Chancelucky Live and Direct (but maybe not so funny)
(Actual Comedian Steven Wright is on the left. He won't be there, but he's manic compared to me.)
My basketball friend, Guy Biederman, who is a longtime writer and writing teacher, decided to stage a small comedy reading in our town. I sent him an e-mail that said “Would you consider letting me take part?”
Guy wrote back, “I didn’t know that you wrote humor? I would have asked you had I known. ”
I don’t think he meant it that way, but one of the toughest things about posting online is that when you write something meant to be funny there’s usually no way to know if anyone found it funny or if anyone actually read it at all.
After I think another couple of Guy’s readers backed out, he let me in. I first thought it would be a simple matter of taking one of my Karl Rove Adventures and reading it aloud, but it occurred to me that what reads funny online sometimes doesn’t read funny out loud especially in front of sixty strangers who are expecting to laugh. It makes me curious about the Chicago comedy readings that Bellarossa has mentioned from time to time on her blog. Like me, she thinks of herself more as a “writer” than a performer. Unlike her, I don’t generally consider myself a comedy writer, but I frequently try to be funny.
My wife and kids usually don’t find anything I write funny, so they’re not a good gauge. I know that violates many people’s notions of healthy relationships. It’s generally considered easier if you share a sense of humor, but we do find things to laugh at together. It just doesn’t tend to be things I happen to write. Actually, my wife does laugh when I write about American Idol or volleyball. She’s just not big on the political satire.
The kids are too horrified by the fact that I keep a blog at all to find any of it funny.
Hardly anyone I know offline knows that I keep a blog. Every now and then I drop a line or a full on riff from one of my posts into lunch conversation, but no one laughs. I started thinking about this over the weekend and it scared the heck out of me. Especially since, the one planned performance is this Friday. The room has a max occupancy of fifty-five people so I figure how badly can I bomb? Besides, there will be seven other performances. I’m pretty sure no one I know will show up.
While I’ve often tried to be funny in my posts, most of what I write isn’t solely meant to be funny. As I culled through the sixty or so posts that I’d labeled "humor", it occurred to me that most of them were too tied to old news stories, some weren’t all that funny even to me, and some like my movie scripts wouldn’t come across in a solo reading.
I settled on something called "Promoting Patriot Minutes" which is tied to last year’s FISA revelations, but thanks to W and company has become topical (The Military Commissions Act) once again. For the last several days, I’ve been translating the original blog post into a Powerpoint slide show, Daily Show style. The first thing I noticed that my blogging has a tendency to jump from subject to subject. The second thing I noticed is that many of my jokes depend on listener’s being able to pick up references that are pretty commonplace in the blogosphere, but relatively obscure offline. For example, I assumed that people knew who the Kos is a reference to Markos Moulitsas Zuniga not a misspelled reference to Heathcliff Huxtable and that it’s a common tactic for Republicans to blame things on Bill Clinton.
One of the trickier aspects of all this is that I’ve had to convert a lot of verbal jokes into visual jokes about “red screens”, the terrors of cell phones, etc. Of course, there’s the whole bit about my not screwing up the delivery itself. Yikes….I have three days to figure out how to be funny in person.