked about how horrible their dates with women were or how they couldn’t even get dates at all. It was painful to listen to. I probably broke some kind of open mike code when after bachelor number 3, i just stopped clapping. As the silence grew, it was almost as if they were asking questions of the audience in order to invite hecklers, but no one was even invested enough to respond.
This is why they were not funny. No one wants to hear someone bashing women or glorifying date rape. No one wants to hear how they themselves are not racist but then say inappropriate things about blacks or Asians that are cruel and not true. No one wants to hear about how they can’t get laid because they don’t know how to be caring, human beings. One thing is certain, they will never get girls with their current schtick. Change it up. Start by respecting people. The funny will come.