who dat? contest.
(yo stee. i know
bob mcgrath. human. 29 years on sesame street.
first correct answer:
left column like shaq because he big and ugly and eyes too close together. he funny big stupid man.
[Y'ALL. SPIES, MY LOVELY SERVER PEOPLE, HAS BEEN DOWN. SORRY. I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO TELL YOU...]
Someone, (who is very funny herself), recently asked me, (after reading my and Kim's Real World Casting Special recap), what it is like to just be naturally funny. The question gave me pause.
We're entering into weird perception vs. fact / modesty vs. reality territory here, but for the sake of argument, let's say I am something called "funny" - be it in real life, on paper, on stage, whatever. Personally, I think you are either born with it or not. I believe that about talent in general. You either have a certain capacity or you don't. (I suck at foreign languages. I'm a sub-par basketball player.) Now, with training and practice, you can excel at, let's say the violin, without having a natural gift for it - but you can only get so far. Or with acting, there are many examples of people getting to the top without really having a "gift". Much can be said for looks and/or training and/or luck. But those people will never be considered really gifted actors - especially by their peers.
The first time I remember being aware of being "funny" was in Sunday School when I was like 6. I have a distinct memory of listening to the teacher and being compelled to interject little asides and comments as she talked, making the class, and her, laugh. What I remember most, is how hard it was to force myself to hold my tongue, having realized that a little went a long way. In regular school, despite being a very good student, I got kicked out of class a lot, mostly for fucking around. But often something would be said, and before I could stop myself, the joke would already be out of my mouth. And being as aware as I was, I was usually already walking out into the hallway by the time the teacher could kick me out for mouthing off. To this day I often have to just make myself shut up. I was actually banned from meetings here at work about a year ago because the speaker said something so inadvertently funny that I went into hysterics and couldn't stop.
That's why so many of my friends are funny. Because I'd have to quit talking altogether if I didn't have that. Covering pain/awkwardness/insecurity... sure, there's part of that too. But I think funny people just tend to see the world a little differently. And, yeah, funny people can be very annoying. Stand-up comedians are just about the most miserable, obnoxious, needy people in the world. I'm not one, but I've spent a lot of time with them, in auditions mostly, and man, can they make you want to shoot yourself in the neck. Get too many funny people in one room, and everyone's trying to top one another. I know I'm guilty of it - and it can be very exhausting. I'm blessed in that most of the funny people I know are well-balanced, and can handle seriousness also with grace and sensitivity. They just happen to also be very witty and amusing.
And despite knowing that I do have a certain capacity for it, I often don't feel funny. I don't feel funny at the moment, trying to write a sketch for my comedy group that is just not working. I don't feel funny when I watch certain actors in my group during rehearsal. I don't feel funny when I see Eddie Izzard (as I'm supposed to do this Wednesday night). I don't feel funny when I watch Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda, or Eddie Murphy's stand-up, or listen to Monty Python records. I don't feel funny when I read the Deep Thoughts collections, or hear George Carlin's Football vs. Baseball routine, or see the Kids in the Hall. I don't feel funny when I read Steve Martin's screenplay for L.A. Stories, or Christopher Durang's plays, or The Onion. I don't feel funny when I see Raising Arizona, or Waiting For Guffman, or Tootsie.
But that's fine. I can learn from all of those things. And I do. I'm a good study. So despite being "naturally funny" - whatever that means - I do pay attention and try to, well, get funnier. I think the day I think I have nothing left to learn, is the day I pack it in for good.
...you know who's funny? Jon Carroll is funny. See: "The genius of cats, really, is they can make both rejection and acceptance equally annoying." Ha.
Well I don't know why I came here tonight. I got the feeling that something ain't right. I'm so scared in case I fall off my chair. And I'm wondering how I'll get down the stairs, Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you. Yes I'm stuck in the middle with you. And I'm wondering what it is I should do. It's so hard to keep this smile from my face. Losing control, yeah, I'm all over the place. Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you... speaking of which. There was a time when I was in a big dark room filed with garbage and water and filth and this big dog was there too and then the walls started closing in on us. You and I were fighting and trying to keep the walls from squishing us by using poles and debris to jam them but none of it seemed to work and then there was also a monster pulling us down into the filth and the dog was howling and the walls kept coming and I was stuck in the middle with you remember that?... wait, that was Star Wars. Nevermind.
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