Friday, August 26, 2011

It's Everybody Can Bite Me Friday!

When I first began blogging I used to get a lot of these emails: "I'm sorry I didn't leave a funny comment."

It appeared that because I was a comedian, some people felt an obligation to be funny. Of course I hadn't even noticed. I don't grade people's comments although I might start now.

Suddenly everyone wants to be funny over everything else. Not smart, not even attractive trumps this juggernaut of a personality trait. We used to want people with a sense of humor. I haven't heard that expression in years. Now everyone wants someone who's funny.

And that's just not possible.

Mainly because very few people are funny. I see a lot of blog headers and Twitter bios of people claiming they're funny. If you have to announce that? I'm not sure you are. It's like telling a woman you're going to sleep with that you have a big dick. It can be proved wrong, eventually.

A recent convert to Twitter told me months ago that she didn't want to go on Twitter because she'd be constantly trying to think up one-liners. That's a job best left to comedians because good one liners are hard to write. The going rate on The Tonight Show used to be $100 per joke. Someone waiting on a big gig just offered me $5,000 to write ten new minutes for her if she got the job. As much as I would love the money? That ten minutes, approximately 30 jokes, is not going to be written in an afternoon. I only knew one person who could do that and he now writes for Joan Rivers. And the other person who can crank them out is head writer for The Oscars. And they're both brilliant at it.

So go on Twitter and be interesting. Believe me, that's hard enough.

Why is it so important to be funny?

Funny is subjective. Look no further than sitcoms, romantic comedies and books. The Liar's Club, by Mary Karr, has this notation on the back of the book: "The choice in the book is between howling misery and howling laughter, and the reader veers towards laughter." And the back cover also proclaims "A wickedly funny account of an apocalyptic childhood."

I'm a huge fan of Ms. Karr and that book is an apocalyptic tale, but funny? No. But I'm sure there's someone reading this who will violently disagree with my assessment of the laughter quotient in that book. And like those blog and Twitter headers and bios, you set yourself up to judgement if you say something is funny. Say humorous (completely different than funny) or amusing (also different) but don't say funny unless you want people to pick you apart like a King Crab leg.

Which brings me to dying. One person I talked about a lot in the beginning of this blog has died. I heard it third hand a few weeks ago. I referred to him as The Impotentate in this blog and he once told me the reason he was first attracted to me was because I was funny. That may have been what he thought was the reason but the real reason was that he thought HE was funny. Maybe he thought I could get him on TV? In the movies? Who knows. But I do remember this story.

One night he told me one of the oldest jokes in the history of joke writing:

A father walks into his son's room and sees the son is masturbating. He tells the son that if he keeps doing that he's going to go blind and the son replies, "Over here, Dad."

I didn't laugh. And he got mad.

For starters, comedians don't laugh at jokes. Usually not when a civilian tells it. They'll leave out a word, or their timing is off or they forget the punchline. Or the joke sucks. Comics barely laugh at each other. If I say to you, "That's funny," that's as big as it's going to get.  Comedians know too much about the business of joke construction. We can pinpoint with alarming NASA like accuracy where that punchline will land. Occupational hazard.

I like to point out when something is funny. I'm not threatened by someone else's success in this area. If you wrote a funny book, told a funny speech and it made me laugh, I'll tell you. I'm not insecure about who I am in that regard. And you not telling me when I'm funny makes me think YOU might be insecure and think you're funnier than me, or that I'm not funny at all, but that's another day and our hour is almost up.


So The Impotentate and I broke up many, many times and on one of our reconciliations, we were driving up north. I had a gig and we were going to spend the night at a nearby hotel. On the way up he told me the SAME masturbating joke he had told me years earlier. I realized he had no recollection of telling me the joke in the first place.

But this time I laughed. Because he was trying so hard to impress me with this lame joke. That he thought was funny.

Was it wrong that I laughed? Does it diminish the time I told you that you said something funny? Will you ever trust a compliment from me again?

Let's not forget The Impotentate was a man. Their egos don't allow them to believe they're not funny. I'm sure Albert Schweitzer thought he was a laugh riot.

So the Bite Me Award of the Week goes to everyone who thinks they're funny. But really aren't.

End of chat.


  1. -->I'm funny looking.
    Does that count?

  2. Have you heard the one about...?

    Seriously, I just deleted the longest, rambling comment because it was absurd. All I really want to say is that I like this post. I love that you say comedy is subjective, and I couldn't agree more. I also agree that not everyone is funny, and not everyone needs to be. I appreciate funny people, admire them; but I don't have to be one of them. That's not my gift.

  3. I could write you ten pages on how much I love this post.

    You. Seriously one of the most interesting people I"ve met.

    How I wish I had been a seasoned blogger when I went to BlogHer, and would've known enough to skip a workshop, and just sit with you.

    But, I couldn't do that, either. So many waiting to sit with you, too.

    I should've asked you if you had time for dinner.

    I really think you are one of the most interesting people I've come across.

    I have to find a new word for interesting...but the alternatives sound like such a suck up.

    And they're truly not.
    I am just grateful to know you.

  4. Is that like the women that fake orgasms?

    Thank you for putting up so many . . interesting posts.

  5. As a newbie Twat, the thing I like least are the over-tweeters who think they are a riot. The thing I like most (other than your night tweeting) is Steve Martin. The guy is a genius.

  6. Why does this post have the words to "I'm so Vain" running through my head? I bet I think this post is about me . . .

    You are funny and I have a good sense of humor, so I recognize that. Also? I think it's funny that The Zadge is calling herself a Twat, but no way will I do the same.

  7. Love Mary Karr. She is a pretty good poet and a genius at the memoir. Some of what she wrote is funny, but that is only because, eventually, she managed to triumph over circumstances that would have made a normal person off themselves. Have you read her latest - Lit? Chronicle of years of alcoholism. Not very much funny shit in there. Still good though. No, better than good...amazing writing.

  8. The follow up to this post is the expectation that you should be funny 24/7 because as a comedian that is your job and if you are not you are a failure and ENTERTAIN ME NOW EVEN THOUGH I AM NOT PAYING YOU. #unfollow

    Also: hearts.

  9. Would it help bring balance to the Universe if I tell you I am not at allfunny? I was charming once, but it took to much effort to maintain, so now I'm just happily wallowing in mediocrity with occasional forays into curmudgeonly. That's not meant to be humorous by the way...just a statement of self-assessment masquerading as truth.

    I don't even like trying to tell jokes because I WILL MESS THEM UP! I have one joke I can tell reliably, and that's only because it's a one-liner, and no, I won't insult you by attempting it where you can see/'s strictly third grade material.

    I often wonder if it's a drag to be a comedian, people always wanting you to tell them jokes, make them laugh. You say you have a toothache and they're grinning at you, waiting for the punchline, while your face feels like it's falling off. Like being a lawyer (I am not a lawyer, just related to one) and everyone asking for free legal advice. Sure, I'll give you my talent for free...and then YOU can go remodel my kitchen for free. Whadya mean, no way? I should give away my efforts, but you you shouldn't? Sorry...rant...

    I'm sorry 'bout your loss...even if it's not some huge, stinkin' deal, it always sucks to find out someone you know/knew has popped off.

    I still don't Twitter. Now it's almost like a mission...the last holdout from the dark ages, I guess. Please don't hate me...

    Shade and Sweetwater,

  10. i am neither funny nor interesting on twatter. i just can't be arsed to post anything, since even I am not interested in what i think about stuff.

    i am sorry about your friend that passed away, though, suzy :(

  11. To me, funny is like porn. I really like it. Er..I mean, I know it when I see it.

  12. Congratulations on job. And sorry about your ex. That's a really bad joke.

  13. I like this post a lot and thank you b/c I had nothing to read in the waiting room before my exam.

    p.s. on your blogger dashboard you can make your blog mobile-friendly and it won't take forever to download.

  14. I'm glad I don't think I'm funny, because I'm probably not funny.

    I liken this to people who used not want to comment on my blog (back when I used write one instead of just take pictures) because they weren't writers (I am one). Me? I just liked to hear from people.

  15. I came back again, b/c I like this post so much.

    Wanted to read it one more time.

    So interesting.

    I just want to read the words over again.

  16. I am sorry about the Ex. Even if it was a tumultous relationship- this has to be a tough time for you. I kinda wish he had left you with a better joke to remember him by.

    Still a lot of what you say here is brilliant, and I wish I were a much cooler blogger, but I make a ton of these mistakes. Once I had an email from a reader that said they never comment because they don't feel they have anything smart enough to say. So I was thinking of changing my SEO blog header to "Smartest mothra faulking blog west of Rodeo"...but then I realized I have a 10 inch penis, so I should just lead with that. After all, no one west of Rodeo cares about smart.

  17. So here I've been working so hard trying to make you laugh with my funny, witty comments and it's all for naught?!
    Fuck you!

    Just kidding!
    See I'm not funny.

  18. People generally fall into one of three categories:

    Those that TELL you how talented they are more than they SHOW you.

    Those that let their natural abilities speak for themselves.

    People that try desperately hard to be taken seriously, but come off like a Benny Hill sketch.

    People who shouldn't make itemized lists while multitasking because they end up looking like they can't count.

    Suzy, I read this entry last week and came back to it Saturday to argue a point. But when I re-read it, you hadn't said what I thought you'd said. As a result, I can't disagree with anything you wrote.

    (For the record, I was going to smugly ask if you were suggesting Twitter be better left to the Professionals (comedians), but you never came remotely close to that sentiment).

    I'm no professional, but there are days someone should revoke my Twitter license, anyway. Seeing how passionate you are about comedy, I'll take any "LOL" from you as a hard earned victory.

  19. My own mouth scares me a bit now. Who is that angry guy? You are funny. I am (sometimes) clever. That's good enough for me. :)



  20. when you do something for years and years, if you have an interest in it, you will learn all about it. the mechanics of joke making are known only to those who actually roll up their sleeves and investigate. same with so many crafts, like writing in general or storytelling in particular.
    funny stuff:)
    here from alexandra's place.

  21. I felt guilty about laughing at the name The Impotentate since he's passed, but since the hour is nearly up, I guess I'll just eat something to make the guilt go away.